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Not What You Were Thinking (Esther 9-10)

May 23, 2019

 On the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them, Esther 9:1

I wonder how many people, in the world, lose sleep every night because of some type of fear of the unknown.  It was David Jeremiah who estimated that 95 % of the things we worry about usually never happen.  Someone responding to his estimation said, “Its the five percent that keeps me up at night.

The book of Esther has been a very refreshing book for us this week to read.  The book begins with what seems to be the silence of God toward His people.  But quickly we realize God is working behind the scenes as the Sovereign Lord of the universe.  Esther, an orphan in bondage becomes the queen.  God positions her to make a difference in her world.

Here in chapters 9 and 10 we see the exact reversal of what the enemy was trying to accomplish. Satan intended the end of God’s people, but it was Satan’s team that found their heads crushed in the end.

R.C. Sproul comments: “This pictures for us for all time the very demise of Satan at the hands of God.”

So, let me ask you, what are you staying up all night trying to figure out?  What are you trying to avoid by the lack of sleep?  What are you trying to change the outcome in?

Take Esther’s advice, give it all to God and stand still and see Him work.

The Words of Paul seem so powerful in this moment:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d]be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-6

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He did it again (Esther 7-8)

May 23, 2019

16 The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. Esther 8:16

As the saga of God’s people who were under the control of the Persian Empire continues to unfold, our confidence in God continues to grow because we see God working behind the scenes.  As Chapter 6 closes, Haman (the enemy of God’s people) has been told by his family and trusted council, this is not going to turn out well for you.

Chapter 7 unfolds so quickly that we almost are in shock as Haman is hung on the very gallows he intends for his enemies.  You and I need to always be aware that our enemy is always trying to destroy us (I Peter 5:8).  But we also need to always be reminded that our enemies are God’s enemies.  And if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31).  Finally we need to be reminded that God will bring joy and direction to us even in the darkest of moments (Psalm 97:11).

God was in control of every step of Esther’s journey.  His assignment for her was clear.  She was called to serve the Lord in the very position He had placed her in.  God would be her light, her joy, her gladness, and her honor.

As I wrote the above sentence I could not help but think about each of you who read this blog.  Just like Esther you have been placed in unique positions that have  daily challenges and daily frustrations.  I also know there are days when you don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

However, be reminded that Esther must have felt that way, but with God there is always hope beyond what we see. The same God who brought Esther into a position of favor will do the same with you.

Our task is simple:  Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 

HE WILL COME THROUGH AGAIN AND AGAIN

Who can Stop the Lord Almighty ? (Esther 5-6)

May 22, 2019

13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” Esther 6:13

The Jewish people were in a difficult place.  The clock was ticking and the day of their demise was coming. I am sure these things were on the minds of all the Jewish people in the days of Esther.

As we pick up the text I ask you this question: What is on your mind and heart today?  Is there a great trial or is there a question you cannot get the answer for? Could it be that you are feeling under-appreciated today?  Does God seem to be silent?

Take the advice of Esther and Mordecai, God is always at work and no one can stand in his way or overcome His plan.  In these chapter we see the following:

  • God gives favor to Esther in the king favoring her unannounced entry before him.
  • God gives favor to Mordecai in the king remembering his good deed of the past.

Do you see God working behind the scenes directing everything, even having the enemy of God’s people directing the king in how to honor Mordecai.

Here are three things you and I need to remember as we walk the journey of life today facing opposition in the world:

  1. No one can keep you from being saved.  John 8:36 “He who the Son sets free is free indeed.”  John 10:27-30 “No one can pluck you out of His hand…”

2. No one can keep you from being successful in your Christian life.  Romans 8:31 “If God be for you, who can be against you.”

3. No one can keep you from interceding for their soul.  James 5:16 “The effective unceasing prayer of a righteous person avails much.”

Take the wisdom of Esther and Mordecai to heart: “No one can stop the Lord almighty!”

Why such hatred? (Esther 3-4)

May 21, 2019

 15 The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. Esther 3:15

Esther is being positioned by God in a place of great influence (look back to yesterdays blog for more details).  This Jewish orphan who has been adopted by her uncle is on an amazing journey of faith.
But now all of this is in danger of destruction because of the hatred of one man!  Esther has no dealings with this man.  But this man’s hatred drove him to attempt to destroy her entire race of people.
Who was this man?  His name was Haman.  He has just been appointed to great leadership in her husbands kingdom.  What was his problem?  Haman was  a relative of the King of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16) who were the arch-enemies of God’s people.  Haman hated God’s people.  His hatred drove him to convince the king that all the Jewish people were in rebellion against the kings laws.  Haman proposes to the king to destroy all of them.
The king did not realize it, but with the decree, even his wife the queen would be killed.  Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife.”
In our story line Esther is challenged by her uncle to do something about the decree.  Esther knows if the king does not accept her into the throne room, it could be her life she would have to pay.  But for the sake of her countrymen, she puts her life on the line.
Brothers and sisters what can we do about the hate in this world?   Here are three Biblical suggestions:
1. Make sure there is zero hatred in your heart. Colossians 3:8.
2. Live out the characteristics of a true Child of God. Colossians 3:12-16.
3. Share the love of God with all people.  John 3:16.
The truth of this text is deeper than we realize. If Esther does not deliver her people, our Messiah would have never come through the Jewish people.  The truth is, unless you and I stand up in the newness of Christ the world will never know the answer for their hate.

