Esther 8 – Mordecai the Man

Father’s Day was Sunday. If you are a father, Happy Father’s Day! Mordecai was a father figure to Esther. Not only did he save the King’s life by stopping an assassination plot, he displayed many other noble qualities as well. As we look at chapter 8, we will see several things that we can learn from him.

 

Adoption

Esther revealed her relationship to Mordecai to the King (v. 1). Esther was orphaned and Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter (2:7). Why would one person adopt another? Because God adopted us and made us part of His family. Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Adoption is the analogy God chose to portray salvation. He adopted us out of a hopeless situation, redeeming us. God is going to accomplish His purposes, but He wants to do it through us! Are we doing what we can to protect and provide for others? Jesus wants us to care for orphans, the abused, the elderly, those with special needs, and for the outcasts of society.

 

Intercession

In verses 3-6 we see that Esther had the ear of the King. Why does she intercede for the Jewish people?  Because Mordecai sent word to her to go and intercede for their lives. Esther nor Mordecai may not have wanted to be put in their position of leadership, but God does not always give us what is easy. Verse 3 says Esther “fell at his feet, wept, and begged” the King to stop the plot against the Jews. What are you that passionate about? God and God’s people are all that matter in eternity. We should fall at the feet of King Jesus and beg Him to save our loved ones, who do not know Christ, from destruction.

 

Protection

Ultimately, the King issued an edict that “gave the Jews in each and every city the right to assemble and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and annihilate every ethnic and provincial army hostile to them, including women and children, and to take their possessions as spoils of war” (v. 11). The enemies of God’s people were planning to kill, rape, enslave, and confiscate the land and assets. There is a just war and a just cause, and the Bible teaches self-defense. If someone breaks in your house and tries to kill your family, on the authority of God’s Word call 911 and defend yourself! Verse 11 is nothing more than a direct reversal of 3:13. It is equal justice. Verse 12 says they were given one day to kill. This is not an abuse of authority. Only self-defense was permitted. We need to pray for law enforcement and military put in harm’s way. They make difficult decisions in complicated situations. If a police officer is being fired upon, he has the right to return fire; but, he can’t just go and shoot unarmed people. The military has the right to defend our country. Police have the right to defend our communities. Citizens have the right to defend themselves and their families. What will we do with the power and influence we have?

 

Mission

Verse 14 says, “The couriers rode out in haste” to deliver the good news to the Jews. When they heard it, “the Jews celebrated with gladness, joy, and honor” (v. 16). There was an urgency to get the word out to every people group.  They were successful missionaries! We want Liberty to be known not for our seating capacity, but our sending capacity. Just like the military deploys men and women around the world, we are deploying men, women, boys, and girls, into the world of business, politics, media, sports, entertainment, education, law, medicine, and ministry, living out their faith every day.

 

Esther and Mordecai is a beautiful story of how men and women work together to protect their families, to win their neighbors, and to be missionaries. We are here to change lives, communities, and the world for Jesus Christ! We need Christians in our cities and communities changing culture to protect those who are abused or mistreated. We need Christians who cry out for justice. Laws do not change people. Only Jesus can change people.

 

Know Your Enemy

Guest Blogger: Chip Dean

We need to know our enemy. I believe that summer is a heightened season for temptation. We must guard our flesh, eyes, and pride with more time at the pool, vacation, and parties. We need to be on guard because sin is not just the “do nots” on the naughty list. Instead, sin is very personal to both Satan and Jesus. Because of this, we must Know Our Enemy, Know His Strategy, Know Our Savior, and Know Ourselves.

 

Know Your Enemy

2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “So that we would not be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Wouldn’t it be nice to not feel outwitted by the evil one? God says that we aren’t “ignorant of his designs.” This means our excuses like, “You got me again, Satan,” don’t cut it with the Creator. “The devil made me do it” doesn’t fly with the Most High! God has plainly given us both a knowledge of our enemy and our enemy’s strategy in His Word.

 

1 John 2:15 is where we see God revealing clearly and plainly Satan’s strategy for temptation and sin. “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.” God has revealed Satan’s secret strategy for temptation and sin that he’s used from the very beginning until now.

