Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
“I have heard people say that ‘Only doctrine is important.’ Would they leave no room for Christian experience? Consider the preaching and example of the famed Jonathan Edwards, used so mightily by God in the Great Awakening throughout New England in the 18th century.
Edwards was acknowledged by society to have been one of the greatest intellects of his time. Yet he believed in genuine Christian experience so positively that he wrote a well-accepted book, Religious Affections, in defense of Christian emotion.
Charged by some that his revivals had too much emotion, Edwards stood forth and proclaimed that when men and women meet God, accepting His terms, they experience an awareness that lifts their hearts to rapture.
What higher privilege is granted to mankind on earth than to be admitted into the circle of the friends of God.”
“I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.”
Today’s Study Text:
“She (Vashti) was fair to look on.”
“Fair” in Hebrew, “tôwb”, as a descriptive adjective – “Vashti was a good woman.”
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“Vashti’s Voice” Part 10
Definition of “Voice”: “The sound produced by vocal organs of a human being. A medium or agency of expression. Giving ‘voice’ to ones feelings. The right or opportunity to express a choice or opinion.”
“We have so many voices in us, how do we know which ones to obey?”
How do I use my “voice”?
When I look at a person like Vashti, even though there is no Biblical record of the specific words she spoke, what does her voice say to me today?
“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.”
“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.”
I’d like to pose a question to you. “If today you stopped talking – all was silence as no words passed from your mouth – who do you think would notice? Family members? Close friends? Co-workers?” And one more question, “Do you ever feel that if you stopped speaking no one would even care?”
At its core, the story about Vashti contains a gold nugget worth a great deal to both women and men. It is this: how we choose to use our voices makes a major difference, whether we recognize it or not, in our own life and the lives of those we interact with on a daily basis. My voice can be the power tool of my existence for my words carry with them my thoughts, my opinions and my soul. Nothing gives a glimpse into our inner being like the words which tumble out of our mouths. Here are a few Biblical passages which confirm this truth:
1. “For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.”
2. “I said, ‘I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before me.’”
3. “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
4. “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.”
5. “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life; be he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
6. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
During the past 5 days we have witnessed the way Queen Vashti of Medo-Persia chose to use the words of her mouth. She understood the power unleashed by her tongue when she said, “No,” to what Renita Weems calls “the manipulative power of her husband, King Ahasuerus.” Weems continues by underscoring the fact that “Vashti acted out of a power all her own. Risking her marriage, her status, and her life.” Vashti used the words of her mouth to refuse a request which the law of Medo-Persia actually forbid: exposing your body to strangers. Furthermore, Vashti’s refusal to demean herself in front of drunken witnesses served to say much more than a simple “No!” Her actions became a voice, not only in Medo-Persia, but down to this very day where we live in a world that calls for powerful voices of purity…integrity…and most of all truthfulness.
I could never have imagined where our studies this week, taken directly from the Biblical record, would have led us. So many new discoveries about a woman who God used in His providential plans not unlike the way He used Deborah, Rahab, Ruth and yes, Esther.
Writer Greta Schumm in Images: Women in Transition, penned a poem that she states was “written with special affection for Queen Vashti”:
set before windows
to be seen
where spots of anchored light
the woman in me
far away from the dollar toys
and dull of window eyes.
I have room for you
in the soul
of one person
As we have witnessed Vashti using her voice to minister to the women at the time when she lived, her voice still lingers in the air. And as Carolyn Mathis writes, “Vashti can be a model for us, thousands of years later. Vashti’s refusal echoes through time, sustaining women who seek to resist the definitions and expectations of those considered powerful. We are Vashti’s sisters. And today we need to sing Vashti’s song. A song of justice for all.” Open your mouth. Use your voice. Use your words. Be one of Vashti’s sisters!
A Psalm of Beauty
“She walks in beauty
as the night,
veiled in the folds of mystery,
concealing the deep, dark secret source
of her integrity,
revealing only what will inspire,
so is she who walks with God.
She rises in beauty
as the dawn
radiant with newly awakened light,
clear as far as the eye can see,
slowly, surely enticing all
into the orb of her energy,
so is she who rises with God.
She sits in beauty
like a stone, certain of her appointed place,
fundamental and firm to the insecure.
Unafraid to sit alone,
so is she who sits with God.
She stands in beauty
like a tree
deep-rooted, so no catastrophe
can wipe her memory from the land,
nor fell her
when she takes a stand,
so is she who stands with God.”
Miriam Therese Winter
Sacred Journeys –
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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