Master Your Methods. Now let’s briefly examine some of the techniques available to you as you teach adults
God‘s Word teaches us sound doctrine.
When was the last time you memorized a verse? Memorize Psalm 119:105. Consider memorizing one verse a week.
(Isaiah 26:3)”You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm.”
What makes the Lord worthy of trust?
We see in this statement that we must stay with the program and then we will gain peace. This also means trusting him to control our lives for us and provide for us; therefore it means truly becoming his child. When we are devoted to him, our whole attitude is steady and stable.
“It is the will of God that we surrender our wills. Even though St. Paul talked much with our Lord and our Lord with him, these conversations remained fruitless until St. Paul surrendered his will and said: ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me do?”… The only true and perfect will is the one that has been merged with the will of God, so that the man has no will of his own. Indeed one step taken in surrender to God is better than a journey across the ocean without it… Perfectly to will what God wills, to want what he wants, is to have joy; but if one’s will is not quite in unison with God’s there is no joy” (Meister Eckhart – The Talks of Instruction).
What is my plan of commitment?
The twenty-eight chapter of Deuteronomy is a powerful statement of the basic order of the universe. It does not claim that the individual who observes the laws of God will always receive prosperity, but it does state that there are certain laws according to which the world is run and that these are basic required rules. Any people group which runs contrary to these rules comes to grief, and conversely the individuals that observes them is assured of a future relationship with God. Justice, charity/love and integrity – rear their own reward because that is the way the world is meant to be run. Behind the chances and changes of life there is a pattern which the Creator has laid down for the smooth running of the world he has made. We have a choice either to share our relationship with others in accordance with these guidelines or we should not expect a rewarding future after we pass over to our permanent home. The real test of value is how well something holds up under the wear, tear, and abuse of everyday life.
Esther Book Overview
More than a generation had passed since Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return to Israel. Still, many Jews remained spread throughout the known world, making their home among their captors. The book of Esther features some of these expatriates. It is noteworthy that Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, was king during Nehemiah’s time. He may have been influenced by Queen Esther in his handling of the Jews.
|586 b.c.||Jerusalem destroyed; exiles go to Babylon
|538||First exiles return to Jerusalem
|486||Xerxes becomes king of Persia
|479||Esther becomes queen|
|474||Haman’s decree to destroy the Jews|
|473||First Festival of Purim|
|Purpose:||To demonstrate God’s sovereignty and his loving care for his people|
|Author:||Unknown. Possibly Mordecai (9:29). Some have suggested Ezra or Nehemiah because of the similarity of the writing style.|
|Date Written:||Approximately 470 b.c. (Esther became queen in 479)|
|Setting:||Although Esther follows Nehemiah in the Bible, its events are about 30 years prior to those recorded in Nehemiah. The story is set in the Persian Empire, and most of the action takes place in the king’s palace in Susa, the Persian capital.|
|Key Verse:||“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?” (4:14).|
|Key People:||Esther, Mordecai, King Xerxes I, Haman|
|Key Place:||The king’s palace in Susa, Persia|
|Special Features:||Esther is one of only two books named for women (Ruth is the other). The book is unusual in that in the original version no name, title, or pronoun for God appears in it (see the note on 4:14). This caused some church fathers to question its inclusion in the canon. But God’s presence is clear throughout the book.|
The Book of Esther. Some things about it you love. Some things you admire. But there is one thing about it that leaves you scratching your head.
You love the story. A Jewish girl raised in Persia by a cousin named Mordecai. She becomes the wife of the king by winning the Miss Persia contest. Her husband is Xerxes.
It’s a rag-to-riches romance, though you’ve got to wonder how much romance could occur when you are married to a guy who would chop your head off if you popped into his office with-out an appointment. But that’s what Esther did. She took the chance at the chance it would save her nation.
That is the part of Esther you admire. Aside from being a beauty, she was gutsy. Xerxes’s right-hand man is Haman. (A name that, as you’ll soon see, sounds curiously close to “hang-man.”) Haman was a raging Nazi. Nothing would suit him better than annihilation of the Jews. One day he got his chance. Mordecai, Esther foster father refused to bow before Haman. Haman was so mad he convinced Xerxes to let him do away with the whole nation.