 

The Desires of the Flesh // Sins of Pleasures // I want to “feel” that.

The Desires of the Eyes // Sins of Treasures // I want to “have” that.

The Pride of Life // Sins of Pride // I want to “be” that.

 

Know His Strategy

Satan came to earth as a serpent (Genesis 3:1-5), and deceived Eve by twisting God’s Word. Satan doesn’t just tempt us to sin, but he often attempts to tempt us with sin by twisting God’s Word. He wants us to doubt. He wants to cause confusion. He wants us to lack confidence. We must know God’s Word deeply. Not because I’m a Pastor but because I’m a sinner, I have to wake up at 5am every morning in order to get in God’s Word so that God’s Word gets into me.

 

Then in Genesis 3:6, we see the very same, ancient strategy that Satan first used on Eve that he continues to use today. “Eve saw that the tree was good for food [Pleasures], and that it was a delight to the eyes [Treasures], and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise [Pride].” She bit the bait and then gave some to her husband who was with her. Adam stood and watched the whole thing when he should have stood up for God, spoken up to his wife, and rose up in leadership!

 

Know Your Savior

In Luke 4:1-13, Satan tries the exact same strategy for temptation that he used on Eve and that God gave us in 1 John 2:15. Eve was tempted in a garden of paradise while Jesus was tempted in a barren wilderness. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to complete a 40 day fast (Luke 4:1). Jesus was hungry and physically weak, but His fasting and praying made Him spiritually strong! Watch this pattern of temptation Satan tried on Jesus that he used on Eve.

 

Desires of the Flesh: Pleasures // Eve: “good for food” // Jesus: “bread” (Luke 4:3)

Desires of the Eyes: Treasures // Eve: “delight to the eyes” // Jesus: “kingdoms” (Luke 4:5-7)

Pride of Life: Pride // Eve: “desired to make one wise” // Jesus “throw Yourself down” (Luke 4:9-11)

 

The first two temptations Jesus went through are self-explanatory. The third needs explanation. Satan was tempting Jesus to throw Himself off the temple for a 300 foot drop where everyone would be watching so they could see angels rescue Him and prove He truly is the Son of God. Satan was tempting Jesus to prove who He is apart from the cross and resurrection.

 

Just like his temptation with Eve, notice how Satan uses Scripture to attempt to tempt Jesus. When Eve didn’t know God’s Word, Jesus quoted God’s Word, word for word. We do not only need to know our enemy’s strategy, but we also need to know our Savior’s strategy: the sword of the Spirit!

 

Know Yourself

Which temptation has Satan been throwing at you lately? Pleasures, Treasures, or Pride?

 

Which temptation of Satan have you been falling for most through your life?

 

If you had to order Satan’s temptations in rank of which ones are more tempting for you, how would you order them?

 

Through God’s Word, we fight temptation in two ways: resistance and obedience.

 

Resistance is saying no, and there’s no temptation we cannot say no to by the power of Jesus!

 

Obedience is saying yes. We do not need to only resist, but we need to obey.

  1. Pleasure: Obey God by finding greater pleasures and joys in Jesus alone.
  2. Treasure: Obey God by finding greater treasures through being generous like Jesus.
  3. Pride: Obey God by finding greater identity in Jesus by humbling yourself.

 

When we both resist and obey, we show that we know our enemy, we know his strategy, we know our Savior, and we know ourselves.

 

Esther 7 – Poetic Justice

The story of Esther is a story of what my friend David Platt calls “Cosmic Coincidences.” There are so many things that seemingly “just so happened.” Looking at those things, it is clear that God is in control. Like He placed Esther where she was, God has placed you where you are. We have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this. Everyone has a part to play and God wants to honor those who are faithful.

