The last installment of the study of Abraham. Abraham’s obedience to God, through curcumin to the offering of Issac as a sacrifice. We Look at his intercessory prayer and his unyielding faith in God.
God has promised Abram great things including great numbers of descendants. Abram sets for the first mention of the tithe with Melchedidek and Abram and Sarai jumped ahead of God and instead of standing on faith chose to move ahead of God.
God’s promises to Abraham:
- I will make you a great nation.
- I will bless you.
- I will make your name great.
- You will be a blessing.
- I will bless those who bless you.
- I will curse those who curse you.
- Through you shall all people be blessed.
This week we look at Abraham from his call from the call of God to the separation of Abraham and Lot. God may call us and not give us a clear destination, but when we are called He gives us promises. Step ut on faith and hold on to the promise. The journey may be more impactful than the destination.
God chose Noah for a ministry, just as he has chosen you. Noah’s life and witness illustrate the importance of maintaining a consistent witness in the face of abounding scorn and ridicule, and never giving up even though one’s message seems to be falling on deaf ears.
God found favor in Noah in wicked times. He can also find favor in us during these wicked times. This week we look at the story of Noah’s life and faith up to the flood. We discover if God has put a calling in our hearts, He has already factored in our weaknesses.
Studying Adam and Eve’s children, Cain and Abel can allow us to learn from the literal first family. Let’s try to let God be God. “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) Christ took care of the first family and He still takes care of us.
Learn about Adam and Eve and what we can learn about God, Satan, and ourselves. Studying the creation and fall of these first humans can teach us how to fight Satan and gives us insight into Satan’s tactics. These two also show us the love of our Lord God.
We talk about the importance of learning about Bible characters as an adult and how we can strengthen our spiritual armor by learning about these people. Bible stories can grow your faith and understanding of God.
Sometimes I think Martha gets a bad deal.
In Mark 10:38-42, Jesus visits the home of Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus. While Martha bustles around preparing food for their guest, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to him. When Martha complains that she’s doing all the work, Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
Most analyses of this passage end with the admonition to “be a Mary, not a Martha.” Women are especially plagued by this notion, often caveman-like in its simplicity: “Martha bad. Mary good.”
Now, I’m not contradicting Jesus here. Martha got it wrong—that time. But it doesn’t follow that Mary was a better person, or a more devoted follower of Jesus. Another Bible story offers a side-by-side view of Mary and Martha: the events leading to the raising of Lazarus in John 11.
A Different View of the Sisters
Jesus receives word that Lazarus is ill to the point of death. Instead of going to the aid of his friend, however, Jesus delays. When he finally does arrive, Lazarus has already died. The moment she learns of Jesus’ arrival, Martha rushes to him. In the midst of her grief, she makes a remarkable statement of deep faith: “Martha then said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you’”(John 11:21-22).
Where is Mary? In the house, mourning. She doesn’t come to Jesus until he calls for her (v. 29). She doesn’t make a great claim of faith like Martha. She isn’t there to hear one of Jesus’s most remarkable claims about himself, in verses 25-26: “I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Mourning is not a sin. Neither is housework. I’m not highlighting these events to turn people against Mary in favor of Martha. Both were devoted followers of Christ. Neither of them were perfect.
We Need Martha and Mary
Martha is a “doer.” She has a take-charge attitude, and she will do whatever needs to be done. But when the chips are down and there’s nothing left to do, she knows that she can turn to Jesus. She loves to serve others—we see her three times in the Gospels, serving every time. She speaks her mind. Martha is dependable. If you need Martha to be somewhere, she’s probably already there, getting things done.
Mary is a woman of few words. She is not a typical leader, but she is a devoted follower. She doesn’t offer the kind of service or action that other people do, but she does offer herself, and she’s capable of tremendously beautiful acts of worship.
We need both Marys and Marthas. Say there’s a death in your family. Mary will sit with you and put her arms around you while you weep. But you still have to eat. Martha’s the one who brings you food, and makes sure someone waters the plants and walks the dog. Both of them are loving you. You need them both.
I can easily spend an hour or more in devotions every morning. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop studying Scripture so I can get other things done. That sounds very holy and spiritual, doesn’t it? But what if it makes me late for work? What if guests are coming and Daniel is left to do all the cleaning himself? What if I really needed to take the car to the shop—and now there’s no time?
