Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Esther: Trusting God’s Plan

Episode Resources

Learn more about the Esther: Trusting God's Plan Bible study.

Leslie Basham: Trusting God’s plan isn’t always easy, but it’s essential! Here’s Betsy Gómez.

Betsy Gómez: There’s nothing that I will lack—that I will need—to fulfill God’s plan in my life or to walk in a godly way or to please God. He’s going to provide everything in His time, in His way, and that’s amazing!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for July 4, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Here at Revive Our Hearts we have a passion for getting God’s Word into your heart! We also have a growing passion for reaching the next generation of women with the gospel of Jesus. One way those new audiences are connecting with God’s Word is through podcasts. So at Revive Our Hearts, we’ve been working on creating some new podcasts. One of those began earlier this year. It’s called Women of the Bible.

Season 2 is going to launch on July 15. It’s a six-episode season all about one particular woman of the Bible, one of the heroines of our faith. Her name is Esther. Today we’re going to listen to a preview of one of those Women of the Bible episodes.

On that episode, the group is discussing a new Bible study produced by Revive Our Hearts called Esther: Trusting God’s Plan. The six chapters of that written study correspond to the six weeks of the podcast, so you can do the study in the booklet and then you can also listen to the podcast discussion that will be additional material to help you process what it means to trust God’s plan, as Queen Esther did. So I hope you’ll get a copy of this written study for yourself.

We’d love to send it to you as our way of saying “thank you” when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. To get your copy of the new Esther study, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. And now, let’s listen to this preview of the Women of the Bible podcast.

Erin Davis: So here in Session 1 we sort of meet the cast. We meet some of the players of the book of Esther. Some of them you will love . . . some of them, not so much.

First we meet this king. Your Bibles may have his name a couple different ways. I’m going to call him King Xerxes, because that’s easier to say. But you can say it better than I can, Dr. Venessa . . .

Dr. Venessa Ellen: Ahasuerus.

Erin: Thank you, that is so good. I’m going to defer to you every time, but I’m just going to say Xerxes. Xerxes is powerful! The Bible even tells us that his kingdom is vast. We know from history that he reigns from 486 B.C. to 465 B.C., so he’s not just a drop in a bucket. He has power for some time.

This is a man—this is a ruler—that none of us would want to live under. In the study we give this snapshot of King Xerxes. I don’t know if you ladies remember that part, but was there anything that jumped out at you about the character of Xerxes as you were either walking through the study or reading Esther chapter 1?

Betsy: I think of his tendency of showing off. Like in chapter 1 when you read the description of all the glory and glamor and that he was showing forth so long!

Erin: Sure! One-hundred-and-eighty days he has this party.

Betsy: It reveals the heart of showing off. I didn’t like that image of vanity and wanting to have all the eyes on him.

Erin: All the time . . . absolutely. Does anything else jump out to you about Xerxes’ character as you were reading?

Dr. Venessa: Even with all his power, he still couldn’t make decisions on his own. I found that interesting. All of the wars and everything he had done, and all of this time, he still turns to someone and says, “Hey, what do you think?”

Erin: “Tell me what to do.”

Dr. Venessa: “Tell me what to do with my life. Could you tell me please?”

Erin: I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, there’s some weakness revealed in that.

Betsy: My kids and I were reading this together, and a couple hours before we were talking about influence. Josué, one of my kids, said, “Mom, this king had a lot influence but he didn’t use it. He was always asking what to do, what to do.”

And I was like, “Oh!” As a guy, as a little man, that’s incredible. It’s true.

Erin: My little guys would be the same. They want a king that is decisive—even if he makes the wrong decisions. You’re the king!

Betsy: Yes. I saw that as the opposite of what biblical manhood should look like.

Erin: Sure, that’s a great picture. Xerxes is powerful, and he’s in this culture that clearly doesn’t prioritize righteousness. We see that from the long party, there’s a lot of alcohol involved in the party, there are a lot of wars going on, there’s the parading of women.

I just think that there are a lot of parallels to our culture—and every culture throughout history. The people in power in this situation . . . we don’t hear the name of God on their lips. We don’t see them making choices aligned with righteousness. And yet, that doesn’t stay the hand of God at all.