 

The Ask

In Esther 7:1-4, Esther finally asks the King what she’s been waiting to ask. We can learn from these verses. We see the word “feast.” People love to eat! It’s social. There is a time to fast, but there is a time to feast! Eat meals together. Have conversation. Get off your phone! Ask questions. In addition to food, feast every day on the Word of God. Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). We also read the King was willing to give Esther half the kingdom. Are you willing to give your wife half the ballgame? Halftime? Do you complain every time she spends money? This is the second day, the second banquet. God does not always answer the first time. You don’t always succeed the first time. Try again! Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. Keep on asking, seeking, knocking! What for? Like Esther, “Spare my life and spare my people” (v.3). Have you asked the Lord to save you? Are you asking God to save your spouse and children? Pray for your family and loved ones to be saved. In verse 4 Esther tells the King that she had been sold. (In chapter 3 Haman promised to pay 375 tons of silver to the royal treasury.) The King had signed the death warrant for his own wife and did not know it. How many men are killing their own wife and children, and don’t even know it? You don’t know their friends or struggles. Stop and take the time to listen carefully and ask questions. Finally, what is your speech like? Esther waited till the right moment. She was bold, calm, respectful and persuasive. Esther let her words be few and we would be wise to do the same.

 

The Adversary

Esther tells the King that the enemy was Haman (v.5-6). He did not have a clue! Most Christians don’t have a clue. You have an enemy. “Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith!” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). The devil is one angel. He is not omnipresent. He works through the angels, the demons that followed him, but greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 Jn 4:4). Put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6) and resist him. An umbrella does not stop the rain. It stops the rain from stopping you! Put on Jesus. The victory is in Jesus.

 

The Anger

The King was angry when he found out this news! But, even he controlled it. Verse 7 tells us he walked away. Anger is a God-given emotion. There are times for righteous anger. However, most times when we are angry, it is not righteous. If you struggle with anger, confront, consider, control, confess, and channel it. You can read more on anger here (link to Sept. 26 post on Proverbs on Anger).

 

The Answer

In the end, Haman was killed on the gallows he built to kill Mordecai. Tony Evans said, “Providence is the Hand of God in the glove of history.” There are times in life when you are in a fog. You don’t know what to do. Cry out to God.  Seek Him even more than seeking an answer! He is the answer!  Your boss, mate, parents, health, even YOU do not have the last word. There are times when God is silent, but in the end, God has the last word. This story also reminds us that we reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow.  It applies to believers and unbelievers alike (Gal. 6:7).

 

The end of the story is not “…and Haman lived happily ever after.”  Death is real. Hell is real. God is a just God. We talk about social justice or poetic justice, but in the end, there is divine justice. God will settle every score and make every wrong right. The scales of divine justice always balance, if not here, in the hereafter. There is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Will you go where Haman went or where Esther and Mordecai went? Haman deserved to die. You and I deserve to die.  Jesus died in our place. Have you trusted Him for your salvation?

 

 

 

 

 

Esther 6 – The Honor of the King

There is a repeated phrase, “What is to be done for the man the king delights to honor?” God is a sovereign King who wants to show His love, mercy, and glory. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He is long-suffering, willing that all should come to repentance. He is a good King, the Great King. God does not want to punish you like Haman, but He wants to reward you like Mordecai.

 

God Records

Have you ever had a sleepless night? In verse 1, the King for whatever reason could not sleep. Whatever it was, God had him tossing and turning. Someone said, the king could not sleep for all the construction noise going on at Haman’s house! (Remember, he was having gallows built to use to kill Mordecai.)Whatever the cause of his insomnia, he does a strange thing. He calls for the royal records to be read to him. The servant just happened to get the book that recorded the account of Mordecai saving the King’s life. The King had forgotten all about it. When you can’t sleep, here are some promises you can hold to – Psalm 4:8 says, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” and Psalm 127:2 says, “For He gives His beloved sleep.” Esther and Mordecai knew nothing about the King asking for the records. God is at work behind the scenes even when you don’t see it. God is working while you sleep. “Behold, He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Ps. 121:4).His mercies are new every morning, and just like these royal records were kept, He is keeping accurate records of the words we speak (Mt. 12:36-37) and the deeds we do (Ecc. 12:14, Rev. 20:12).

