Many of us have embraced false ideas related to faith. Do you have a fairy-tale faith or true faith in Christ? In this message, we look at chapters 5 and 6 of Esther to learn about three ideas that we tend to falsely believe.
David Marvin: All right, what is up, guys? We are back…that is right…with another week of Esther. We are in the quarantine corona edition, but I am with my friend JD Rodgers.
JD Rodgers: What's up, everyone?
David: He's a part of the leadership here, and we're going to dive back into Esther, chapters 5 and 6.
JD: So exciting.
David: How are you doing, man?
JD: Pretty good. This is the first time I've been in the proximity of another human in quite a while. It has been nice. I've been making dance videos at home alone.
David: Yes, he has. We have to give him more to do. We are six feet apart. Don't worry. We have the hand sanitizer ready. We're going to about to open the Scripture. Hey, let me start by this. This'll be a question for you. What is your favorite Disney movie ever? You at home can comment below if you're on YouTube Live, or if you're listening wherever you are, you can comment there. What's the greatest Disney movie of all time? Disney or Pixar.
JD: You know, David, I'd have to say for me The Emperor's New Groove.
JD: It's my favorite.
David: The Emperor's New Groove is actually a really strong movie.
JD: It's so good.
JD: Yzma is the most underrated villain in the game.
David: Yzma. Oh my gosh.
JD: Yzma. She's hilarious.
David: The scene with the angel and the devil on the shoulders thing, and he's like, "No, he actually has a good point.
JD: He's like, "No, no, no. Look what I can do." He does the handstand.
David: Yes. Hey, we've been watching all kinds of… This is going somewhere, by the way.
David: In my house, with little kids, Disney+ is your saving grace. So our kids have gotten reacquainted not just with the recent movies, like Toy Story 4, or the 1 through 4, and Cars and Frozen and all that stuff, but it's like I'm taking them down memory lane because we're going through Aladdin,Mulan…
JD: Ah, see, that's my time.
David: Oh dude, it's so the time. Pocahontas.
JD: Were you like 25 when Aladdin was out?
David: Oh my gosh. Wow. Wow. I actually don't really know. But I do know that I think the greatest Disney movie of all time (I'm going on record to say it right here), The Lion King. The original The Lion King.
JD: [singing] Circle of life!
David: Yeah. That's so strong. So anyway, that is like our jam right now. We're watching that all the time. You know, it's funny. When you watch them as an adult, you see all the underlying messages that are being woven into the storyline that your kids are being fed, which is like, one, it's kind of a perspective on the world you wish was true. You wish there was a magic carpet you could take and show you the world, but it's not really the case.
JD: That was nice.
David: Also, lions or even the animal kingdom in The Lion King. It's not really reality that all the lions get along with a baboon and they're all friends together.
David: There's some clearly, "Hey, this is not…" There is a lot of myth and fairy tale that is woven in there.
David: As a dad, you're like, "Hey, this is great," and you want to spark creativity and imagination, but at some point, they're going to grow up and hopefully realize that life doesn't always work where there's, you know, a…whatever the movie…
JD: Hakuna matata.
David: It doesn't always work out the way you want it to. Prince Charming doesn't always show up and give you a kiss that awakes Sleeping Beauty from death, or there's not…
JD: If you try to fly off a cliff with a magic carpet…
David: It's not going to happen. It's not going to go well for you. How crazy it would be…as simple as that is…for a child to grow up and never actually learn that those things are fairy tales, that they're myths.
David: What does that have to do with Esther, chapters 5 and 6, where we're looking tonight? I think there are a lot of people who grow their entire life, and from some point early on, or at some point in their life journey, they embrace what I would say is a fairy-tale faith or these myths about faith and what true faith actually looks like, and they never grow out of it.
Just like as silly it would be to believe happily ever after, or the circle of life always ends up with animals all being best friends, there are also these different myths about your faith that if you and I are not careful… Candidly, I think a lot of people listening, a lot of the people we minister to, thousands of young adults every single week, as I get to know and just hear conversations that I'm talking with them, at some point I'll realize, "Oh, you have a version of faith that is not true faith. It's a fairy-tale version."