The issue isn’t only whether Jesus is a higher priority. Of course, he is. But Jesus would never want me to sit there reading all day while my house falls apart and my family feels abandoned. Devotion can be an excuse for laziness, and allowing my life to become that imbalanced would not please the Lord.
Worship in All Things
We are told in Scripture to do all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). Is Christ less present in my life while I’m making the bed than when I’m reading the Bible? No. The life of the Christian should be characterized by worship in all things, not just obviously religious activity.
In Luke 10, Jesus doesn’t scold Martha for working around the house; that’s not the issue. The one necessary thing was attention and devotion to him. Mary could’ve been letting her mind wander while Jesus was speaking to her, just as Martha could’ve continued cooking and cleaning and setting a nice table as an honorable offering to Jesus.
But Martha expresses her frustrations with Mary, and that’s when Jesus rebukes her. Sitting at his feet isn’t holier than cooking in the kitchen. Jesus tells Martha not to worry about Mary, but to follow him while she cooks and cleans.
The Christian life is not a competition to see who the “best” Christian is. We all sin and fall short. Rather, it is a turning of all our earthly deeds and passions toward the Lord Jesus Christ. So if you’re a Martha, stay a Martha! She was no less devoted to Jesus than Mary. Love him in your work—do it with all your heart!
The good news of Jesus Christ is for all those who know their need for him. Mary is not our standard of living any more than the many other notable figures in the Bible story. I checked, and Hebrews 12:2 says quite clearly that it is Jesus who is the perfecter of our faith.
Whether you are a Martha or a Mary, look to Jesus, and follow him.
Last year I wrote a couple of plays for a local dinner theater. Esther: Queen of Persia was the first one. Since then I have had people asking for a copy of the script. I am posting the script free of charge. If you do the play, I would ask is that you email or contact me with photos. Thanks!
Here are some photos of our performance.
ESTHER: Queen of Persia
By: Missy Armstrong
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Minimum Cast 8 Men 6 Women 1 unisex
King’s Scribe- Male or Female
King Xerxes[ZURK] + [SEEZ] – 24-year-old Ruler of the Persian Achaemenian Empire
Queen Vashti [VASH] + [ty]/ Zeresh [ZER] + [esh] – Wife of King Xerxes/ Wife of Haman
Harem Dancers/ Servants- 2 Speaking Female
Abagtha [uh]+[bag]+[thuh]- Servant- Female
Karshena [KAR]+[SHE] +[na]- Wise man of Persia
Shethar [Sheth] + [ar]- Wise man of Persia
Admatha [ADD]+ [math]+[a]- Wise man of Persia
Tarshish [TAR]+[shish]/Servant/Guard (act 2)- Wise man of Persia
Meres [Mir]+ [s]- Wise man of Persia- Non-Speaking Can be combined with Memukan
Marsena[mar]+[SEE]+[na]/Servant/Guard (act 2)- Wise man of Persia
Memukan[ME]+[moo]+[can]- Wise man of Persia
Guards- 2- 1 Speaking Male
Mordecai [More]+[deh]+[kai] – A Jew—the adoptive father of his cousin, Esther
Esther (Queen Esther)[es]+[ter] – A Jew who was chosen as Xerxes’ new queen
Hegai [Hegg]+[I]/ Guard(act 1)- the king’s eunuch- Male
Hathak [hu] +[thak]- Esther’s Maidservant- Female
Haman [Hay] + [man]/ Servant or Guard(act 1)- Prince of Persia-Enemy of Mordecai
The Persian Achaemenian Empire during the reign of King Xerxes I,
King Xerxes Empire
What it would look like today.
Anytime someone enters or is leaving the room with Xerxes, Vashti or Esther(once she becomes queen) bows, except Mordecai.
During most scenes, the scribe is on stage somewhere with a quill and scroll.
Harem Dancers are used between certain scenes to ease transitions.
Servants will move in props and set pieces for scene changes.
King Xerxes has a scepter and every time he makes a decree he hits the scepter on the ground.
Music should be Middle Eastern (sitar type) music.
The battle scene will be choreographed depending on the cast.
SCENE 1: Palace
Sound cue: Sitar or harp music low
(Biblical description= The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones. The wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other.)
(The back door opens and the Guards Come through.)
(shouting forcefully)Make way for the king!
(Xerxes enters and all the men follow him. They make their way through the audience. When Xerxes gets midway to the stage he addresses the men)
Queen Vashti is having a banquet here for all her closest friends. Isn’t it exquisite? Our banquet is just inside. Come let us enjoy this feast.
