The Time May Be NOW

Hear now the reading of God’s holy word

Esther 4:13-17 (NRSV) “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” 15 Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
Esther 9:18-19 (NRSV) 18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, a holiday on which they send gifts of food to one another.

This is the word of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.

VASHTI (Heb. washti, beautiful woman, from the Persian). Xerxes’ queen whom he divorced because of her refusal to show herself to the king’s guests at a feast. Her place was taken by Esther (Esth 1:11).

Vashti was the daughter of Belshazzar and the grand-daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. Her father, Belshazzar, had a drunken feast, and during this feast he used the utensils they had stolen from the temple, thereby defiling them and his kingdom was destroyed that very night. His daughter, Vashti was captured by Darius and she later married Artexerxes, also known as Ahasuerus, who ruled over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia.

Xerxes had a feast which lasted for 6 months and the people attending were the nobility that stretched across the Persian Empire. During the last week of the feast, Xerxes extended the feast to include everyone, both great and small, and at the end of 7 days of drinking he ordered Vashti to appear before himself and the others wearing only her crown. Vashti refused and was deposed that very night. Some say she was beheaded, others say she was divorced. Before you begin feeling too sorry for Vashti it is important to remember she made her Jewish servants do their household duties on Shabbat( pronounced Chabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and means to cease) in the nude, so this was almost a case of what goes around comes around.

The king was not just angry because Vashti had refused his order and embarrassed him. His advisors said this is going to be awful if the other women hear of Vashti’s insubordination—all of our wives will refuse our orders. So they persuaded the king to issue a royal decree that Vashti would be replaced and when the women hear of that, all women will give honor to their husbands.

Enter Esther. Esther was a Jew, the cousin of Mordecai but taken in by him as his goddaughter. Esther was her Persian name, for like others during the Diaspora, or dispersement, she was renamed. Her Jewish name was Hadassah. If you remember we witnessed the same thing with Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

So Xerxes has banished or killed his wife, and a search begins for a new queen. Esther is one of the young women rounded up, and she finds favor in Hegai, the person in charge of the harem, and after one year of cosmetic treatments she is taken into the king.

Mordecai, the uncle or cousin, was clearly Jewish, he did not hide his heritage, but Esther did not make her heritage known. In fact, the book of Esther was almost not included in the Bible because there is not one mention of God in the entire book. Nor is there any mention of Jewish rites—there is a mention of fasting, but again, God is not referenced. Some people even consider the whole story made up, but I will tell you later why I do not think that is the case. One of the King’s top men was Haman and he was infuriated when Mordecai, a known Jew, would not bow down before. So he issued a decree in the king’s name to have all of the Jews killed.

Notice in the scripture that Mordecai did not mourn in private. He tore his clothing, covered himself with ashes and paraded up and down the street, just stopping short of entering the king’s gates. The scripture mentions fasting. It could be that many of the Jews had forsaken their worship of God, but once they were faced, yet again, with the threat of extinction, they began fasting and weeping. I will be honest that until I studied Esther in Disciple One it had never occurred to me that God was not mentioned in this book. When I hear of someone fasting and weeping, I immediately think they are communicating with God both in contrition and intercession.

As we read the book of Esther, we find she had really become quite sheltered from Mordecai and her people. She had heard nothing of the decree to kill the Jews, nor that Haman was the perpetrator of this scheme. But now Mordecai was asking Esther to do the impossible. What did he ask that she do? And why was it so dangerous?

She would be exposing herself as a Jew. She would have to go before the king without being summoned by him, which was punishable by death.

For such a time as this—I love that. Mordecai says if you do not do this, deliverance will come from another place. Now, I think the reference here has to mean God. And who knows, you might be in this position for such a time as this. Throughout the Jewish history, God always put people into place to save the Jews from extinction. Many times these people are the least and the last you would expect God to choose. Esther was in the precarious position of being a Jew, married to a Gentile, and one who was irrational and accustomed to getting what he wanted.

Where once Esther was separated from her people and her identity, she now takes the initiative and tells Mordecai to have all of the people fast for 3 days and she vows to go before the King, and if she perishes, she perishes. She is now a part of the Jewish community and willing to die so that they might live.

Esther prepares a banquet for the king and Haman. It is revealed that Mordecai, on more than one occasion, has saved the king’s life, and it is also revealed that Haman plans to execute Mordecai along with the other Jews. Instead, the king has Haman hanged on the very gallows Haman had built for Mordecai, and instead of the Jews being executed they were victorious and the Festival of Purim was instituted by Esther and Mordecai to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from the plot of Haman (Est 9:20-32).

I said earlier I was going to tell you why I believe this story is true, and not fictional.


There was a Vashti and she was the daughter of Belshazzar.
There was a Xerxes
There is a Feast of Purim, still celebrated annually. A feast would not be established based upon a fictional story.


Esther was right where God wanted her to be. How do you know you are where God wants you to be?


I wrote this piece many years ago, but today, 2020, the world is in chaos. Listen to the voice of God. Perhaps you have been chosen for such a time as this.

Receive now this blessing: God never changes. Rely on Him to make straight your paths, to keep the boat from sinking, and if He calls, answer with a resounding, “Here am I, Lord.” Take the name of Jesus with you, and share Him with all you meet. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Proclaiming the Word

The Circuit Riding Preacher

The Circuit Riding Preacher used to ride across the land
With a rifle in his saddle and the Bible in his hand,
He told the prairie people all about the promised land
As he went riding, singing down the trail.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarm,
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

The Circuit Riding Preacher traveled through the mire and mud
Told about the fiery furnace and of Noah and the flood.
He preached the way to heaven was by water and the blood
As he went riding, singing down the trail.