That’s where Esther comes in. Literally, She comes into the king’s chambers uninvited but not unprepared. After getting the Jews to pray and fast for three days, she puts on her royal robes and stands at the door. Xerxes likes what he sees and invites her in. One invitation leads to another, and by the time she’s finishes, Xerxes not only agrees to call off the massacre but orders Haman to hang from the same gallows Haman had built for Mordecai.
Whew! Quite a lady, this Esther. You have to admire her courage. You have to love her story. But there is one thing that is tough to figure. God’s name never appears in the entire book. His actions do. His thoughts do. His plan does. His fingerprints are on every page. But his name never appears. Could it be that God is more concerned about getting the job done than getting credit.
Drama, power, romance, intrigue—this is the stuff of which best-selling novels are made. But far from a modern piece of fiction, those words describe a true story, lived and written centuries ago. More than entertaining reading, it is a story of the profound interplay of God’s sovereignty and human will. God prepared the place and the opportunity, and his people, Esther and Mordecai, chose to act. The book of Esther begins with Queen Vashti refusing to obey an order from her husband, King Xerxes. She was subsequently banished, and the search began for a new queen. The king sent out a decree to gather together all the beautiful women in the empire and bring them into the royal harem. Esther, a young Jewish woman, was one of those chosen to be in the royal harem. King Xerxes was so pleased with Esther that he made her his queen.
Meanwhile, Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin, became a government official and during his tenure foiled an assassination plot. But the ambitious and self-serving Haman was appointed second-in-command in the empire. When Mordecai refused to bow in reverence to him, Haman became furious and determined to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews along with him.
To accomplish his vengeful deed, Haman deceived the king and persuaded him to issue an edict condemning the Jews to death. Mordecai told Queen Esther about this edict, and she decided to risk her life to save her people. Esther asked King Xerxes and Haman to be her guests at a banquet. During the feast, the king asked Esther what she really wanted, and he promised to give her anything. Esther simply invited both men to another banquet the next day.
That night, unable to sleep, the king was flipping through some records in the royal archives when he read of the assassination plot that Mordecai thwarted. Surprised to learn that Mordecai had never been rewarded for this deed, the king asked Haman what should be done to properly thank a hero. Haman thought the king must be talking about him, and so he described a lavish reward. The king agreed, but to Haman’s shock and utter humiliation, he learned that Mordecai was the person to be so honored.
During the second banquet, the king again asked Esther what she desired. She replied that someone had plotted to destroy her and her people, and she named Haman as the culprit. Immediately the king sentenced Haman to die on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai.
In the final act of this true-life drama, Mordecai was appointed to Haman’s position, and the Jews were guaranteed protection throughout the land. To celebrate this historic occasion, the Festival of Purim was established.
Because of Queen Esther’s courageous act, a whole nation was saved. Seeing her God-given opportunity, she seized it! Her life made a difference. Read Esther and watch for God at work in your life. Perhaps he has prepared you to act in “such a time as this” (4:14).
