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Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and the sound of mighty thunder peals, crying, ’Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory.’” Revelation 19:6b-7a (RSV)

Renowned Christian thinker, G.K. Chesterton, once said, “A saint is one who exaggerates what the world neglects.” The world has become negligent about bowing before God. It does not revere him as Deliverer, Provider, or as Father. Governments and schools no longer acknowledge the Lord’s Prayer as an appropriate invocation.

Since we can never fully grasp the great cost at which our God purchased us, we can never truly exaggerate it. However, when we accept the exchange of his life for ours, we join a very large multi-lingual, intercultural family. We belong to him. He now belongs to us, too, as Lord and Father.

The Lord’s Prayer is for us now, at this time in history, as much as it was 2000 years ago. It’s for the family of God on earth and it foreshadows our community in heaven. Note that the prayer does not use the pronouns “I, me, and mine.” This prayer is not just a pattern for individual prayer. It’s a communal prayer to petition God for what we need as his adopted family — food, forgiveness, and deliverance from evil.

Belonging to God’s family can be a gentle rain on the desert of our loneliness. God, our Father, is ours because we are not the only believer left on earth. No matter how alone we may feel, we know that there are many others who worship Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Our God and Father, may we receive your mercy to live as saints, to attend to what really matters, and to magnify your Holy Name in our generation. Amen.

By Sue Braid
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Stepping Into a Personal Revival

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“But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:29-30

When was the last time you felt flooded by your situation? Overwhelmed about anything today? David, the writer of Psalm 69, was in that sort of place.

He starts with a 911 call:

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God” (Psalm 69:1-3).

He feels hated, unjustly accused, attacked with lies. He is exhausted by what seems like unending mental and emotional distress.

With the situation as desperate as it is, it comes as a surprise to us to hear David then say, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

I think part of worshipping the Lord, bowing down, and kneeling before Him is developing a long-range understanding of our circumstances. That is difficult. Our immediate, pressing, urgent conditions can rush in on us like an overwhelming wave.

Unfortunately, the force of that water can also slam us in the direction of uncertainty, negativity, and unbelief. However, we see that the Psalm writers’ practice was to wait through difficult seasons. If we can find our way toward God in worship when the water has come right up to our chin, then we are beginning to do what David practiced. We are finding a way to trust and wait on the Lord.

Pray the words of Psalm 69:3 today:

But as for me, my prayer is to Thee, O Lord, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Thy loving kindness, answer me with Thy saving truth.” Amen.

By Sue Braid
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FURTHER READING

Life’s Lessons can Come from Unexpected Places
Why I need to Press the ‘Reset Button’ – confessing sin is like a reset button in our relationship with God
Stepping Into a Personal Revival


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“For I have given them the words you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” John 17:6

Once, during a time of acute anxiety, I chose to confide in my doctor.

After listening to me, he wrote out a prescription and handed it to me. The only words on the paper were “Isaiah 41:10.”

He explained that the night before his final medical exams, panic had throttled him. He called friends for prayer. They gave him Isaiah 41:10,

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

His panic receded as he let the message of this passage soak in. The next day he passed his exams.

When fear assaults, many feelings can flood in and obsess us. What spiritual machete can we use to hack through the tangle of terror to create a clearing for the reality that God is with us to strengthen and help us?

Is it admitting our need to other believers and asking for their prayers?  Possibly. What about a command to ourselves to “Just stop it and have faith?” That could be effective. You can practice taking charge of your thoughts.

Would a cry to God for help work?  Of course.  Romans 8:26 says,

The Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

He is the helper who comes alongside us to settle the panic.

The prescription my doctor gave me still is valid. I have discovered it helps to remember what God, Himself, declares in Isaiah 41:10 — that I should “Fear not, for I am with you.” It helps me to have, what I call, a stake-out on spiritual authority. I am following Jesus’ example when, in Matthew 4:10, he resisted evil in the wilderness by quoting Scripture. As it did with my doctor, soaking in a Bible verse that the Spirit recalls to me can calm the anxiety.

Stay with the Word of God. Never be embarrassed by how often you have to dismiss your feelings of doubt or dismay. Your job is to return to thinking of the truths God has given you.