There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood, of the lamb,
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the lamb.

You know, a circuit riding preacher said these words one day,
Lord, I’d rather see a sermon, than hear one any day,
And I’d rather one walk with me, than merely show the way
For the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creed
And to see their good in action, is what everybody needs.
I can learn to do it, if you let me see it done
I can watch their hands in action, but their tongues too fast may run.
And the sermons they deliver may be very wise and true
But I’d rather get my sermon in watching what they do.
For I may misunderstand them and the high advice they give,
But I’d rather get my lesson in watching how they live.

John 3:16
16 “For hGod so loved ithe world,9 jthat he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not kperish but have eternal life. 17 For lGod did not send his Son into the world mto condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 nWhoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not obelieved in the name of the only Son of God. 19

I have often joked that I was a circuit riding preacher. When I served the older congregation at Lakewood UMC, I went from Benton to Conway to Beebe and all over North Little Rock to take God’s word and share Holy Communion.

When I was appointed to the Sixteenth Section/Ward UMC churches, I traveled several days a week from Little Rock to Austin and Ward, riding in my trusty Subaru (the preacher-mobile) instead of on horseback as the circuit riders of old.

I counted it as great joy to be able to minister to and serve with the people in these congregations, and I am so thankful to have made life-long friends, many of whom watch these devotionals on Facebook.

Today my ministry has certainly changed. I cannot visit nursing homes or senior living centers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although I am still asked to fill the pulpit of the few churches that remain open, I usually decline because I am no longer strong enough to deliver the word in person. Many churches are offering services online, one of which is my home church, Asbury UMC, for which I am supremely grateful, but I miss being with the people of God.

I am sure that you, too, miss being in your church building. But remember, you are the church, I am the church, we are all the church,and therefore you are always with God and His people. Glory, glory hallelujah, His truth is marching on.

Receive now this blessing. God gave His only son for you and for me, and for all who will call on His name. Take the name of Jesus with you and share Him with all you meet.

Trust and Obey


Trust and Obey

1 When we walk with the Lord 
in the light of his word, 
what a glory he sheds on our way! 
While we do his good will, 
he abides with us still, 
and with all who will trust and obey. 

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way 
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. 

1 Samuel 15:22

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

When we were in Youth Group, we played a game called the trust game. One person stood with another standing directly behind them. The person in front was instructed to close his or her eyes, cross their arms, and fall backward, trusting the person behind them to catch them before they hit the floor. Admittedly, I was so small I never worried too much whether I would be caught. But no one wanted me to be the one catching. I was a head shorter than anyone else in the group and would clearly have fallen with the person I was trying to save from ending up on the floor.

Our scripture speaks of the importance of obedience to God, and we need to realize that obedience and trust go hand in hand. King Saul was going into battle, and he was instructed to wait until the prophet Samuel arrived to offer a sacrifice to God. Samuel was late, and Saul became fearful that the battle would be lost if the sacrifice was not given, so he took it upon himself to present the sacrifice to God instead of waiting. Did you remember that because of this rash act, King Saul would lose his kingdom?

Sometimes we can do things with the best of intentions, and other times out of fear, but the bottom line is that God doesn’t just request our obedience, He demands it.

You might be thinking, Pastor Carol, this isn’t a very encouraging message. We want to hear hope! But listen. Our hope is never in our own actions, but in waiting on God, listening to God, and living according to His Word.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Does this scripture sound like a suggestion? No, it is not. When we acknowledge God, we are recognizing His rights, His authority, His status. When we trust and obey God, He will not only make our crooked paths straight, He will many times place us upon the right paths. God does not lead us down blind alleys, but instead He shines the light of His understanding upon us when we determine to walk in His word.

Trust and obey, there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Receive now this blessing: May the Lord our God give strength to we His people, and may He overwhelm us with His peace.

Take the name of Jesus with you and share Him with all you meet.

Higher Ground

Are you goal oriented, or just living for today?

Continue reading

In the Sweet By and By

There’s a land that is fairer than day

And by faith we shall see it afar

For the father waits over the way

To prepare us a dwelling place there.


In the sweet by and by

We shall meet on that beautiful shore

In the sweet by and by

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.


Hi, it’s Pastor Carol again, and I want to share with you the hope that we have as Christ followers. Hear now the reading of God’s Holy Word:

John 14:1-3 (NRSV) 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

This is the word of God for the people of God.

Thanks be to God.

Has there ever been such hope as that given to us through Christ Jesus? First we have the hope of salvation found in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Then we have the hope of the resurrection, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live,” John 11:25.

Can anyone exist without hope? Merriam-Webster dictionary says that the definition of hope is to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true.The use of the word “hope” has become so overused, and really, the meaning has been watered down to the point that “hoping” is not much more than wishing that something unlikely will occur.

Conversely, hope in the Bible is a confident expectation, not because of our efforts, but because of God’s promises. There is a solidity in godly hope, whereas the hope found in the world is nothing more than a wispy trail of smoke that dissipates into the atmosphere.

So, I ask again; can anyone exist without hope? I think not.  I encourage you today to grab hold of the hope found in the scriptures and in a personal relationship with Christ Jesus. There is a land that is fairer than day, but because of hope we can trust not only in that grand reunion on heaven’s shore, but in living daily a life that reflects Christ in all we say and do.

Receive now this blessing: 2 Th. 2:16-17 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. Take the name of Jesus with you, and share Him with all you meet.






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