 

God Remembers

When the King hears of how Mordecai stopped the assassination plot against him, he asked what had been done to honor him. Nothing had been done. Mordecai had been forgotten. The King never thanked him.You may feel unappreciated, forgotten, overlooked, passed over, or that God is absent, but you can trust God’s will and God’s timing.If the King had rewarded him five years earlier, the story would not have ended this way. God is an on-time God. He is never in a hurry, never early, and never late. His timing is perfect. The Bible says, “In the fullness of time Jesus came” (Gal. 4:4). Our times are in His hand (Ps. 31:15). Let God fight your battles. He can make even your enemies be at peace with you. God remembers and rewards faithfulness.

 

God Rewards

Haman goes to ask the King for permission to kill Mordecai and before he can say a word, the King asks hima question. He said to Haman, “What should be done for the man the king wants to honor?” (v. 6). Haman loved himself so much that he could not imagine the King honoring anyone but him. In his mind, the response he gave would be done for him. As humans, we need someone important loving us. We want someone we love to love us. We want someone we think the world of to think the world of us. It shows our worth. It shows our value. Haman did not necessarily ask/think the wrong thing, but He asked the wrong King. You are loved by the King of the Universe! Jesus took our sin and disgrace and gave us His robe of righteousness. Jesus was stripped naked because of our sin so we can be clothed in righteousness. It is all about glory. What will bring God the most glory? Ultimately, the King tells Haman to do all of the things he mentioned for Mordecai. It is a stroke of irony, a total reversal. If you humble yourself, you will be exalted. If you exalt yourself, you will be humbled. Mordecai was the person most surprised. Let God promote you! God knows your address. Our God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6, Mt. 5:12, 10:41-42, 16:27, Rev. 22:12).

 

As God records, remembers, and rewards, He is not impressed with position, wealth, titles, banquets, or anything that you have accomplished.  The only thing that will get you to heaven is the finished work of His son on the cross. Come to the end of yourself and trust in Jesus for all you need.

Esther 5 – Making Decisions

Every day we are faced with situations that require a decision. Some decisions are simple. Others are much more serious. Esther has decided to go to the King and plead for the lives of the Jews. Looking at her decision and action steps in Chapter 5, we will see steps that will help us when making decisions.

 

Preparation

Verse 1 begins, “One the third day….” Esther took three days to fast and pray since no one can approach the King uninvited. During that time, God gave Esther great wisdom. Dress for success! Esther put on her royal clothing since she was going to approach the King on his royal throne. She needed a new outfit! Like the royal wedding! Whether it is a job interview or date, we should dress for the occasion. Not only did she fast, pray, and put on her royal clothes, she also went ahead and prepared a banquet in faith (v. 4). She and her servants were planning and preparing food while they fasted! You may be thinking, people are about to die and she is planning a party? Don’t get ahead of yourself. Esther shows great self-control. She maintained her composure. There is a lot to tell the King and she hasn’t seen him in a month. Timing is everything. If you need to have a tough conversation, you have to decide when, where, the attendees, how much to say and not say. Be prepared!

 

God answered her prayers and the prayers of her people. She was granted access and was pardoned when she could have been killed. Because of Jesus, God has extended the gold scepter toward us. Instead of death, He has given us favor and welcomed us into His presence! The King tells Esther he will give her whatever she wants, up to half the kingdom. God not only answered her prayer, He did exceedingly abundantly above all she could ask or think!

 

Patience

The King goes to the banquet, but Esther asks him to come back again the next day. She is not procrastinating, but being patient. Too often people freak and leak! Esther knows not to blurt out. She is seeking a private audience with the King. Think of the story of Lazarus. Jesus waited before going to him. Joseph did not reveal his identity to his brothers at first. Wait on the Lord. He will renew your strength! While we wait, God is at work. Even when you are doing the right thing, you need to wait for the right time and place. Patience is a great spiritual discipline. Life can be frustrating – traffic, telemarketers, long lines, etc. Stay in control. Enjoy the pause. Patience allows us to see things we did not see at first glance. Take time to decelerate, contemplate and meditate. Patience is not being passive. It is being strategic.

