Individual prayer with topics 1. Friday night service and 2. spiritual growth that will prepare us for the changes in our lives – such as college and other changes in the environment. Weiting read the prayer selected from the book, “Praying in the Word of God” by Kathleen G. Grant. Ella lead the praise songs and closed the praise with a prayer.
Dearest heavenly Father,
We exalt You as our God and praise Your holy name for all the marvelous things that You have done. You are our God and the God of all who have trusted in You, whom You have saved. We rejoice in our salvation, and we are filled with gladness!
Convict me of the terrible sin of not loving You, the Lord, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. Reveal to me whether I have put anything ahead of You. Enable me to obey Your command to offer my body to You as sa living sacrifice, which is my spiritual act of worship. Show me if I have never done this. Show me if, having done so, I have failed to take up my cross everyday to follow You.
May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and You, our Father who loved us and by Your grace gave us eternal, encouragement and good hope, encourage our hearts and strengthen us in every good deed and word.
Just as You hsaved us because of Your mercy, save our loved ones. Forgive us, those who already believe, for self-righteousness. For we were once jus4t like the lost, and it was Your mercy, not our righteousness, that saved us.
Worthy are You, the Lamb of God, because You were slain for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. We desire that You receive all power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! Thank you for Your blood, which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins.
With all my devotion, Amen.
The book of Esther shows a very interesting story. It has definite storyline that leads to a clear climax and a happy ending. It even makes us laugh at how the evil Haman ends up being killed when Esther and Mordecai are raised high by the king and the people of Israel are saved from what could have been a disasterous massive killing. The book is consisted of many accidental events one after another which later fits into the picture like a perfect peice of a puzzle. While reading the book, one can only say that God had planned all details of the story and made everything happen. Yet, God and His work is never mentioned in the book.
From reading Esther, we can first see how God protects His people. The story takes place during their time of exile from Jerusalem in the period of being unfaithful nation toward God. Esther is a Jewish woman who married to a Persian King, the King is a violent man who does not show a sane way of making decisions – decision for previous queen, killing Jews, killing Haman, etc. Even in the midst of all these factors that God does not aprove, God shows how He is faithful to His chosen people. What started by one man’s pride (Haman deciding to kill the Jews by seeing Mordecai not honoring him) led to God’s people praising God and remembering how He is faithful.
Before finishing the discussion about the book, I’d like to point one thing we can think from our perspectives and apply in our lives. When we think of Esther, we see a woman with great courage. What she said is often quoted: “if I perish, I perish.” Yet, in the story, we see a slight hesitation that Esther showed when Mordecai revealed what is going to happen to the Jews.
Esther, our protagonist, is a jew. However, she hides her identity during the process of being selected as a new queen. When Mordecai informs Esther what is going on with Haman and the Jew, Esther tells her uncle Mordecai that if she tries to take an action her life will be over. It sounds like she is appealing using her life and death situation if she decides to take an action about it. Upon hearing this, Mordecai reminds her of her identity. He tells Esther the truth – if you are found to be a Jew, your life will not be guaranteed. This definitely makes Esther decide to approach the king even if that can kill her.
I’d like to mention that we must know our identity and our community – where we came from, who we are, who I relate with. There is a reason – a big reason – why God had put you in where you are. You may see each other and think that we are from the same background (since our youth group is mainly consist of Asians, teenagers, Korean/Chinese, etc). However, that is not usually the case. When we take a look into our lives specifically, we come from unique environment. That environment, that identity, that community is our mission field where God had sent us to. You must care to know what your community needs, what it is suffering from, what it celebrates, etc. By knowing more and more about your identity, you will begin to have a dream for your community. You will see what it needs, and you will want to fill in the need.
Just like how Matthew – tax collector – brought all the sinners to the dinner with Jesus, only you can invite the people from your community. They will listen to you, and they will be influenced by your care and interest. The sincerety will be counted genuine. You will be the gate to God’s grace to them. With that said, (when you are ready in your hearts) when you pray, pray like Jabez: “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border.” Then you will have a courage which you never had before, your courage will prove God’s good will and His plan, and your people will hear God and rejoice in Him.