Esther’s Feast (Esther 1-2)

May 20, 2019

18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity. Esther 2:18

As the days of May come into full swing, high-school seniors come to the end of an 18 year journey.  For the first 18 years of their lives, much has been set in place for them.  Day after day the structure of life has been dictated to them.  But now, the choice of what is next is mostly in their court.

For some of those graduates there is a burning desire to make a difference in the world.  You and I may not see it or we may wrongly interpret their actions when in actuality they are trying to decide what they will do for the remainder of their lives.

For those who know Christ the desire to make a difference in the world has eternal implications.

This day we consider Esther 1 and 2.  It my seem as if nothing of great value is taking place. It looks like just the story of a king who got bent out of shape over the queens refusal to obey his perverted command.  But there is so much more happening.

We must understand God was working behind the scenes using the kings pagan anger to position His servant Esther in a place of influence that will make an eternal impact later in the book.  She will become the voice the people of Israel will count on to save their lives.

Esther may seem of little value in chapter 2, but by the end of the book we will say, “now I know why God brought Esther to the kingdom for such a time as this.”

Question:  Do you live each day with intentionality knowing God is working or do you live unintentionally forgetting God has an eternal plan for you?

Each day seek and trust His plan for your life.  Be assured Esther’s banquet was about more than just celebrating Esther.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

You who are spiritual (Galatians 6)

May 17, 2019

Brothers,[a] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Galatians 6:1

Paul makes a reference in verse one to a particular group of people.  He calls out these people to a ministry of restoring believers who have given into temptation.  Who are these particular people? Paul identifies them as “Spiritual people.”

Who are these spiritual people?  They are those who according to Galatians 5:25 have life in the Spirit and they are walking in the Spirit.  My grandmother would label such people as those who are living the Spirit-filled life!

Here is the deal:  Those who are spirit-filled are called to restore those who have fallen into sin as a pattern of life. How do spirit-filled people accomplish such a task?

  1. They do it in a gentle way.  With calmness and compassion they reach out to those who are in the flesh.
  2. They do it in a watchful way.  This type of person makes sure they protect themselves from the same temptations.
  3. They do it in a sincere way. Such a person knows they are not better than anyone else.  Such a person knows he or she must daily test their motivations.  Such a person knows he or she has their own daily battles in life.
  4. They do it in an enduring way.  Such a person stays the course (Vs: 9) with Jesus.

Paul summarizes the call of the spiritual person by stating: “So then…”  When the opportunity comes you are to restore, refresh, and reset your brother and sister back into a life of walking in the Spirit.

Question:  Are you spiritual this day?  If your answer is yes, look for opportunities to restore your brothers and sisters.  If you answer is no, confess your sin to God and seek to be restored to the walk of a spiritual person.

Christianity In the 21st Century (Galatians 5)

May 16, 2019

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  Galatians 5:25

It happens in every generation, senior adults usually complain about some of the changes the younger generations make.  I can still remember, from years ago, how a senior adult approached me and said, If you ever allow drums in the church I am out of the church.  As he left, his wife came behind him and said, remember this is the guy who says the last great gospel song to be written was Amazing Grace.

In Galatians 5 Paul is instructing the church to stand fast in Christ’s freedom.  The issue was not an issue between old ways and new ways.  The issue was between salvation by grace through faith verses trying to earn one’s salvation.  Those who have truly come to Christ do so by faith that evidences itself through a changed life.

Through Christ everything changes.  Believers receive new life granted by the Holy Spirit and new believers pursue a life described by walking in the Spirit.

This new life is characterized by spiritual fruit:

  • Love-this is simply God flowing through you to others.
  • Joy-this is God’s joy in you that gives you happiness apart from the circumstances of life.
  • Peace-we have peace with God, peace with people, and we are productive in that peace.
  • Patience-we now know everything in life has a purpose as we travel through.
  • Kindness-we have a heart that cares about the hurts in this world and we do something about it.
  • Goodness-our desires are now to live a life of righteousness in Christ.
  • Faithfulness-Our Lord leads us on the journey of life and it is our desire to do His will.
  • Gentleness-we have a calmness about how we approach every circumstance of life.
  • Self-control-we are not ruthless or wicked in our actions.  The Spirit guides us to be peacemakers.

