Money, Power, & Respect- Esther Chapters 5-7

imageHola Divas! Our walk through the book of Esther has been ah-mazing!  We are currently reading and discussing chapters five, six and seven! 

Chapter five opened with Esther going before the king. Remember, no one was to go before the King without being summoned!  King Xerxes was pleased at the sight of Esther and he extended his golden scepter to her. Whew, he spared her life!  

Immediately after extending the golden scepter, he asked Esther what she wanted.  He even promised her up to half of the kingdom!  Several commentaries state that he did not mean that he would literally give her half of the kingdom.  I take this to mean that King Xerxes basically said “Whatever you need ….just say it and I will do it ’cause I got it like that …I am DA Man”.  (LOL)

Instead of telling the King exactly what she wanted, Esther invited the King and Hamon to a banquet.  At the invitation of the Queen to a banquet, Hamon’s chest immediately began to stick out.  He left the palace in high spirits and went home and bragged about his professional standing to his family. 

As Hamon boasted and pridefully imagined all the honors he was going to get, he began to get angry about Mordecai’s defiance in bowing to him.  As he described how Mordechai continued to disrespect him, Hamon’s family and friends suggested he install a tall pole and ask the King to have Mordechai impaled on it. 

Even with being second in command, Hamon wanted more.  Hamon was a true follower of today’s way of thinking and Lil Kim’s rap song “Money Power and Respect”…….Money, power, and respect…. Help you sleep at night You’ll see the light ……It’s the key to life.

The desire and drive for more clouded Hamon’s thoughts and actions.  By the end of chapter seven, Hamon learned the hard lesson:  The chase of Money, power and respect is the key to death.

Throughout the books of Esther and Ruth  I have been learning a lesson about God’s providence.  Using seemingly insignificant events like parties, spa treatments and a sleepless night, God cared for His people.  God is always working behind the scenes.

Homework: 

Read Esther chapters 5, 6, & 7

Complete the discussion questions for session 5 in the Study Guide 

For Such A Time As This-Esther Chapters 3-4

Esther Bible study PicIt has been a wonderful experience to combine faith and fitness!  We are in full swing of our Ruth and Esther Bible Study Series.

Our walk through the book of Esther has been AH-mazing! Within the first chapter we had high drama and suspense…a perfect biblical soap opera.  Chapter two introduced us to our dear Esther and the first series of “The Bachelor” with King Xerxes looking for a new queen.  Through God’s providence, Esther became the queen! 

Chapter three opened with a man named Hamon rising to power within the King’s government.  Esther’s Uncle Mordecai refused to bow to Hamon who got so angry about being “disrespected” that he convinced the King to kill ALL of the Jews.  If you have been following the story, you see a common thread of King Xerxes and his “wise advisors”. 

Chapter four began with Mordecai mourning over the decree to kill his people.  He sent word of the King’s plan to Esther.  Upon first hearing about the decree, Esther resigned that there was not much she could do.  Mordecai politely reminded Esther not to forget who she was and where she came from.  Then he asked her the million dollar question:  Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? (Esther 4:14 NLT)”

The whole “for such a time as this” concept hit me right between the eyebrows.  I have been struggling with transitioning into my new job.  I was comfortable at the old place.  The old place had NOT so professional leadership..but I digress.  Anywho, the new job has been a huge learning curve and I have needed the Holy Spirit to help me with my “want to”.  It has been a mental struggle.  Has God placed me on the new job for a reason?  Unequivocally, I can say yes but what is the reason?  Surely if God has put me here wouldn’t I just love every moment or at least feel Him close to me? 

Beth Moore’s words sum things up nicely—“I had to accept that I was not called to an easy life.  I was called to a purposeful life.”

The book of Esther is the only book of the Bible where God is not mentioned.  Some commentaries suggest that this is a literary device to show that even when it seems as though God is not there, He is in fact working behind the scenes.

Do you know that God is working in your current situation? 

Homework-Read Esther Chapters 3-4 & complete the discussion questions for Session 4.

Join us for bible study and class on Saturday June 8, 2013

Ruth & Esther Bible Study-Esther Chapter 1

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 Hello Divas!  Our walk through the book of Ruth was ah-mazing! I can’t wait to see the truths that we discover in the book of Esther. 