Gracious God, help us to be willing to release our instinctive ways of reacting to crises. By Your Holy Spirit, remind us that you are right beside us. May we humbly accept your strength and your help in times of fear. Amen.

By Sue Braid
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We have spoken freely to you, …our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.2 Corinthians 6:11

We may often feel that God does not answer our questions quickly enough.

But I do have a clear memory of a time when He answered very rapidly. It happened after I had just started a new job.

Day after day, I arrived at work eager to forge relationships with other staff members. I knew I worked well as a team member. I was excited to serve. Yet I encountered such aloofness from my coworkers that I became wounded.

One sunny morning in late September as I was reading my Bible, I paused and asked, “Lord, why did you put me there?”

I put you there to love.” His clearly articulated purpose shocked me.

Your heart may be open and your actions loving, but the other person’s heart may not be. But God can and does change hearts.

When I moved on from that particular job, one woman’s tribute to me was: “You taught us how to love.

Who knew? Well, God most certainly did!

Lord Jesus, thank You that through all the unremarkable days in our ordinary lives, Your love is active in us through the reality of Your resurrected life in us, even when we are not aware of it. We are so grateful. Amen.

By Sue Braid
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As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Remain in my love.” John 15:9

One of the most magnanimous acts of God is that He has woven reciprocity into our relationship with Him. He asks me to love Him and He assures me that nothing can separate me from His love. He instructs me to delight in Him and declares that He delights in me. He tells me to draw near to Him, that He may draw near to me.

Then He compares the degree of His love for me to the best relationship of all. In John 15:9 Jesus says that He loves us as the Father has loved Him. He also directs us, “Remain in my love.”

Jesus’ love is in me. It remains in me. In this sense I don’t have to fill up my inner tank.  The reservoir of Jesus’ love for me stays full for the long haul. I matter that much to Him whether I’m active or still, awake or asleep.

A Cuban pastor who spoke at our church said, “When I wake up in the morning, I whisper, ‘Your treasure is awake now, Lord.’”

Your treasure is awake. What a thought! The treasure He bought with His suffering, death on the cross, and resurrection. Jesus loves us just as much as He was loved on earth by the Father, which means He loves us eternally and unconditionally.

A simple song I sang as a child goes like this, “Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.” Do I know this? Do you? Do we live in the security of being treasures of God?

Heavenly Father, I read that Your love and presence were always with Jesus. He was never alone. No matter what was going on, Your love remained in Him. Please help me to be willing to let the truth that Jesus loves me like this, saturate my entire being. Thank You that I am filled with Your love and nothing can ever separate me from it today, or any day. Amen.

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I was two years old when I first saw beggars sitting on the side of the road. They were the poorest of the poor in the country where I grew up. Their contorted bodies, sometimes sightless eyes, flat expressions, and plaintive voices unnerved me.

At two I, of course, had no idea that —

  • God never looks at the poor with revulsion, but with compassion.

  • Jesus left heaven with its limitless and eternal wealth on every level and “he became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

  • When God regards me, He sees my spiritual poverty to be of more significance than whatever dreadful physical poverty I will witness.

  • During the years as I follow Christ, I will both mature and also wrestle with how wretched I still am, just like Paul expressed in Romans 7:24, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”

  • I would find immense security and relief in these words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” because God isn’t looking for spiritual Olympic athletes. He has set the bar low. It is my own pride that imagines I can be superior to others.

Although there is no exaggeration or hyperbole in this statement from Jesus, there is a paradox. We are complete in Christ’s forgiveness and are also in a true war against spiritual poverty.

How does that make you feel? Does it change your perspective of the physically poor?

Jesus, thank you for becoming poor for me. I thought I would be “farther along” than this, but now I see your tender, tender mercy in defining part of blessing as being poor in spirit. It is only as you continue to cleanse me daily and live your life in me that I will have anything of value to offer in this life. Without you, I can do nothing. With you, all things are possible. Love through me as you will. Amen.

By Sue Braid

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The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.”  Proverbs 18:10

Even though his wife had scrounged up a fan to offset the worst heat wave in 40 years, it wasn’t the heat that bothered him the most. It was the torment in his mind after his ten-hour surgery. Hideous pictures and sounds crowded each other. His wife found some Christian music and he put in his earbuds. It soothed him a little, but he could not rest from the horror that captured his thoughts until he whispered, “Jesus.”

