Request

Esther 5:2-3
“So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!”

Esther was given access to the king. She was allowed to make a single request that seemed to be limitless. With all the wealth of the Persian kingdom at her disposal, her request was for the salvation of her people. Imagine if you had access to a wealthy and powerful king, who allowed you to ask for anything up to half of all he possessed. What would your request be? Now stop imagining. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, the Bible promises you have access to the King of Kings. You can make constant requests before God. You have continual access to God and are exhorted to come regularly to His throne.

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Whatever our needs are, we are invited to come to the throne of grace and receive. The Apostle James declared, one reason we find ourselves in want, is because we simply fail to come to the throne and ask. Jesus explained, we should ask consistently and persistently, until our requests are answered. If your need is physical, spiritual, emotional, if it has to do with provision, strength, guidance, comfort or anything else, the answer will be found at the Throne of Grace.

When Esther approached the throne, her request was for something bigger than any personal problem she was facing. Her request was for the salvation of her people. While it is necessary to spend time at the Throne of Grace praying for our personal needs, it is also important that we spend time praying on behalf of those who have not yet received Christ. Make a list of people that you know personally; people from your family, work, neighborhood, and places of recreation. Pray daily for their salvation. Pray for their hearts to soften to Christ, and pray for opportunities to share Christ with them, and invite them to church.

Pastor Jim

 

Leaven 

1 Corinthians 5:1
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!”

God designed sexual intimacy as part of the marriage relationship. It is the most intimate of all acts and plays an important role in the love relationship between man and wife. In the book of Hebrews we are told, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.” (Hebrews 13:4)

However, like so much of what God designed, men have distorted sex into sin. Today, a person that waits until marriage to be sexually active is ridiculed, women are treated as something to be conquered, and men revel in their vast number of sexual partners. Pornography is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and with the advances in technology, is available at the touch of a button.

While we should expect the world to distort the ways of God, Paul is shocked to hear that the same sexual sins are happening within the church. We find the same problem today, the sexual misconduct that is rampant in the world is also running rampant within the church. Dating couples are involved sexually, married men are developing relationships with other women, rather than investing in their wives, a high percentage of people registered in singles dating sites are actually married, and pornographic sites are one of the most common searches on smart phones and other hand-held devices. Again, we should expect this behavior out of those who don’t know Christ, but tragically, it is almost as common among professing Christians as it is among the unbeliever. What has happened to us? Paul explains, a little leaven has leavened the whole lump.

Leaven is a form of yeast used to cause bread to rise. A small piece of old dough was set aside and used on the next loaf, this rotting dough, when mixed with the new, would corrupt the whole lump causing it to rise. Sin is like that. When we let a little into our lives, it will not remain dormant, it will grow, until it affects every area of our lives. While this is true of all sin, it is particularly true of sexual sin. Once the line is crossed, sin seems to almost have a power of its own, which drives us. If you have started investing in a relationship with someone who is not your spouse, or begun looking at things that you shouldn’t, or become physical with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé; it is time to STOP! Paul gave a radical remedy to the sin problem that the Corinthians were having, he told them to remove this man from fellowship until he repents. Radical sin must lead to radical repentance. It is time to confess what you are doing, both to God, and to someone who will hold you accountable. It is also time to put walls around your life, making it difficult to fail. Your life, marriage, and Christian witness are at stake.

One of the most encouraging things to me is that Paul writes again to the Corinthians regarding this man, who was involved in such grievous sin. After confronting him and removing him from the fellowship, he realized the folly of his ways and turned his life back to the Lord. No matter how strong a grip sin may have on your life, if you will confess, and take steps towards repentance, God will give you victory. Don’t run this race alone, and don’t wait another minute to alter the path that has led you to failure.

Pastor Jim

 

Puffed Up 

1 Corinthians 4:6-7
“. . . that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Paul warns of the danger of pride. He refers to it as being puffed up; a term that has withstood the test of time, and is still used today. When we see someone who is filled with pride, we might say they are filled with self, puffed up, or even that they have a big head. Paul reminds us of the folly of elevating ourselves above one another, by exhorting us that what we have, we received from the Lord.

