Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Book of Esther
When Life Knocks You Down
We all have problems in our life. There is no exception to this rule. We carry pain and issues from our past as well as current struggles. There is no denying that life can be hard and painful. If you look around the world it is clearly evident. There really is no one either that has the same problem, every situation is unique. There is something that I really hope touches your heart this morning and it is found in the book of Esther, actually, it is found in probably every book of the Bible.
Esther had a really hard life. She was a minority in a kingdom that displaced her people. She was an orphan who lost her father and mother at a very young age. That means she had no father or mother figure at all. She was raised by her cousin. She had a lot of pain in her life, yet she did something that is truly inspiring. She overcame them. She was so disadvantaged that it would be easy for her to go through life sulking and blaming people for her problems. The funny thing is that she ended up being queen of Persia and even saved her people from genocide.
Esther is not the only one that had a hard life. Moses ran away from Egypt and lived in a desert for 40 years, Joseph went from a loved son to a slave then became a prisoner, Ruth lost her husband at a young age, and Jesus faced the suffering of the world because he loves you. They all had adversity and troubles into their lives yet they overcame them. Actually, God used all of them to help people. God helped them overcome their impossible odds.
I want to encourage you this morning to get up and stop sulking. Stop blaming or resenting people because of the situation you are in. When you do that, you don’t allow God to work in your life. The world begins to revolve around you. You cry “Oh woe is me!” I know life is tough, and I understand that the situations from your past and present are something that I probably can never know. I know you are hurting and stressed, but if you let that keep you down, you bar God from being able to use you. There are a lot of Christians who have overcome diversity and now they help others in tough situations. I struggled with abuse and depression, but God helped me overcome that and now I can help others.
What if all those people in the Bible did not overcome their adversity? What if Esther just stayed a depressed little orphan? What would happen? Well many Jews would have been destroyed. What about Moses? If he did not overcome his adversities Israel would be slaves for a much longer time. What about Jesus? Well we all know that answer. If I sat and sulked about life and not overcome my challenges, I would be a completely different person then I am now. I would not be a Christian and probably be doing a lot of Drugs. I would probably not be in school. I would not be writing this to you. We all have a purpose and if we let our trials keep us down, then we become very tough to use. It’s time to get up and fight the good fight.
2nd Corinthians 1:4
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Have you ever had a surprise party before? That is something everyone should experience, maybe not a party per se, but definitely a surprise of some sort. When a person is surprised they are completely taken un guarded. Many of the greatest generals in history used surprise tactics to win a war or gain territory.
There is an interesting verse that I never picked up on until now. In Mathew 8:10, it says that Jesus was taken by surprise at someone’s faith. This guy was a military officer and he surprised Jesus. He surpassed Jesus’s expectations, what he did was unexpected by the Son of God. How powerful is that? How cool is that? Maybe you are reading this today and your reply is: “So what?”
Let me try to put it in better perspective for you. Imagine if you did something that surprised God. This guy in Mathew 8 had so much faith in Jesus. The bible does not state why he had all this faith, but it took Jesus by surprise that he did. Jesus even said that there is no man in Israel with this amount of faith. Wouldn’t it be cool to surprise God in some area? I used to do this servant program in Virginia called Doulous. We would pay these people to put us to work and teach us how to serve others. When I would serve, there would be a peculiar result. Every time I helped someone, it would seem that the next day God would out do me. He would serve me or my friends in an even better way. For example, one week we served a church and really gave it all. That week I cleaned out a septic tank, toilets, cut weeds, etc. I thought I was doing well for God. Then at the end of the week, God would show up in our group and outdid our actions. One time he encouraged the pastors of the church we were helping to come wash our feet. THE PASTORS of the church came to wash our feet. The whole week we were sweating and smelly! Everyone in my group was crying out their eyes because they knew it was all God. I was not crying but laughing. I just found it funny that no matter how hard I tried, God always out did me. I could not surprise him.
What I want to challenge you with today is to try to surprise God. Do something that you would never do for God. Maybe you should suddenly rent a pressure cleaner and hose down your neighbor’s house? It sounds like a cheesy experiment because it seems like God knows all anyway. This little game is something that I played and honestly it was really fun. It was also cool to see God’s reaction to it. So I dare you, try to surprise God. Let’s see if you can do better than me.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Have you ever been so stressed or in turmoil that words just can’t seem to explain it all? It’s like the only sounds that come out of your mouth are groans. Sometimes you can’t really explain it to yourself let alone to others, and at times you can’t even pray. Life is tough at times, and there are moments in our lives when obstacles seem overwhelming. Like when you exercise and you exert yourself so much that you begin to groan. Problems can do the same thing. They can be so difficult that you can’t really explain them, but you just know how hard it is. How do you put in words the feelings of depression or loss? How do you explain hurt. Sometimes you can’t describe the crisis you find yourself in.
Today I just want to encourage those people. See, God knows. In Mathew 6:5-14 Jesus talks about praying. He tells the people not to pray these super long prayers to get attention. He tells them to do it in private between themselves and God. In vs. 8 Jesus state “…Your father knows what you need before you ask” So be encouraged. When you don’t know what to do or even say remember that God knows and understands. He will help you and comfort you.
Have you ever been hungry and someone fed you without you having to ask? How you ever had so much work to do then suddenly a coworker offered to take some of that load? Do you remember how relieving that is? It is such a blessing when people help you. How much more of a blessing is it when God does the same thing? So take courage, when you can’t describe the situation you are in, remember that you are not alone and God knows. I want to leave you to meditate on this verse. It brings everything in perspective.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27