The Name above all names. “Jesus, Jesus.” The chaos ceased. He lay quietly. Although the heat was still oppressive, the turmoil had been arrested by the powerful name of Jesus.

When I was a child, my father led us in reading the Bible. The verse I remember most clearly from that time is Proverbs 18:10. I recalled it as I tried to sleep in a room with large windows on two sides as ruthless bandits roamed the area of the country I resided in, far from home. I recalled it during the difficult birth of our first child in another foreign country. Recently while facing multiple surgeries, it has been my “go to” place, my mustering point for a quiet heart.

The name of the Lord does not promise the absence of trouble because Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble (John 16:33). Rather, the name of the Lord is an ever-present refuge, an invisible armor, and a powerful weapon.

Jesus, you have the name that is above every other name. We know that one day every knee will bow and acknowledge that you are Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So now we call out your name again and again in awe and in thankfulness for the power through your name to deal with all that you allow in our lives. Amen

By Sue Braid

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How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)

What do you think God thinks about you? Psalm 139 depicts God’s intimate, articulate, and unflinching knowledge of the detailed expanse we call our lives.

Nothing random or contemptuous dominates God’s attentiveness to me. This psalm shows that, even before God purposefully made me, He knew all about who I am (verse 16).

Because God discerns my individual thoughts, His thoughts about me are personal and are particular to me (verses 1, 2). He also knows the precise words I use to express myself (verse 4).

God’s thoughts about me are perpetual. In this moment God knows, for example, whether I sit down to surf the Internet or stand up to get a snack. He keeps pace with all my pursuits and pauses (verse 3).

God pervasively surrounds me. Fencing me in, He simultaneously goes ahead while guarding my back. Although I don’t physically feel it, His protective hand is on me (verse 5).

Even when I feel distant or full of darkness, He is always present and perceptive. All darkness is “see-through” to Him. What happens to me is permitted only after His security check (verses 7-12).

God’s thoughts about me are persistently plentiful. As countless as sand on a shore (verse 18). Can you even imagine?

He doesn’t just think of me in this way. We are all precious to Him. Let us intentionally choose to welcome the wonder of His focus as we bask in the concentration of His care.

Oh, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for your unbelievable awareness of me – just one little person among the 7.6 billion people on this planet. Thank you for the sheer genius of your capacity to create and know each one of us. Thank you that I receive your constant care, and that I can agree to bask in your intimacy with me. Rather than hoarding my own evaluations of myself, thank you that I can allow your thoughts to be precious to me, to fill me with gratitude and rest even during demanding days. Amen.

By Sue Braid
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“As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?” ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and the wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.”
Genesis 22:7-8

They weren’t whiners in those days — those patriarchs. They were learning to listen to God and act on what He said. Imagine being Isaac’s father, Abraham, hearing God’s inconceivable command to sacrifice his miracle child. His adored, only child. Imagine, too, making the excruciating choice to obey, deliberately preparing for the trip, courageously starting the three-day journey.

Now imagine Isaac’s point of view. Isaac observed the absence of an offering and asked, “Where is the lamb?” Abraham’s answer showed more faith and hope — for the presence of provision — than he either knew or felt. With well-grounded confidence in his loving father, Isaac accepted the explanation.

Later, lying there tied up by his father, seeing the knife, what did Isaac feel? Incredulity, terror?

We know only that at the very last minute, he was rescued. The angel of the Lord called a halt and pointed out the replacement sacrifice — a ram which foreshadowed the perfect substitute as the sacrifice for us, Jesus, the Lamb of God.

What happened to Isaac after the consternation and shock? We never hear of a debriefing with a counselor or of him acting out in anger. Genesis 24:63 suggests he became a contemplative man. He also became a comforted man — “Isaac …married Rebekah. So she became his wife and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Genesis 24:67b).

As for me, how do I respond to the inexplicable events God allows? Do I trust my truly loving heavenly Father as much as Isaac trusted Abraham?

Father of love, in your divine purposes you allow things in my life that I don’t understand. I’m tempted to doubt your long range plans. I can’t see the big picture. But I can read your Word and recall the incredible rescues you orchestrated. I can thank you for setting a precedent that you are more than able to deliver me and I can trust whatever you do with my life. Amen.

