Prayer Psalm: 78
Prayer Point: “… He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” Pray today for parents who are entrusted with the task of passing on the gospel to their children. Pray that our children will believe and pass on the good news of Jesus to their children.
The word ‘Christ’ is Greek for ‘Messiah’, the anointed king that Israel was waiting to come to save them and establish God’s peace and justice on the earth. Whom do the people believe may be the Christ? How will Christ be greater than John? How does John’s ministry comes to an end? What do we learn about Jesus at his baptism?
The Jews who rejected the gospel, mount an effort to stop Paul. Who does God use to protect Paul and why is this surprising? Emboldened by the vision he receives in verse 9 and favorable treatment by the Roman proconsul, Paul stays on in Corinth. But Paul’s mission is to travel around the Roman world, preach the message of Jesus and establish churches with those who believe. The time comes for Paul to move on to Syria. Who joins Paul’s mission team?
The Apostle Paul always brought a team with him as he planted churches throughout the Roman world. In this case, he brought a couple Aquila and Priscilla to work with him and to learn from him. At a certain stage in their development, Paul released Aquila and Priscilla into their own ministry, by leaving them in Ephesus. In Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla encounter a powerful, but inadequately trained preacher named Apollos. (He knew of John the Baptist’s baptism, but he had yet to learn of Jesus’ baptism.) How do Aquila and Priscilla come alongside Apollos and support him in his ministry? What impact did Apollos have on the church in Achaia (a region in Greece)?
Esther 5:1-14 – Esther’s Still Got It (Favor, that Is)
It is now three days later. What does Esther do? (Esther positions herself in the inner court of the palace yet not in the king’s hall. The king gets a glimpse of her and extends to her the gold scepter. So far so good. It looks like Esther will not die. “When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand.” (Esther 5:2 NIV))
How does the king greet Esther? (“Then the king asked, ‘What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom it will be given you.’” (Esther 5:3 NIV) This expression “Even up to half the kingdom it will be given you…” must not have been all that uncommon. Herod Antipas used the very same expression centuries later to Herodias’ daughter to express his delight at her “birthday” present to him. (See Mark 6:21-29))
What is Esther’s request of the king? (Esther’s request is innocuous (harmless) – she wants the king and Haman to come to her place for a banquet. Seems innocent enough.)
How does the banquet go? (Esther still had not revealed her request to the king. Again he reminded her that he was so pleased with her that he was willing to grant her up to half of his kingdom. Haman was thrilled to be invited to dine with the king and queen that it made him proud. Bear in mind that Esther has yet to reveal that she is a Jew. That might have tainted Haman’s view of the queen’s notice of him.)
Again the king asks Esther her request. What is her reply? (“Esther replied, ‘My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.’” (Esther 5:7-8 NIV))
What about Haman? What is his reaction to this notice of the queen? What happens to dampen his spirits? (“Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai.” (Esther 5:9 NIV))
How does Haman describe the queen’s banquet to his family and friends? (“Calling together his friends and Zeresh his wife, Haman boasted to them about his wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. ‘And that’s not all,’ Haman added, ‘I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” (Esther 5:10b-13 NIV) Here we have an example of why it is pointless to carry a grudge or to harbor resentment against someone. I doubt Mordecai even gave Haman a second thought and yet he apparently had such a tremendous effect on Haman’s life. [Don’t hold a grudge or be resentful. It is truly a waste of time and energy. – j.t.])
What happens which would make you think that these people don’t waste time? (“His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, ‘Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy.’ This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the gallows built.” (Esther 5:14) Imagine, he had gallows (75 feet high) built overnight!)