 

Purpose

Upon leaving the banquet, Haman was enraged that Mordecai wouldn’t bow to him. He even builds gallows to use to kill him. Haman is having a good day and just the sight of one person robs him of his joy. Are there people in your life who rob you of your joy? If you don’t want people to drive you crazy, stop giving them the key! Haman is proud. He’s bragging on what he has and what he’s done. Selfishness and pride will cause you to be discontent. Pride and sin will keep you from enjoying what you have. Stop focusing on what you don’t have and start enjoying what you do have.  Haman’s identity is in his wealth, family, rank, position, and the exclusive invite. He was full of himself! We can be full of ourselves too.

 

Think about your purpose. What are you living for?  Power, control, wealth, riches?  Idolatry is when we take good things, even the gifts from God, and turn them into little idols. Esther’s delay had a purpose. God was waiting on Haman to build the gallows on which he would die.

 

When it comes to your decisions, are you prayerfully making preparation? Are you impatient and getting ahead of God? What is the purpose? Do you have purpose in life?

 

Esther 4 – You Can Make a Difference

This week we will look again at Esther 4. Remember, Esther is an orphan girl who was adopted by her cousin Mordecai. She was exalted to the highest position that any woman could have in the entire world at that time. God went on to use her and Mordecai to save the entire Jewish race from genocide. Just like God used them, He can use you to make a difference as well. Let’s look at how they did it:

 

Humbly

In verse 14, Mordecai tells Esther, “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place….” Mordecai is clear that deliverance will come. If Esther keeps silent, God will rescue them through someone else. God can and will use anyone, but He doesn’t need us to accomplish His will. The only person that His plans are completely dependent upon is Jesus Christ. Moses was replaced by Joshua, David by Solomon, Elijah by Elisha. He will continue to build His church, even as each generation of saints passes away. The plans, purposes, and mission of God are not dependent upon any person. God does not need us to accomplish His work, He lets us be a part of it!

 

Confidently

Mordecai tells Esther, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (v. 14). God invites people into a relationship with Him in order for them to partner with Him to do His mission. God doesn’t have to use people, but He chooses to. Although God’s name is not mentioned, Mordecai speaks of His providence. Esther has come to this exact position at this exact moment for this exact reason. It is no coincidence that you live where you live or that you live at this moment in history. God determined where you would live and when. Your position and place in this world, and the timing of it, are all part of God’s sovereign plan. Are you willing to be used by Him to accomplish His purposes?

 

Prayerfully

In verse 16, Esther calls a fast. They fasted and prayed for three days. She needed wisdom and courage, so she went to the source of wisdom and strength. It is dangerous to think we can do the will of God apart from the power of God! God will use us, but His mission is bigger than what we can do on our own. Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Like we saw last week, we need to cry out to God.

 

Relationally

Esther had Mordecai assemble all the Jews. We can’t make a difference on our own! Mordecai and Esther leveraged their relationships to accomplish God’s purposes. Mordecai used his relationship with Esther. Esther leveraged her relationship with the King. You will find yourself in different relationships with parents, teachers, siblings, friends, pastors, employers, co-workers, etc. God has sovereignly placed you in those relationships so that you can advance His kingdom’s purposes and mission. Don’t waste the influence you have in people’s lives. Use it for good! Don’t be like Haman. Don’t use your influence for sin, selfishness, revenge, or evil, but instead, to promote what is good, lasting, and eternal.

 

Courageously

In verse 16, Esther says, “I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.” Few things will keep you from living for God like fear. We’re afraid of failure and rejection, or to put ourselves out there and take a risk. Esther shows us what it looks like to obey God in spite of the perceived dangers. Esther was willing to die in order to accomplish God’s purposes. She would rather die than waste her life.

 

God doesn’t need us. If we don’t follow Him, He will use someone else. In the meantime, we will waste our lives. But, God invites us to get in on His plan and allows us to be used for the greatest mission of all. Join Him humbly, confidently, prayerfully, relationally, and courageously!

Esther 4 – Cry Out to God

The situation in Esther chapter 3 was desperate. So, in chapter 4 the Jews Cry Out to God.

