Courage pt-1, 7th June


One of the key questions I keep reflecting on in these times: what is our Christian distinctive? In character, choices and holy spirit life! How does humility, grace & the holy spirit look on you as you show and share Christ in these exiled dark & curious times. Here are some further linked resources and wider detail for this weekend: Martyn Percy's take on history, now & the plague of numbers, Patrick Reagan helpfully speaking about justice, poverty and mental health a way forward?, Pray, ache & speak out in the light of the George Floyd murder, Thomas Merton's prayer is helpful in the call to trust: our desire to please God, does in fact please God! John Stott's reminder to be present & faithful as salt & light! Talking, tears & time, in the trauma of this pandemic, James Corden's dad on the bible in the light of the choices of others this week: a really moving redemptive cultural bible moment! Battling stress and burnout in Covid times, this scripture has really struck me atm and Bishop Simon's much inspiring cultural critique last week: full notes here...


Our continued online resources accompanying this weekly blog piece continue: Wednesday Worship with Adam at 6pm on our church Facebook page, Sunday word & worship at 1030 on our church facebook page for all, and there's a new daily series starting next week on Johnny's personal Facebook page, This Sunday we'll continue our 'hospitality at home ' after church via an 1115 Zoom group church conversation; sign-in details are in the church family email sent by Sue.

  • We have PPE kit to give away if you or others you know are in need? Message Johnny and collect from the vicarage!

  • We will await government, national and diocesan church guidelines before we return to our church buildings. It will be some time!

  • Kevin Wren who we support at Interserve GBI, where he serves as Head of Development is running an online Zoom event on Saturday 13th June from 10:30am to midday.  If you would like to share in this, contact kevinw@isgbi.org re more detail.

  • If you or others you know are struggling, do be in touch with Pauline Pearson our Pastoral Care Team leader. Direct any queries if you wish to pastoralcareteam@stph.org.uk

  • The CofE offer a free-phone whereby older, non-techy people can dial-up for a sermon, hymn or prayer. It’s refreshed daily. 0800 804 8044. 

  • Revised date for this years APCM is set for 18th October.

  • Here are the details for your giving: the bank details are Swanley St. Paul PCC Acc: 80859710 Sort code 20-25-42. Please email Sue at office@stph.org.uk with any questions and we will gladly assist. Although our church buildings continue to be closed, God is very much on the move in our communities and we are here to support, encourage and resource many more at this time.

  • Keep on recording your daily thankfulness... yes in every season!

Today in our scattered 1030 online offering, I'll be speak on Courage from part-1 from our new four-part series in the book of Esther, we'll have Julie reading scripture, Harry sharing an all-age moment and Chris sharing everyday faith! Here are youth resources reflecting on racism and the George Flynn murder, and children and families resources regarding faithfulness.


Here's the link to the overview & series resources, and a calling & courage spotify playlist to accompany this series in Esther! No obscure Hebrew included!


Calling and courage, with Esther pt-1

Esther 1:1-17

  • Character and courage

  • This is a historical narrative with a purpose.

  • All of our life matters to God!

  • God is never surprised by circumstances or at a loss for prepared servants.

  • In overview…

  • Esther teaches us how to read all of God’s Word. Esther teaches us to trust in God’s promises.

  • Ultimately Esther trusted God. She knew that perishing for faithfulness is far better than surviving due to faithlessness. Esther encourages confidence in our salvation. Esther motivates our faithfulness to God. Esther provokes laughter at pride.

  • Even in the midst of evil and wrong… God is God!

  • King Xerxes was the most powerful and wealthy man on the earth. He was worshiped as a god.

  • We struggle to respond wisely and faithfully to difficult circumstances that come our way and over which we sometimes seem to have little or no control!

  • God has a purpose for you, right now, right where you are, no matter who you are or where you live.

  • Chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Esther sets the stage for us, and introduces the action of the story….

  • At least four evidences of the hand of God at work in the affairs of the people.

  • 1 The agreement of the king 2:1–4

  • “There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of divine sovereignty.” CH Spurgeon.

  • 2 The choice of Esther 2:5–18

  • The influence of Mordecai v5–7

  • 3 the intervention of Mordecai 2:19–23

  • 4 Our reigning truest King

  • Jesus is a better King.

  • God is ever active and true in our lives!

Questions for personal reflection & life group sessions

Calling and courage Part 1

Read Esther 1:1-17

1. Read these opening verses in two different versions of the Bible. What immediately strikes you in these early versions in the context of chapter one & two?

2. What strikes you about the personality of the King? What do we need to be mindful of with regards to our own ability to be made afraid (v19-21) and act out of anger? Look at Proverbs 12 v 16; 14 v 17 & 29; 16 v 32.

3. What do we learn about the challenges of power and leadership? See v 13, 16, 17 & 22

4. What does the passage teach us about women in Persian society? How does this contrast with Jesus and the NT view of women? See Luke 7 v 39-50; Acts 2 v17-18, I Tim 2 v 9-10; 1 Peter 3 v 3-4

5. What do we learn about Vashti? When is it right to go against authority? vs. 9- 11; 2 v 1

6. Chapter 2 sees the introduction of Esther, a Jewish orphan. What other examples can you think of in Scripture where a Jew succeeds even in the midst of adversity? See Gen 39 and 50 v 20-21; Exodus 2 v 1-10.

7. What do we learn about the character of Esther - 2 vs. 10, 15 & 20? Prov 11 v 13; 12 v 23; 13 v 3; 19 v 22.

8. Vs. 21-23 see Mordecai become aware of, and report, a plot to kill the King. Whilst this goes unrewarded in the present, it becomes significant in the future (6 vs1-2). Can you give examples of God's providence at work in your life?

9. V 23b Where else do we see ‘it was/is written’ in Scripture?

10. Write one sentence that sums up what God is saying in these chapters.

Pray that we faithfully serve, regardless of public reward.

Points to ponder

‘We ride to success not on the tide of human affairs but on the tide of God's providence.’

‘Truth may be on the scaffold, wrong may be on the throne but God is sovereign over both.’ Charles Swindoll.

‘Providence doesn’t require high visibility; Gods best moves are not made by shouting’ CS Lewis

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