Inherent and Intrinsic- Esther 3

Yesterday we saw the providence of God, and today the story continues. If you haven’t read Esther 3 recently, you can do so here.

After his assasination plot is foiled (2.21-23), the King appoints what looks like a Prime Minister (v.1), and Haman the Agagite seems to be enjoying this new-found power and respect. The Agagites were historical enemies of God’s people (Exodus 17.14-16), and this may explain why Mordecai was reluctant to bow down or pay homage. Haman obviously didn’t like this, and sought to destroy all the Jews. He engineers a situation wherein the King probably doesn’t realise who or what Haman is talking about (vv.8-11). The Jews in all the land were, essentially, given prior warning of their impending death sentence (vv.13-15), and Haman cosied up to the King as all this took place (v.15b).

The de-humanising of people has been a perennial problem that is often the pre-cursor to terrible atrocities. Here Haman refers to God’s people, people made in the image of God, lives with inherent and intrinsic worth and value, as a certain people, …their laws…, it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate themthe peopledo with them

This way of thinking leads, inevitably, to conflict, loss of life, slavery, oppression, and generally nothing positive. How grateful we are that Jesus made the very important point that human life is of infinite value, regardless of national origin, culture, language, or tradition in Luke 10.25-37. Paul writes very explicitly that we are all one in Christ Jesus, regardless of things that may differentiate between us in an earthly sense (Galatians 3.28). Simply, there is more to unite us than divide us.

Today, let us see those around us as humans made in the image of God, lives with inherent and intrinsic value and dignity, people loved by the Lord and redeemed at such a high price, and those that God wishes to reach with His love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace…through you.

2 Timothy 1.1-5 – Encouragement

2 Timothy is generally held to be Paul’s last letter, written from Roman imprisonment and full of urgency and passion, which you might expect given his incarceration and impending execution. 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

He begins by stating that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. This was the role Paul was given in the Lord’s master plan, and Paul often began letters by stating this (1 Timothy 1.1, Galatians 1.1…). Unique to 2 Timothy however is him saying according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus. Again, given his impending execution at the hands of the Romans, the promise of life in Christ Jesus must have seemed especially important.

Paul then offers grace, mercy, and peace to Timothy, and interestingly he only offers mercy when writing to Timothy and Titus (1 Timothy 1.2, Titus 1.4), the two pastors/ministers to receive letters from Paul. In his general letters to Christian congregations, Paul usually offers grace and peace, but reserves the mercy for the ministers. 

We see that Paul is praying for Timothy night and day, and that he longs to see him, that he may be filled with joy. He thinks of Timothy’s faith, Timothy’s family, and is encouraged.

Paul is such a staunch supporter of Timothy, and we all need someone like this in our lives, don’t we.

Who is that person for you? Who is that person who is praying for you night and day? Who is that person who thanks God for you? Who is that person who takes great joy from being with you? We all need someone like this in our lives, don’t we. 

But think about this – who can you be that person for

Who can you pray for, night and day?

Who can you thank God for?

Who can you bless by simply being around?

We all need to be that someone for another, don’t we. 

Today then, no matter whether you are being blessed by that someone, or whether you are filling the role of that someone, let us rest easy in the role that God has given us according to His will, let us do our best to manifest to others the life that is in Christ Jesus

1 Timothy 1.12-17 – Forget The Past

Today we see that no matter who we were, how we were, or where we were, there is nobody that God cannot use.

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul writes that even though he was the foremost sinner, a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent opponent, he received mercy because this was all done in unbelief. We see that the grace of our Lord is far stronger than sin committed in unbelief. 

Paul is used as a very particular example, that Jesus Christ might display his perfection patience as an example fo those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Remember, this is coming off the back of a section wherein Paul tells Timothy that look, the law came to expose those who are living in sin. Now, he says, those very people are still not beyond the life-saving, life-changing love and grace and mercy of God. 

The same is true for you. 

