I bet you didn't realize that the book of Esther has something in common with the show "Making a Murderer." In this message, we introduce the villain of the story in chapters 3-4 and talk about our purpose. Are you missing it or are you embracing the significant purpose God has given you?
Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, Phoenix, Northwest Arkansas, Tulsa, wherever you are tuning in and joining from all over. We are continuing the series God Save the Queen as we explore the Old Testament book of the Bible on the life of Esther, the queen, named Esther and the crazy story that is around her life.
Let me start by asking this: Who is the greatest villain in any movie of all time? The Joker. Darth Vader. Venom. Any great story has a villain involved in it. Here are some of the ones I think are the most iconic villains of all time. You have the Joker, of course. Then you have Bane, Darth Vader (maybe the most classic), and then Thanos. Then Scar, of course, and then Dr. Evil, which of course I've never seen because I'm a Christian.
Every great story has a villain involved in it. It has a hero, it has a villain, it has a great storyline and great plot. The story of Esther is no different, and tonight we're going to be introduced to the villain in this story, but unlike those other stories, this is a true story. Let me catch you up in case you missed last week, and it'll give us a little direction for where the evening will be.
The book of Esther is a story of a young girl who goes from a peasant to a princess, if you will. It's a rags to riches story. Last week, we looked at the first two chapters where Esther, we're told, was this orphan girl who was adopted by her uncle, and she ended up marrying King Xerxes. King Xerxes was the ruler of the Persian Empire, the greatest empire the world had ever seen.
So, we have these three characters: Xerxes, Mordecai, and Esther. For Xerxes think Jake Gyllenhaal, we said. Then you have Esther. I'm mixing it up this week because nobody knew who Bella Hadid was, and I'm going with Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman. Then, of course, Uncle Mordecai. The most famous uncle of all time would be Uncle Jesse. Keeping it real.
Tonight, we're going to be introduced to our villain whose name is Haman. For that, I have selected Jafar. First, because look at that guy. Secondly, because it really fits. Jafar was this prime minister, if you will, who had the emperor or the sultan under his thumb. Haman is no different, and you'll understand what I mean by that.
Here's what's going on. This all took place in the Persian Empire. It's a true story. It's a real story. The Persian Empire was ruled by King Xerxes. He was a pagan. He didn't know God, didn't worship God. He thought he was god. Not a great guy. He holds a beauty pageant and says, "I'm going to look for the most beautiful woman in 127 states, anywhere from Egypt all the way to India. I want to find the most beautiful woman." Esther, this incredibly beautiful woman, wins the beauty pageant and becomes the queen of the entire empire.
This takes place, and she all of a sudden finds herself in the midst of the empire and set up for whatever God is going to do. The whole story showcases that even when you can't exactly see what God is doing you can rest assured he is at work. So today, even though we're introduced to the villain here, it only is a part of God's plan and what God is going to bring about despite the evil that is introduced in this story, just like God is at work despite any evil that's introduced in any story.
With that said, we're going to be in Esther, chapter 3. If last week was The Bachelor "Persia Edition," this would be Making a Murderer, if you will, if you saw that Netflix show. We're going to see how Haman became this guy who, at one point, wants to inflict genocide on all of the Jewish people. Again, this is about 480 years before Jesus in what is modern-day Iran. The story continues. Esther, chapter 3, verse 1:
"Some time later King Xerxes promoted Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite over all the other nobles, making him the most powerful official in the empire. All the king's officials would bow down [lie prostrate] before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by, for so the king had commanded. But Mordecai…" Who's Uncle Jesse, who's Esther's uncle, who works at the king's gate. "…refused to bow down or show him respect."
The reason, we're told a few verses later, is that he says, "I won't, out of my faith, bow down and worship any human person. I don't care who you are. I'm not going to do it." So, every time Haman would show up at work and go to the front of the palace… He's entering the palace gates. There are all of the guards, all the staff. Everybody lies down and bows down except for one guy every single time. That's Mordecai. Verse 5:
"When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. He had learned of Mordecai's nationality [that he was Jewish] , so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes."
So he goes, "I'm not just going to take this guy out. The fact that his Jewish faith won't let him bow down… I'm going to take all of them out." Long before Hitler was ever around, this is the first person, or at least one of the first people, who wanted to completely annihilate the Jewish race and Jewish people.
Quick side note. Throughout history, there have been a lot of times people have done this. Part of the reason is there's a satanic or an evil force out there, so people over and over have tried to annihilate the Jewish people, because God promised that through the Jewish people would come a messiah to save the world. If you could take out the Jewish people, you would take out the Jewish Messiah who was to come. That was what was driving or behind Haman's actions. He wants a full genocide on these guys.
