Prayer Psalm: 86
Prayer Point: How do you pray when your back is against the wall? Psalm 86 points the way and shows us how to worship and plead with God in the darkest of times. Pray this psalm on behalf of someone you know that is struggling. If you are in a difficult place, pray it on your own behalf.
Jesus returns victoriously from the desert, having overcome the devil’s temptations, to begin his public ministry in Israel. The people of Nazareth are startled to see Jesus, the son of a local carpenter, suddenly in the role of a religious teacher or rabbi. When he enters the synagogue he is recognized as such and is invited to read from the Old Testament scroll and to explain what he has read. Jesus is handed the scroll of Isaiah the prophet and he reads Isaiah 61:1-2. He sits down to begin his teaching, with all eyes fastened on him with anticipation. What will the carpenter’s son say? Imagine sitting in the crowd that day and your astonishment when Jesus says, “today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The national dreams of the prophet Isaiah, uttered hundreds of years ago are coming true, right now.
Is Jesus’ vision a far off dream, or does it have meaning right now? What do you think Jesus means by good news to the poor? Compare Jesus’ message to the words of John the Baptist who prepared Israel for Jesus’ coming – see Luke 3:10-14.
Jesus’ teaching is initially received by the home crowd. What does Jesus say that turns them against him? Notice that the widow of Zarephath and Naaman were both Gentiles (non-Jews). Why are the crowds unable to kill Jesus? Jesus public ministry begins and ends with rejection.
Paul’s preaching, like Jesus’, was accompanied by miracles. Where did Paul get the power to heal and cast out demons? What happens to the sons of Sceva when they attempted to perform miracles in Jesus’ name without a relationship with him? What did this event do for the message of Jesus?
Esther 7:1-10 – The irony is completed.
Yesterday we left Haman on his way to Esther’s for the banquet with the king and queen. Again the king wants to know Esther’s request. You may remember that she had promised that she would tell him what she wanted at this banquet. What is Esther’s request? Remember the king had offered up to half of his kingdom to his queen. (“Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life – this is my petition. For I and my people – this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.’” (Esther 7:3-4 NIV) This was Esther’s subtle way of informing the king she was a Jew.)
Can you see Haman squirming in his seat? The king probes Esther to tell him who was responsible for this empire-wide policy. Haman can see his end now. What does Esther tell the king? (“Esther said, ‘The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.’” (Esther 7:6 NIV))
“Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen.” (Esther 7:7 NIV) That about covers it. The king storms off into the garden to mull things over. Haman knew his days were numbered so what does he do? (Haman then turns and begs Queen Esther to plead for his life. Haman was perilously close to the queen’s person.)
What was the king’s reaction when he sees Haman begging at Esther’s couch? (“The king exclaimed, ‘Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?’” (Esther 7:8b))
The irony is now complete. What happened? (As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king said, ‘A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai who spoke up to help the king.’ The king said, ‘Hang him on it!’ So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.” (Esther 7:8b-10 NIV))