By Sue Braid
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Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19b

I was at boarding school for most of each year, so I grew up without family dinners. I had a table of peers to eat with at the end of the day. But there was no one who really listened and took an interest in how my day had gone.

Is it any wonder that I was bursting to express myself and be heard? I thought if I could only explain myself, I would be understood and validated. Yet no matter how hard I tried, many of my efforts backfired. They caused me pain and alienated me from others. I often felt trapped in anger and hurt. I had things I wanted to say!

Last year a friend said to me, “I realized I didn’t have to say what I wanted to say.” Slowly, I let that seep in. She was releasing her right to say what she wanted to because that sacrifice made a significant contribution towards peace in their home.

As I re-read Proverbs, I saw that the writer claims beautiful rewards from this sacrifice of not speaking. “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…. When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lip is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver …. The lips of the righteous feed many.” (Proverbs 10:11a; 19-21, ESV)

Does your heart yearn for freedom from the tyranny of having your say? Do you long to bring health and life to others? There are times when we need to speak up, but there are also moments when we would do well to hold our peace. Would you like to join me in the sacrifice of not always having to say the words we want to say?

Gracious, compassionate, and merciful Heavenly Father, would you grant me the grace to let go of “my right” to speak and to only speak in ways that honor and bless others as made in your image. Amen.

By Sue Braid
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Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and the sound of mighty thunder peals, crying, ’Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory.’”  Revelation 19:6b-7a (RSV)

Renowned Christian thinker, G.K. Chesterton, once said, “A saint is one who exaggerates what the world neglects.” The world has become negligent about bowing before God. It does not revere Him as Deliverer, Provider, or as Father. Governments and schools no longer acknowledge the Lord’s Prayer as an appropriate invocation.

Since we can never fully grasp the great cost at which our God purchased us, we can never truly exaggerate it. However, when we accept the exchange of His life for ours, we join a very large multi-lingual, intercultural family. We belong to Him. He now belongs to us, too, as Lord and Father.

The Lord’s Prayer is for us now, at this time in history, as much as it was 2000 years ago. It’s for the family of God on earth and it foreshadows our community in heaven. Note that the prayer does not use the pronouns “I, me, and mine.” This prayer is not just a pattern for individual prayer. It’s a communal prayer to petition God for what we need as His adopted family — food, forgiveness, and deliverance from evil.

Belonging to God’s family can be a gentle rain on the desert of our loneliness. God, our Father, is ours because we are not the only believer left on earth. No matter how alone we may feel, we know that there are many others who worship Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Our God and Father, may we receive your mercy to live as saints, to attend to what really matters, and to magnify Your Holy Name in our generation. Amen.

By Sue Braid
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The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
Revelation 22:17

My new friend texted and asked, “Would you like to come over for brunch on Sunday?” The invitation was the preface to a choice. Would we accept or decline?

When an invitation is polite, it softens the words and leaves the invitation open. Without politeness the words may sound like a strident command. For instance, “Please come over” has a much gentler tone than, “Come over here!”

Is it possible that many commands of Jesus are also invitations?  I’m beginning to think so.

In John 15:4a Jesus says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.” It’s an invitation to come be an integral part of a family, to take up space because a space has been made for you. You are invited to settle down securely and be at home with Jesus and, therefore, with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

It’s also an invitation to be part of a life-giving system. In John 15:4 Jesus goes on to say, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” This is an invitation to spiritual vitality and effectiveness.

The invitation in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” is coupled with the command, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Matthew 11:29). What? A yoke? Who needs that? Yet it’s the yoke that symbolizes the connection. It is the reminder that we are in this with God rather than striving alone, carrying burdens that are too heavy for us.

What is Jesus inviting you to today? Will you drink from His thirst-quenching supply? Live with him? Bear fruit and experiencing rest?

Lord Jesus Christ, I am thirsty, hungry, and tired of trying to do life on my own. Will you please help me accept your invitations and follow the directives I find in them?

