Liberty Missions

It was so good to be back with you on Sunday! Tammy and I had a great time away on vacation, but we missed you! It’s always so good to be back home! I’m thankful for Zachary and Daniel preaching for me while I was gone. I’ve heard many testimonies of how the Lord used each of their sermons. Tammy and I watched online and could not be more excited over all that the Lord is doing at Liberty.

 

On Sunday, we had a special day talking about Liberty missions. I did an interview with our Missions Pastor, Kenny McLemore, and had him explain all that “missions” means here at Liberty. Kenny has been on our staff for over 20 years and serves as a trustee for the International Mission Board, which is the largest missions organization in the world. He talked about our teams and partnerships locally and globally, as well as all the different ways our church family can be involved. If you missed it, you can watch the full interview here: LINK.

 

It was also a special Sunday because we did the Lord’s Supper. While we did it at our locations in Virginia, our missionaries around the world were taking the Lord’s Supper too. It was such a cool experience for our church family and such a great reminder that we are part of a work so much bigger than ourselves. We are all about taking the message of communion – the message of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection around the globe so that people may be saved and so that lives, communities, and the world might be changed. Praise God that He is at work! Thank you for your faithfulness in praying, giving, and going!

 

This Sunday, we will start a new series in the book of Galatians. I’m excited to share with you what the Lord has been teaching me as I prepare. You don’t want to miss it. Invite a friend and make plans now to be in church this Sunday.

 

Your Pastor loves you!

 

Overcoming Envy

Guest Blogger: Zachary Ethridge

Have you ever been at a place in your life where you’ve wondered, “Is it really worth it to follow God?” Have you even felt like quitting on God and just living like the world? In Psalm 73, that’s where the Psalmist was in life. Asaph is struggling with envy, because he is looking at the world’s prosperity. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Ps. 73:2-3).”

 

His heart is in the wrong place because he is focused on the wrong thing.

 

Eventually, this frustration and envy leads him to a terrible conclusion – “All in vain have I kept my heart clean (Ps. 73:13).” He wonders if it’s even worth it to follow God. Anger, envy, and resentment poison the soil of the heart. They choke out faith and trust and hope. But something happens that changes everything. He writes, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end (Ps. 73:16-17).” Everything changes when he encounters God!

 

When your focus is on the wrong thing and your heart is in the wrong place, the only solution is an encounter with God.

 

But what does it mean to go into the sanctuary of God in the 21st century? The Gospel of John teaches that Jesus is the true temple. The only way to encounter God is to come to Jesus. But how do you encounter Jesus in the 21st century? Here are 3 ways. First and foremost, you encounter Him through the gospel. The gospel is the good news that we can know God through Jesus because He died for our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life. If we skip the gospel, the rest is futile. But second, you can encounter Jesus through the church. The Bible teaches that God is building His church into a spiritual temple by the Holy Spirit. Third, we encounter Jesus through the Bible, because the Bible is ultimately about Him. And when that happens – when we encounter God in Jesus Christ – we gain an eternal perspective.

 

Encountering God gives you an eternal perspective.

 

The Psalmist says, “then I discerned their end…Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory (Ps. 73:17, 23-24).” He found that it’s always worth it to follow God. His eyes were opened to the words of Jesus, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” The Judge of all the earth will see to it that all accounts are settled, and all wrongs are made right, so living for Christ will always be worth it. Will it feel worth it all the time? No. Is it perplexing to see the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? Certainly! But this is not the end. God isn’t done! Your story isn’t over! We serve a God who sees everything, the faithfulness of his servants and the wickedness of the world, and He will never forget. So, don’t give up and don’t lose heart. God hasn’t forgotten you, and one day it’s all going to be worth it. In the meantime, here’s my challenge to you: Don’t sacrifice your future on the altar of your present desires. Don’t lose focus, envy the wicked, and turn away from God. You may want their present, you don’t want their eternity. So, don’t give up your inheritance for a bowl of soup. Remember that God is with you, walk with Him, be guided by His counsel, and set your eyes on eternity. And as you do that, like Asaph, God will change your heart.

 

Encountering God re-shapes your desires.

 

Asaph says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you (Ps. 73:25).”  What do you want more than anything else? What is the one thing you think you have to have to be happy? Now, that can be a hard question to answer. It’s difficult to search your heart and discover your greatest desire. It’s abstract and immaterial. But an easier question to answer is this – what are you focused on? What occupies your thoughts and daydreams? That is the thing you desire most. Is it Christ? If it’s not, there is hope. He concludes by saying, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:26).” The struggle for an eternal perspective and God-shaped desires is a daily struggle. You will never outgrow your need for God, but God is willing and able to be your strength. We need Him to open our eyes again and again to eternity. We need Him to shape and reshape our desires, so that we can overcome envy and find lasting joy and satisfaction in Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esther 10 – The Significance of Holidays

Holidays are found throughout scripture. Jesus died on the Jewish holiday of Passover and He rose from the dead on the Feast of First-fruits. The Holy Spirit came on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost. As we look at the rest of Esther 9-10, we are going to learn about the Jewish holiday Purim.

 

Celebration

In the second half of Esther 9, we read about the celebration after the Jews gained relief from their enemies. Can you imagine the sorrow, fear, dread, and despair when they heard the edict to kill all the Jews? Imagine the joy and jubilation when the edict was reversed and they were saved!  It was like Christmas! They were giving each other gifts! They were celebrating and thanking God. And, these days were to be “remembered and celebrated by every generation, family, province, and city, so that these days of Purim will not lose their significance in Jewish life and their memory will not fade…” (v. 28).