Tonight, I just want to pull out three examples of fairy-tale faith that are really common among young adults. They're right in the story. We're going to dive into Esther, chapter 5, and look at those three. Tonight, if you take notes… First, week one. I'm just going to set up where we've been because you may not have joined us for Esther. Esther is a book in the Old Testament.
David: The Old Testament is basically the storyline of the people of God, the nation of Israel. That's what the Old Testament is primarily about, God's inner relationship with those people.
David: Inside of the Old Testament, there's a book called Esther. Esther was the queen of all of the Persian kingdom. How did that happen? Crazy story. You can go back and listen on the Porch app or on the podcast to hear the messages of Esther, week one and two. Basically, she was a peasant girl. It's the ultimate, like… Disney should make a movie about it.
JD: Yeah. It's like a very slept-on book in the Bible.
David : Oh, dude, totally.
JD: If you haven't read Esther, now's the time.
David: It's amazing. So girl goes rags to riches. She's a peasant girl.
David: The king gets rid of his wife, and he's like, "I want a new wife." Beauty competition. They have "The Bachelor: Persia Edition."
David: She wins the Bachelor of Persia. She goes from peasant to the palace.
David: All of a sudden, she's at the right hand of the king. Yeah, that just came out.
David: That was week one. We looked at kind of all the ways God…despite really her not perfect behavior or the ways she and the other characters in the story weren't always living it out…was still at work. Then last week, we were introduced to the villain in the story.
JD: Two weeks ago.
David: Two weeks ago. Yeah, listening. We were introduced to the villain in the story. Let me go through the four main characters in case you're still not following me. There are really four main characters in the book. There's King Xerxes. He's king over the whole Persian Empire.
David: He's not a believer in God. I said Jake Gyllenhaal when I think of him. There he is. You can see him.
David: There's King Xerxes. He is the guy who says, "I want a beauty competition to marry my new wife." He finds Esther, who becomes the queen. When I think of Esther, here's what I think of. I think of Wonder Woman. She's kind of the Wonder Woman of the show, Gal Gadot.
JD: Yes, Queen.
David: Yes, Queen. She's actually Israeli. Gal. I think her name is Gal. So that's Esther. So we have King Xerxes, have Jake. Then you have Queen Esther. That's Gal. Then you have Uncle Mordecai. Uncle Mordecai is the guy who raises Esther. When I think of Uncle Mordecai, I think of the most iconic uncle of all time in my opinion. And who would that be? Jesse from Full House. There's Uncle Jesse. You've gotta love…
JD: Wow. Everyone loves Jesse.
David: Look at the hair on that guy, man.
JD: How could you not? How could you not love that guy?
David: Taking me back to my childhood, for real. Okay, so there are our three main kind of good characters, or at least the latter two, and then we have our villain of the story. When I think of this villain, it really for me… There's no question. It is Jafar.
David: There he is. Partly because the villain, whose name is Haman, in this story is the prime minister of all the land, and he kind of has the king underneath his thumb. So, week one, we talked about God being at work, and we called it The Bachelor: Persia Edition and her being placed from peasant to the palace.
Week two, we were introduced to Jafar, or Haman, who comes up with this plan to kill all of the Jewish people in the whole empire. Millions and millions of people. You can go back and kind of listen to why he wanted to do that. Clearly, that was an evil thing he was a part of, but he gets this plan. He's the prime minister, goes to the king, says, "I think we should wipe out all of the Jewish people," and the king is like, "Oh, okay." "And in exchange for that I'll give you lots of money." And the king is like, "For sure then we're going to do that."
So really we hit pause in the midst of that, and we were introduced that Esther was told by her uncle, "Hey, they're going to kill all of us, all the Jewish people, 15 million people, every man, woman, and child, on a fixed day in the future. You need to go into your husband the king, and you need to say, 'Don't kill my people.'" She responds, "Hey, you know I could potentially die if I go in front of the king."
David: That's weird to us because you're like, "You're husband and wife. Talk about marital problems." But in that context, if you went before the king without being invited you would have your head chopped off, or you could unless he extended the scepter. Mordecai responds with the most famous line in Esther. "Hey, maybe you've been put in the palace for such a time as this. God has woven all of this story together. He's going to save his people. Could it be he's going to do it through you?"
