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Finding Favor with the King: Week 2

January 26, 2009

LORD,

Strengthen us in our search to understand and apply what we learn about Esther and how she was shown her life’s purpose.  As we seek a closer intimacy with you, give us the patience to wait for your timing for our lives.  Help us to stay focused on the true meaning of worship.  Also help us to see your hand at work in the world around us.

Amen

 

WOW!  Our second meeting was so rewarding!  I think we all walked away with such a feeling of God-centered renewal.  The meeting actually began rather slowly as we opened with prayer and then began to look at the questions for Chapters 1 & 2.  I actually jumped over to the Chapter 2 questions because I felt driven to discuss what I’m being called to pursue in this season of my life.  Once I opened the floor to this question, the talk began to flow about what we were each being called to do or seeking to pursue now.  It is reassuring to know that there are others out there that are moving into new and unknown (to us) territory.  I just want to thank each of the ladies who participated Wednesday night for their candor and their trust. 

What follows now are some of the answers we gave to the questions for Chapters 1 & 2.  Please add your comments below to any or all them you would like to share with us.  Also the questions for Chapter 3 & 4 follow.  These were questions I wrote because Tenney’s site only contained study questions for the first two chapters.  Because one of the things that we wanted to accomplish during this study was to refocus our lives and strengthen our relationship with God, I tried to write questions that would draw from both the book and our own lives.

Chapter 1

1. Do you have a “fascination with transformation“?  Are you irresistibly interested in rags-to-riches stories and peasant- to-princess sagas?   Why?

            Every little girl feels drawn to this type of story.  It seems to inspire “hope” that dreams really can come true.

2.  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.)

            Anyone who has accepted God into his or her life and made HIM the center understands how He, through repentance on your part, can lift you from what seems the pit of despair and refill your heart and soul with love and hope.  Those of us who have become too driven, too busy, too smug, or even too disheartened may suddenly find ourselves taking a hard look and a deep listen to His words in order to re-center our worlds around His purpose for our lives.

 

3.  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?

            The people who don’t know Jesus have a hard time discovering the Lord’s purpose for their lives because they have a harder time finding an intimate relationship with Him.  Because they haven’t allowed themselves to become God-centered, they can’t openly seek His face.

 

4.  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?

            There’s definitely a reason why such a commitment shouldn’t be a “quickie” thing.  If a person truly feels that this is a lifetime commitment you are making to another person in marriage, then it should take some preparation.  The same can be said for a person’s commitment to the Lord.  The call may be like lightning when it strikes, but the lifetime commitment is a day-to-day striving to learn what makes Him happy, what makes Him feel more loved, to see to His needs, to please Him and seek to be closer to Him.

 

5. 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?

            Repentance is absolutely necessary in the Christian’s life because humans are not perfect and are going to make mistakes and seeking God’s forgiveness when we do err is just part of the life-long process that we will make because we love God and truly want to please him.

 

Chapter 2

 

1.  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?

            The boundless love and forgiveness God has for us is what is so irresistible.   This is the question where we began our really heartfelt discussion about how God seemed to be showing us what His purpose for our lives is at this time.  For some it seems pretty clear, for others it seems to definitely be a transitional, searching time.  We talked about listening to God and then finding the strength to do what He is telling us, even if it doesn’t seem to be what “we” intended for our lives.

 

2.  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.

            The point that we all have to remember is to stop and focus on God.  If we work from our God-center, then we should travel in the right direction.  We talked about how our lives can become driven by all sorts of external forces and internal, emotional needs and how we can sometimes lose our way.  Having just read Fran’s story in January’s Guideposts, it reminded me how sometimes God steps in and takes over when we are speeding along life’s highway, and He puts the brakes on our life to help us refocus.

 

3.  “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.

            This question really got the discussion exciting as we revealed some different and even amusing ways that God speaks to us and lets us know what His purpose is for our lives.  I hope that the ladies that were there on Wednesday will share their individual stories with you on this page.  I will leave that to their discretion. 

 

4.  “One day of favor can be worth more than a lifetime of labor.”  How may this principle apply to your life?

            That one defining moment when you recognize that God is in your life is what makes all the labors seem insignificant to that reward.  He gave us His favor on that day, and it is a joy after that to strive to please Him.

 

5.  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.

            Church would become this building, this shell, where people had meetings, but what would be the point of the meetings?  Without God’s presence, those meetings would become “outer” centered and would never be very fulfilling.  The place would always seem deserted and desolate like one of the ghost town buildings, there might be people coming and going but there’s no “life.”

 

 

Study Guide Questions for Chapter 3 & 4

Chapter  3 – Protocol of the Palace

You Cannot Worship What You Dethrone

 

1.  Do you consider yourself a temporary traveler, a guest, or an intimate in God’s Palace?

 

2.  Do you feel “fear” in God’s presence?  Why or why not?

3.  How much time have you spent waiting to have an audience with the King?  Was the wait worth it?

4.  Do you feel your work and activities in and for your church bring you closer to God , or do you feel that some work and/or activities seem to be keeping you from seeking God’s presence?

5.  Do you need your destiny altered?  Would you like to see your future changed?

Chapter  4 – Intimacy and Influence

How Relationship Trumps Protocol

 

1.  Do you understand God’s purpose for your life?  Have you ever questioned what his purpose for your life is or the direction it seems to be headed? 

 

2.  Have you tried to circumvent what seems to be God’s purpose for your life because of fear or uncertainty?  Why?

3.  Are the choices that you make about your life centered around God and his purpose for you?

4.  Do you feel there are other people who seem to have a more intimate relationship with God than you do?  Describe them?  Why do you think they might be more privileged than you?

5.  What can you do to increase your intimacy with the King?

posted by Bonny

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2 comments

  1. I really like the guiding principle that intimacy is formed through many encounters. I know from my own experience that the more I pray, the more guided I feel. For now, I am enjoying a sense of intimacy. All intimate relationships require a commitment of time. I’m sure if I “fall away,” reducing prayer time and spending less energy seeking God’s counsel, I will find myself feeling less intimate.

    I have found that work/activities (“busy-ness”) do NOT bring me closer to God. Quiet time, being still…the absence of activity – this is when I find myself feeling connected.

    Recently I went from firmly believing I knew where God was pointing me to the reality of a new role in a new job that is definitely not what I was expecting. I don’t know how God could have conveyed this destiny – it wouldn’t have meant anything to me. Yet, I feel that He has prepared me to be in this place at this time for His purpose.

    I am trying to spend more time deliberately considering God. Just as we spend a lot of time thinking about our earthly partners, considering how they will respond to our thoughts and actions, I am trying to invest similar time with my heavenly partners.


  2. I know what you mean Fran about deliberately considering God. Just this morning I was thinking that I don’t spend enough time with God telling Him I love Him, just Him, not what He’s done for me or what I need Him to do for me or even thanking Him for all He’s done for me. Just spending time telling Him and letting Him know how much I love Him. This is one of the things that Tenney’s book has helped me to recognize and to which I am devoting myself.



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