By Sue Braid

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Mercy - But with you there is forgiveness. Psalm 130:4

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.Psalm 130:4

In anger, someone who chose to abandon Christianity – someone I love — said to me,Who needs all that guilt?!” And I agreed. For years I felt so miserably guilty, I kept trying harder to be acceptable to God. To be weighed down by the memories of my sins was more than I could bear.

Scripture says that even God gets tired of our sins. “Rather you have burdened me with your sins, You have wearied me with your iniquities.” But He goes on to say, “…I am the one who blots out your transgressions for My own sake and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

Really? For His own sake?

Only God can do this because of who He is. “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity?… You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18).

How can I set your heart ablaze with the wonderful relief of this truth? If God wanted us to suffer continuously with guilt, Jesus would not have foiled the devil’s plan by taking our sins on Himself on the cross. He frees us from condemnation. “Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity” (Psalm 103:2,3a). God loves you and me so individually, so entirely and kindly, that even though we have sinned, He extends inexhaustible, plentiful, and perpetual mercy and love to us who are in Christ (Ephesians 2:4,5). We can depend on His love, for it moved Him to forgive us.

Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for your immense mercy for me, one who still sins. I thank you for the extravagant love and freedom from guilt that you provided. Yet, without your help, I am not able to grasp that nothing can come between me and your love. So help me to surrender to your tender love again and again today. Grant me the grace to trust your unswerving support in our life together. Amen.

By Sue Braid
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How does it End for the Believer?

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

Tell me how it ends,” I beg when my sister recommends a movie. I crave a satisfying conclusion even for fictional characters. In real life I long for a happy ending, too.

Do you ever wonder why Jesus chose the unhappy losses and limits of being truly human? He experienced what it was like to be hungry, tired and dirty. He felt his own brothers’ dismissal. He was hated by many, some of whom conspired to have him arrested on false charges. Because of people’s hatred and fear, Jesus endured public humiliation along with verbal and emotional abuse, physical beatings and torture, and ultimately the shame and agony of being nailed to a cross. He took not only the physical cruelty, but also the crushing spiritual weight of our sins in His own body as he hung dying on the cross.

Voluntarily, he chose no intervention strategy, no delay tactic, no vanishing act. He chose to do only what the Father wanted. Why?

The writer of the Hebrews passage explains — it was “for the joy set before Him.” Here’s the thing. Jesus knew what to expect. It would all end with everlasting joy when He returned to the indescribable beauty of His heavenly home to be with God the Father forever.

How does it end for the believer? A joy that we can’t imagine awaits. God will be right there ? everlasting, dependable, and true. Life will be free of pain and tears. A rested immortal body. Restored relationships. Now that’s a happy ending!

Lord Jesus, I long for the perfect ending, but I’m so often distracted from the joy you have for me. Then I lose heart. May I humbly ask You to help me turn my attention to the joy ahead which you have prepared and planned for me. Amen.

By Sue Braid
Used by Permission

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Boldly Go Devotional and prayer

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

My father knew danger in a way that I never have. When the threat of loss of freedom came in 1939, he signed up for the army. He saw it as his purpose in life to sacrifice his own life, if necessary, for the freedom of others.

Today when I see ominous, fearsome events taking place, freedom to live and believe in Jesus carries new significance. The story of Queen Esther speaks hope amidst the desperate circumstances we find ourselves in at this point of history.

After she learns of the genocide deceptively planned for her people, her uncle implores her to boldly go to the king and beg him to save their lives.

Esther knew the penalty of going before the king uninvited — death. Yet she still made a bold commitment to act. Though un-summoned by the king, she summoned all the Jews in the city to join her in prayer and fasting. “When this is done, I will go to the king,” she said, “even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

If I die, I die.

Her purposefulness compels me to ask myself, “Is there anything so important to me that I would die for it? And the corollary question also comes to heart: “What am I living for?” By risking her life, the boldness of this one woman prevented a massacre. Esther’s prayer, fasting, and courage are still honored every year in Israel by a joyful national holiday.

What is my purpose (“for such a time as this”) in the place God has positioned me? What is yours?

Lord Jesus, thank You for making a bold commitment to me by becoming like a slave to change my history, now and eternally. Thank You for Your willingness to die, then rise again, for me. Now, at this present moment, help me to act intentionally. Help me to participate in bringing life and freedom to others in Your name. Amen.

By Sue Braid

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