Esther & Turnaround JOY # 3 – The Spa & the New Queen

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Are you seeking to become more attractive and win favor with others? Who isn’t? Today, Esther offers us ideas on how attractiveness, God's way, finds favor and how the providence of God unfolds slowly but surely. | #podcast #Catholicpodcast #Christianpodcast #BookofEsther #EstherandTurnaround #joy #joypodcast #karendwyer #wrapyourselfinjoypodcast #wrapyourselfinjoy  

Are you seeking to become more attractive and win favor with others? Who isn’t? Join us today at the Spa, circa 479 BC and hear how attractiveness, God’s way, finds favor and how the providence of God unfolds slowly but surely. (The image is an ancient painting entitled Esther Bedecked by Aert de Gerder, 1684, showing Esther bedecked in an ermine-edged coat.)

Persia, 479 BC

  • Four years have passed between Chapters One and Two of Esther (see Esther 1:3 and 2: 16). According to Greek historian Herodotus, during that time King Ahasuerus suffered a great military defeat by the Greeks and returned home to consume himself with overindulgence and sensuality.
  • He also missed the lasting relationship with his beautiful wife Queen Vashti whom he dethroned at his last party. The king’s advisors suggest a beauty contest with exotic spa treatments to help find a new queen. So today we are off to the spa and to witness the crowning of a new queen.

Mordecai Brings Up Esther (Esther 2: 1-8)

  • Mordecai was introduced as a Jew in the family line of Kish (King Saul’s family) of the tribe of Benjamin. (Calling him a Jew repeatedly suggests that he was somehow still a foreigner and not completely accepted into secular Persia.) A person’s family line showed his status in Jewish lineage. When the Scriptures mention Nebuchadnezzar carried away Kish, the verses are referring to the Babylonian captivity, with a second forced removal involving King Jeconiah of Judah in 597 BC. Likely, Mordecai’s grandfather and family members were among those taken captive in 597 BC.
  • Mordecai was born in Susa of Persia after the defeat of the Babylonian Empire. He and his family had chosen not to return to Jerusalem when Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return home beginning in 539 BC.
  • Esther was introduced as Mordecai’s younger cousin (Esther 2:7) whom he raised because she had been orphaned. Likely, her parents died when she was young. So it would have been Mordecai who taught her the Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish faith

Esther & The Spa Treatments (Esther 2: 9-12)

  • The beauty contest was not the usual Persian way to select a queen. Normally, kings took their wives from the families of the Persian nobles and that is probably how King Ahasuerus crowned Vashti. However, a self-indulgent and powerful king could choose any woman he wanted for a wife.
  • In Susa, Esther was given seven servants plus food probably laden with oils to fatten her up and help her display the Persian ideal of beauty. The women were given oil baths of delicious-smelling flowers and herbs to soften the skin and add a fragrant aroma.
  • At Susa, Divine Providence – God unfolding his purposes – becomes more visible to the spiritual eye, as we notice Esther found favor with Hegai.

Esther is Crowned Queen (Esther 2: 12 -18)

  • After twelve months of beauty treatments, it was Esther’s turn to come before the king.
  • Esther pleased the king, even though we do not know the details or how this happened in one evening. Obviously, the king saw her inner and outer beauty—the first woman that pleased him since Vashti. It was Divine Providence behind the scenes that surely turned the king’s heart toward Esther, even if she was only cooperating with the circumstances which were beyond her control.

Esther’s Banquet

  • When King Ahasuerus crowned Esther as his Queen, he. gave another party, calling it Esther’s Banquet. This celebration included both men and women, generous gifts, and even tax relief.

Personal Reflection

Today, our story teaches us:

  • The Lord can turn the heart of a leader. We can trust and pray that He does in our times as well.
  • God is at work even though we don’t see him right away. We can pray to see God active in the scenes of our lives, for he is surely there at work.
  • Ultimately it is God who turns the heart of the king. He gave Esther favor and her inner beauty seemed to capture the king’s favor and love.

God’s Attractiveness Plan

Proverbs 31: 30 and 1 Peter 3: 3 summarize God’s beauty plan.

  • Proverbs 31: 30. Charm is deceptive, and beauty fleeting but a woman who fears [worships, honors, and respects] the Lord is to be praised. (GNT)    Obviously, with age, beauty fades, but to worship, honor and respect God creates a lasting attractiveness that appeals to others too.  God blesses all of our attempts to honor Him. So how is your attractiveness quotient when you consider spending time daily to worship and honor God is an important part of any beauty plan?
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4. Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes [outward adorning] to make you look beautiful. 4Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet [with a calm temper and contented mind]. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special [precious in His sight]. (GNT)  It’s not that God objects to putting our best foot forward so to speak or trying to look our best at any age, but His Word suggests an attractiveness plan.
  • Does your attractiveness plan include a gentle and quiet spirit with a calm temper and contented mind or demeanor? Ask the Holy ‘Spirit to help you. Ephesians 5:  22 says, the fruit of the Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and more in our lives. 