Chapter one opens in year 483 the third year of King Xerxes’ (Ahasuerus’)  reign when he was 35 years old.   Within the first few sentences of the chapter, we read a description of a lavish and completely over the top 180-day party being thrown by the King.  Yes, you read that correctly, an 180 day party.  A party for Xerxes to make sure all the dignitaries knew he was “THE MAN”, the first “baller-shot-caller”. 

imageAfter the 180 day party, Mr. Baller threw a swanky seven-day banquet to make sure everyone could see the splendor of his majesty.    What in the world do you wear to a 187-day party? 

Ok, I digressed.  By the King’s command, everyone was to drink as much wine as they wanted to. I can hear Pitbull in the background…”party all night and drink all day”. 

As the days of feasting drew to a close, King Xerxes, completely drunk, decided that he wanted all his male guests to know that he was truly “all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips” by showing off his wife’s beauty. 

“On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him…to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.” (Esther 1:10)

We are not told exactly how she is told to appear, only that she was to wear her royal crown. Since Mr. Shot-Caller was probably obnoxiously drunk surrounded by more drunk men, early Jewish interpreters suggest that Vashti was commanded to show herself in the nude – wearing only her crown. Really?  I am thinking NO! Although many sources scold Vashti for her disobedience, what the King was asking her to do was crazy even against today’s “anything goes” culture.  

So let the drama begin!  Nobody was obviously supposed to tell the King no, especially in front of his boyz! (LOL!)  One of his “advisors” Memucan…(love how Beth Moore likens his name to Metamucil) extrapolated Vashti’s refusal to an upheaval of wives and women everywhere! Seriously? 

Crazy I know— but read what he said:

“Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces, for the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands…there will be no end of disrespect and discord.” (Esther 1:16) . 

Metamucil,cough… I mean Memucan suggested Vashti be banished.  The king sent Vashti away and he issued a decree to everyone in their own language: “Every man is master of his own house; whatever he says, goes.”

Great…..

Oh girls, this is going to be good! Our homework is to read Esther Chapters 1 and 2 and answer the questions in the study guide.  The study guide materials can be found here.

1.  Can you remember a “Vashti” (a woman/girl who was so pretty she made you feel insecure) in your lifetime?

2.  Have you ever had a Memucan in your ear?

 

Esther & Ruth Bible Study-Ruth Chapter 4

Chapter three left our dear Ruth waiting to see if Boaz would be able to redeem her since another man actually had more of a legal claim.  Yep, Ruth did everything right but she still had to wait.

Fortunately she did not have to wait long.  Chapter four began with a business deal.  As soon as the opening credits were finished, we saw our knight-in-shining armor, Boaz siting at the city gates conducting business.  Just like Ruth “just happened” to end up gleaning in Boaz’s fields, the man with the legal right to redeem Ruth and Naomi “just happened” to walk by where Boaz was sitting.

Boaz called the man over and began to talk business with him.  Boaz started his conversation with something that he knew would interest the closer kinsman…..land.  After talking about the land, Boaz mentioned Ruth and reminded the nearer kinsman of his obligations as a “goel”.

The obligations of the “goel’ in this business deal would have been to purchase the land and marry his family member’s widow in order to have a son to carry out the family name.  Naomi was well past child bearing age so that left our dear Ruth….”from Moab”.  Upon the realization that the land and Ruth “from Moab” were a package deal, the nearer kinsman relinquished his claim on the land.  Of course this is what our Boaz was waiting for!

Key the bridal march.  Boaz immediately announced……”And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife.” Ruth 4:10 

FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

And they lived happily ever after….

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Ruth 4:13

The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. Ruth 4:17

Through her marriage to Boaz, Ruth became one of the ancestors of King David who, in turn, is one of the ancestors of Christ.

Just as Ruth was unaware of the larger purpose in her life, we will not know the full purpose and importance of our lives until we are able to look back from the perspective of eternity.

Ruth’s story is really a story about our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Jesus is our kinsman redeemer, he is our “goel”. Jesus has already paid the price for our lives and rescued us from sin that would surely kill us.  Our job now is to respond to our redemption as Ruth did…..with faith.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. Job 19:25

Homework: Read Chapters 3-4 and complete the questions in the study guide (Session 2). 

Jump up and do our worship/stretch routine to Nichole C. Mullen’s My Redeemer Lives.

