Timing pt-3, 21st June

Praying on for you that God's grace and goodness are felt and real for you each passing day. Seek out God's will and way in the Word and by the Holy Spirit in these most curious days. Our continued online resources accompanying this weekly blog piece: Wednesday Worship with Adam at 6pm on our church Facebook page, Sunday word & worship at 1030 on our church facebook page for all, and the daily series in John's gospel 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.

  • That really striking word picture that came through about jigsaw pieces, God's sovereignity, His Holy Spirit and our lives!

  • The recent pastoral letter an update and overview of where we're at!

  • We had a substantial PCC meeting with great progress, unity and detail covered, including a precious time of reflection on the question: what do we think the Spirit of God is saying to the church right now?

  • Please do be in touch if you'd like to join an existing or new Lifegroup?

  • Also dates and times for our new Alpha groups will be available next week. Again message if you like to join one of these?

  • We agreed as a PCC to not open our buildings at present due to the continued risk, care and liability associated at present. These limitations are very real. Bishop James has shared his reflections on this.

  • 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

  • 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, Sue'll be speaking on timing in part-3 in our June series in the book of Esther, with Harry sharing an all-age moment and Angela sharing everyday faith! Here's the link to the overview & series resources, and a calling & courage spotify playlist to accompany this series in Esther! Truly no obscure Hebrew is required!

Timing, with Esther pt-3 The importance of timing:

  •   There is a time to wait :  We need to stop and listen before we can learn and obey. We have to wait on God's timing. He will be at work behind the scenes. Isaiah 40: “But those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” 

  • There is a time to act: Esther was filled with the strength and power of God that made her go against all odds for His people, wearing her royal robes. Not only her outer countenance but her inner countenance was filled with confidence in God.  In humility and obedience to God in the face of her enemy Esther prepares a banquet. 

  • There is a time to be patient: We need to have the patience to allow others to play their part. God is working in them too. God has granted Esther patience in a desperate situation. She must have been screaming inside for something to be done, but she is patient and allows God the space to work in Xerxes.

  • There is a time to ignore. Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. It would have been easy for Esther to be provoked by Haman and lose her advantage in the situation. Thomas a Kempis said, “When anger enters the mind, wisdom departs.” 1 Peter 5 says “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” If you want real success in life, then it starts with humility, the humility to accept that God’s timing is perfect…..and we are not.

Questions for personal reflection & life group sessions

Timing Part 3 - Esther 5,6 & 7.

Esther wins favour with the King and invites Xerxes and Haman to a feast. That night the king cannot sleep and ‘happens’ to read the story of Mordecai saving his life. The next day Esther reveals to the king Haman’s plot and that she is, in fact, a Jew. There is poetic justice as Haman is literally ‘hanged by his own petard.’

1. Read through chapters 5-7 in two different versions. What strikes you from these chapters?

2. What more do we learn about Esther’s strategy in 5 vs1? See the similarities with Nehemiah 2 v 1-8. What can we take away from this?

3. Esther’s decision to identify herself as a Jew is a life and death decision; she risked suffering. Look at 1 Peter 4 v 12-19. How does Esther’s example help us?

4. What more do we learn about Haman’s character in 5 vs 9-14? Look at the differences between Esther’s humility (v6-8) and Haman’s rage and pride (5 v 9, 11&13; 6 vs 6 - 9); the counsel of Zaresh (5 v 14 & 6 v13) and that previously of Mordecai. How do we then act?

5. God works through happenings! The King ‘happened’ to have a sleepless night 6 v 1; he ‘happened’ to read the right section of the chronicles 6 v 2; Haman ‘happened’ to be in the palace 6 v 4 and ‘happened to phrase the question without mentioning a name v 6. Is this co-incidence or providence? Have you had examples of ‘co-incidences’ in your life where God was clearly guiding you or where He was obviously in control?

6. Can you think of other examples in Scripture where God speaks at night or through dreams? Does God speak to you in this way?

7. 7 vs 1-4 Esther succeeded in her communication with the King as a result of her timing. How do we discern ‘the proper time’ to speak/stay silent? See Ecc 8 v 4-7. 7. ‘If I have found favour’ and ‘if it please the King’ are phrases found throughout the book of Esther. In contrast, do we bargain with God?

8. vs. 6-10 Poetic justice? Esther did not intercede on Haman’s behalf – what does this leave us thinking and feeling about human evil versus divine justice?

Pray: Ask God to search our hearts about motive and for wisdom to ‘pause and pray’ and wait His timings.

Points to Ponder The path to the joy God promises may wind through the swamps of suffering and despair. ‘As the master author of human history, God weaves together the stories of our lives. To surprise us with joy to accomplish His inscrutable will, God fills our lives with apparent flukes that, upon deeper inspection, reflect His sovereign care.’

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