Today we're going to pick up where Esther, after three days of fasting, says, "I'm going before the king." We're in Esther, chapter 5. If you have your Bible, you can flip open to Esther, chapter 5. Anything that I have missed or anything that'd be unclear in all that?
David: It's about 500 years before Jesus was alive.
JD: No. I do think this is a very relevant story for what's going on in each of our lives right now. It's like, "Hey, I think it could be really easy to be passive in this season."
JD: I think maybe I hope tonight we hear what was the call of Esther in this moment…
JD: …of difficulty, of pushback, and respond faithfully with the bravery she did. I love that you just said… I forgot that even she fasted three days…
JD: …before this. She was committed to seeking the Lord before she goes and does this.
David: Praying and fasting would be the motivation, yeah.
JD: It wasn't on her own strength. It wasn't about her. It was about what she was called to do for such a time as this. I think there's a call on our lives for such a time as this.
David: That's right.
JD: So I'm excited to see what you teach.
David: All right, here we go. Esther, chapter 5, verse 1. Three days into the fast. It says, "On the third day of the fast, Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the palace, just across from the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther…"
Here's the moment of truth. "…standing there in the inner court, he welcomed her and held out the gold scepter to her." Which means, "Hey, you can come forward." "So Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter." She did it on the third day. She put her life out there. She was willing to risk her life to go before the king in order to say, "Spare my people." So she goes before the king, and she is given permission.
"Then the king asked her, 'What do you want, Queen Esther? What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!'" That's a good day right then when a king says, "Hey, whatever you want you can have, up to half the kingdom. Here's how she responds. "And Esther replied, 'If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet I have prepared for the king.'"
So she says to Jake Gyllenhaal, "Hey, King, will you and Jafar, or Haman, come to this banquet I've put together? That's all I want. I want to have a dinner and have a banquet together." In my opinion, if I'm the king, I'm going, "Hey, you just risked your life. I'm pretty sure you didn't just want to invite me to dinner."
David:"But maybe I'll find out at the dinner what you really want." Verse 5: "The king turned to his attendants and said, 'Tell Haman to come quickly to a banquet, as Esther has requested.' So the king and Haman went to Esther's banquet." So they go to this dinner. "And while they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, 'Now tell me what you really want. What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!'" I love this dude, man. He's just quick to go pressing that half-the-kingdom thing.
JD: Yeah, really.
David: "Esther replied, 'This is my request and deepest wish. If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request and do what I ask, please come with Haman tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for you. Then I will explain what this is all about.'"
So she again says, "Hey, do you know what I really want? I want you to come to another banquet," and the king is going, "I'm pretty sure that's not all you want, but let's do it. I'm intrigued. I'm interested." She goes and basically makes the request, "Both of you guys come back." "Haman was a happy man as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the palace gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, Haman became furious."
Remember Haman was like the most powerful dude. He wants everybody everywhere to know, "Hey, when I'm in the room, I'm a big deal. You should be bowing to me." Mordecai, because he was Jewish, was like, "I'm not bowing in worship to any human person," and that infuriated Haman. It's why he wanted to kill all the Jewish people, because he knew, "Hey, they're not going to bow down to me." So he goes by, sees Mordecai not bowing. He's really angry.
David: "However, he restrained himself and went on home. Then Haman gathered together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, and boasted to them about his great wealth and his many children. He bragged about the honors the king had given him and how he had been promoted over all the other nobles and officials. Then Haman added, 'And that's not all! Queen Esther invited only me and the king himself to the banquet she prepared for us. And she has invited me to dine with her and the king again tomorrow!'"
So he goes home. He's like, "Yeah, I'm really upset." In my mind, this is how I see this, probably just because I'm watching so much Disney. Do you know that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Gaston is like a little down on himself and he begins to talk with that guy, and he basically goes into, "No one's slick like Gaston, no one's quick like Gaston"?
JD: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
David: You know, that whole thing where's he like over the top, 10,000 whatever he talks about, like Gaston. This is that moment with Haman, where he's going, "Look at how many kids I have. Look at how much wealth I have. Look at all the great things. I'm the most powerful person next to the king. Not only that, I've been invited to the White House for a dinner with the president and the first lady, or the king and the queen, just the two of them. How special and amazing am I?" But verse 13.
