Made for This Moment, Week Four
What Goes Around, Comes Around

Part 1

Monday, August 10, 2020

The title of this last segment in our series we’ve called, “Made For This Moment,” is “What Goes Around Comes Around.” 

 

Now, understand that I am not talking about karma. “Karma” is a concept that originates in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism who define karma as the total effect of a person’s actions and conduct during the successive phases of his or her existence. Some even think of Karma as getting what you deserve as you pass through this life. Instead, I want us to have a very clear understanding that is NOT what I mean with this title, and that is not where we will be going this week, either.  

What we will be thinking about as we conclude this larger study of Esther is what the Bible would call the principle of Sowing and Reaping. In a practical sense, here in the Midwest and the Great Plain States, we know that if you sow corn, you will not reap a harvest of soy beans; if you sow wheat, you will not reap a harvest of grapes. It just does not and cannot work that way.

However, when it comes to the spiritual things, we can observe that sometimes we sow love and peace and harvest hatred and violence. But, as followers of Jesus, we are called to trust Him no matter what, to be assured that He sees and knows everything, and we are to trust Him to keep the books (we learn this from the Bible). We also learn that spiritual harvest sometimes takes longer to mature than physical harvest. We can see what is happening in the physical realm and at times mistake it for what is happening in the spiritual. We see some of the vile, dirty things that happen in our world and know that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg to all the evil that is really happening in the darkness, where we cannot see it.

What I’m interested in is the answer to this question…

When will we KNOW?

When will all that has been done in darkness be brought into the light?

When will all the wrongs be made right?

And here’s an even more vital question: What about ME? What about YOU? When will all of OUR darkness come to light? And our wrongs, be made right?   

 

Continued tomorrow

Week 3

"Made for This Moment"

The Power of ONE, Part 1

Monday, August 3, 2020

Over the past few weeks we’ve been learning some pretty great lessons from the story of Esther about what heroism looks like. But we’ve been learning even more about what the sovereignty and providence of God looks like in a pagan culture.

 

We have also had to learn that

  • God is always at work in, around, and even through us. He is always doing more than we think He is. He is going about the work of saving and redeeming people from their unbelief and its consequences. 
  • However, we have also had to learn the tough lesson, “It’s not about me.” Not even my own story is really about me. 

The good news is, God is still working in, around, and through us, doing this larger work of saving and redeeming people today. Furthermore, He wants to use you, even as He used Esther and Mordecai in their day (and honestly, we can see clearly He is still using them today).

Let’s go back and refresh our memories once again of the heart of the story.
Esther 4:13-17 NLT “13 Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” 17 So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.”

In this week’s study, I want us to focus on a theme that I see repeated throughout Scripture: God puts His hand upon available individuals, inviting and empowering them to be a significant part of His redemptive work in the world.

Let’s spend some time here to think about “The Power of ONE.”

 

Continued tomorrow    

Week Three

"Made for This Moment"
The Power of One, part 2

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

ONE Believer – I’ll give us a short list here – but literally One Believer: that could be any one of these people - or even you. Noah – Genesis 6:19 “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God,” 19 “But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives.” Think of that for a moment – the entire population of the earth was “wicked” – “everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.” And yet God saw Noah – a righteous man... look again, at VS 9. How different would – I mean, would there even be humans on the earth today, if it were not for, One Believer, named Noah? 

This list moves from Noah to Abraham – Genesis 12:1- 4, 15:4-6… Again, One Believer, and from Him, eventually came Jesus – “Immanuel, God with us.” What might or might not have happened had Abraham not taken God at His Word (that called faith) and acted on that belief?  One Believer – a nobody at the time, changed the world through his faith and obedience. (We will come back to that thought a little later in the study.)

Then we progress through our unexhausted list to people like Joseph – Genesis 50:19-20; David – The Psalms describe him as, “A man after God’s own heart.” And then there is a young man named Josiah (I read about Josiah again, yesterday during my devotional time – what an incredible young king, whose heart was so set on following God and heart was incredibly sensitive to God’s Word!). And we dare not forget Queen Esther – we have been talking about her for the past couple of weeks – so we should be familiar with the fact, she was a victim of human trafficking, who became Queen… One Believer.

Nor can we forget the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, or moving to the New Testament, Joseph (the step dad of Jesus): One Believer). And of course there is Mary, the young mother of Jesus, to whom we are introduced in Luke 1:28-31, 34 and 38 (The truth is, even though there is not a whole lot of information written in the New testament about this One Believer, we could take a long time talking about her and her faith, and trust, and obedience, and so much more). 

Truthfully all of the disciples fall into the “One Believer” category. The thing we must remember is this: every single one of them was just an “ordinary Joe” who had faith in God and trusted Jesus with their very lives - which is the only reason they can be classified among the “One Believer” people.

 

But let’s think for a moment about one of the disciples and one other guy who became a disciple. Peter, a fisherman by trade, the guy who denied Jesus (three times), yet we are told that, after the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, people were healed as he walked by and his shadow fell on them. That just boggles my mind – One Believer!