No matter who you were, no matter how you were, no matter where you were, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. It doesn’t matter to Him what you have done in unbelief, so long as you sincerely acknowledge that it was wrong, make a genuine effort to turn away from it, completely, and commit to living the life He wants you to live from now onwards. 

We all know we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but that is exactly the reason for the Gospel, the Good News, that no matter what happened before, you have a chance now to be judged faithful in the eyes of God through faith in Jesus and to be brought into His service.

What part of your past do you need to forget today? Where do you need to receive mercy and grace today?

1 Timothy 1.1-2 – Grace, mercy, and peace


In 1 Timothy, Paul is writing to Timothy as a new church leader. Even if the letter is specifically addressed to Timothy, there is still much attention needed by those under his charge.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

1.1-2

Paul sets out his credentials and his authority (an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour…). Even if the letter is specifically addressed to Timothy, there is still much attention needed by those under his charge.

Timothy and the church are addressed with grace, with mercy, and with peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord

Churches need grace, mercy, and peace, for sure. Individuals need grace, mercy, and peace too. I read something interesting that mercy is added to Paul’s address only to Timothy and in Titus, the other letter written to a church-leading Pastor. Does that mean only church leaders need mercy? Absolutely not, we all do.

For you and me now, today, the church body we are a part of, both global and local expression is a place to find grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a place where we take our failures, shortcomings, anxieties, doubts, and questions and find them answered in Christ Jesus our Lord through His people. 

The church is also a place that needs your grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. It is full of broken people who need you to come alongside them and show them in the grace, mercy, and peace He offers. 

Why not take a moment and pray and see to whom you can minister today?

Jude 1.22-23 – Is It Ok To Doubt?

Jude has so far told us to be different to those around us, and to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. Today, what do we do in relation to those who are stuck under the false teaching detailed in vv.8-13? What do we do in relation to those who doubt that Jesus Christ leads to eternal life?

22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

There are a couple of things that come out here – one is to have mercy on those who doubt.

Doubt, inherently, isn’t a bad thing. 

Doubt is human and doubt is universal, says Os Guinness. We live in a broken world and to doubt is sadly just a part of life.

Very simply, all that can be believed can be doubted, and it is no surprise then that our faith, the most holy faith that Jude has written about can be doubted. To doubt means to have two minds, and rather than suppress doubt, we should look into the questions we have in our minds. 

Some doubts come from the will – do I want to follow Jesus?

To this, the Bible has a strong response – James 1.6-8.

Some doubts come from the mind – can this be proven?

To this, the Bible has a softer response – Isaiah 1.18.

Here, Jude is talking, it seems, about doubts of the emotion – how do I feel about all of this?

Coming off the back of talking about mercy and love and eternal lifeJude then says have mercy on those who doubt

Psalm 73 also speaks of the response to doubts of the heart.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

So, is it ok to have moments of doubt? Yes.

How do we interact with those facing emotional doubts about their faith? With mercy

Author Charles Hummel said that a stronger faith can emerge through doubt, and that holiness and faith are strengthened in the fires of temptation. 

It’s ok to doubt, it’s not ok to reject, but it’s ok to ask questions, it’s ok not to know all the answers. There is mercy waiting.


Point to ponder – What do I have doubts about?


Prayer – Father, we know we have moments of doubt. We know we want to follow you, and sometimes we have doubts of the mind or the emotions. We know too that when this happens, your loving kindness and mercy are there waiting for us to strengthen our faith, to uphold us, and to show us that our faith is one of steadfast hope. Thank you. Amen. 

Jude 1.20-21 – We Must

Hot off the heels of the kind of criticism and challenge believers are to expect, and the kind of person this will come from, today Jude hits us with another contrast.

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Straight away we see the contrast, don’t we, but you, beloved. There needs to be a marked difference in your life when compared to the lives of those around you who are not walking with the Lord, who don’t know Jesus, who don’t believe that God raised Him from the dead. This will be our actions, and maybe even more importantly, our reactions. 