|1. Esther becomes queen (1:1–2:23)
2. The Jews are threatened (3:1–4:17)
3. Esther intercedes for the Jews (5:1–8:17)
4. The Jews are delivered (9:1–10:3)
|The book of Esther is an example of God’s divine guidance and care over our lives. God’s sovereignty and power are seen throughout this book. Although we may question certain circumstances in our lives, we must have faith that God is in control, working through both the pleasant and difficult times so that we can serve him effectively.|
|God’s Sovereignty||The book of Esther tells of the circumstances that were essential to the survival of God’s people in Persia. These “circumstances” were not the result of chance but of God’s grand design. God is sovereign over every area of life.||With God in charge, we can take courage. He can guide us through the circumstances we face in our lives. We should expect God to display his power in carrying out his will. As we unite our life’s purposes to God’s purpose, we benefit from his sovereign care.|
|Racial Hatred||The Jews in Persia had been a minority since their deportation from Judah 100 years earlier. Haman was a descendant of King Agag, an enemy of the Jews. Lust for power and pride drove Haman to hate Mordecai, Esther’s cousin. Haman convinced the king to kill all the Jews.||Racial hatred is always sinful. We must never condone it in any form. Every person on earth has intrinsic worth because God created people in his own image. Therefore, God’s people must stand against racism whenever and wherever it occurs.|
|Deliverance||In February or March, the Jews celebrate the Festival of Purim, which symbolizes God’s deliverance. Purim means “lots,” such as those used by Haman to set the date for the extermination of all Jews from Persia. But God overruled, using Queen Esther to intercede on behalf of the Jews.||Because God is in control of history, he is never frustrated by any turn of events or human action. He is able to save us from the evil of this world and deliver us from sin and death. Because we trust God, we are not to fear what people may do to us; instead, we are to be confident in God’s control.|
|Action||Faced with death, Esther and Mordecai set aside their own fear and took action. Esther risked her life by asking King Xerxes to save the Jews. They were not paralyzed by fear.||When outnumbered and powerless, it is natural for us to feel helpless. Esther and Mordecai resisted this temptation and acted with courage. It is not enough to know that God is in control; we must act with self-sacrifice and courage to follow God’s guidance.|
|Wisdom||The Jews were a minority in a world hostile to them. It took great wisdom for Mordecai to survive. Serving as a faithful official of the king, Mordecai took steps to understand and work with the Persian law. Yet he did not compromise his integrity.||It takes great wisdom to survive in a non-believing world. In a setting which is for the most part hostile to Christianity, we can demonstrate wisdom by giving respect to what is true and good and by humbly standing against what is wrong.|
The book of Esther recounts how the Feast of Purim came to be celebrated – a feast still observed today by Jews in memory of Jehovah’s sovereign, providential care of his people. The story revolves around ten banquets. Two banquets are given by Xerxes, two by Esther. The banquets culminate in the double celebration of the Feast of Purim. Interestingly, the Book of Esther does not directly name Yahweh. This conspicuous lack of any reference to God focuses attention on what He’s is doing constantly , behind the scenes, to affect deliverance for the Jews. Esther is a literary masterpiece which reads like a modern suspense novel, complete with plot twists, coincidence, irony, intrigue, revenge, and plenty of feasting.
1 We can gather our thoughts, but the Lord gives the right answer.
2 People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.
3 Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.
4 The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for punishment.
5 The Lord despises pride; be assured that the proud will be punished.
6 Unfailing love and faithfulness cover sin; evil is avoided by fear of the Lord.
7 When the ways of people please the Lord, he makes even their enemies live at peace with them.
8It is better to be poor and godly than rich and dishonest.
9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
10 The king speaks with divine wisdom; he must never judge unfairly.
11 The Lord demands fairness in every business deal; he sets the standard.
12 A king despises wrongdoing, for his rule depends on his justice.
13 The king is pleased with righteous lips; he loves those who speak honestly.
14 The anger of the king is a deadly threat; the wise do what they can to appease it.
15 When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a gentle rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold, and understanding than silver!
17The path of the upright leads away from evil; whoever follows that path is safe.
18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.
19 It is better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.
20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be happy.
21 The wise are known for their understanding, and instruction is appreciated if it’s well presented.
22 Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools.
23 From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive.
24 Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
25 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
26It is good for workers to have an appetite; an empty stomach drives them on.
27 Scoundrels hunt for scandal; their words are a destructive blaze.
28A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
29 Violent people deceive their companions, leading them down a harmful path.
30With narrowed eyes, they plot evil; without a word, they plan their mischief.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.
32 It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
33We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.
This verse can be understood to mean that the final outcome of the plans we make is in God’s hands. If this is so, why make plans? In doing God’s will, there must be partnership between our efforts and God’s control. He wants us to use our minds, to seek the advice of others, and to plan. Nevertheless, the results are up to him. Planning, then, helps us act God’s way. As you live for him, ask for guidance as you plan, and then act on your plan as you trust in him.
People can rationalize anything if they have no standards for judging right and wrong. We can always prove that we are right. Before putting any plan into action, ask yourself these three questions: (1) Is this plan in harmony with God’s truth? (2) Will it work under real-life conditions? (3) Is my attitude pleasing to God?