"So in the month of April, during the twelfth year of King Xerxes' reign, lots were cast in Haman's presence (the lots were called purim)…" We're going to come back to them in a second. "…to determine the best day and month to take action. And the day selected was March 7, nearly a year later."
Kind of a random side note, but basically, he's like, "Dude, we're going to take all of these guys out. I'm prime minister. I'm going to put together a plan." He did something that was common then…it's not really common now…where he was like, "How do I decide which day on the calendar? Let's roll the dice."
So they rolled the dice (the dice being called purim), and the dice came out with a day that was almost a year later in March. We're told that he marks the calendar. "This is going to be the day." Now he gets his plan and goes to the king. He says, "I've got the day picked. Now I've got to go convince the king to let me kill this people." Here's what happens:
"Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, 'There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces [the states] of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king _ [as in to worship me]_ . So it is not in the king's interest to let them live. If it please the king…'" Again, this is why I say he's Jafar.
"…issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 10,000 large sacks of silver to the government administrators to be deposited in the royal treasury." Ten thousand large sacks of silver would be today equivalent to $280 billion. The entire GDP of the empire at that time was 15,000. It was a huge empire. He says, "Hey, we're going to basically almost double. That's what I'm going to guarantee to you."
So the king… If you know anything about history, at this point in time, Xerxes… The movie 300. He just lost Thermopylae. He just lost to those 300 dudes who had been doing a lot of CrossFit. He lost to those guys, and he's like, "Man, I need some more cash and some people." So of course he's like, "Yeah, let's do it. If you can get me that much money, I don't care who they are. It sounds like you have a good plan."
"Dispatches were sent by swift messengers into all the provinces of the empire, giving the order that all Jews—young and old, including women and children—must be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated on a single day. This was scheduled to happen on March 7 of the next year. The property of the Jews would be given to those who killed them."
It's crazy. Terrible. "No matter their age, I want you to spread everywhere, in every state, in all of the different languages the empire represents…" They would have messengers who went in and, in whatever language you spoke, nailed on the telephone poles of that day, "Here's the edict, and here's what's going to happen. On this day in March, every person who is Jewish is to be killed and you can take any of their stuff." It's like a twisted old-school version of the Purge or something. So all of the Jews throughout the land are, of course, terrified.
"When Mordecai learned…" Mordecai is Jewish just like Esther is. "…about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail." So Mordecai is going around. He's crying. He's weeping. We're told the Jewish people are going around crying and weeping. They know, "Basically, I need to arrange a funeral for myself and my whole family."
The whole empire, especially the city of Susa, we're told, is thrown into confusion. When Queen Esther's maids and eunuchs came and told her,"Your uncle Mordecai is weeping, and he's wearing burlap" (which is not a good look for anybody) "and crying all throughout the city…" She doesn't know what's going on at this point. Remember, she had hidden her Jewish identity. The king didn't know she was Jewish. Very few people did.
But she hears, "Hey, your uncle is wailing and weeping all around the city." So she decides… "…she was deeply distressed. She sent clothing to him to replace the burlap…" I love that. This is a classic lady move. Boy is sad. "I know what cheers me up. I'm going to send him some new fresh outfits, some new clothes, some retail therapy. Here's a gift card to Neiman's," or whatever you had back then. We're told Mordecai refuses it.
So then he sends word to the queen, and basically, he's like, "Hey, don't you know what has happened?" He sends a copy, we're told, of the edict. He takes one off the telephone pole. "Hey, send this." He gets a servant and sends it over to Queen Esther, and she sees what's happening. He says, "Go to the king and plead for the life of your people."
She says, "You don't know what you're asking me to do. You realize that would be a death wish?" At that point in time, you could not just approach the king even if he was your husband. You could not go in unless you were invited to see the king. Anyone who did so who didn't get the royal scepter extended would lose their life.
"Then Esther told Hathach [the servant going back and forth between them] to go back and relay this message to Mordecai: 'All the king's officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter.'" "I can't just go in there and plead, Mordecai. It would be a death sentence." "And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days."
As in, we know this king had hundreds of women in a harem. He's not sleeping alone at night, and he has gone 30 days since he called his wife in the last time. She's basically going, "I'm not sure this is a great time for me to approach him," if you will. "We're not exactly jiving right now." She sends that message back to Mordecai, and Mordecai responds with this message:
"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. 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.'"
Mordecai says, "If you keep quiet, you're either going to die because the king doesn't extend the scepter or you're going to die because of this edict, but God is going to save his people even if it doesn't involve you." One of the most iconic verses in the book, verse 14:
"'Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?' Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: '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.' So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him."