This passage reminds me of the story of Absalom, the son of King David, whose life was marked with pride and whose death was fitting. We are told, in the heat of battle, while fleeing from Joab, he rode under a low hanging tree branch and his head was stuck. Moments later, Joab arrived and slew Absalom. He literally died because his head was too big. Absalom was a man born into privilege. He was the son of the king, raised in the palace, given the best education and upbringing available at the time. His palace life would afford him connections with the most prominent people of the day, and provide him with a life of influence. In addition, the Bible describes him as an extremely good-looking man. He was praised throughout the nation for his looks. No doubt women were wooed by him, and men envious of him. But rather than looking at these as gifts from the Lord, and opportunities to be useful for the kingdom of heaven, Absalom was filled with pride. We are told, he was so in love with himself, that at the end of every year he would get a haircut, weigh his hair and publish the results. Of all the things we take pride in, that has to be one of the most ridiculous.

What have you done to determine the amount of hair that you have? The answer is nothing, it is hereditary. If you are bald or if you have a flowing mane, it is not because of something you accomplished, it is like being proud that you are tall. Paul reminds us, “what do you have that you did not receive? Now, if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” Everything we have is an evidence of the grace of God. Rather than thinking of ourselves as better than another, we should use the gifts, privileges and opportunities we have been given, to serve one another, and to further the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Platforms

Esther 4:14
“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

It is not easy to figure out why one person is given certain gifts and opportunities, that are not afforded to another. We see two people with relatively the same skill level, yet, one is chosen for a task and the other is not. Instead of allowing this to discourage us, we should keep in mind, whatever station we find ourselves, it will give us a platform to tell others about the hope of eternal life found in Christ.

Esther found herself exalted to the highest position a woman of her day could attain. She was the Queen of Persia. Her uncle Mordecai encouraged her to remember she would have an opportunity to be used by the Lord that few others would ever have. Years later, the Apostle Paul found himself on the opposite end of the spectrum; he was incarcerated in a Roman prison. Rather than complaining about how unfair things were, he used his situation as a platform to share Christ, and found he was given an opportunity to share with family members of the king.

Whether it is a promotion or a demotion, a seeming success or failure, whatever we find ourselves facing, we should realize, we are in the midst of it for such a time as this. Esther’s actions resulted in saving the lives of many. It would do us good to realize our actions and the ideas we share can also result in saving lives.

Look for an opportunity to use the platform you have been given to share the love of Christ and the way to heaven with someone today.

Pastor Jim

 

Chosen

Esther 2:17
“The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

It could have been easy for a woman like Esther to feel forgotten. She had lost her parents at a young age, and was a believer living, in an area where she was surrounded by those who did not know the Lord. As the pages turn, it appears there must have been some level of persecution against the Jews, since Esther chose to hide her heritage from everyone in authority. This rising persecution will set the stage for much of what develops in her story. It seems as though, instead of allowing difficulty to tarnish her view of God, she allowed her situation to give God an opportunity to show His love in her life.

Apparently,  the removal of Vashti from her position as queen, and the king’s decision to select a new bride, must have spread through the kingdom. I can only imagine the wide gamete of emotions that must have run through young Esther when she was selected as a prospective queen and taken to the palace. As the next year unfolded, the Lord began to show His sovereignty and love, as Esther rose above the other candidates. When her turn came to present herself before he king, she was chosen above all others, as the next queen of Persia.

The remainder of this book will illustrate that when God changed her station, He did it to give her a larger platform, in order to be a part of the furtherance of the kingdom of God. This is an important principle to keep in mind. When God blesses us and raises our station in life, we need to ask Him why. Why has God blessed your resources? Is it so you can have a faster car or newer gadgets? Or is it so you can use your resources to further the kingdom. If God has increased your sphere of influence perhaps it is so you can have a larger platform to tell the world about Christ.

Esther teaches us that we are not forgotten, that God knows our current state, and that His plans for us include His desire to raise us up and use us for the furtherance of His kingdom.