Let’s “chase a rabbit” for just a minute. This feast that’s mentioned, there’s a lot of alcohol that’s involved; it’s an alcohol-fueled party. The topic of alcohol is an area where Christians can tend to disagree. There were some questions in the book that I thought were helpful, just to help us think through this issue.

I’m going to read them, and I’m interested in your thoughts. These come from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book Adorned:

Question number 1: Is it harming my body?

Question number 2: Does it—or could it—enslave me?

Question number 3: Is alcohol an idol in my life?

Question number 4: Could my drinking cause spiritual damage to others or lead them into sin?

I think we have evidence that King Xerxes doesn’t vet these questions. There’s a lot of drinking. He issues an edict that not everybody has to drink, because there was a Persian law that when the king drank, everybody had to drink. So he relieves that for this 180-day feast.

But I’m interested, as you are thinking through some of those open-handed questions, whether it be alcohol or how you school your children or what denomination of church you go to . . . In addition to those good questions, what are some questions that you ask yourselves in your own families that help you discern those areas, like alcohol, where there might be a little bit of room for disagreement or discernment?

Dr. Venessa: Well, I try to make sure that we’re careful not to say more than what the Scripture says, because—especially with alcohol—the sin is being drunk, it’s not necessarily having a drink. I always refer people to, “Go back to your elders and your leaders in your church and find out what they’re directing you to.”

But I try to be careful that we don’t live by so many preferences . . . because it doesn’t have to be alcohol. It could be dancing, it could be music, it could be dresses vs. pants. There are so many places where we try to put prescriptions into the Scriptures that are not there.

Now, I will say, the Scripture also says, “Be careful not to cause your brother to stumble” (see Rom. 4:13, 21). I think that other question, “Is it possible to cause someone to stumble by my drinking?”. . . It’s important to balance the Scripture. Scripture interprets Scripture, so they should say one voice instead of letting one rise out above the other.

I just always remind people to be careful. Don’t allow your preferences to override what Scripture says. Don’t take a hard stand where there is none.

Betsy: Yes.

Erin: I call that being “extra-biblical.” It’s not contrary to what Scripture says, necessarily, it’s adding to or even over-emphasizing. I think we can do that sometimes. We just put all this emphasis on a topic that the Bible maybe briefly mentions, and we don’t talk nearly as much about the gospel or the holiness of God or some of these topics that Scripture talks about so often.

Betsy: I think also that sometimes we pick and choose what we want. For example, if alcohol is a big deal in my community, in my church, I would say, “Oh, I’m not intoxicating myself with alcohol!” But then I’m a social media junkie . . . So we have to be coherent, and we have to be careful and keep bringing our hearts to the Lord and ask him, “Lord, what is intoxicating me? What is controlling? What is taking the desire for You from me?”

I think it has to be more an internal process of coming to the Lord and surrendering to the Lord instead of just picking one thing and being real legalistic about it.

Erin: And it’s that abiding. For me, caffeine is an area of conviction in my life, because caffeine makes me mean. Now, is there a passage of Scripture that says, “Thou shalt not drink caffeine?” No, there’s not. It’s a Holy Spirit surrender. It’s a situation in my own life where I’ve had to surrender something. It might be sugar for somebody else.

But we’re open-ended, we’re able to communicate about it. I hope as you’re doing this study with women in groups in your church, in your home, you’ll be able to have a grace-filled conversation that’s allegiant to Scripture about this situation.

Now, in King Xerxes’ situation, the alcohol does not lead to a good outcome. He’s cruel. He’s an unrighteous leader. He makes decisions that make us cringe. We see the first one of them here in chapter one. What does he ask of his queen, girls?

Dr. Venessa: To come out and parade her beauty.

Erin: Parade her beauty. And, don’t we just know as women, that that was not an honor that he was bestowing on her, right?

Betsy: No, because he was showing her to drunk men!

Erin: He showed her to these men who had been gathered for these many days with war on their minds . . . and he calls her out. It just doesn’t feel good to me. I just know if my husband wants to introduce me to a friend, he’s going to do it with honor. I know you two have good husbands, but mine is the best, I think! He’s my better two-thirds!

Betsy: You say he’s your better “two-thirds?” Awww!

Erin: He’s not my better half; he’s my better two-thirds. He would say such esteeming things of me in front his friends. We just know that that’s not the tone with which King Xerxes summons his wife, right? And what does Vashti do?