Esther & Ruth Bible Study-Ruth Chapter 3

Ruth Bible Study picAs we come into the next to last episode of our Ruth drama, chapter 3, we see Naomi telling Ruth about her plan:

One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind……Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.” (Ruth 3:1-4)

At first glance, it looks like Naomi has decided to become the Beverly Hills Madame of Bethlehem. Take a bath, put on perfume, get dressed up then go down to where the man will be sleeping, uncover his feet, lay down? OOOOOOOOkkkkkkay. However, Naomi was actually encouraging Ruth to ask Boaz to marry her. The ancient rules stated that the widow had to request to be redeemed. She had to ask the nearest relative to buy her family’s land and redeem her husband’s family name (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).

As is expected, our loyal Ruth did exactly what Naomi told  her to do.

Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.” Spreading of the garment was symbolic of asking for marriage/protection. Even in today’s Jewish weddings, the groom traditionally wears a tallit — or prayer shawl. This shawl is wrapped around both the bride and groom during the ceremony, to symbolize their unity. (Ruth 3:8-9)

So they immediately got married and lived happily ever after right?

Not exactly. Although Boaz was flattered and really wanted to redeem Ruth, there was someone younger than him who had the actual legal claim of “kinsman redeemer”. He instructed Ruth to wait until morning to return home (for her own safety and reputation). He sent her home to Naomi with food.

Thank you for the barley but I was expecting a ring!!!

After Ruth told Naomi all that had transpired and what Boaz instructed her to do, Naomi told Ruth:
“Sit still, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out….”

Wait? Sit still? Didn’t Ruth do all the steps….bath (check), perfume (check), dressy clothes (check), uncover his feet and lie down (check)?

Yes daughters, even when we do everything right, sometimes we gotta sit still until we learn how the matter turns out.

I found these questions in Ruth Curtis Higgs’  book ” The Girl’s Still Got It” and they really made me think:

In what area of life are you waiting right now?

Are you willing to rest in God’s sovereignty while you wait?

Homework:

Read Ruth Chapters 3-4
Complete the “Session two” homework in our study materials

Esther & Ruth Bible Study Discussion-Ruth Chapter 2

wheatChapter One of the Book of Ruth ended with Naomi and Ruth returning to Bethlehem, Naomi’s hometown.  Other than the glimmer of hope  sparked by the barley harvest, our beloved girls..Naomi and Ruth were still husband-less and broke.

Chapter two of the book of Ruth begins with a man!  Well of course it does!  Don’t all love stories involve a prince charming?  The first verse in chapter two says the following:  Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech (Ruth 2:1).

Aren’t we reading about Ruth and Naomi?  What does this Boaz person have to do with anything?

Just like a great movie my dear divas, lets just call this description of the mystery man “Boaz” foreshadowing for God’s providence.

Verse two of chapter two begins very abruptly with Ruth asking Naomi’s permission to go out into the fields and “glean” for left over grain.  Naomi must have shared with Ruth God’s law for landowners which required that they not harvest all of their fields but leave the edges and the grain their harvesters missed to provide for the poor and alien (Deuteronomy 24:19-22).

Are y’all seeing what I am seeing?  I sure hope so…uh hun…God’s providence. 

So, Ruth goes out and found a field to glean in and “by chance” (yea right), she began to glean in none other than our mystery man Boaz’s field.  As Ruth was diligently working, Boaz “just happened” (double yea right), to visit his field.  When Boaz arrived, he greeted his harvesters by saying:  “The Lord be with you” and they called out to him: The Lord bless you!”  (Ruth 2:4).

What would our workplaces be like if bosses and their employees genuinely greeted each other this way every day?

Ok, I digressed..back to the story! 

Be still my heart…not only is Boaz a wealthy and influential man (Ruth 2:1), he is also a man of God!  Now, the plot truly thickens. 

After Boaz’s arrival and greeting, Ruth returned to her work.  As she worked, Boaz noticed her and asked his laborers who she was.  They informed him that she was Naomi’s Moab daughter-in-law.  Boaz went over and talked to Ruth! He told her how impressed he was with the way she treated her mother-in-law Naomi.  During their conversation, he offered her protection, water, and an opportunity to glean at his field exclusively for the entire harvest.  Ruth’s response was one of extreme gratitude.

Then they had their first date….well not really.  At mealtime, Boaz asked Ruth to eat with him. Ruth ate until she was full and even had enough prepared food to take back to Naomi.  In addition to left overs, Ruth took home about 30 pounds of grain (enough grain for a few days).