JD: He's feeling himself.
David: He's feeling himself. Verse 13: "But this is all worth nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew just sitting there at the palace gate." In other words, "All of this doesn't mean anything because that guy won't bow to me. If only he bowed to me, that would be really what I want." "So Haman's wife, Zeresh, and all his friends suggested, 'Set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall, and in the morning ask the king to impale Mordecai on it.'"
JD: Oh my gosh!
David: That feels aggressive. "'When this is done, you can go on your merry way to the banquet with the king.' This pleased Haman, and he ordered the pole set up." Okay, so really interesting. His wife. He's like, "How great I am, and yet I'm so upset. It doesn't mean anything because this guy won't bow."
His wife is like, "You know, let me console you. How about a little murder? I think that'll make you feel better. So why don't you set up a 75-foot pole and have Mordecai impaled on it? You're prime minister of the land. You could have that happen." He's like, "Yeah, that's exactly what I'll do. Now I feel better." Yeah.
"That night the king had trouble sleeping, so he ordered an attendant to bring the book of the history of his reign so it could be read to him." At this time, anytime the king did anything… It's a little bit like this. Any time, kind of before corona, Trump would do anything, it was news. Okay, Trump would travel someplace, and it becomes news because if you're the most powerful person, whatever you say, whatever you do becomes news immediately. In that context, whatever the king did would be recorded because it's making history. The king of the land.
So the king goes to a different state. It's written in a history book. Everything he did was written in a history book. He has a time where he can't sleep at night, and he's like struggling. He's lying there in bed, and so he asks his attendants to come and read from the books of the account of his life, which I'm guessing… I don't know if he was like, "Man, that's one of the more boring things you could read from. Hopefully, that'll put me to sleep," or what exactly he's thinking.
But he asks them to come read from the account of his life, and they take that book, and here's what happens. Here's what they read. _ "In those records he discovered an account of how Mordecai…" Who worked at the king's gate. That's Uncle Jesse. Remember the guy Haman wants to kill. "…had exposed the plot of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the eunuchs who guarded the door to the king's private quarters. They had plotted to assassinate King Xerxes."
So he basically realizes that…it's something we didn't dive deep in in chapter 2…was a moment where these two eunuchs, the king's eunuchs, wanted to kill the king. I think it makes sense why they'd want to kill the king. He made them eunuchs. Do you know what a eunuch is?
David: Mordecai heard about it, and he went and exposed it, and he said, "These guys are going to kill you." The king never heard about it. So he says in verse 3, "'What reward or recognition did we ever give Mordecai for this?' […] His attendants replied, 'Nothing has been done for him.'" Then the king heard…
In verse 4, "'Who is that in the outer court?' the king inquired. As it happened, Haman had just arrived in the outer court of the palace to ask the king to impale Mordecai on the pole he had prepared. So the attendants replied to the king, 'Haman is out in the court.'" So the king said, "Bring him in here." He asks Haman, "What should I do to honor a man who truly pleases me?" I wish we had more time to just like go so deep because there's so much irony, and just it's an amazing story. "Hey, what do I do?" Are you following the story? Recap.
JD: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so Haman wants to kill Mordecai because he won't bow to him. So he's getting all that plan ready to go kill him. Meanwhile, over here, for whatever reason, King Xerxes cannot sleep. "Read to me this story," which is chapter 2, and that story tells him, "Mordecai saved your life."
JD: So he's like, "Do you know what? Maybe that'll help me fall asleep. I'll give back to Mordecai for saving my life."
JD: Now we're seeing he's looking around, like, "Hey, who can help me give back to Mordecai." Ironically, at that time, walking up to kill Mordecai is Haman.
David: That's the end of the story. That's exactly it.
JD: Okay. All right. All right. Okay.
David: So he's going, "Haman, hey, what should I do?" Verse 7.
JD: It's like a movie.
David: Oh, totally. I'm sorry, verse 6. "Haman thought to himself, 'Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?'" So he thinks the king is kind of in a roundabout way saying, "Hey, you know, if I was going to get somebody for their birthday something, what do you think's a good idea?" And you're like, "Oh, I know exactly what you're going to get."