 

Continued tomorrow

Week 3

"Made for This Moment”

The Power of One

Part 3

Wednesday, August 5, 2020   

How could we end the partial list without mentioning Saul, who became the Apostle Paul? A persecutor of the Body of Christ, who was bent on destroying the early church. He, too, became that “One Believer” when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and then went on to write the bulk of the New Testament, planting an incredible number of churches and raising up and training leadership (made disciples) to care for all those churches. He shared the Gospel with the poorest of the poor and with Kings.

The list of those “One Believers” didn’t end with Biblical times. It has gone on to include people like Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bonhoeffer, and Billy Graham and many others. We can also look at Edward Kimball. “Who?” you might ask. Rest assured, you aren’t alone in asking; most people have never heard of him. Here’s a brief look at who Kimball was.

 

Kimball was a Sunday school teacher who not only prayed for the hyper boys in his class but also sought to personally win each one to the Lord. He decided he would be intentional with every single one of them. If you have ever taught the Bible to young boys, you know that the experience can often be like herding cats. Surely, there were times he thought about throwing in the towel.

One young man, in particular, didn’t seem to understand what the Gospel was about, and didn’t appear to care much about it, either. One day, Kimball went to the shoe store where the young man was stocking shelves. There he confronted him in the stock room with the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In the stockroom on that Saturday, he believed the Gospel and received Jesus Christ as his Savior. That young man was Dwight L. Moody. In his lifetime, Moody touched two continents for God, with thousands professing Christ through his ministry.  

Great story, right? But, listen, friends, the story of Edward Kimball doesn’t end there. That’s just where it begins. Under Moody, another specific man’s heart was touched for God, Wilbur Chapman. Chapman became an evangelist who preached to thousands. One day, a professional ball player had a day off and attended one of Chapman’s meetings. That day, ball player, Billy Sunday, surrendered his life to Jesus. Billy Sunday quit baseball and became part of Chapman’s team.

 

When Chapman accepted the pastorate of a large church, Billy Sunday began his own evangelistic crusades…

 

Continued tomorrow

Week 3

Made for This Moment

The Power of One, part 4

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Picking back up our account of Edward Kimball...  

 

Another young man was converted whose name was Mordecai Ham. He was a scholarly, dignified gentleman who wasn’t above renting a hearse and parading it through the streets advertising his meetings.

When Ham came to Charlotte, North Carolina, he declared that he knew for a fact that a house of ill repute was located across the street from the local high school and that male students were skipping lunch to visit that house across the street. A sandy-haired, lanky young man then in high school, vowed that he wouldn’t go hear Ham preach, but Billy Frank (as he was called by his family), did eventually go when students decided to go to interrupt the meetings of Mordecai Ham. Billy Frank decided to go see what would happen.

That night Billy Frank went and was intrigued by what he heard. He returned a second night and responded to the invitation and was converted. (repented and turned his life over to Jesus). Billy Frank eventually became known as Billy Graham, the evangelist who preached to more people than any other person who ever lived, including the Apostle Paul.

ONE Moment – Elijah and his Mt. Carmel moment found in 1 Kings 18. (This is one of my all-time favorite One Moment accounts in the Old Testament). And there are plenty of good ones to choose from: David had a number of One Moment events; Peter with Cornelius in Acts 10 – this is when the Gospel was first given to us Gentiles; and there is the account of the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill. In our era, we find Billy Graham in a tent in Los Angeles, and Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama, etc. 

A personal One Moment, for me, was In The Navajo Nation, a town called Tuba City, back in 1999 when I took a group of youth and adults to minister in to the Navajo people for two weeks. It was a Saturday night service in Tuba City and my new friend Amos was sitting in the back of the sanctuary. I thought for sure when I gave the altar call for salvation, he would respond. He didn’t. After I had prayed with a group of people who did respond, the Spirit sent me to talk personally with Amos. In that One Moment, he began weeping and committed his life to Jesus as I read to him from Romans 10:9-13. When I began reading that passage to him, I didn’t know he couldn’t read: no one at church had ever taken the time to read scripture to him, they all just assumed he could read and he was too proud to tell them otherwise. Suddenly the words of scripture combined with the power of gripped his heart and he wept as we prayed together. He told me later, “If you hadn’t read the Bible to me in the Moment, I would have never prayed with you, I would still be stuck in sin.” One Moment changed Amos’ life for eternity.

ONE Act of Obedience – God uses ONE believer… in ONE moment… who commits ONE single act of obedience to turn the tides of history! But even with this pattern of using ONE, we still see that ANYONE can be “The ONE.” YOU can be ONE great force for the Gospel and for change in the world around you.

Our acts of obedience don’t have to be monumental to the world. They can be small, personal, and should even be daily.  Let me say this slowly and clearly so none of us, including me, misses it: Every Act of Obedience Matters.

We are a community of ONE’s” – we are called the Church. Esther, before taking action, asks Mordecai to get people fasting. She asks her maidens to fast with her as well. She became ONE, among the MANY, who knew to rely on the strength of others. 

 

It’s not always a case of, “Will you be the ONE?” It’s most often, “Will you be ONE among the MANY?” Will you be ONE who prays with the MANY for the redemption of the lost? Will you be ONE alongside the MANY who share their faith in Jesus with others?   END