Esther & Turnaround JOY # 2 – The Queen, the Refusal & the Bad Advice

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Queen Ester | What can you learn from Queen Esther? Do you need more wisdom and less bad advice in your life? | #podcast #christianpodcast #QueenEster #MoreJoy #Joyfilledlife #EstherandTurnaroundJoy #QueenEstherexample #joyfulliving

Queen Esther ~Refusal of Bad Advice

What can you learn from Queen Esther? Do you need more wisdom and less bad advice in your life? Do you seek God, who offers wisdom generously to those who ask? Today, we will encounter the outrageous King Ahasuerus, who regrets the outcome of his bad decision based on bad advice! Join us as we discuss the true wisdom from God that does not disappoint.

The Party (Esther 1: 1-8)

Welcome to Esther & Turnaround Joy Episode #2 based on my book Esther For Such a Time As This: Prayer, Reversals and JOY.  The Book of Esther in the Old Testament was written so that even 2500 years later, we can still relate it to our culture. We can learn so much from Queen Esther.

Today we continue in Esther Chapter 1 with our introduction to the pompous and extravagant King Ahasuerus and the opulent six-month party he threw in the capital city of Susa (modern day Iran) in the third year of his reign. Ancient historians suggest over 15,000 men came to the party that lasted 187 days. In the midst of the grand party, the king received and followed bad advice. In the podcast today, we will cover these points.

Vashti’s Refusal (Esther 1: 9-12)

  • Queen Vashti was in the midst of throwing a grand party herself for the  wives of governors, nobles, and officials that came to the king’s celebration when the king called her to appear before an unruly, intoxicated horde of men to show off her beauty.
  • She refused to come for reasons we might guess.
  • When she refused, she did not expect the king’s boiling rage!

The Bad Advice to the King (Esther 1: 13-21)

  • King Ahasuerus’ wise men, led by their spokesman Memucan, advised the king to dethrone and remove Vashti forever. Guided by his wounded pride, with no respect for his wife, the king followed this bad advice and dethroned Vashti.
  • The Scriptures teach women to honor and respect their husbands and men to love their wives (Ephesians 5: 25, 3). But the king was a pagan consumed with pride and self-indulgence who did not know God’s commands or God’s ways.
  • Greek Historian Herodotus records that King Ahasuerus won a great battle after this feast, but later suffered a terrible loss to the Greeks during the four years that occurred between Esther Chapters One and Two.
  • The King returned home from battle and likely consumed himself with even more indulgence and sensuality, only to find he missed a lasting relationship with his lovely wife.

Personal Reflection.

  • Where do you need wisdom today? Our historical story teaches us:
  1. Be cautious when taking counsel from worldly advisors who stroke your ego or are motivated by a desire for power.
  2. Be courageous and maintain your integrity in difficult situations.
  3. Anger and violence do not demonstrate strength in a husband or a leader.
  • Proverbs 3: 5-7, James 1: 5, and Proverbs 3:17 instruct us to ask God for wisdom who promises to give it generously and ungrudgingly and to lead YOU and clear the road for YOU to follow.



ADVENT JOY # 6 – Join the Chorus of Angels & Shepherds!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Needing More JOY and Peace?

Do you need a message that brings you MORE JOY and Peace? Join us today for the birth of our Savior. You will meet the Angels and the Shepherds who have a lot to teach us. In fact, united your heart with the Angel’s Gloria and the Shepherd’s praises will help you know more JOY and peace #podcast

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Domenico Zampieri

Do you need a message that brings MORE JOY and Peace? Join us today for the birth of our Savior and meet the Angels and the Shepherds who have a lot to share. In fact, uniting your heart with the Angel’s Gloria and the Shepherd’s praises will help you know more JOY and peace.