Pastor Jim

Love And Respect 

Esther 1:20
“When the king’s decree which he will make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is great), all wives will honor their husbands, both great and small.”

The opening scene of Esther sheds a bright light on the needs of men. Ahasuerus, king of Persia, had invited all the nobles of his kingdom to a great celebration. It is likely, he was trying to persuade them to get behind his program of sending a massive army to overthrow Greece. During this celebration, he called for his wife to come and parade herself before him and his friends. No doubt, this would be an embarrassing act for any woman, so she refused. Ahasuerus took her refusal as a personal attack against him. He felt as though his wife was not behind him, supporting and honoring him as king. This sent a chilling message to all the men, if the queen did not honor her husband, what chance did they have of being honored by their wives.

Those who study human behavior suggest the greatest need a man has in a relationship is to be honored or respected. When a man senses his wife supports and believes in him, he is able to face just about anything. While I am not suggesting Ahasuerus’ behavior is noble, I do see a picture of how important it is for a wife to support her husband. One of the greatest women of Scripture is Sarah, who was honored by God for the honor she gave to her husband. Paul declared, the number one responsibility of a wife is to respect her husband.

I have found, in many marriages, wives are failing to honor their husbands because they don’t sense they are being loved. This turns into a vain battle where the wife is not honoring, because she is not being loved, and the husband is not loving, because he is not being honored. If that describes your marriage – STOP IT. Instead of waiting for your spouse to do the right thing, offer yourself to the Lord and determine you will live pleasing to Him. Whatever the current state of your marriage, take comfort in knowing God is able to do great things in the lives of all who are willing to do things His way.

Pastor Jim

 

Growth

1 Corinthians 3:1
“I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.

Paul mentions four types of people in the opening verses of this chapter. He refers to mere men (some versions read natural man), babes in Christ, carnal men, and finally spiritual men. These terms represent a natural development in the spiritual life of an individual. Natural man refers to a person before they place their faith in Christ. The natural man is living, breathing, walking, talking, perhaps even loving, giving, sharing and caring, but the natural man is separated from God, and living in sin. It is when the natural man hears the message of the cross, recognizes his need for a savior, and places his faith in Christ, that his sin is forgiven and he is born again into the family of God. At that point, he becomes a babe in Christ. Like all babies, the new Christian must be cared for. He needs constant companionship, encouragement, example, and a diet of the simple teachings of the Word of God.

Hebrews 6 gives a list of the foundational truths every young Christian must understand: “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”

When the young Christian ingests a healthy diet of the Word of God, he will begin to grow. Thoughts, words, and actions change, and many of the practices from the old life, are replaced with practices that are pleasing to God. Soon, the young believer is growing in Christ, and impacting others for the kingdom of God. They are no longer controlled by emotions, or by the influences of the world around them, but are now controlled by the Spirit of God. They begin to live a life that sets an example on earth, and stores up treasures in heaven. Paul refers to that individual as spiritual. Sadly however, this is not the route for every Christian. Some, after placing faith in Christ for salvation, never seem to grow out of infancy. Even years after coming to Christ, they are still struggling with the same doubts, fears and sins. Their Christian life is more like a swinging pendulum, than a walk with God. They “feel” close to Him at moments, and far away other times, they let the influences of the world influence them, and are constantly falling into sin. Sometimes, because of the guilt of constant failure, they seclude themselves from other Christians, and may even accuse the church of wrong doing. It is not uncommon to hear them use phrases like, “Christians are judgmental” to help justify the sins they have not outgrown.

Paul minces no words, he refers to that person as carnal, a word meaning worldly. While it is expected, and even cute, to see a baby act like a baby, it is sad to see someone still acting childish as a an adult. Now would be a good time to evaluate your walk with God. Are you growing? If you have been a Christian for only weeks, you should be seeking to surround yourself with godly influences and get to know the Word of God. If you have been a Christian for many years, you should see a dramatic and constant change in your life, because of the daily investment of the Word of God. The Christian life is a life of growth; like a tree, we only stop growing when we are dead.

Pastor Jim