We're going to hit pause and continue the story of exactly what happens next next week. I really want to camp out on these last few verses, because we see an exchange and an interaction that is related to Mordecai seeing and saying, "You have to connect the dots, Esther. All of the things that seem so random, how you went from a peasant to the princess in just a moment or a day in such a short time period… Clearly, God was always at work. Can't you see? Could it be that you've been put where you are for such a time as this? Don't miss out on fulfilling the purpose for which you're in that palace."
I want to observe three things as it relates to this idea of purpose that we learn from Esther's story and this interaction and, really, her life and her actions here. All of us came into the room, and somewhere in your heart of hearts, whether or not you'd even admit it, there's part of you that deeply desires to live a life that's full of purpose.
In other words, no matter how successful any of us become, no matter how well we do in our jobs, no matter how well we do in our careers, no matter what type of car we drive or what type of house we have someday or how many kids we have, or whatever you define as success, if it doesn't involve a life of significance, like, "Dude, my life mattered," what a waste.
The good news is God is deeply concerned about you experiencing your purpose and the reason he has you on this planet. There are three things we learn from the interaction they have here as it relates to you realizing your purpose. These three truths are not just true for her; they're true for you and true for me.
How was Esther's life shaped? Like, God shaped, he was involved in the details, in who she was, in forming her story, in the way she looked. He was over all of that. We're told she was a woman of incredible beauty. That wasn't something she chose or got to decide. It was because God was involved in shaping her story, and one of the ways he shaped her was that he gave her incredible beauty.
We're told in Esther, chapter 2, verse 7… It says the same thing two different times. It goes out of the way in a way that I don't know of another place in Scripture where it says both of the things it says. "This young woman, Esther, had a lovely or really good figure and was beautiful." Your translation may say, "Beautiful to look at."
The author goes out of the way to be like, "Dude, this girl had a good body, and she had a really pretty face." She was thicc, and that's the type of girl this was. God was over that. God informed and shaped and put together. You can't take responsibility for that. You're the most beautiful woman in 127 provinces. Think about that. You can't take responsibility. Do you think that's just random? All of that was because God was shaping you on purpose for a purpose.
In fact, even her story… In the same verse, it says Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother had died. A tragic moment where she buries both of her parents and goes to live with her uncle in the city of Susa, the king. God was over all that, and he was shaping and bringing about. All of a sudden, he places the most beautiful woman maybe the king or anyone at that point had ever seen. He puts her in the city next to the king. God was over all of it. Can't you see? Esther, your life has been shaped on purpose.
Your life…those listening right now and everybody in the room…your life has been shaped on purpose. I don't know that you're actually going to believe when I say that. Your story, how you look, the gifts you have, your personality, the talents, the way you think… All of it maybe has been touched and impacted by sin, as sin always does, but God was intimately involved in shaping and is shaping your story. You have been shaped on purpose for a purpose.
I have a 1-1/2-year-old daughter named Monroe. She loves this game that's this shapes game. This is just what you do whenever you have 1-year-olds. You sit around and do these shapes. What's the point of the game? Take that little star right there, and there's a little star hole. It's a pretty simple game. I can't believe I'm explaining this right now. You take it, and then you put it in the star hole. It's not as simple as you would think for a 1-year-old.
Shockingly, she doesn't conceptually get it. She just thinks any of those are kind of generic, and "I'll put them wherever I want." She's like an Enneagram Eight, so she gets very lit when things don't go her way. She's throwing the thing up against the wall because she just wants the circle to fit in the star. She doesn't conceptually understand the point of the game. You take the shape that most resembles the hole it can plug into, and you put it in there.
That's really what, as Christians, we believe God has called us to in life. You take the shape of your life (who you are, how God has made you, how he has formed you, the gifts he has given you) and you plug into the holes of the problems in the world around us. You plug into the holes of the needs of the body of Christ.
You take the shape, which is who you are…not some star but how God has formed you. You look for ways to take the way he has wired you, who you are, what you bring to the table, and be a part of meeting and bringing solutions to problems in our world and meeting and bringing solutions to problems in the church.
By shape, what do I mean by that? There's an acronym that actually lays out… Because people ask all the time, "What am I supposed to do with my life? How do I know what God is calling me to do?" I want to give you a handhold, five letters. It actually spells out the word shape, because you have been shaped by God. Each one of these reflects a different way you've been wired on purpose for a purpose that'll give you some indication, "Man, maybe this is what I'm supposed to do."
The first one is S. It stands for your spiritual gifts. If you're a Christian (speaking specifically to Christians), in a way that I don't have time to go into, when you trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into your life, and it's like he begins to flame up or magnify different gifts that may have been there all along, but he just pours gasoline on it, and the fire gets bigger. So there are spiritual gifts God has brought about inside of your life.
