Finding Favor with the King: Week 1January 13, 2009
The Study of Esther: Week One
As we begin this study of Esther, give us the strength to understand the meanings and messages behind this story. Help us to reflect on this story and how it affects our own lives as we seek to fully appreciate the favor you have bestowed on each of us. Help us to understand and better observe the protocols of your palace that we may discover even more the light of your shining understanding and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name we pray.
On the first night of our bible and book study of the Book of Esther we gathered together in the library for a few moments to socialize and swap information about this exciting new addition that we are adding to W2W. If you’re reading this, then you already know that we will be blogging each week about Esther and the two books that we are reading to help us uncover some of the many treasures of wisdom that Esther’s story contains.
I, personally, am very excited about this opportunity to more fully explore my thoughts and to share those thoughts with even more members of our church, and all women who are simply interested in bible study.
For the Tommy Tenney book Finding Favor with the King, we had a small group of three ladies, but I think it made such a warm and inviting beginning for our journey! I made notebooks for each participant so that we could not only answer questions with each chapter, but we can also take extra notes, and I even included a journal page to go with each chapter. I am hoping that every one will take the time to write about how the part of the story we are currently studying connects with them personally and affects their lives.
I also gave each participant a book mark on which I had dotted a spot of oil of myrrh. I wanted everyone to be able to smell the fragrance that Esther had to submerse herself in for the first six months of her preparation to meet King Xerxes. Hopefully, it will remind them each time they open the book, and in the future, the smell will remind them of our journey together.
As we began our discussion this first night, I started by asking us to discuss what we already knew about the book of Esther.
Some of the things we discussed were:
· Haman wanted to kill the Jews
· Mordecai worked in the king’s court
· Esther was kidnapped into a beauty pageant
· Xerxes’ queen Vashti was called to come before a banquet of drinking men wearing “her crown.” We speculated whether that was all she was supposed to wear. Irregardless, she refused.
· The king decided Vashti would no longer be able to see the king’s face. Again, we speculated whether that meant she was banished from his sight or she was swiftly executed.
· King Xerxes was a war-time king and not a nice guy!
From here we then began to discuss what we wanted to know or gain from this study of Esther.
Some of the ideas we proposed were:
- A disciplined bible reading/reflection program
- A change (transformation) in life
- To begin a preparation for a spiritual change
- To refocus the spiritual journey, to come closer, to move beyond the intellectual relationship and really seek God’s face
- To come closer to uncovering the true purpose of God’s plan for each of us
It was at this point that we turned to Tenney’s book and decided that we would read two chapters a week and answer the questions (about five for each chapter) because the book is a fascinatingly easy read. Because one participant did not have the book yet, we took turns reading the first chapter.
This book is one that I first read last spring/summer and to which I really felt a positive connection. I was able to vividly connect with Tenney’s description of the relationship with God that we should all strive to achieve. It is hard for me to picture a time when I did not feel toward God the same way I felt toward my own father. I was able to clearly picture myself climbing into God’s lap where he wraps his strong arms around me and pats my back with his large work-roughened hands and tells me that he knows I will be able to solve whatever problem it might be. Or just having that gentle smile as I tell him how much he means to me.
Tenney makes it very easy to follow his ideas about the fascination that almost every little girl has with the pauper-to-princess story. He is so on the mark when he wrote about girls preparing for a prom or their wedding day and how the significance of the day is reflected in the amount of preparation it takes to get ready for it.
I thought it was intriguing when he told us that the Nazis banned the Jews in the concentration camps from reading the book of Esther. They were afraid of the powerful messages that Esther had buried in her story just waiting to be discovered. I especially liked Tenney’s phrase, “it [Esther’s story] reveals divinity’s solution for humanity’s confusion.”
How many of us stop to think about having one encounter with the King? How many of us spend time preparing for that one encounter? How many of us get so swept up in the multitude of insignificant details that flood each and every day that we just end up bobbing along with the current and wear ourselves out if we try to make it to shore? Or we only have time for the King when we need something, or we have a problem that we want Him to solve for us, or we rant at Him because of some injustice we feel has been done to us?
Tenney helps us to understand why the preparation was not only important for Esther, but how it is important for each of us. He gives the reader a revealing insight into the oil of myrrh that was used on Esther and the parallel with its use on Jesus and how it is a metaphor for the purification process of repentance that any Christian who hopes to meet the King must experience. Can you smell the fragrance of repentance right now? He also explains how frankincense is another herb that was used on Esther during the second six months of her preparation process and how it only releases its fragrance when burned. Again his statement, “Sometimes worship releases its sweetest fragrance when offered from the fires of trial and adversity,” illustrates the metaphorical fragrance of repentance.
If you haven’t become just the tiniest bit interested about this book, yet, just know it keeps getting better.
I’m going to share the study questions with you for Chapter 1 & 2 (see the following page) if you are joining from the web so that you can share your thoughts during the week as we read and reflect. I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I have and am again.
In closing for now, I would like to share this prayer with you:
We pray that you will help us to more fully understand what your purpose is for each of us so we may begin to truly live. We want to thank you in advance for the gift of time each day that you are granting us to read, write, and reflect on your words, your story, and your message that speaks to our individual hearts. Thank you, LORD, for giving us this opportunity to come together and share your love. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Finding Favor with the King
Study Guide: Chapter 1 – From Peasant to Princess
What a Difference a Day Makes
Do you have a “fascination with transformation“? Are you irresistibly interested in rags-to-riches stories and peasant-to-princess sagas? Why?
On page 14, Tenney reveals that the Book of Esther reveals “the way God overcomes human weakness and failure to elevate our position and rank all the way to His throne room.” Do you feel this could really apply to your life? (Explain your answer, but do not change it. Use it as a marker of the heart. The Scriptural revelation in this book will confirm your answer or demonstrate a truth you need to embrace.)
What makes people who do not know Jesus “incompatible with the glory of the King”? How can any of us become compatible with divine royalty?
Whether you are married or currently single, what went through your mind and heart when you read, “It costs you something to prepare for the single most significant day of your life“? Admittedly, some people make their marriage ceremony somewhat of a joke or fast-service formality…could this possibly say something about the depth of their commitment to one another?
Do you believe repentance (pictured in Esther’s six-month cleansing in baths of myrrh) is important in the Christian life? Is it a one-time act, or a life-long process of transformation for you?
Chapter 2 – The King or the Kingdom?
The Palace or His Presence
Whatever impresses you attracts you, and whatever you pursue becomes your purpose. What impresses you the most? What are you really pursuing in this season of your life?
Think about your church life for a moment: Do you attend church primarily for the social benefits, friends, music, or peace of mind it brings? Or, do you go to celebrate and worship God with your friends, through music, while focused your thoughts and affections on Him? (If honesty forces you to lean toward the first list, understand that those things are not “bad.” However, it is better to seek the King first over the benefits of His house.) Journal your thoughts concerning these questions and thinking points.
“You can find God in some of the most interesting places.” Describe an interesting “God place” or divine encounter in your own life or in the life of someone you know.
“One day of favor can be worth more than a lifetime of labor.” How may this principle apply to your life?
Esther realized that without the king, the king’s place was just a big empty house. Imagine “church” without God’s presence for a moment, and describe your feelings about investing your time attending meetings in such a place.
NOTE: If you would like to view only the posts specific to the Tommy Tenney Study, please select “Tommy Tenney” under the “Categories” heading (in the column on the right side of your screen).
posted by Bonny