The Lord’s Message:  God Is At Work:  Ready to Serve?

The Lord’s Message:  God Is At Work:  Ready to Serve?
Date:  July 16, 2023
Where:  Tilghman United Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Esther 4:1-17

            In 2009, Pop culture icon Chelsea Staub sung a song entitled “It’s all about me.”  Here is the chorus: “It’s all about me. It’s all about me (Oh yeah) Me, Myself, and I. It’s all about me. It’s all about me. (You know it’s all about me.) It’s all about me, me, me, me.  Everybody knows I’m fly (You know it’s all about me.)  It’s all about me.  Many people living in this country still feel, and live, their lives as if it is all about them.  Many of Hollywood’s actors and actresses have become divas. Many of the athletes in sports need to have luxurious houses, fancy clothes, and shiny sport cars. Many of our politicians think that everything has to be done their way. That is the reason there is little evidence of working together for the common good of the nation.   I could go on with the selfishness of our culture. I am also not the first to recognize this attitude.

            In 2002, Pastor Rick Warren authored a book entitled, “The Purpose Driven Life.”  I would like to read what he wrote, “It’s not about you! Life is not about the job you hold, the place you live, the money you have. The purpose of life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your own happiness. It’s not about you and it’s not about me. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.” 

            Let us pray.

            In our reading this morning, we open in Esther 4:1-2 with Mordecai being in distress. He has torn his clothes.  He has put on sackcloth and ashes. He is bitterly loudly wailing at the king’s gate. Mordecai is distressed because he has a copy of the edict that Haman has convinced King Xerxes to make law. This edict instructs the citizens in the empire of the Medes and Persians to kill all the Jewish people. Mordecai knows that the reason for the edict is because of Haman’s dislike for the Jewish people, especially Mordecai. Mordecai would not bow down to Haman to show respect to him. Haman, also being a descendant of King Agag, has contempt for the Jewish people, due to God giving them the victory over the king and his family.

            Due to some kind of Persian rule, Mordecai is not allowed to go past the king’s gate in his condition. My guess is that the king did not want to hear anybody’s complaints. The king only wants happiness in his court. Some people do not want to acknowledge the truth, they want to live in a fantasy world.

            While the king is living in his fantasy world, the rest of his kingdom is in a state of chaos and agony. In Esther 3:15, while Haman and the king drank wine to celebrate the issue of this edict, the city of Susa is in bewilderment. They are confused and upset about how the king could issue an edict such as this. This of course upset and distressed the Jewish people on whom the edict is directed. Look at Esther 4:3.

            In verse 4, hearing about Mordecai’s distressing appearance, Esther decides to send some clothes for Mordecai to wear. When Mordecai refused to accept the clothes, Esther sends out her eunuch, Hathak, to find out what is distressing him, Esther 4:5.  The name, Hathak, means verily. By Esther sending out Hathak, she knows that she is going to get the truth.  In verses 6-8, Mordecai reveals to Hathak the reason for his distress.

            During this entire time, no one knows the Esther is a Jewish woman. In fact, in Esther 2:7, Mordecai changes her Hebrew name Hadassah to a Persian name Esther to conceal her identity. Now, he is instructing Esther to go to the king and reveal her identity to save her Jewish people. Esther sends words back to Mordecai in verses 10 and 11 that she cannot simply go in to see the king without the king summoning her or she could be put to death.

            When Hathak reported back to Mordecai Esther’s response, Mordecai replies in verses 12-14 that if she does not do this, then God will find another way to save His people, but she will perish. Mordecai goes on to say that God may have placed her in this position of authority to save the Jewish people.         

            Esther replies in verses 15-16 to gather the Jews and hold a prayer meeting for God to give her instructions on how to proceed. This is a key point.  Before we rush into anything, we should pray. We should ask for God’s guidance in the situation. In Psalm 37:5, it says. Oswald Chambers, in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest says, “don’t plan without God. God has a delightful way of upsetting the plans we have made, when we have not taken Him into account. We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him, that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives. And yet the only thing that will keep us from even the possibility of worrying is to bring God in as the greatest factor in all of our planning. In spiritual issues it is customary for us to put God first, but we tend to think that it is inappropriate and unnecessary to put Him first in the practical, everyday issues of our lives. If we have the idea that we have to put on our ‘spiritual face’ before we can come near to God, then we will never come near to Him. We must come as we are. Don’t plan with a concern for evil in mind. Does God really mean for us to plan without taking the evil around us into account? Love … thinks no evil, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. Love is not ignorant of the existence of evil, but it does not take it into account as a factor in planning. When we were apart from God, we did take evil into account, doing all of our planning with it in mind, and we tried to reason out all of our work from its standpoint.” 

            In verse 17 after hearing Esther’s response, Mordecai goes and follows her instruction. Mordecai could have said, “It’s all about me,” and fled to some other nation. Even though Mordecai knew it was because of Haman seeking revenge against him that the edict was created. Instead, he was ready to serve.  He stays and convinces Esther, who is the only one that is in a position to help the Jewish people, to change the mind of King Xerxes in regard to this edict.  Esther could have said, “It’s all about me,” and continued to refuse to see the king. Instead, she is ready to serve. She seeks the help of God. We will find out next week what God’s plan is to save His people.

            As a believer in Jesus, we know that Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, asked His father to take away the cup of wrath that His father had planned for Him. Jesus could have said “It’s all about me.”  In Luke 22:42-44, Jesus knelt and prayed.  Jesus knew the cross awaited Him. Jesus knew that this was His Father’s plan to redeem Humanity from the entanglements of sin. This troubled the humanity of Jesus. The divinity of Jesus knew that this was the only way to save us. Before taking on this task, He prayed. Paul writes about Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11. Jesus was ready to serve. Jesus went to the cross and died for your sins and mine. God resurrected Jesus from the dead.

            We, who are believers in Jesus, know it is not about us. It is all about God and God’s purpose for our lives. God is calling all of us to be servants. Are you ready to serve?   Amen.

July 16, 2023 3:03 pm