Romans 12:4-8 says this: "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function…" So it's like I have a body. I have hands and feet. Everybody has one of those. That's what he's saying. "…so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." Then he lists out some of them. It's not an exhaustive list, but he basically says, "Hey, if your gift is this, then do it. If your gift is this, do it."
"If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."
How do I know what God is calling me to? You need to know your spiritual gifts. Like, what is the thing that, "Man, I'm just wired. This gives me life. People in my life affirm it. I think it adds value to the body of Christ," because that's the point of the gifts that are there. If you're interested in finding what yours are and you've never taken some assessment that may help you, you can go to watermark.org/porchspiritualgifts. So how do I know my shape? How have I been shaped on purpose? What's God calling me to?
The second one is heart. What are you passionate about? Each of us has different passions, and sometimes that gives us an indication that, "Hey, maybe that's a way that God is calling me to further use my time, my energy. I lose sleep over that, and I get so excited about being a part of that." Maybe you have a heart for fighting sex trafficking. Dallas is one of the most sex-trafficked cities in the country, and you can join some of our friends who serve here at The Porch who started a ministry called Reclaimed that's all about fighting sex trafficking in the city.
Maybe you have a heart for international ministry, and it looks like you joining us on an international trip where you go and get to be a part of our trips to Ethiopia or El Salvador and different places that we go and try to bring the message of Jesus. Maybe you have a heart for inner city. There are so many different things, different partnerships and ministries where God has given us an opportunity to be a part.
Dallas and so many of the cities listening have some of the highest poverty rates in the country. As the body of Christ, we think that is our responsibility. We're going to push back darkness anywhere it's found. We're going to fight for children who don't have parents to fight for them, and we want to be a part of bringing life and health to the place in which we live. I don't know what breaks your heart or what gets you passionate and you're like, "Dude, I would just go all day about that," but that's a question.
The third is abilities. What are your spiritual gifts? What are you passionate about? What abilities has God given you? What talents has God given you? Some of you are gifted in construction, and you need to think through, "How can I use the construction…? This is what I do. I do it 9:00 to 5:00. I make a great living. How can I use the gifts God has given me to be a part of bringing about transformation for the sake of Christ in the city in which I live?"
You can do all kinds of things, and there are ways you can serve, but there may be unique ways you could use construction gifts, if that's the industry you're in. You could join our friends in 2ndSaturday where every second Saturday here in this city, they go and help rebuild homes in high-poverty areas of the city, not for gain or financial gain but to be about transformation and giving people a second chance at getting on their feet.
Maybe you're like, "Dude, I don't know. I'm not very good at construction. I don't know what I bring to the table. I'm an accountant. I'm just good at math." You could be a part of mentoring kids through Mercy Street, which is a partnership ministry that's in South Dallas where tons of kids need tutoring and, furthermore, you get a chance to be a reparenting mechanism, a source of love, encouragement, somebody who changes the trajectory of someone's life. The gifts you have, whatever they are, God has given you so that you would be a part of living on purpose, because you've been shaped on purpose.
The fourth is personality. What is your wiring? You need to evaluate, "What are my spiritual gifts? What's my heart? What am I passionate about? What abilities, what talents and stuff do I bring to the table? And what's my personality?" How you were made has been woven intentionally. God is not surprised by the fact that you're introverted or you're extroverted, and you need to begin to go, "Man, what would make sense for me to serve and best do kingdom work? How can I be most effective for advancing the message and hope of Jesus to our world in light of my wiring?"
You may be extroverted, and for you, there are places where you could go and you're like, "Dude, crowds don't scare me. I'll get up there, and I'd love to get the mic and be in front of the children, and I'll be rallying. Just crowds galore. I want to be where the people are." That is a part of your personality, and you should look for opportunities where those things align or for you to serve and for you to do that.
If you're introverted, there's no hope for you, so I'm sorry. No, if that is it… Everyone is all across the board. For you, you may be like, "Hey, I don't want to be with massive crowds, but I want to be in small groups. I love having more intentional conversations in a smaller environment," whether that's a small group or a one-on-one.
If you're like, "No, I can't talk to anybody…the coronavirus," we even have a notes-writing ministry. You can write notes from home if you're that… And hopefully you're going to work on being able to talk to people, because that's pretty important, but whatever your personality is, God has shaped you that way. So leaning and asking the question, "How can I be most effective?"