 In Grief

The story of Esther is one heartache after another. There is so much grief, pain, and sorrow in the world today. On every row there is a hurting heart.  Grief is the body’s natural response to loss. It may be the loss of a job, a relationship, a move, a chronic illness, or the loss of a pet or loved one. You can experience every emotion, from sadness, to anger, to loneliness. Sackcloth is mentioned in the grief of death.  Ashes are added when it is a national tragedy. It is a symbol of a change of heart that is visible and demonstrates the sincerity of one’s grief. Times of crisis show what a person is made of.  In spite of the danger Mordecai displays his grief.  He could not stand by and do nothing.  Innocent people, women and children, were about to be slaughtered.  Don’t focus over what you can’t change. Cry out to the One who can do something about it.  You can trust Him.

 

For Relief

Esther sent Mordecai clothes to comfort him. What good is a new set of clothes when you are about to be executed? It was like putting a band aid on cancer! Too often we want to cover up the outside when the real problem is on the inside.  He told her all the facts.  Esther says, “If I go to the king I could lose my life.” Mordecai says, “If you don’t go to the king, you will lose your life.”

 

He says, relief will come! I don’t know how but God will come through. Maybe this is why God made you Queen! A.W. Tozer compared the sovereign purposes of God to an ocean liner leaving NYC for Liverpool, England.  “The people on board the ship are free to do as they please, but they aren’t free to change the course of the ship.” Psalm 103 says, “His Kingdom rules over all.” It is no accident that a Jewish woman is Queen!

 

With Belief

“If I perish I perish.” It is the language of complete obedience. The question is not whether you will lose your life.  We are all going to die.  Will your life count for Christ?  Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The cause is always greater than self-preservation.  John Maxwell talks about the law of sacrifice.  “A leader has to give up, to go up.”  Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

It all points to Jesus.  Esther risked losing the palace and her life to save her people. Jesus left His palace and gave His life to save His people. They prayed 3 days for deliverance. Jesus was in the grave 3 days to deliver us! Like the Jews, we were all destined for death unless God intervened.  That is why Jesus came. Esther had to be encouraged to intercede for her people. No one had to make Jesus do it.  He willingly laid down His life for us.  Esther was willing to perish.  Jesus did perish! He suffered and was crucified dying the most painful agonizing death not because of anything He did wrong but to pay for all of our wrongs. No one has the right to come into the presence of the King.  Esther became their mediator. She is royalty saying, “If I have to die to save my people I will die.”  That is what Jesus did.  They were under judgment.  We are all under a death sentence. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”  It was all God’s grace.  Esther is the queen because of her looks. Her beauty was a gift from God.  She had nothing to do with it.  She was born with it.  What you have, your position, resources, gifts, abilities, are all because of the grace of God.  Let God use you and what you have to accomplish His eternal purposes.

Moments Matter

Guest Blogger: Dalton Stoltz

 

I remember meeting Lindsay for the first time.  I was a freshman at Liberty University and she was a senior in high schoolI worked at the Visitor’s Center and I gave tours to families who were considering Liberty University.  Well it just so happened that Pastor Grant and “Miss” Tammy were on my tour.  At the end of that tour, “Miss” Tammy called Lindsay Beth and said, “I met this guy and I think he’s the type of guy you could marry one day.”Lindsay’s interest peaked, “Tell me about him.”  “Well, he’s Canadian, he plays hockey….” Lindsay promptly said, “It sounds like we have nothing in common,” and she hung up.

 

But a few days later Pastor Grant showed back up to the Visitor Center.  He asked me if I could come outside to his car and meet his kids, Lindsay Beth and TaylorI obliged.  I went out to the car and Lindsay rolled down the window, she said, “hello,” and she rolled it right back up again.

 

But, Moments Matterbecause 6 months later, Lindsay would be a student at Liberty University.  She would walk up to me in a crowd of people and she asked if I remembered her (I must have had a face she couldn’t forget).  I did remember her, and those moments changed our lives forever. 

 

In Luke 8:40-56, we find people whose lives were changed in a moment because of Jesus. Moments Matter.  For Jairus and the woman who had been ill for 12 years, their lives were changed forever when they had an encounter with Jesus.

 

It’s a powerful series of events.  I want to make this personal for us today.  In the moments that matter most in this life, you can trust HIS VOICE, HIS TIMING, AND HIS WAY.

 

First, in the moments that matter most in our lives we can trust His voice.  We all have a choice to make.

