WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
OCTOBER 26, 2022
TOPIC: KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL
BY T. O. BANSO
“Now Esther spoke again to the king, fell down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews” (Esther 8:3 New King James Version).
It is often said that the good is the enemy of the best. In other words, being satisfied with what is good may hinder one from achieving or enjoying the best. Some people set out to achieve lofty goals but after making some progress lose focus and settle down. Thus, they never achieve their fullest potential or receive the best that is possible.
Genesis 11:31-32 says, “And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran” (New King James Version).
Haran was a good place but Canaan was far better. Terah’s destination was Canaan but when he got to Haran, he settled down and died there. He never went to Canaan. Stephen recalled this Old Testament story in Acts 7. His words show that it was Abraham that received the call to go to Canaan but his father took him and other family members on the journey and settled in Haran until he died there. After this, God called Abraham (Abram) a second time to go to Canaan.
Stephen said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell” (Acts 7:2-4 New King James Version). Genesis 12:1 refers to God’s first call to Abram to go to Canaan while verse 4 states how he eventually left Haran for Canaan, as the Lord had told him, taking Lot with him. He was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran after his father’s death.
Whatever you have set out to do, the project you are doing, or the venture you’re engaged in, don’t become complacent because of the small or big wins or the achievements you’ve made in the pursuit of your goals. These could become distractions that will hinder you from achieving your ultimate goals, completing your projects, or making your ventures successful. You should celebrate your small and big wins but don’t let either of them make you lose sight of your goals. Keep your eye on the ball. To keep your eye on the ball means “to continue thinking about or giving attention to something important: to stay focused” (Merriam-Webster). It also means “to continue to pay close attention to what you are doing” (Collins English Dictionary). Keeping your eye on the ball means staying focused.
In the book of Esther, the Bible shows us how Queen Esther kept her eye on the ball as she sought to get King Ahasuerus’ intervention to counteract Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews, having made a decree to that effect in the king’s name and sealing it with the king’s signet ring. After succeeding to get the king to honour her invitation to a banquet with Haman for two days consecutively, she finally presented her real petition to the king. She asked that her life and the lives of her people be spared. She exposed Haman as the enemy of the Jews who had plotted to annihilate the Jews, her people. Consequently, Haman was hanged on the gallows he had made for Mordecai (Esther 5:1-8; 7:2-10).
That was some progress or success for the Jews who had fasted for three days and nights with Esther and her maids before she took the risk to go to the king uninvited. Somebody could have shouted, “Haman is dead; hurrah!” But Esther knew that would be a premature jubilation. She kept her eye on the ball. She was not carried away by Haman’s death or the possession of his house, which King Ahasuerus gave her that day (Esther 8:1).
Esther, who told the king how she was related to Mordecai, kept her eye on the ball even after the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. She appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman. Esther stayed focused on what she was doing; she knew the battle was yet to be won. The decree that Haman issued on behalf of the king, setting a date for the Jews to be destroyed, still subsisted. The decree had not died though Haman was dead! Esther’s main reason for inviting the king and Haman to the banquet was to counteract Haman’s evil plan against the Jews, not because she wanted Haman dead. His death was secondary.
Esther 8:3 says, “Now Esther spoke again to the king, fell down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews” (New King James Version). Note the phrase “Esther spoke again to the king.” Esther had spoken before so she spoke again. Why? She didn’t allow herself to be distracted from what she was doing. She knew what she wanted to achieve: the decree issued to destroy the Jews must be counteracted since the King’s decree could not be annulled.
Esther pleaded further: “If it pleases the king, and if I have found favor in his sight and the thing seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my countrymen?” (Verses 5-6 New King James Version).
Responding to Esther’s petition, the king recalled that he had already given Esther the house of Haman and had hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews. Since the decrees of the Medes and Persians were irrevocable, the king told Esther and Mordecai to write in his name and seal with his signet ring a decree concerning the Jews, as they pleased. This was done. The decree issued in every province and published for all people granted the Jews the right to assemble and protect themselves. It also gave them the right to destroy, kill, and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies on the appointed day.
On that day, the Jews defended themselves against those who wanted to destroy them and defeated their enemies. This was possible because Esther didn’t stop halfway on the mission to save the Jews. She kept her eye on the ball even when some progress had been made. Esther didn’t take her eye off the ball despite some wins.
Esther 9:12 says, “And the king said to Queen Esther, ‘The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the citadel, and the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It shall be granted to you. Or what is your further request? It shall be done’” (New King James Version). Was Esther satisfied with the wins the Jews had recorded at this time? No. She replied to the king by making another request: “If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do again tomorrow according to today’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows” (verse 13 New King James Version). The king granted her request.
Some people relax too soon. They become complacent because of some wins. They settle down in Haran and never get to Canaan. Some celebrate mediocrity when they could do better. Some are easily distracted by little successes that they don’t attain greater heights. The small wins could become their comfort zone, and they don’t want to go forward and have the big wins. Keep your eye on the ball: stay focused; give attention to what you’re doing. That was what Esther did. And that was why her fasting and the fasting of her maids and other Jews were not in vain. If she had stopped halfway, the Jews wouldn’t have experienced the deliverance they enjoyed.
I remember the oldest servant of Abraham whom he sent under oath to go and find a wife for his son, Isaac, among his relatives in his country (Genesis 24:1-4). He kept his eye on the ball. He stayed focused on his assignment.
By divine arrangement, he met Rebekah, Bethuel’s daughter, and chose her as Isaac’s wife. Bethuel was the son of Abraham’s brother, Nahor, and his wife, Milcah. When he arrived at Rebekah’s home, food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told about my errand” (Genesis 24:33 New King James Version). He paid attention to what he was doing. He knew he didn’t come to eat but to marry a wife for his master’s son!
They allowed him to tell them his mission. Abraham’s servant didn’t eat until he got confirmation from the family that they would allow him to go with Rebekah as Isaac’s wife. He stayed focused after getting the consent of Rebekah’s family and told them the following day to allow him to go with Rebekah, which the family agreed to after Rebekah had agreed to go with him (Genesis 24:54-59).
Keep your eye on the ball. Concentrate on what you are doing. Don’t be distracted by the progress you make, the successes you record, or the challenges you face. When Sanballat and Geshem invited Nehemiah to a meeting, which was a trap for him, he said, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3 New King James Version).
In your marriage, family, career, business, academics, or ministry, stay focused on what you’re doing. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Proverbs 4:25 says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you” (New International Version).
This also applies to your walk with God. In the Christian race, stay focused. Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). Fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess (Hebrews 3:1). Set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God; set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2). Don’t take your eye off the ball.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to stay focused on what I am doing, whether spiritual or physical. Let me not sabotage myself by becoming complacent or celebrating mediocrity. I shall look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. I pray that every child of God will stay focused spiritually, physically, and emotionally. We shall keep our eyes on the ball; we shall continue to pay close attention to what we are doing. Holy Spirit, help us to run with endurance the race that is set before us in Jesus’ name.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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