Jude tells us to keep yourselves in the love of God, to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life, and we do this by building ourselves up in your most holy faith and by praying in the Holy Spirit. 

There is such a personal element to this short sentence, isn’t there. David Guzik writes on this, 

“…we are responsible for our own spiritual growth. It means that we cannot wait for spiritual growth to just happen, or expect others to make us grow.”

We must keep ourselves in the love of God, we must wait for the mercy of Jesus, we must build ourselves up in faith, and we must pray in the Holy Spirit.

One of the wonderful things about our faith is that it is lived out in community. The things we must do and the things we are responsible for may seem difficult or even insurmountable some days. This is where a committed, caring, and challenging church family will come into play.

They will be committed to caring for you as you wait for the mercy of Jesus, and they will encourage you and help you to build yourself up in your most holy faith. They will challenge you to do all of those things, and more, all to the ultimate glory of God, and all to the ultimate praise of Him who saved us from darkness to light. 


Point to ponder – Am I an active part of a church family? Am I getting this kind of help? Am I giving this kind of help?


Prayer – Father, help us to be different. Help us to live the love that you showed us when you sent your Son to die for us. Empower us today through your Holy Spirit to build ourselves up in our faith, and to support those around us doing the same. Amen. 

Mercy Seat – Thursday Music

Sometimes on Thursday we look at a classic hymn, other times contemporary Christian music. Today, something that was released only last week, Mercy Seat by Maranatha Worship. The song is pretty simple, it puts forth this one main idea that we are now welcome and able to go running to the Father by way of the Son.

I see my Father’s open arms, I see Him running

I see my Father’s open arms

Bearing my shame, wearing my scars, I see Him running

I see my Father’s open arms

The first verse takes the mind back to the parable of the prodigal son, doesnt it, 

“…when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15.20)

As our loving Father in heaven, God’s arms are open and if He had a body I’m sure He would run towards us just as the father in the prodigal son parable does. He so wants a personal, loving, intimate relationship with you. To prove it, He sent His Son, God in the flesh, His exact copy on earth, Jesus, to die on the cross for you, to pay the righteous price for your sin, to die a death that we deserved so we can live a life He deserved, eternal and everlasting with the Father in heaven (Isaiah 53.5, 1 Peter 2.24, Hebrews 12.2, Psalm 25.2).

I fall before the mercy seat where the blood of Jesus speaks for me

I fall before the mercy seat

The mercy seat was “…the ornate “lid” for the ark of the covenant, made with the designs of cherubim upon it. The blood of sacrifice was sprinkled upon it for the forgiveness of Israel’s sin on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 25.17-22).”

As God looked down into the ark, He saw the symbols of Israel’s sin, rebellion and failure. But when the blood of sacrifice was applied to the mercy seat, the blood of sacrifice covered His sight of the sin of Israel.” David Guzik.

Now we need not rely on the blood of animals to temporarily cover our sin, because Jesus’ righteous blood was poured out for many, and this blood is poured out for us onto the true mercy seat in heaven, His throne of grace (Hebrews 9.23-26). 

Earthly rituals are but a copy of the heavenly realities, and the mercy and grace that come from the blood of Jesus shed for the sins of the entire world far surpasses that found in outdated animal sacrifice.

I’m not a beggar anymore, so I come running

I see my Father’s open arms

I’m not a beggar anymore, so I come running

I see my Father’s open arms

We need not beg for leftover scraps anymore, even though the crumbs that fall from our Master’s table would surely satisfy us for an eternity (Matthew 15.25-28).

How do we reach such a wonderful position, then, being saved from sin and being given the gift of eternal life? 

Through faith in Jesus alone. 

We are no longer beggars on the outside looking in, we have gone from outside to in, death to life, old to new, slaves to sin to servants of the Most High, and this is all through faith in Jesus; His name, His finished work, His provision, in Him.