Traveling to Bethlehem

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #6, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events And Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.  Today, we return to the book of Luke. There we  join Blessed Mary and Joseph on their 80-mile journey to Bethlehem. When they arrive, they find it crowded with people, who like Mary and Joseph, had come at the command of Caesar Augustus. Join us today for:

No Home for the Creator of Creation (Luke 2: 1-7)

  • Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, in the City of David as prophesied by the Old Testament prophet Micah over 700 years earlier and recorded in Micah 5: 1-3.
  • Emperor Caesar Augustus, a master bookkeeper and statistician, likely wanted to keep track of his subjects and his kingdom by public enrollment.
  • Joseph would have to go to Bethlehem, as he was a descendent of King David. Mary went along too – she may have been required to register or Joseph wanted her with him.
  • Bishop Fulton J. Sheen explains: Joseph “searched in vain for a place where He, to Whom heaven and earth belonged, might be born. Could it be that the Creator would not find a home in creation? …  A stable would be the last place in the world where one would have looked for Him. Divinity is always where one least expects to find it. (Life of Christ, 1958, p. 13-24.
  • Jesus, God incarnate and the Savior of the world, was born and tightly wrapped in bands of cloths by his mother Mary and then laid in a manger where animals would feed.

The Good News (Luke 2: 8-11)

  • The angel’s message of “Good News” is summarized in the announcement by the angel (v. 10-11): “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the
  • We can say with assurance: Jesus is our Savior, who delivers us from sin and makes us right with God. He is our Messiah the anointed one who will inaugurate God’s Kingdom and reign as KING forever. He is our LORD, who has dominion overall.

The Fields Outside of Bethlehem (Luke 2: 12-20)

  • It is amazing that God chooses shepherds—the little, the lowly, the less important of the world (1 Corinthians 1: 28), but also calls himself a shepherd (e.g., “I am the Good Shepherd,” John 10:11). In Ezekiel 34:12-16, He describes himself as one who “shepherds rightly:” he tends sheep, rescues them, leads them, gives them rest, brings back the lost, binds up the injured, and heals the sick.
  • Jesus is our Shepherd: If at times you feel “lowly,” please know that Christ is YOUR Savior and Shepherd. He came for you! You are His little lamb, and He loves you.
  • Some of the shepherds around Jerusalem took care of the temple lambs used in the temple sacrifices. Shepherds would wrap lambs born without blemish in swaddling cloths and place them away from the others—even in a manger (e.g., Leviticus 4-5). It’s amazing that the shepherds who took care of the temple lambs used for sin offerings would be the first to recognize Jesus Christ, the one who came as our sin offering forever!

The Angel’s Gloria and the Shepherds Praises (Luke 2: 14-20)

  • We also find two beautiful choruses in v. 14-20. First, there’s the song (v. 14) called the Angel’s “Gloria” because the first word in in St. Jerome’s Latin translation is “Gloria.”
  • This song of the angels proclaimed peace to a world that needs peace, like we do right now. Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27, NABRE). The only place of true peace is found in Jesus and today we remind ourselves of this. We can join the angels in praise: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward all.”
  • The second chorus includes the shepherds’ praises (v. 20). They praised God for the good news from the angel and the song of the heavenly host of angels. From them we learn: Praising God for His goodness is a wonderful way to evangelize and get other’s attention on our Savior.

Mary Treasured and Pondered God’s Words (Luke 2: 19)

  • Mary “treasured and pondered” these things in her heart.
  • She gives an example for us in treasuring, pondering, and delighting in the things God has revealed, especially since we have the Word of God in Scripture.

Our Response

Try to prayerfully put yourself in the scenes and ask:

  1. Am I praising God for sending Jesus, as the Angels and shepherds did?
  2. Am I making a “manger” for Jesus in my heart as my Savior and Lord?
  3. Am I receiving the true joy and peace that Jesus offers?
  4. Am I treasuring God’s Word in my heart as Mary did?

Joy in Difficult Times

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

A Prayer

O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy,
you who trusted scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand 
and that we need not have anxiety about anything,
in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows
and lift the burdens from our hearts.
We come to you as one whose heart swells
with abundant love for God and all creation.
Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here).

Keep us safe through your loving intercession and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen

Joy is not happiness

Joy is something deeper and more lasting. Even when an activity is over when you feel contentment or consolation, that is joy, as St. Ignatius points out.  Focusing on the long term goal of heaven and not on the little things that annoy us can help us have joy. Yes, there are difficulties in life, but if we allow ourselves to focus only on those, we will sink into the muck of our emotions.

Where to look

Look to the cross. It is an example of focusing on the joy that is to come. But remember because of Christ’s death and resurrection we can have that joy now, in this life. I’m certain our joy in heaven will be far greater than any we experience here on earth, but we can still have joy. That is the gift we have from God.

When you are feeling less than full of joy, pray the prayer of St. Philip Neri and ask him to intercede for you.



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