Finally, your experience. This is a big one. Your experience and your story are part of how God is shaping you for purpose, even the things that were not according to his will, maybe things that were done, a part of you that clearly wasn't a part of his will. Maybe it's sexual abuse or maybe it was an abortion decision you were part of. None of those things are hindrances or problems for God to use and maximize and advance his kingdom through you. They can be platforms.
Some of the best ministries we have around here are men and women who have experienced those things. They're a part of their story, where sexual abuse was a part of their past, and now they're leading ministries and caring for other people who have that same thing. Same thing with abortion. Someone made a decision at some point.
So if you're in the room and you're like, "Man, I can never tell someone about this…" Some of the most effective ministers of the gospel I know have that a part of their story. Whatever your experience is, where you lived all of that, God has shaped and is a part of shaping you on purpose to have an impact for him.
2 . She was placed on purpose. Just like you are. God placed her in the palace. He takes this woman, and he plucks her out of her family's home. He puts her in the capital city, and then he does a beauty contest and places her on purpose in the palace. I love this, because Mordecai sees what so often we don't see.
Mordecai sees and responds, and he goes, "Can't you see, Esther? What if it's not random? What if all of the moments in your life that you felt like, 'This is just so crazy. I'm now standing with 400 other women. I'm in a beauty contest. I'm told I can wear whatever I want and it's for a year, and now I'm in the palace. I didn't even think I'd ever get to go see the palace. Now I'm living in one of the rooms in the palace, waiting to meet the king…'
And then you win the beauty contest? Could it be none of it was random, Esther? Maybe God has made you queen for just such a time as this. Don't miss your opportunity by failing to connect the dots that he has placed you here on purpose, and that purpose is not for you to just be in the palace to advance Xerxes' kingdom. You're in the palace to advance God's kingdom." He connects the dots in a way that so many of us fail to actually connect the dots.
If I'm Esther in that moment, I don't know that I really think, "Oh, this is clearly God." I think what you and I probably generally think. I think it's kind of random. Most of us, whenever we look at our job or where we live in our apartment complex or the family we're a part of, don't always understand and connect the dots. You're there on purpose. You think, "No, I'm not. I'm on the second floor of the apartment building. I tried to get on the first floor. I'm still trying to get on the first floor, and it's definitely not on purpose. If anything, it's the Devil who has put me on the second floor."
You don't understand that God would say, "No, no, no. You think it's random. You think you were supposed to have a first floor, and all of a sudden they moved it away, and they ended up putting you next to that single widowed mom who lives across from you. You think that's random. That's not random."
Could it be you're in the job where you are, today where you went to work, the people you live next to, even the family members you have, all of it… God has placed you there on purpose. Don't fail to connect the dots. In Matthew, chapter 5, Jesus says one of the most profound, well-known statements from Jesus that we have. He speaks to this audience of his followers and says:
" [As my people, you] are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."
I love Jesus. Brilliant. Here's what he just said. In this day and age there would be one light. There wasn't electricity. I know. Shocker. At that time, if you wanted to have a light on… Lights were really valuable, oil was really expensive, so typically, every home had just one light. Whenever you would light that, you'd put it very strategically inside of the house in the middle or in the most strategic place to give the most light to light up the room, because that was the source of any ability to see at nighttime.
He uses a common example where he's saying, "Hey, just like when you light something you put it very intentionally someplace…" Then he does something his audience would have been chuckling at, like, "Jesus jokes." He says, "No one would light a lamp and then put a basket on top of it." His audience would be like, "Yeah, that's crazy. Of course you wouldn't." God doesn't light lamps and put them in random, purposeless places, and you're God's lamp.
He doesn't just put it in places where he doesn't want it to shine on purpose. He has put you where he has. He has put you in the job you have. He has put you in the place you live. He has put you in everything about your life. It's all purposeful, and he has placed you where you are so that you would not make a paycheck or make rich people richer but so that you would go and spread the message of Jesus. He put a light there.
You may be thinking, "Dude, you don't know. My workplace is so dark. I don't have any Christians I work with. It's such a toxic environment." God put a light there…you. The more you can begin to connect the dots that "I'm not here to get a paycheck. My job is not just 'Hey, I'm an accountant.' That's not my job today. My job is to be a Christian who is an accountant and comes and counts numbers, but I am a light, and I use opportunities to share the gospel. I try to spread the message, and I try to be an example of what Christ calls me to do in how I work. I work hard, I keep my word, and I look for opportunities to point others to Jesus." That's what he said.
"Make sure you connect the dots," Jesus said to his audience. You're put on purpose where you are. In doing so, hopefully, if you believe that and you see that and you know that, you're going to help others, through the way you live, connect the dots by seeing your good deeds and pointing to your heavenly Father. Don't miss out on where you are and why God has you there.