Betsy: Well, she rejected his calling, and she said, “No!”

Erin: She did. And don’t you think she probably knew the cost?

Dr. Venessa: Yes, probably so. The only thing that I always mention here is, because we have a tendency in our culture, once we see something in Scripture . . . As he says and his friends say, “Oh, all of the wives and the women are going to pick up on this!” I think there’s a way we have to balance this and be careful with it.

Women can go, “Ahh! I feel like your motives are wrong, so I’m not going to do what you’ve asked me to do, husband!” That’s balancing the text again, because the Scripture does say “submit to your husband in all things up to the point of sin.” So we just have to be sure that we’re saying what the Scripture says—that we are to submit to husbands up to the point of sin. However, we need to be clear on what is sin.

It’s exactly what the Bible calls “sin”— not our preferences. So we aren’t saying, “Oh, you’re asking me to sin because I want to go shopping!” or whatever. We need to be clear that there are evils in this world.

When we look at Xerxes (or Ahasuerus), things that they’re asking you to do . . . I would say, women, be clear that there are sometimes you find yourself in a position that you’re being asked to do things that are sin. We’re not called to that, and we don’t have to submit to that.

We can stand before God with joy,knowing that there are some things that are clear that we don’t have to submit to. But I think you should get guidance with that. Go back to your local church, get with your pastor. Your husband is your brother, so we sometimes have to gently rebuke them and call them to that. Sometimes we need to bring in others to help you along, to identify: “What is the clear sin?”

Erin: Yep, I think that’s a good caution to throw here. The Scripture doesn’t tell us everything about what happened. We don’t know. There is that question of, yes, we’re to submit to authorities because all authorities are given to us by God. He was her authority and yet . . . she refuses to come. And the story unravels from there. 

Nancy: On Revive Our Hearts today, we’re previewing a new podcast called Women of the Bible. We’re hearing a discussion on the biblical story of Esther from Erin Davis, Betsy Gómez, and Dr. Venessa Ellen. They’ll be right back.

This conversation is from the Revive Our Hearts podcast called Women of the Bible. The new season all about Esther is coming out starting July 15. Our guests have been working their way through a new written Bible study produced by Revive Our Hearts. It’s called Esther: Trusting God’s Plan. We’d love to send you a copy of this study when you support the ministry with a gift of any amount.

Your gift at this time will help us continue bringing you this program, and it will also help us launch new podcasts like Women of the Bible. To make your gift of any amount, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. When you make your donation, be sure to ask for a copy of our new Bible study called Esther: Trusting God’s Plan.

So I would love for us to read Esther chapter 1, verses 13 and 14.

Why don’t you read it to us, Dr. Venessa? This is where King Xerxes defers to those advisors, as you were talking about.

Dr. Venessa:

Then the king said to the wise men who understood the times—for it was the custom of the king so to speak before all who knew law and justice and were close to him: Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media who had access to the king’s presence and sat in the first place in the kingdom (Esther 1:13–14 NASB).

Erin: Very good! I’m sorry I made you read that list of hard-to-pronounce names. But, yes, he’s surrounded by these men and as soon as there’s this situation that he doesn’t know quite how to handle with his own wife, he defers to these men, and the men are afraid.

They’re not so much angry at the queen as much as they’re afraid of, “What’s going to happen because she refused him?”

Betsy: Afraid of the repercussions.

Erin: They’re afraid that it’s going to affect their women—the women in the culture—that this is going to spread like a ripple effect. And so, I’m going to read to us verses 17–19:

“For the queen's behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.

'This very day the noble women of Persia and Media will have heard of the queen's behavior and will say the same to all the king's officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she'" (ESV).

So we’ve not yet heard God’s voice, we’ve not yet heard the reading of the Law, we’ve not yet heard from God’s people at this point in the story and yet, the invisible hand of God is already at work in this situation. The queen has been forcibly removed from power, and that’s going to create a vacuum that the Lord is going to use to bring our girl, Esther, into play.

So we define “providence” in the study as this: that frequently mysterious, always interesting way in which Yahweh provides for His servants and their various needs. “That frequently mysterious” . . . and it is mysterious, isn’t it? “. . . always interesting in which Yahweh provides for His servants and their various needs.”

Romans 8:28 describes it a little bit different way. I’m sure you all know Romans 8:28. What is it? What does it say.