Will we trust His voice?

 

Jairus had to choose to listen to Jesus instead of the messenger who brought him the news that his daughter had died.   For Jairus he had to make a choice to not listen to his own relatives and neighbors when they laughed at Jesus about his own daughter being just asleep.  Jairus had to listen to the voice that said:Don’t be afraid, just have faith.  Who are you listening to? Do you trust His voice?  In the moments that matter most in this life, you can trust His voice.

 

Secondly, in the moments that matter most in your life you can trust His timing. I’m sure the woman didn’t like being ill for 12 years. I’m sure Jairus didn’t enjoy waiting for Jesus while He talked to the woman. We struggle with timing as a culture. We don’t like to wait as a culture and we don’t really have margin in our calendars.  The result is our relationships suffer: our marriages, our families, our relationship with God.  They all suffer.  Today, maybe the best thing you could do for yourself in taking a step towards trusting God’s timing more is to look at your calendar and to take something off.  Also make sure you have on it Bible reading and prayer time.  That will be a step towards helping you to trust Him, because in the moments that matter most in your life, you can trust His timing.

 

Finally, in the moments that matter most in your life, you can trust His ways.  The woman who was private had to let everyone know publicly that she had been healed.  Jairus, who was a public figure, had to keep the news private.

His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

 

Moments Matter.  In the moments that matter most you can trust His voice, His timing, His ways. Two reasons why:

 

First, God is immutable.  That’s a fancy way to say, GOD NEVER CHANGES.  Our circumstances will be in constant flux.  There will be good times and bad times, but God is constant… He never changes!

 

Second, I can tell you that you can trust Him most based on my own personal experiences. It’snot because everything has worked out well for me, but in moments where everything was crumbling, He has proved to be trustworthy.

 

Proverbs 10:25 says, When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.”

 

Trusting my life to the One True King has been the best investment of my life.

Esther 3 – An Old Enemy

Today we pick up in Esther 3. In this chapter we learn more about Haman and his plot to kill the Jews.

 

The Position of Haman

“After all this took place…” (v.1). Esther was now queen and Mordecai had saved the King’s life. It was a time of peace. The war was over and the King gave Haman “a higher position than all the other officials.” Though he had the highest position in the Kingdom, second only to the King, Haman was an evil man. Today, we may not like all those in authority over us, but the Bible teaches that we are to pray for kings and all those who are in authority. We are to respect the position even if we don’t respect the person.

 

The Promotion of Haman

Mordecai protected the King. He stopped the assassination attempt. We are to seek the good of the place where we live (Jer. 29:7).Would you seek the good of a bad king or bad boss? Mordecaideserved the promotion, but he didn’t get it. Haman did. How do you respond when someone else gets the promotion you think you deserve? How do you handle someone else getting a new house, new car, or raise when you don’t think they deserve it? God has enough blessings to go around. Exalt yourself and you will be humbled. Humble yourself and you will be exalted.

 

The Pride of Haman

In verses 2-4, we read that the King commanded everyone to bow down to Haman, but that Mordecai would not. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph’s brothers, and David all bowed before others, so what was Mordecai’s problem? Like a salute in military, bowing was instinctive in this culture, but Mordecai drew the line. He had compromised, blending in with the crowd long enough. He would not bow to Haman the horrible. Civil disobedience is found in the Bible when necessary: Hebrew midwives, Daniel and his friends, and the apostles in Acts 5. This is the exception not the norm. The norm is to show respect and be at peace. Haman is absorbed with himself. His nose is so high in the air he did not even see Mordecai standing. They had to tell him!God hates pride. Pride is what made Lucifer the devil, got Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden, caused Nebuchadnezzar to lose his sanity, and caused Haman to sign his own death sentence. Do you think you are better or above everyone else? Pride can make you go too far.

 

The Prejudice of Haman

Because Mordecai would not bow, Haman decided to destroy all Jews. How could one man not bowing lead to killing an entire race? Haman is nursing an old grudge. We are not born hating people. Prejudice is learned. Haman had been taught to hate all Jews. Arrogance and anger are a bad combination. People are shot in our communities today for the same reasons. Make this story personal. Who would you kill if you could?Jesus said if you hate someone you have committed murder in your heart. We are all alike on the inside. We all bleed the same color blood. God created all people in His image. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve and therefore there is only one race, the human race. Racism is sin.