So many of you, tragically, and many who are listening, candidly… I just know it, because I see it every week. You're going to give your 20s to chasing stupid, foolish things, to chasing trying to make a million dollars by age 30, and you're going to give your 20s to a goal that is far too small and far too dumb.
He has placed you on purpose intentionally where you are. You think you're a financial adviser, and you didn't even want to have that job. God says, "I moved all of the pieces around to put you in that firm, to put you in that office, to put you in that school district for you to be a light." Are you taking advantage of living out your purpose? You were placed on purpose.
I love it, because Mordecai sees what Esther couldn't see. "Esther, don't miss your moment. You're here on purpose. Don't lose sight for all the palace and privileges and making something of yourself. What a foolish thing to give your life to." How much more foolish for us who know Jesus, who see the bigger picture to spend our lives… You're going to chase, you're going to have everything the world would say is success.
You may have a great house someday. You drove here in a Range or an Audi or whatever you drove here in. You're going to get married. You have all of the kids. You have that Golden Retriever. You have the life people would look at and be like, "Oh, that's so great." If it doesn't involve you living out your purpose of knowing God and helping others to do that, you are wasting your life.
Some of you get this, and you're giving your life to that. You're living on mission, and you see yourself as "Man, I'm going to work every day. Do I love it? No. I don't always love what I get to do or always love my job, but I'm going in there, and I'm looking for opportunities to show people the ultimate treasure of my life is not a paycheck; it's Jesus."
I was interrupted today by a girl as I was walking by. She just grabbed me and said, "Hey, my name is Macy." She said, "Last week you shared a story about a girl at that Cinco Taco." I have a contract with Cinco Taco. I have to include it in every message. No. She said, "In that message you talked about how you went to that restaurant and you talked with Sarah and shared the gospel with Sarah. I didn't know that, but after that, that same day, unrelated, I had gone in and shared the same gospel with Sarah.
Then I came to The Porch, and I heard you talk about that. I just wanted you to know, like you said, I believe that was on purpose. Sarah told me, I guess an hour or two after you guys had bumped into her, that I was the second person who had shared, that someone named David had earlier shared the gospel with her and that it was beginning to mess with her that God would send two people on the same day to share the message of Jesus. Then I came to The Porch that night, and I just want you to know it was on purpose."
That was an example of somebody who doesn't work on staff at a church who said, "I see an opportunity. I'm going to look for an opportunity to share the gospel and share the message of Jesus to someone I bump into." Here's what I want to challenge you to do. This is about to make all of the introverts uncomfortable. I want you to share the gospel with one person this week. I think the apostle Paul would be embarrassed that I'm even saying one. "One? One? What?"
I want you to share the gospel with one person. I want you to just try to get in the conversation and just go, "Do you have a faith? Can I share my faith? Can I share how God is at work in my life?" If you're like, "No, I'll never do that; I can't get there," just invite them to The Porch next week. We'll share the gospel with them.
But a better exercise for you to experience and live out your purpose… Just open your mouth and share with someone around you. Get into a spiritual conversation or at least try to. Try to look for that opportunity and, in doing so, live out your purpose, because God has placed you on purpose and shaped you on purpose.
3 . You can live your life and miss your purpose. I hope you leave here with a concern or a greater awareness. Every one of us is in danger of spending our life and never fulfilling the God-given purpose for which we were created, the reason we're here, the reason we're alive; spending some of the most energetic, best years you have in life and giving them to corporate America, giving them to the pursuit of a relationship that will never satisfy you in terms of a dating relationship or marriage relationship, pursuing anything that is detached from you knowing God and walking with him and helping others do the same, not perfectly but with other people in your life.
You're going to spend some of the best years, and you're here tonight, and you probably won't even come back, but I hope you hear me. You are wasting your life. You're wasting it. You don't have to. God doesn't want you to. Just like there was an enemy in this story who wanted to destroy the people of God, there's an Enemy in your life and in our world named Satan, and he wants you to spend your years, your 20s, your 30s, your life… Listen to me very closely.
He doesn't want you to have an impact; he wants you to live for insignificant things, like how much is in your bank account. He wants you to live for the type of car you drive, what other people think about you, how many followers you have on Instagram. That's the type of foolish, pointless, worthless stuff. He's going to say, "You should pursue that. That's really what matters. Let's not get all crazy religious here and be really pushy about Jesus. I like to keep work at work and church at church and just kind of right down the fairway," because he doesn't want you to have an impact.
Mordecai looks at her and says something that's so brilliant. It points us back that Mordecai knew the promises of God. Remember what he said? He got a message from her. He goes, "Oh, you're afraid he's going to kill you? You know you're going to die anyway. God is going to deliver his people." Mordecai had read the book. He knew the prophecies.