Dr. Venessa: “For the Lord God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (paraphrase).

Erin: That’s right. That’s providence . . . that the hand of God is always working in the lives of His children. He’s working it all to our good. I have a sweet friend whom I love very much, and she had a season of life where she just couldn’t get to the grocery store. She was just eating what was in her pantry, and she got down to kind of like Ramen noodles and ketchup kind of things.

Then she came in Scripture to Romans 8:28, and it became this object lesson to her, that the Lord is using all of it, even just the little spices that are in the back of your cabinet—or whatever. He is working all of it to her good. So, I wonder . . . In hindsight we have the benefit of Esther’s story, of seeing it from beginning to end. We don’t have that in our own story.

In hindsight, can you think of a time where you go, “Yes! That was the providence of God. That was God working all things to my good and His glory. I might not have known it at the time.” But can you think of a time, in hindsight, where you clearly see the hand of God?

Betsy: God is working in so many ways we can’t see. Even with this baby (I’m pregnant right now), the Lord was preparing my heart in so many ways. It was like, “Lord, why are You making me go through this?” “Why are You doing this?” Then you get to a point that you see in retrospect and you see, “Oh, that was You! That was You.”

In our seminary years, in so many ways we saw God providing and going ahead of us—just giving us everything we needed. Even when I see in 2 Peter 1, verse 3, that: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” It’s like there’s nothing I will lack that I will need to fulfill God’s plan in my life or to walk in a godly way or to please God. He’s going to provide everything in His time and in His way. That’s amazing! That’s an amazing thought to process.

Dr. Venessa: It is.

Erin: Maybe you should name her “Providence.” (laughter)

Betsy: That’s a good one!

Erin: Dr. Venessa, can you think of a time, in hindsight, where you clearly see the invisible hand of God?

Dr. Venessa: I think there are way too many! I agree, there are way too many. But I think if you just go back to . . . Some of us don’t know that particular moment that the Lord saved us, but for me, when I look backwards and I think, I thank God for that, because it propelled me into so many different directions.

I can remember saying, “I gotta stop what!? And I can’t do what? Well, you Christians don’t have any fun! What is going on here?!” But I look back now and go, “Oh, God’s setting you apart; He’s carving you out for HIs glory . . . vessels of honor for His good.”

So you look back now going, “Okay, I didn’t need all that stuff anyway! That was harmful to His glory,” and all that. But at the time you’re like, “This seems a little rigid!”

Betsy: Yes. For example, us mothers. We are dealing with the nitty gritty, like the mundane and ordinary things. But the Lord is working in our lives in so many ways. We tend to think that what we see is our “forever.”

Erin: Sure. “The bathrooms will never be clean again!” is sometimes what I worry about.

Betsy: Yes! When I look back, for example, I went to college. I had my Master’s. Like, “That was a waste of time! Why did I go to college for marketing or for communications if I’m going to end up . . .” But then I see the Lord using those things, even in my living room with my kids!

So as you said, the Lord is using every single detail. He won’t waste anything. I think of us young women, we tend to think that this is our “forever;” that God is using just the two things we have in front of our eyes. But no, He’s even working things in us today that will work for His glory and our good tomorrow!

Erin: You mentioned motherhood, and that might be where I see His providence in my life the most clearly. We weren’t going to be parents. We had a bad theology of family, and so we were child-free for seven years by choice. Then we took a foster child into our home with the intention of adopting him, and it was just one of those adoption stories that went wrong.

But the Lord used it to change our hearts, and we became parents. Now, we’ve made up for lost time! We now have four little boys. But I can look back and go, “Oh, that was the hand of God.” Even that adoption story that went so terribly wrong, the Lord used it.

I know how He’s used it in my life, partially. I don’t know how He’s used it in that boy’s life or in my sons’ lives, but that’s the hand of God. He was working. I was out of control in that situation, but He was in control, and that is providence.

There are going to be women listening in all kinds of circumstances: good circumstances, bad circumstances, hard circumstances that have gone on for a long time. Maybe there’s a woman listening that has just been dealt a blow today, and she will think, I don’t know how this can ever be used!

But we trust that the providence of God is always working things to our good! So let’s trace providence in Esther’s story a little bit. First, what we get in this chapter 1 is this cultural picture and then the personal providence of God in Esther.