I remember playing this game when I was getting engaged to my wife. You're trying to figure out what type of ring they want, and you're like, "What do you think is the best types of diamonds out there?" You're just trying to dance around it. That's what Haman thinks is going on. He doesn't realize he really wants to honor somebody else. So Haman responds like, "Well, this is what I would want."
David: So here's what he says. "If the king wishes to honor someone, he should bring out one of the king's own royal robes…" Which is kind of weird to us, that something the king has worn before, but it declared a special privilege. "…as well as a horse that the king himself has ridden—one with a royal emblem on its head. Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials.
And let him see that the man whom the king wishes to honor is dressed in the king's robes and led through the city square on the king's horse. Have the official shout as they…" Lead the person the king wants to honor around the city. "'This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!'" Verse 10: "'Excellent!' the king said to Haman. 'Quick! Take the robes and my horse, and do just as you have said for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the gate of the palace. Leave out nothing you have suggested!'" Like the irony.
JD: I just picture that's like… He's like puffed up, and then the king says that, and it's like his jaw drops.
JD: He's like, "What?"
JD: The king is like, "Chop. Chop." And then he leaves.
David: Make it happen.
JD: People start moving.
David: That's a great idea. That's exactly what we should do. He's there to ask about killing Mordecai, and now the king is going, "No, I want you to honor and celebrate him and lead him around and say to the whole city, 'This is what you can expect if you really are someone the king delights in.'"
JD: Did Haman have to shout?
David: Yeah, he had to go around and shout. The guy he wanted to bow to him, he now how to go around town…
David: …and say, "Hey, this is the guy who everybody should be focused on. This is a guy the king wants to honor. Everybody should bow down. This is the…" It's basically again Disney movies, man. Do you know that scene in Aladdin where Aladdin comes, and the genie is with him, and his first wish is he wants to be a prince, and the genie just basically shows up? It's like one of the best parts of the movie, where it's like, "Prince Ali! Fabulous he! Ali Ababwa."
JD: Yeah. Got it.
David: That's essentially…thank you for that…what Haman has to do with Mordecai. He's taking him around, going, "Hey, everybody look at this guy."
David:"Everyone look at this man." You know he has to be infuriated on the inside. But inside of this story, there are three things I really want to pull out because we see connections to what I would call his fairy-tale faith here. So we're going to pause. We're going to pick it up next week on exactly what happens later in the story.
JD: I think it's tough, David, because I'm reading this, and as much as I want to laugh at Haman, I'm Haman. I don't know if that's where you're going with this, but I think there's something in me. Maybe I don't want to walk around and have people parade, but I think all of us want to leave a mark on this earth where people know our names, and people are giving us recognition. There's just something in us that it's like, "Man, why do I want to see people fail?"
JD: Why does that bring me joy? Why don't I naturally want to see people succeed?
JD: I read this story, and I want to strive to be the Mordecai, but there are definitely places in my heart that are wicked and are more like Haman.
David: I think it's in all of us.
David: I think the connections to fairy-tale faith, the parts of us like Haman, embrace those ideas. So when I say fairy-tale faith, I think we see in Haman's life something that can be patterns in all of our lives. The first one of just like, "Hey, what is fairy-tale faith? What do I mean by that?" One of the things fairy-tale faith believes is what I would call an if-only faith.
Here's what I mean by that. In chapter 5, he says, "I have wealth. I have everything everybody wants." He had 10 sons, he says. In that culture, having 10 sons was like, "Dude, you made it, because you have people to pass off your inheritance to." He says, "I have great riches. I'm the most powerful person next to the king. I'm married. I have the house. I have money upon money. I have all of it."
JD:"But if only Mordecai…"
David:"But if only I had this, then I would be happy."
David: Fairy-tale faith believes, "Hey, if only I had something else…" Maybe it's a future season of life. Maybe it's a marriage. Maybe it's a raise in a job. Maybe it's some more stability in your current circumstances. "…then I would be happy."