(harem dancers dancing )
(King’s scribe steps away from the feast and addresses the audience)
King Xerxes ruled over 127 provinces stretching from The Balkans to India reaching Ethiopia and The Nile region. Today, King Xerxes reigns from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, and this is the third year of his reign. The King held a celebration that has lasted 180 days—a tremendous display of the opulent wealth of his empire and the magnificence and splendor of his majesty. At the end of the celebration, he has blessed us with a banquet for all his nobles, officials, and princes. We are enjoying the seventh day of this feast.
(stands and addresses the banquet)Eat, drink, and enjoy yourselves, for my lands are vast and plentiful. Servant! Fill my cup. (Takes his seat)
Your Highness, you are too kind, your generosity is overwhelming. Raise your goblets. All hail, King Xerxes(everyone raises their goblets)
All hail, King Xerxes(toast and drink)
(raises his goblet) To Persia, which definitely has the best wine and food in the world.
(Shouting half-drunk) And the most beautiful women… Don’t forget the women.
(to the king)Where is the Queen? We haven’t been blessed by her beauty since we arrived.
You ( pointing to another Abagtha) bring me, Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, so I can display her beauty to the people and nobles. (Abagtha bows and leaves)
(With enthusiasm)I have seen her from a distance. She is as gorgeous as our king says!
(Dreamily)Ah, I long to see her. What an honor. She is so… beautiful.
(Queen enters stage right)
Your highness(bowing to the queen), the king requests your presence at his feast. He wishes to show off your great beauty.
(slightly angry) The king wishes for me to leave my own guests. He wants me to drop everything and run to his side. So, all the men in the empire can stare at me. He wants to parade me like a cheap harlot. Tell the king I refuse to go.
(Shocked)QueenVashti, you must come with me! You have no choice in the matter. It is the king’s wish.
Tell him, I am entertaining my friends and I must not leave them. Our celebration has only begun.
(nervous)Your majesty, if I tell the king you refused he will become angry at you or he might think I did not give you the message.
(pompous)Am I not the Queen that I can say and do as I please? Tell the king if he wishes to be in my presence he can come to me. (Vashti storms off)
My Queen! My Queen! (Abagtha exits)
My queen is fairest in the land, crowned by stars from the skies.
(Abagtha enters bows to king nervously)
Your majesty, the queen refused to leave her guests. She will not come.
(The king is furious and burns with anger.)
What? (Emphatically)the queen, my wife, refused to do as I say?!
Who am I that she should refuse my command? (Angrily)No wife should refuse her husband and I-I am King!
(trying to create dissension)What does it say about a king that his own wife will refuse him?
Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, and Marsena, I require your counsel. (The King and the men huddle away from the other party-goers) You are my closest and wisest subjects. According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti? She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the servants have taken to her.
Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For the queen’s conduct will be known to all the women.
The women will tell their husbands, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ By tomorrow morning the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end to disrespect and anger.
If it pleases the king, issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also, let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.
Let this be done. Proclaim this decree(hits scepter on the floor) throughout the entirety of my vast realm; all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest. Guards! (Guards come on stage) Queen Vashti has been banished from my kingdom. Go remove her from my palace and lands.
(everyone leaves the feast to spread the word of the decree)
(Guards enter the side door, one carrying some rags )
Queen Vashti! Queen Vashti! By royal decree, you are banished from the kingdom of Persia and Media.
What? ( guards grab her arms as she wrestles to get free. )Where am I to go? (visibly upset) I refused the King one time!
We will require your crown and clothes. We have these here for you. (hands her rags) We are to escort you to the border. Where you go from there is up to you.
Wait! Let me get some things or a servant. Servants! (all exit)
(Stage is cleared and the thrones are pushed out)
(Harem dancers dance through the transition)
SCENE 2: Throne room and Palace Garden
(Xerxes sits alone on his throne feeling saddened by his loneliness, harem dancers dancing, servants come in with food and drink)
In the three year absence of Vashti, the king slowly became more and more saddened.
(Xerxes waves the harem dancers away. Servants come in with wine and food and offer it to the king)
My king, please eat something. (Xerxes waves the servant away. Servant Exits)
Out now! You bothersome creatures!
(Shethar and Admatha enter)
Nothing cheers him up. I couldn’t even get him to play a drinking game with me yesterday.