"He's going to send a Messiah, which means the Jewish people won't be annihilated. Whatever Haman thinks and wants… I don't know how it's going to go, but I know the rest of the movie here, and it's not going to go like that, because Jesus hasn't come yet. He's going to raise up a deliverer from somewhere else. I don't know if it's going to be you, but if it's not you, you can rest assured somebody else is going to step in the gap and you're going to miss out on your purpose. Could it be he has placed you in this moment?"
I want you to honestly think about it. Could it be all of the different things in your life that may feel random, seem random…the places you live, the people you sit in a cube next to…could it be that God has put you there for a purpose and he has placed you on purpose and he has invited you to not miss out on your purpose by sharing the message of Jesus with those people? It's not dependent on you. If he wants the person in the cube next to you saved, he's going to save them, just like if he wants to save the people of Israel. It's not dependent on you, but you can be a part of it, and he has invited you to be a part of it.
"What are you going to do, Esther?" I think the same thing is said to us. How do you want to spend your life? Chasing what every story in Hollywood clearly reflects never satisfies or actually walking with the God who does and helping others in our world to do the same? There has never been a time that I know of in my lifetime where it has been more needed for the body of Christ to step up and be a part of living out their faith and not a dead Christianity that checks the box and I go to heaven when I die and I'm living for a life that is purposeless.
There was a chance I've had recently to coach my son's soccer games. He's 4, so it's really intense. We have this team together, and it's four on four. So we have these four kids. We're a part of the Red Knights. We had our first game two weeks ago. I don't want to brag, but we went 5-0. It's four kids at a time. It's a team of seven, but only four at a time can play. Two of them had to miss. We had five kids. We were playing the game, and there was one kid on our team… It was not fair.
It made me question genetics…wow!…really play a factor, because this kid… His name was Jacob. He was out there, and he was on our team, and he's the reason we won 5-0. He went hat-trick style. I mean, it was impressive. It was incredible. Here's what made him different. He wasn't bigger than anybody else. He was actually a little smaller. He just got the game. He literally understood "Okay. I take this ball, and I go to that goal. Right? That's what I do? And I don't use my hands; I use my feet. Got it. I'll do it."
He'd run, and he'd get the ball, and he would just run down the field. Every other kid is still kind of like, "Which goal? Dandelion!" Jacob is over there just… He's threading the needle, and he just got it. He conceptually was like, "Oh, I get the point of the game, and I can do it." Then we had one kid on our team, who we'll just call little Johnny, who the entire time we tried to get to play, and he didn't want to. He sat on the bench, and he just wanted to eat Goldfish.
We were like, "Hey, we'll hold your hand. We've got to get Jacob off the field. He's destroying the other team. Please, give us someone to tag in." He was like, "No, I don't want to play." He's eating his Goldfish. We're like, "Hey, your dad can come with you on the field." He just continued to not want to play, and we just sat over there. It was really sad. His grandparents had come. It was like, "Hey, this is your time. Come on!" He had the cleats just hanging from the bench.
In that moment it was like, "Dude, what a contrast." We have one who clearly gets, "This is the point of the game. I know what winning looks like," and then we have one who is like, "I don't want to play at all. I'd rather just sit over here on the bench and be comfortable." What a perfect picture of the Christian life for so many people. I think the decision for all of us… For me, every single day, I wake up, and am I going to be Jacob?
Like, I get the point of life. The game of life is not to score goals in soccer; it is to know God and help others do the same. Anything else I give my life to that doesn't involve a focus of how I can further do that is foolishness. I know how to win the game, and I know how to play the game, because that's the point, ultimately, of the game called life. Then the other one of just someone who sits on the sideline and is like, "Oh, I don't really want to do that. I just want to sit here and eat Goldfish."
So many of you…it breaks my heart…are going to spend your 20s eating Goldfish, and those Goldfish look like you pursuing Tinder relationships and getting drunk on the weekends because you're trying to cope with the fact that you don't actually like your life; you spending your 20s not plugged in and serving the city and using your time and energy to help other people but serving your time working in a 90-hour job because that's just what somebody told you you have to do in order to make it. And by "make it" they mean make a lot of money.
You are wasting your life. You are sitting on the bench if things in your life are not connected to and pointed to your purpose of knowing God and helping others know him. Mordecai, in a way that I love, says, "Don't you see it, Esther? None of it is coincidence. None of it is random. He has you here. It's all on purpose. The question is: Are you going to connect the dots and see it?"