JD: I know for me it's like I think a lot of times we use time as an excuse for why we don't press into our faith and go deeper in our knowledge of the Word or memorize Scripture. It's like, "Oh, well, if only I had more time, I could be deep in my faith like that guy. That guy is in ministry, so he has more time. That's his job."
David: Sure. Totally.
JD: Now even in quarantine we have been given that "if only." We've been given more time, and we're still wasting it and being negligent with our time. So that "if only" cycle just doesn't work.
David: Totally. There are some of us… There's part of all of our hearts that can be like, "Man, if only I had this. If only I was married then I would be satisfied." The Bible says when you get married… First Corinthians 7 says when you get married it's not going to bring satisfaction; it's going to bring trouble. Now let me be clear. Marriage is awesome. It is a gift from God.
David: But it doesn't satisfy that part of you. So if you can't be satisfied right now and single, you're going to be unable to be satisfied and married at some point.
David: Maybe for you, it's like, "Man, I just wish I had children, or I wish I had wealth." The Bible says in Ecclesiastes, chapter 5, verse 10, "Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income." Basically, the richest guy, which was Solomon who wrote that, says, "Man, if you think more money will satisfy your problems, you're a fool."
I remember somebody asking me this question one time. We were talking about ministry, and ministry can be challenging because… We're all blessed in America, but you can buy the lie that, "Man, I just wish I made more money, or I wish I had more income." I remember the guy sitting down and he said, "Let me ask you a question. How much would be enough money…" So you think about this question.
JD: Yeah. Lay it on me.
David:"…for the rest of your life? If I made this, I would never again be like, 'Man, I wish I made more. I wish I could still get a raise.' If you got this tomorrow, it's your salary for the rest of your life, how much would be enough?" I don't how what you would think. I mean, you'd put down there. What would you put? How much would be enough?
JD: Yeah. I've always said, "$80K."
JD: $80 to $100K.
JD: I'd be settled.
David: I love it, dude. I remember when I asked that question…
JD: Probably not going to happen, but…
David: No, I answered that question, and I think I said… I mean, looking back it was such a lofty… If I had this, I think, you know for college and preparing for kids, I think it was a few hundred thousand dollars or something a year.
JD: Okay. I don't feel so bad about myself.
David: I know. Maybe I should feel bad. The guy looked at me and he said what's so true. He was like, "No it won't. No amount ever will be."
David: People who make $300,000 or $500,000 or a million dollars, it's never enough.
David: The Bible says if you live in this life like, "If only," it will never be enough. There is a way to experience satisfaction, but it doesn't come from how much you make or being married or having children or whatever that "if only" is. If you begin to ask that, and "if only" doesn't involve, "If only I knew Jesus or I knew God more, I was deeper in my relationship with him," if that's not where you're filling in the blank, there is a part of you that has embraced a fairy-tale experience of faith. I remember coming across a conversation with Brad Pitt that modeled this so well.
JD: You had one?
David: No, no, no. That would be kind of fun.
David: But it was with Rolling Stone, the magazine, and Brad Pitt.
JD: Got you.
David: It further illustrated like, "Dude, everybody who you think would be so, 'If only I had that type of life it'd be amazing.'"
David: In the conversation, he said this. Let me just read it to you. Brad, speaking to Rolling Stone, says, "Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us—the car, the condo, our versions of success—but if that's the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness? If you ask me…"
As it relates to the car, the condo, the version of success. "…I say 'Toss all this, we gotta find something else.' Because all I know is at this point in time, we are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being." Rolling Stone asks, "So if we're heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?"
Brad says, "Hey, man, I don't have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. I'm sitting in it, and I'm telling you, that's not it. […] I'm the guy who's got everything. I know. But I'm telling you, once you get everything, then you just left with yourself. I've said it before and I'll say it again: It doesn't help you sleep any better, and you don't wake up any better because of it."
Brad essentially reflects the fact that even the guy who has everything you would want, the looks, the car, the wife, the scenario, it doesn't satisfy. There is a way to experience satisfaction biblically, but you will never be happy if your happiness is based on what is happening around you because that's always going to change.
David: The Scripture says in Philippians, chapter 4, there is a way to experience contentment. Paul specifically says… You can go read it later. He says, "Look, I've experienced and I've discovered the secret to being satisfied no matter what is going on, what's happening around me. I can be happy because my happiness is not based on what is happening. It comes from Jesus and knowing him. So I can be starving or I can be full." He literally says that in the passage.