Brothers and sisters, this is how we are called to live in the 21st century as Christ-followers.  We each have preferences in life, but these preferences do not dictate how we live our lives.  We are a principle based people.

My friend, was just allowing the flesh to act out.  However, when the drums did come into church, he did not leave.  He actually stayed and was thankful to be able to share Christ with a new generation of people.

Weak and Worthless Principles (Galatians 3-4)

May 15, 2019

 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? Galatians 4:9

It’s was his dad’s birthday, the son had worked hard in building a shoe shine box for his dad. It came time for the birthday and the son presented his work to his dad.  His dad looked at the box and said, “this is worthless,” and he cast it aside.

Question, would your heart be broken if this happened to you?

In Galatians 3-4 Paul is concerned for what the readers are working for.  This church began its existence when Paul came to their city preaching the gospel (4:13-14).  Many people in the city surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ (1:2-4).  These Before Christ people became New Creations in Christ because of the life given to them by the Holy Spirit (3:2).  Paul calls this the work of regeneration in Titus 3:5.

Paul’s concern is valid because the church is acting foolish in thinking they again need to follow the law so that they could be saved.

Paul reminds the church that even Abraham was justified by faith in Jesus Christ (3:7-9).  It was Christ’s work on the cross that brought these people into God’s family (3:13-14).

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit[e] through faith.

It is not those who attempt to obey the law that are sons of Abraham, but those who come to faith in Jesus Christ (3:27-28).

You see, it would be totally foolish for a father to reject his sons efforts to bring him an earthly gift.  But the opposite is true when it comes to our souls. It is foolish on our part to try to bring to God our efforts to earn His favor.

Today, you and I are challenged to come to Christ in salvation, we are called to walk in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and we are compelled to walk in the light of His Word.

 

Preserving the Gospel (Galatians 2)

May 14, 2019

 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. Galatians 2:5

The American Historical Association is the oldest association of historians and professors of history founded in 1884.  The goal of this association is to preserve the history of our nation for future generations.

Question, does the church need  a historical association?  This could seem like a strange question, but if you will consider the context of Galatians 2, I believe it will become clear.

Paul is writing to the church to combat those who were taking the message of the gospel and distorting the truth.  These distorters were saying: Salvation comes through Jesus plus works (Acts 15:1).

When Paul heard of the distortion he immediately takes action by going to Jerusalem to be a part of the Jerusalem council with the subject of the gospel being the reason for the council.

Who were these people who were distorting the gospel?  Paul identifies them as false brothers (Not in God’s family) who were brought in under cover of being true Christians.  These preachers were Satan’s spies planted to distort the gospel (Vs: 1-3).  Their goal was enslavement in false truth.

Paul would not even for one second submit or let stand a false gospel.

The true viewpoint of salvation is this: Jesus plus nothing (Galatians 2:16)

 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Salvation is in Christ alone, by faith alone, and through grace alone.

Jesus did the work of our salvation.  We do the work of walking by faith in the newness of life that the gospel brings (Vs: 20).  Now that we have the truth we are called to preserve the truth by proclaiming it to the world.

I pray you are a part of preserving the truth for all to see!!!  If not join Christian Gospel association today.

Three Amazing Gospel Words (Galatians 1)

May 13, 2019

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. Galatians 1:11

As a person who spends his life using many words (that sounds kind of long-winded), I find myself often moved by words, in particular the Words of the Bible.  God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).  God’s Word implanted in a person brings life change (James 1:19).

As Paul writes to the church at Galatia, he shares his personal testimony.  There are three amazing words that stand out:

  • Revelation
  • Received
  • Real

The first two words are literally in the text, the third is implied in the text.  If you know anything about Paul you know he was first known to the world as Saul.  His young adult life was given to being a leader in the Jewish faith.

His revelation of Jesus was simple: He is an imposter and a threat to the Jewish faith.

His whole life was given to the complete extension of Christianity.  But then a new revelation came.  Jesus spoke to Saul, Acts 9.  Immediately, the revelation shocked him.  He asked, who are you Lord.  Jesus spoke, I am Jesus the one you are fighting against.

In that moment the revelation of God was received by Saul who’s name would be changed to Paul.  Paul realized he was wrong.  The change of direction for Paul (repentance) became so real in his life that the news began to spread:

23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” Galatians 1:23

Brothers and sisters, do you and I have family, friends, and co-workers who need the experience Paul had?  I know the answer is yes.

If this be true, you and I can take hope that God is still in the business of Revelation. We also know all those who receive the true revelation of Jesus will experience real life.

Now, it is not my place to judge, but I do believe many have never experienced the real life that comes through revelation from God and through the receiving of God as Lord and Savior.

Oh how I am praying for an outpouring of Revelation today!!!