Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Esther 4: "For such a time as this..."

Last Sunday (July 27th), I had the opportunity to preach on Esther 4 at West London Alliance Church in London, ON. The sermon title was, “For such a time as this”. The central question that framed the message was, “How do we live as Christians in a world that is opposed to us?”

This is not an easy question to answer. What I hoped to do was draw three main truths from the text to help us answer this question on a personal level. There is no “play-by-play” handbook on how to deal with specific situations we encounter in our lives. All we know, is that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).

Like us, Esther was an outsider—an alien—who sought to live out her faith in a culture that was hostile to her faith and her God. The people of God, the Israelites, were a displaced nation, dispersed throughout the Persian Empire. In our own “post-Christian” culture, it often feels like we are a displaced people group. By looking at Esther’s example, we can glean three central truths to help us live lives worthy of the cross of Jesus Christ.

The first point is that God made Esther “for such a time as this.” She was unique in physical appearance and in character (Esther 2:7,9). She was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-16) for a purpose; the Lord designed her to be what he wanted her to be for his purpose and plan. Like her, we are also made for this time and place. We have been given gifts “for such a time as this.” God has a plan for each of us. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” God doesn’t call you to be who you are not, but who you are—who He made you to be, for the plan He intends for you. This is a great truth. It is easy to lose hope and despair when we feel inadequate for the challenges of living out our faith in this world. We need to remind ourselves that God has made each of us and He has placed each of us in our current situation (time and place).

The second point is that God prepared Esther and her circumstances for such a time as this. Esther was made Queen not only because of who she was and how she was made, but because God had engineered the circumstances and orchestrated details of her life. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin tells her, “who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” The “such a time as this” Mordecai was referring to was a royal edict that called for the death of all the Jews living in Persia. Esther had been placed in a perfect position to help save her people. Likewise, God has placed us—our job, school, neighbourhood, family, church—for such a time as this; we are where we are to serve the kingdom of God.

Thirdly, with these truths square in our minds, what should we do? Esther asks Mordecai and all the Jews to “fast for me”. She goes on to say, “I and my maidens also will fast in the same way” (Esther 4:16). Esther is “waiting on the Lord” and “seeking His guidance and strength”. We ought to do the same when faced with persecution and trouble: pray and ask others to pray for us. God will guide and empower us for such a time as this (Psalm 31:3; 2 Timothy 1:7; Isaiah 58:11).

What has God gifted you to do? Are you doing it?
Where has God placed you? Are you serving Him there?
What has God called you to do? Are you seeking His guidance and power?

An mp3 audio version of the sermon is available by clicking here or by browsing the West London Alliance online sermons (scroll down for Sunday, July 27, 2008).


Jennie said...

Manalive, did I ever need this today.

Jeremy W. Johnston said...

Hey Jennie,

I am glad you were blessed.