THINK: Have you ever wondered, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" or "How will I ever be able to get through this?"? Then again, have you ever considered the possibility that a seemingly awkward, adverse, or hopeless situation could be the doorway to your destiny-the means by which you can make a mark on the world and fulfill God's purpose for your life? It won't be easy. But if you rely on God and are ready to respond when your time comes, God can use you to accomplish something extraordinary. Perhaps, like Esther, your trust and obedience to God in uncertain circumstances will bring hope, inspiration and freedom to many others.
RESPOND: How do you think the wealth and splendor of Persia under King Xerxes compared with the lifestyle of most Jews who were in exile within the empire? How did Mordecai end up in Persia (2:5-6)? (See 2:6 note.) How was Mordecai related to Esther (2:7,15)? How is God's faithfulness evident in Esther's rise to prominence? (See 2:17 note.) Even after becoming queen, why did Esther continue to follow Mordecai's instructions, and what does this reveal about her character? (See 2:20 note.) How did Mordecai save the king's life (2:21-23)? What's the real reason Mordecai wouldn't bow to Haman? (See 3:2 and 3:4 notes.) How is the reaction of the king's servants like many people's reactions toward Christians (3:3-4)? What was Haman's motive for wanting to get rid of the Jews (3:8)? How were the Jews different from other people in the Persian Empire? (See 3:8 note.) How should your life and lifestyle as a Christian differ from non-Christians? Why did the king go along with Haman's plan? Why are God's people often objects of hostility? How should we respond to those who mistreat us because of our faith?
PRAY: Ask God to help you live in a way that is positively different from those around you so that they can see Christ's character in you. Pray for compassion for people who mistreat you because of your faith.
ACT: Think of a Christian whose godly example has inspired you. He or she may be a parent, pastor, teacher, or friend. Write a note, type an email or send a card thanking this person for being a good role model. Explain how friendship with Christ is evident in his or her life and character. Also, make sure your attitudes, conversations and actions throughout the day reflect a positive difference from others who don't follow Jesus.
THINK: What's your destiny? In the words of American politician and speaker William Jennings Bryan (1860â€“ 1925): "Destiny is no matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." God had a plan for the Jewish people, even while they lived in exile within the Persian empire. God also has a plan for you, but you must be prepared for opposition while relying on Him to help you fulfill that purpose. Esther and Mordecai trusted God and took action in a seemingly hopeless situation, discovering their destiny in the process. You don't have to wait until you're older to make a difference for God's kingdom. God has strategically placed you where you are and is ready to give you hope, opportunity and direction... for such a time as this.
RESPOND: How should your relationship with God affect your attitude and actions in a crisis or situation beyond your control? How do Mordecai's words - "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (4:14) - challenge and inspire you? Do you think Esther had doubts about this plan? Why or why not? What are some situations in which doing the right thing might seem frightening or intimidating? Why do you think Esther wanted to fast (go without food) for three days before going to the king (4:16)? How did Esther show unselfish devotion to God and to her people? (See 4:16 note.) How can we keep fear from hindering our work for God? Why was Haman still dissatisfied, despite all his wealth and influence? (See 5:13 note.) How does Haman's character contrast with Mordecai's? What events at the beginning of chapter 6 show God's work behind the scenes to honor and protect His people? (See 6:1 note.) How do you think Haman felt as he led the procession to honor Mordecai (6:11-12)?
PRAY: Pray for God's favor with leaders and influential people. Ask Him to help you influence them for Jesus. Give God thanks for His constant work "behind the scenes" to accomplish His purposes in and through you. Ask God to give you a sense of destiny that recognizes and seizes opportunities to honor God and accomplish His purposes.
ACT: If there are no Christian clubs at your school, consider starting one. Plan a weekly meeting time to pray, discuss the Bible, share testimonies, plan service projects and encourage one another to stand strong for Christ. Look for "divine appointments" - opportunities God provides to fulfill a specific purpose or influence people for Christ. Be bold, trust God and take advantage of these situations.