In conclusion, you've been shaped on purpose, you've been placed on purpose, and it is possible for you to miss your purpose. Let me close right here. Esther ends up stepping out (we're going to look at her story), and despite what it costs her, she's a part of delivering the nation. We'll look at more of the story in the weeks ahead.
What happens next is that God uses her in this incredible, miraculous, like, "Wow! God showed up" kind of way. The nation is delivered, and that day of destruction that Haman had rolled the dice, the purim, to be a part of selecting "This is the day that will be destruction" became the exact day God brought deliverance. To this day, since the story of Esther, the Jewish community (today, they still do it) has celebrated a festival called Purim. Do you know this?
There's a festival called Purim. It's one of the most fun Jewish festivals there are. It's a mixture of Halloween meets Christmas. You wear costumes. Kids get candy. You end up getting food, and you give gifts to one another. It's really exciting. There are festivals all over the place of people, to this day, celebrating Purim. It's a reminder that "The day of destruction has become a day of deliverance for us. Our God showed up and delivered." To this day, it's celebrated.
It's also a day that Jesus, when he was on the planet, celebrated. It started 500 years before Jesus and has continued for 2,500 years. We're told in John 5:1 that Jesus showed up and attended this festival, this feast, in the midst of the city. It's a feast that's not told the name, but it's a month before Passover, which is Purim. Inside of that festival, he goes around, and there's a man he sees who's lame. He has been lying there, and it says he has been unable to walk for 38 years.
Jesus goes up and says, "Hey, do you want to get well?" and the guy says, "Yes." Jesus says, "Get up and walk. Take your mat and go." We're told the festival was also on a Sabbath. So all of a sudden, these religious people come, and they're like, "Hey, God has a rule. You can't heal people on Sabbath or do work." Jesus responds. "God is always working, and so am I always working." Then he says something else in the midst of this festival Purim, celebration of the destruction becoming deliverance.
"I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it's here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live."
He says at this festival, "There's an even greater deliverance that has come for those who are heading to destruction, and that deliverance comes from me, Jesus." Then he says something that's so beautifully profound and appropriate and relevant to Esther. He says to this group of Pharisees, who didn't understand they were talking to God and had missed God because they put religion in place of relationship, "You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life."
Jesus tells this group, "All of the stories, everything…every verse, every story, every moment…all of the things you read in the Scriptures point to me." Esther, Genesis…everything points to him and the even greater deliverance that came, because just as great as the deliverance that this day of destruction… Purim. That's the name of the celebration. Every Purim festival, we celebrate that the day we were to be destroyed we were delivered.
On a cross, Jesus would sow an even greater day that looked like the world would be destroyed and there would be an even greater deliverance. All of Esther ultimately points to Jesus. This life is not random, and all of it was woven together, and Jesus says it's about him…the story, your life, all of life, finding him.
Do you know what's crazy? In case you're going, "Man, coincidence." Do you know what today is? Today is March 10, 2020. I know. Shocker. It's Purim. Today, millions of Jewish people around the world are celebrating Purim, that "Hey, there's a God out there who, despite the fact that we were headed toward destruction, has provided deliverance for his people." Jesus says, "You have missed that the greater deliverance has come through me."
Your life is not random. If you don't know Jesus, tonight is the night where the God who's there has brought you to this place, and it's not random. He brought you in here, and you think it's just because a friend invited you. You thought it was a restaurant you were headed to, and you ended up in a church. It's because God has been pursuing you. It is not random, and he has extended that.
Anyone who believes in him will never be condemned. They will be delivered from destruction. They have already passed from death to life. In a moment, if you trust in Jesus as the payment for your sin… That's what Christianity is about. God saved the queen, God saves you, he saves everybody the same way: through putting faith in Christ, his death on the cross, that he came and died as a payment for your sin and he was buried and rose again to give you eternal life and abundant life now. It is not random.
Whether you believe me or not, someday you will, and you'll see it. All of it was God weaving and bringing it together so that you would know he hasn't forgotten you, he loves you, he cares about you. To the rest of us, he's saying, "I want you to experience your purpose." You've got to believe it. You were placed and shaped, and it's on purpose. You don't have to like your job or even like your apartment, but you have to know you're there on purpose or you're not going to live out your purpose. Let me pray.
Father, I pray for the millions of Jewish men and women who are of the same bloodline of the God we sing songs to, the God we worship, our Savior Jesus. I pray that they would hear, as you say in John 5:25, the voice of the Son of God and they will listen and live and be delivered from an even greater destruction that life is apart from being connected to you. I pray now for anyone here who has never received that free gift this would be their moment. Would you help us who have to live lives of purpose and connect the dots to what you're doing and where you have us? We worship you in song, amen.