Esther Devotional

Esther 4:14 (NIV)

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Imagine this: one day you are just a regular school student going through your classes and daily activities, but the next day, you obtain unexpected power and leadership. Your family and friends are being threatened with death because of their values and beliefs; your whole world has been turned upside down. This was the reality of Queen Esther, a Jew in the Kingdom of Persia.

Esther was a young Jew at the time of King Xerxes’ reign. He wanted to replace his current queen with a beautiful, yet obedient queen. Esther was chosen and was soon made Queen of Persia. However, Haman, the king’s advisor, now Prime Minister of Persia, believed that everyone should bow to him. Esther’s uncle, Mordechai, who was a leader of the Jews, promptly refused. In his anger, Haman convinced the king to authorize a decree to kill all the Jews. Mordechai found out and told Esther, hoping she would be able to talk to the king and change his mind. Mordechai also uncovered a plot to kill the king. While afraid of putting herself in a dangerous situation, Esther went to the king and invited him and Haman to dinner that night, and the next night. Meanwhile, Mordechai still refused to bow to Haman, who in turn, built gallows to hang Mordechai with that night. When he went to ask for the king’s permission, the king instead asked what to do for someone who had honored the king. Thinking was he; Haman suggested a parade with a royal robe and royal crest. Xerxes agreed and sent Haman to honor Mordechai, his enemy. Now, the king and Haman went to Esther’s second prepared banquet, where she proclaimed that she herself was a Jew and begged for her people to be spared. Xerxes did agree, Haman’s plot in the in gallows was exposed and served as the death place for Haman, and Esther’s bravery saved all the Jews!

In this story, Esther was incredibly brave. In this time period, women were summoned when wanted and normally not believed or taken seriously. Esther grew up in this lifestyle, and she knew what dangers she was risking. Even in this hard time in her life, Esther still had faith in God; that He would not leave her. She took even more risks being a woman and daring to expose the king’s advisor for who he truly was. Women were for display, not a major piece in society making a difference. She took the chance to be ridiculed because she knew that God would not forsake her.

People may say some situations are coincidence, but God has a plan. He puts us where we need to be; where we are a crucial part of what is destined to happen. It may be hard, and our lives will change due to what challenges are set upon us, but God will always be by our side, through the thick and thin. He knows what he is doing; He made you specifically for his plan that he has assembled with you in mind. He will be there for you. God will be inseparable at your side.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What are some situations where you feel that your challenge is impossible and that you may not succeed in overcoming it?
  2. How do you feel when it seems the odds are against you?
  3. When you feel this way, what can you do to remind yourself that God is with you?
  4. Who are some other people that you have heard about or know that have trusted God to lead the way no matter what?
  5. When God places you where he needs you to be in His plan, where do you feel he is leading you?
  6. Take some prayer requests and close in prayer, encouraging the youth to pray….

Job Devotional

Job 19: 13-14

“He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me.”

Job 19: 25-27

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Imagine this: you wake up tomorrow morning and realize the one thing you care for the most on this earth is gone, the one thing that you couldn’t possibly live without, whether it’s a person, object, or even a pet. The reason I ask you to imagine this horrible feeling is so you can get some sense of the loss that Job felt in the bible. Job was a very good and God fearing man with many children, livestock and servants. Satan noticed Job and challenged God saying that Job is only loyal to God because of God’s blessings upon him. God allowed Satan the chance to punish Job, which Satan did by killing all of Job’s children, servants, and livestock. Job was obviously stunned and miserable, and he thought that God had done this to him, but it was Satan. Job 19:13-14, says, “He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me.” But afterwards, Job still prayed and praised God in spite of all that just happened to him.

Then Satan tortured Job by putting skin sores all over his body, and even then, Job didn’t curse God or turn away from him. Job 19: 25-27 says, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” At the end of the book, God ends up giving Job all of his fortunes back, doubles the amount of livestock he used to have, and Job has the same amount of children as before.

In our daily lives, horrible things may happen and people react to them in very different ways. The important thing is that, in good times and in bad, you have to stick with God. Because at the end of the day, the only one you can fully trust is God. We MUST be inseparable from him.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to go through?
  2. How do you react to these situations?
  3. Was there ever a time when you felt separated from God? If so, when?
  4. Do you usually pray to God in the good times or bad times? Why?
  5. Take some prayer requests and close in prayer encouraging the youth to pray….

Peter Devotional

Imagine this: your life is going well and you’re spending time with your closest friend. You’re undeniably loyal to each other. Then, suddenly, that friend betrays you after insisting they have your back. This is true to Jesus and his disciple, Simon Peter.

See John 13:1-17. Set before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus settles to wash his disciples’ feet. One of his disciples, Simon Peter, who is wholly devoted to Jesus, asks him if he is going to wash his feet. Peter then insists that Jesus cleans his hands and head along with his feet. Jesus replies that there is no reason for that, although Jesus knows Peter is going to betray him. The washing of one’s feet is significant, because that shows the person is humbling themselves and setting aside all pride. Therefore, Jesus, even though he is the Messiah and our savior, is setting himself equally to everyone by washing his disciples’ feet. Peter tells Jesus that he should never have to wash his feet, but Jesus still does so even to someone he knows will deny him.

See Luke 22:54-62. Set before Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter denies Jesus three times before the rooster crows. Even though Peter assured Jesus he would not deny him he still does. Jesus is then taken away after Peter’s denial to later be hung on the cross. Jesus looks back at Peter before he is taken away, and Peter is one of his last disciples he sees before he ascends to be with his Father. Peter weeps, and he then understands what Jesus meant right before washing his feet. Jesus told Peter “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7 NIV). 

After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus speaks to Peter. He asks Peter if he loves him, confusing Peter when he asks him twice. However, Peter becomes frustrated when Jesus asks him the same question yet again. “The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” John 21:17 (NIV). Peter is upset that Jesus has to ask him three times if he loves him, because he believes that Jesus is fully aware of his love and faithfulness for him. Even though Peter, one of Jesus’ faithful and trusted disciples, denied him right before his crucifixion; betrayed him even though he insisted he never would, Jesus’ love for him remained steadfast. They were inseparable, even after Peter’s betrayal. Jesus cleaned Peter’s feet knowing Peter would deny him three times, and Jesus forgave Peter and even passed on his ministry to Peter when he resurrected. Jesus forgave and never stopped loving Peter, and trusted him fully to continue sharing his word no matter how terrible Peter’s sins were.

This is the same for us. We are all sinners. However, God’s love for us is unconditional. No matter how many times we mess up, we make mistakes, we sin – God will always be there. He will always be with us, just as he was there for Peter, telling him to feed his sheep. We were the sheep, but God wants us to serve others, as Peter did, because he loves us and forgives all our sins. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

 

Questions for Discussion

  1. Have there been any times in your life you’ve felt betrayed by someone? If so, what did you do? 
  2. How have you reacted to a situation where your choices could affect someone else? Do you think you could have made a better decision? 
  3. Who are some people in your life that you believe are loyal to you?
  4. When God forgives you after you have sinned, what do you plan to do to grow closer to God?
  5. Take some prayer requests and close in prayer encouraging the youth to pray….