A glimmer of hope sparked in Naomi’s eyes when she saw all the grain Ruth brought her and the realization that Boaz was related to her deceased husband.  She called Boaz their kinsman redeemer.

Key the Jefferson’s theme song…”Well we’re movin’ on up”.

Food for thought questions:

1.  Why did Boaz admire Ruth?

2.  How did Boaz show kindness to Ruth?

3.  How can you show kindness to others?

Homework:  Read Ruth Chapter 2 and complete Session 1 questions in the “Esther and Ruth Group Curriculum” by North Point Ministries. (Located HERE)

Esther & Ruth Bible Study- Ruth Chapter One Discussion

Ruth 1 16-17 verseHello Divas! Thank you so much for joining us for our Spring/Summer Bible Study Series… “Ruth & Esther”.  Need more information about our study?  Go HERE.  Session one of our series is focused on the book of Ruth, chapters one and two.  Each week, at least one discussion post will be available with additional “food for thought questions”.

The book of Ruth is a fabulous short story that is completely ready to become a lifetime movie. There is a great plot, masterful character development, high-drama dialogues and a girl-gets-a-prince conflict resolution.

In chapter one, we are introduced to a family….(Hum the Brady Bunch Tune as you read)

Here’s the story of a lovely lady (Naomi) who was married to a man named Elimelech.
With two sons, living all together, in Beth-le-hem. 
Till one day when a famine hit the la-nd
so they moved to a town called Moab.

Right after they mov-ed, Eli-me-lech di-ed
and they were all alone.
Naomi’s sons married Moab women…..Orpah and Ruth

This group, became a new family…………

At this point in the story, you would hardly find Naomi, her sons, Orpah and Ruth smiling and waving at each other like the Bradys did each week at the beginning of the show.  Moab was no place for Israelites.  The Moabs worshiped various Gods and it would have been hard not to assimilate into the culture to some degree.  Naomi’s sons married Moab women which had been deemed illegal by Moses.  As if being in a strange land was not enough, Naomi’s sons both died and she was left a widow with no heirs because her son’s wives did not have children. Naomi was left with two Moabite daughter-in-laws…Orpah and Ruth. 

Widows in those ancient times lost all social, political and economic status. Without a male to protect and provide for them, widows were completely dependent on society.

With nothing left, Noami decided to return to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-laws.

After a great deal of urging by Naomi and a lot of tears from them all, Orpah decided to return to her family in Moab.  Ruth pledged her allegiance to Naomi and to God saying these famous words: 

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17

At the close of the chapter one, Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem and their presence has caused a gossip buzz around town. When the women in town spoke to Naomi, she told them to stop calling her Naomi which means pleasant, and begin to call her Mara instead which means bitter. In verse 21 Ruth cried out that the Lord had afflicted her.

With no dramatic pause the chapter ends with this final verse:  So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. (Ruth 1:22)

The chapter started with famine and ended with a harvest…sounds just like my GOD!

Food for thought questions:

1. Can you describe the turmoil Naomi must have been feeling because of all that had happened to her?

2. What is the most traumatic thing/event that has happened to you over the last six months? Did you have a “Ruth” to “go with you” during your hard time?

Homework for this week:  Read Ruth 1&2, complete the “Session One” discussion questions located in the “Ruth & Esther Bible Study Handout”

New Bible Study Series-Ruth & Esther

Join us as we take a walk through the books of Ruth and Esther for our summer series bible study!  Both of these women exemplified faith, bravery, devotion but most of all…God’s redemption.  Bible Study sessions are held just before our Soulful Saturday classes at 8:30am every other Saturday.  The dates are:  04/27/13, 05/11/13, 05/25/13, 06/08/13&06/22/13.  To R.S.V.P. or see this event on our Meetup calendar, click HERE.

Our bible studies are FREE, open to the public, full of biblical applications for today’s modern woman and FUN!

We will be using North Point Ministries small Ruth and Esther small group curriculum.  You can access the study materials HERE. Feel free to print them for your individual use.

The curriculum handout provides background information about each book and some commentary on key verses.  The only book we are using for this study is the BIBLE.   This is a six part series!  Please complete the reading and discussion questions BEFORE coming to our group study:)!

Session 1- Ruth 1-2 
Session 2- Ruth 3-4
Session 3- Esther 1-2
Session 4 Esther 3-4
Session 5 Esther 5-7
Session 6 Esther 8-10

Questions?: info@dancefitdivas.com