 

The King gave Haman permission to carry out his plan. He was either lazy and not wanting to do the due diligence, or he was too busy to get all the facts. He did not listen to both sides of the story! When you first hear something, you think you know the facts. You get in trouble when you do not listen to all the facts. We need to listen to multiple sources of information.Don’t jump to conclusions. Letters were sent to the officials telling them to destroy the Jewish people. How many times have you written something or repeated something that killed another person’s reputation?

 

Who do you hate? What are you doing with your grudge? Jesus offers forgiveness. Only Jesus can bring peace to the war within us. Praise God the gospel tears down walls of hostility and brings peace!

Esther 2 – Where is God?

As we continue through the book of Esther, we see that chapter 2 is a chapter about war and defeat, a girl who is orphaned, and Jews who do not return home when they could and should have. It’s about girls being taken by force into a harem, about a beauty pageant, and about an assassination plot. God’s name is never mentioned in the book of Esther so where is He in all of this?I’m glad you asked!

 

God is Greater Than Your Circumstances

Chapter 2 begins, “Some time later….” Four years have passed since King Ahasuerus banished Queen Vashti. Now there’s no queen, and he is lonely and depressed. His lost his wife, lost his war, and he is looking for a woman to meet his needs. No boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife can fill the void in your life. Only God can meet your needs! Verses 5-9 give insight into Esther’s situation. Mordecai was Esther’s guardian. Her parents had died and he adopted her. Mordecai was taken into exile, just like these girls were taken for the King. Both were taken by force, beyond their control. God gave Esther favor in the worst of circumstances. So many of life’s circumstances are beyond our control. Esther had no control over the war, her parents dying, the King’s actions, her looks, or her adoption. But, God had a plan!

 

God is Greater Than Your Compromise

“Esther had not revealed her family background or her ethnicity, as Mordecai had directed” (v. 20). These Jews had a private faith. They are just blending in with the crowd, not keeping the diet or dress of the Old Testament law. In addition, God sent his people back to Jerusalem after 70 years. They could have gone back, and should have gone back, but they didn’t. Many Christians today claim to have a private faith. Maybe no one knows you are a Christian. You don’t want to go public. The Bible is honest in showing God’s people, warts and all. Abraham and David both made big mistakes, but God redeemed them! What is on display in the Bible is the grace of God. God is greater! Grace is greater! God gives grace and favor even when we do not deserve it.

 

God is Greater Than Your Concerns

There is no doubt that Esther was concerned about the wait. She had been preparing an entire year for one night!And, for those not chosen, they would live a lonely life in a harem of women and could never go back to their family or get married. It was like a pageant and the Bachelor combined! Keep reading in the chapter and you’ll see Esther made it to the final rose ceremony and she got the final rose! Like the story of Cinderella, this poor orphan girl became the Queen! Chuck Swindoll said, “God not only moves in mysterious ways, but He also moves in mundane days.” Esther had no clue what would happen that day, but Divine Providence was at work. God is in control! He is sovereign, orchestrating affairs directly and indirectly. Human Responsibility is key as well.God orders our steps and opens doors, but we have to walk through them.  Mordecai and Esther obeyed God and took their God-given opportunities.

 

God is Greater Than Your Conflicts

Look at verses 21-23. This is a story of conflicts! There are conflicts without and within. Perhaps the people hated Esther and were for Vashti. We see that Mordecai was not rewarded immediately for his action to protect the King. Good deeds are often overlooked or unappreciated and sometimes even met with anger and hostility. Sometimes people get mad at you or try to hurt you physically or relationally. People conspire, connive, and scheme. But God has His people everywhere. Like Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon, He has Mordecai and Esther in Persia. We must do what is right knowing God will reward us in His due time. Do what is right and leave the outcome to God.

 

Even though His name is not mentioned, throughout this chapter and this book we see that our God is greater and that He is a God of redemption!

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