I thought we might take that same approach. In our own culture, I wonder . . . where do you need encouragement that the invisible hand of God is working as you look out at the culture? Dr. Venessa, can you think of examples where maybe as we look at it you go, “I’m not sure, but I know that God is working behind the scenes in our culture.”

Dr. Venessa: Yes, well it depends on which culture you’re speaking of. I’m in the middle of life, so I’m in the middle-aged culture, where we’re “hot.” We’re foggy-brained. We move a little slower; things are a little bit more trying. That could be that culture. Or I’m a pastor’s wife—that culture. We are church planters—that culture.

So it just depends on which culture you want me to speak on.

Erin: Speak to that middle-age culture.

Dr. Venessa: Oh, man! Well, first of all, we thank God for His providence and HIs sovereignty. He’s created the body to shut down when it’s done reproducing, right? So I could thank God I’m done reproducing. You can start there, right?

Erin: There you go.

Dr. Venessa: But at the same time, it’s a change. It’s a change in your body; there’s a loss. There are a lot of women that go through menopause who feel like, “I’ve lost something now because I can’t reproduce any longer.” I didn’t have that problem, but there are some who feel that.

I mean, your body’s so different, your emotions are so different. But the Spirit of God is there to work you through it. When you really look at the providence of God, you say, “He knew this was going to happen; He created this to be this way. I may not understand it all right now, but it does draw me to the feet of Him.”

I say, “Lord, help my patience. Help me . . . somebody turn the air on . . . please tell somebody to turn the air on!’” You know, there are different ways where you lean into God at different cultural moments.

The middle-aged woman is kind of stuck, too, because most of your kids have gone off—or are about to go off—to college. You’re also entering the empty-nesting time where, sometimes, women have not put the importance of their marriage covenant first. They’ve put their children first.

Now they’re left with a husband they may or may not like. (Not my case, praise God, it’s not!). But I’m just saying there are a lot of cultural things that happen in the middle-age season that we need to be there and show them, “God’s hand is right there. He is with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. It doesn’t matter that you’re hot and sweaty and have to have clothes that you can layer on and off.”

Erin: I’ve heard it said, and I imagine it’s probably true, that the age of motherhood when your children are young adults is the hardest, because you have no control! They’re still your babies, but they’re making their own choices, and you don’t get to speak into that. And that’s, I’m sure, a season of life (all motherhood is, to some degree) where you just have to trust that God is working in their lives, too.

Dr. Venessa: You do, you have to. You can no longer say, “Go to your room!” You can say, “Go to your house!” (laughter) But you trust, and you switch streams. As a mom, you go from parenting to mentoring. You’ve got to trust God with that!

You’ve got to trust that He is going to care for them as He did when you were making sure no one grabbed them, they didn’t fall down and scratch their knee. He’s still caring for them.

Betsy: That’s encouraging.

Erin: I love that. As you look at the culture, Betsy, are there any pockets (whatever culture means to you) where you just need to be reminded that God is at work?

Betsy: I think lately I’ve been a little bit grieved with all the division that there is in the church today, with all this craziness. It feels a little bit even like a political tension between the bride of Christ! So I’ve been talking to myself and speaking truth to myself: God is in control!

The Word of God is alive, and He’s in the business of changing hearts, saving people, bringing revival. So, yes, I think in the church environment it’s been crazy lately, right?

Erin: It has.

Betsy: There’s a lot of division between denominations and craziness and a huge lack of unity! So we can despair and think, Oh, God! Did you take a vacation?

Erin: “Have you abandoned the Bride!?”

Betsy: Exactly! But, no! He’s at work, He’s alive. He’s the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever, and we need to be faithful and keep loving each other and trusting Him.

Nancy: We’ve been looking at the life of the biblical character Esther here on Revive Our Hearts. We’ve heard from Erin Davis, Dr. Venessa Ellen and Betsy Gómez. That discussion was taken from a podcast that Revive Our Hearts has launched called Women of the Bible.

The new season, all about Esther, begins July 15. These podcasts will also be available as videos, if you’d rather watch than listen. For more details, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you have a group of sisters who encourage you in the Lord? Tomorrow we’ll show you how to develop authentic sisterhood. Please be back here on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth encourages you to trust God even in the bleakest moments! It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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