 

Holidays are good and significant. They help us remember what God has done and help us leave a legacy for the next generation. We should celebrate them. Ignoring holidays as a church takes away our national context. Instead, on holidays, we can take the opportunity to pray and thank God for our freedoms, pray for our country, repent of our sins, cry out for a spiritual awakening in the nation and pray for revival in the church. So often, we argue among ourselves over how to celebrate holidays, but we forget who the real enemy is. The 4th of July is this week and we should celebrate! Paul was not ashamed of his nationality. He said in Romans 11:1, “For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Our freedoms were purchased with the blood of patriots. We should give honor where honor is due. Our allegiance to Old Glory is significant, however we must always remember it is secondary to our allegiance to the King of Glory. We do not want anything, including patriotism, to be a stumbling block to the gospel. We should celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, baptisms, holidays, etc., to share what the Lord has done and to impact the next generation.

 

Taxation

In Esther 10:1, a tax was imposed. There are 15 verses in our passage on celebrating a holiday and only one on taxes, so I will be brief on this point. Jesus and Paul both encouraged people to pay their taxes. Taxes are how government and society function. Thank God for roads, schools, teachers, law enforcement, and firefighters! Thank God for tax money and defense spending that make both our national and local economies strong. Take legal tax breaks, but after that, whatever you owe you should gladly pay. Paying taxes is the duty of a citizen, and Christians are called to be good citizens.

 

Vocation

Esther was Queen and Mordecai “was second only to King Ahasuerus” (10:3). We need to teach our children they can pursue any career they want to pursue. You are mistaken if you think you have to be a preacher or a missionary to be used of God. Most don’t need to go to seminary to be used of God. Go to business school, vocational school, and do what God has gifted you to do. Liberty does not have four locations. We have over 10,000 locations! LibertyLive.Church is wherever you are! Every member is a missionary and minister. God uses ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things!

 

Salvation

The story of Esther is our family history. The salvation of the Jews is our salvation. God used Esther and Mordecai to save the Jewish people from death and destruction. If there were no Jewish people, there would have been no Jesus. If no Jesus, no salvation. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He is the one who saves us from eternal death and destruction. Earthly Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away, but He is eternal. Our hope is not in political leaders, government leaders, or any nation. Our hope is in Jesus!

Esther 9: Turning Things Around

What a storyline of reversals! Vashti was divorced for not coming to the King when he called. Esther was rewarded for coming to the King when he didn’t call. Esther was orphaned, but God used her to save the parents and children of all the Jewish people. Haman built the gallows to hang Mordecai, but Mordecai lived and Haman was killed on the gallows. Over and over in the book of Esther what the enemy meant for bad, God turned for good. What will it take to turn things around in your life and in our world today?

 

Take Responsibility

As we begin in chapter 9, we see that though “…the Jews’ enemies had hoped to overpower them, just the opposite happened” (v. 1). The Jews had a duty, an assignment, a responsibility. The Jews, King, officials, satraps, governors, civil administrators and Mordecai did was right and they were rewarded for it. Verse 2 says, “Not a single person could withstand them…” and verse 4 says that Mordecai “became more and more powerful.” There was a healthy fear of God in the land. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). We need a healthy fear of God. When we are responsible, trustworthy, and dependable, God will give us more responsibility. Mordecai used his position, authority, and power to do right.  In our democratic, pluralistic society we need people in positions of authority who will exercise their responsibilities and do right. Don’t reject powerful opportunities and positions. Someone must be in these positions. The book of Esther doesn’t start out with Mordecai and Esther being strong in their faith, but there came a time when they had faith and they went public. They did not dwell on the past but on the present. We need Godly men like Mordecai and Godly women like Esther.

 

Know Your Rights

In verses 5-17 we see a declaration of war. The Jews had the right to defend themselves. Regardless of how you feel about our 2nd Amendment, they had the same right in Esther 9.  The Jews were not the aggressors. They only defended their families. We also read that Haman’s sons are all killed. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Like father like son.” They picked up the hatred, behavior, and racism of their father and were killed because of it, and their bodies were hung for all to see. The King gave the Jews a second day to finish what they’d started. Esther knew there were still enemies who needed to be found. They needed more time. They needed another chance. In Joshua 10 the Lord caused the sun to stand still “till the nation avenged itself on its enemies” (v. 13). In Isaiah 38 He gave Hezekiah 15 extra years to live. God can give you additional time to live for Him! Know your rights and do right!

 

Exercise Restraint

Verses 10, 15, and 16 all state that the Jews did not seize any plunder. Remember, they were given the right back in 8:11 – “The king’s edict 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.” They had every right to avenge themselves. In chapter 9, did they kill any woman and children? No. Did they take their possessions as spoils of war? No. Did they have the right to? Yes. Did they exercise that right? No. Though they had the legal right, they exercised restraint. Just because something is legal does not mean it is ethical or Biblical. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” We need to learn to exercise restraint, self-control. Are you eating, spending, texting, tweeting, speaking too much? Are you losing the battle with alcohol, drugs, materialism, anger, or envy? If we aren’t careful, we go too far. 

 

When we take responsibility, know our rights, and exercise restraint, we can watch God bring a sudden reversal! Regardless of what is in your past, God can change your future. God can turn your situation around. Our part is repentance. God’s part is reversal.

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!

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