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.