There are different ways to fail to commit whatever we do to the Lord. Some people commit their work only superficially. They say the project is being done for the Lord, but in reality they are doing it for themselves. Others give God temporary control of their interests, only to take control back the moment things stop going the way they expect. Still others commit a task fully to the Lord but put forth no effort themselves, and then they wonder why they do not succeed. We must maintain a delicate balance: trusting God as if everything depended on him, while working as if everything depended on us. Think of a specific effort in which you are involved right now. Have you committed it to the Lord?
This verse doesn’t mean that God created some people to be wicked, but rather that God uses even the activities of wicked people for his good purposes (see Genesis 50:20). God is infinite, and we are finite. No matter how great our intellects, we will never be able to understand him completely. But we can accept by faith that he is all-powerful, all-loving, and perfectly good. We can believe that he is not the cause of evil (James 1:13, 17); and we can trust that there are no loose ends in his system of judgment. Evil is a temporary condition in the universe. One day God will destroy it.
Pride is the inner voice that whispers, “My way is best.” It is resisting God’s leadership and believing that you are able to live without his help. Whenever you find yourself wanting to do it your way or looking down on other people, you are being controlled by pride. Only when you eliminate pride can God help you become all he meant you to be. (See the chart “How to Succeed in God’s Eyes.”)
We want other people to like us, and sometimes we will do almost anything to win their approval. But God tells us to put our energy into pleasing him instead. Our effort to be peacemakers will usually make us more attractive to those around us, even our enemies. But even if it doesn’t, we haven’t lost anything. We are still pleasing God, the only one who truly matters.
Whether we buy or sell, make a product or offer a service, we know what is fair and honest and what is unfair and dishonest. Sometimes we feel pressure to be dishonest in order to advance ourselves or gain more profit. But if we want to obey God, there is no middle ground: God demands honesty in every business transaction. No amount of rationalizing can justify a dishonest business practice. Honesty and fairness are not always easy, but they are what God demands. Ask him for discernment and courage to be consistently honest and fair.
Proud people take little account of their weaknesses and do not anticipate stumbling blocks. They think they are above the frailties of common people. In this state of mind they are easily tripped up. Ironically, proud people seldom realize that pride is their problem, although everyone around them is well aware of it. Ask someone you trust whether self-satisfaction has blinded you to warning signs. He or she may help you avoid a fall.
For centuries people sought a fountain of youth, a spring that promised to give eternal life and vitality. It was never found. But God’s wisdom is a life-giving fountain that can make a person happy, healthy, and alive forever. How? When we live by God’s Word, he washes away the deadly effects of sin (see Titus 3:4-8), and the hope of eternal life with him gives us a joyful perspective on our present life. The fountain of youth was only a dream, but the life-giving fountain is reality. The choice is yours. You can be enlightened by God’s wisdom, or you can be dragged down by the weight of your own foolishness.
The Hebrews believed that a long life was a sign of God’s blessing; therefore, gray hair and old age were good. While young people glory in their strength, old people can rejoice in their years of experience and practical wisdom. Gray hair is not a sign of disgrace to be covered over; it is a crown of splendor. As you deal with older people, treat them with respect.
Self-control is superior to conquest. Success in business, school, or home life can be ruined by a person who loses control of his or her temper. So it is a great personal victory to control your temper. When you feel yourself ready to explode, remember that losing control may cause you to forfeit what you want the most.
|How God Is Described in Proverbs|
|Proverbs is a book about wise living. It often focuses on a person’s response and attitude toward God, who is the source of wisdom. And a number of Proverbs point out facts of God’s character. Knowing God helps us on the way to wisdom.|
|God…||is aware of all that happens (15:3)|
|knows the heart of all people (15:11; 16:2; 21:2)|
|controls all things (16:33; 21:30)|
|is a place of safety (18:10)|
|rescues good people from danger (11:8, 21)|
|condemns the wicked (11:31)|
|delights in our prayers (15:8, 29)|
|loves those who obey him (15:9; 22:12)|
|cares for poor and needy (15:25; 22:22, 23)|
|purifies hearts (17:3)|
|hates evil (17:5; 21:27; 28:9)|
|Our response should be…||to fear and reverence God (10:27; 14:26, 27; 15:16; 16:6; 19:23; 28:14)|
|to obey God’s Word (13:13; 19:16)|
|to please God (21:3)|
|to trust in God (22:17-19; 29:25)|