There's an old guy who said… His name is Augustine. He was basically a guy who worked in ministry years and years and years ago. He said, "We were made for you, God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." So the first idea of fairy-tale faith. If part of you believes, like Haman, "If only," then you have embraced a fairy-tale version at some level of faith. The second idea from Haman's life I want to talk a little bit about…
JD: Can I, just really quick?
JD: You just reminded me of Matthew 6, where Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount, and he says, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
JD: I think that's a great answer to the problem of the "if only" lie.
JD: It's like, "Man, if you are looking for fulfillment in the treasures of this earth, they're going to be fleeting, but if you start to store up treasures in eternal things and heavenly things and things that are going to last forever, you're going to find that satisfaction you're talking about.
David: Totally. It takes constant reminding of that.
David: I'm going to walk out of here tonight and I'm going to be tempted to think, "If only."
David: There's just part of us that always needs to confess that and bringing that to other believers. The second thing that's so clear in the story that I think is a part of what I would say again is fairy-tale faith, is a belief that is really common among our generation. "Hey, if I do good, I get good. Anytime I do good, I'm going to get a reward."
David: It's like a Christian version of karma. "Hey, if I'm faithful…you know, if I'm going to do what God says to do…then I'm going to get the promotion, I'm going to get the raise, the relationship is going to work out. I'm going to pursue purity, and I'm going to end up married, and everything is going to go the way I want it to." Biblically, that's just not true.
David: I wish it was. Mordecai… The reason I say that's in this story is you look at Mordecai's life. He saves the king, and nothing happens. He saves the king from being killed, and nothing immediately happens. In fact, five years go by without anybody saying anything. He doesn't get any credit. He doesn't get the reward. The king didn't even know about it.
In fact, in the book, do you know what the next verse… So in chapter 2, when he saves the king, exposes the plot, the very next verse after that happens is chapter 3, verse 1. "Some time later King Xerxes promoted…" You would think Mordecai.
David: "…Haman…over all the other nobles…" Wicked Haman. "…making him the most powerful official in the empire." Sometimes you do the right thing and you don't get an immediate reward. Sometimes you don't ever get a reward this side of heaven. But eventually and ultimately it works out, and God will eternally repay with good those who do good, just like you mentioned in Matthew, chapter 6. But in this life, the Bible even says, sometimes you do good things and you lose your job.
Sometimes you're like, "I'm not going to the strip club, boss," and you get fired. Sometimes you talk about your faith to your students in your classroom, and you lose your job. Sometimes your relationship, like you break up because you're like, "I want to follow God, and I feel like this is not healthy, and I want to get healthy," and you remain single.
JD: I know a lot of cases where someone in the relationship starts to follow Christ, and maybe they're living with their significant other, and they come back home and say, "Hey, either you jump on with me, we move out of this house, and we start to follow Christ, or I'm out." And some of these people have been dating for years, and they say goodbye, and it's done.
JD: That happens. The church does a disservice when they communicate things in the positivity gospel or prosperity gospel that's like, "Man, if you do good…" I even see with corona, pastors tragically, I think, putting stuff out there that's like, "Hey, and let me tell you, no weapon formed against you, this corona will not attack you. You will not be sickened by this disease. You will rise, and a shelter of protection will be placed on you." And that's not necessarily true. God hasn't promised that. There's example after example.
David: In Ecclesiastes, chapter 8, it really says something that I think is just such a not commonly talked-about verse. It says, "When a crime is not punished quickly…" When somebody does wrong. "…people feel it is safe to do wrong. But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time…" Like, they do wicked. They get away with it. They live a long life. Solomon says, "…I know that those who fear God will be better off."
Verse 14: "In this life…" This is in the Bible, people. Listen to this verse there. "…good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good." Solomon addresses… The Bible is so honest because it says, "Have you ever wondered why sometimes bad things happened to good people and like really good things happen to really bad people? Why does that happen?"
The Bible acknowledges it's a part of this broken world around us. Karma is not how God operates, and every time you do the right thing, it is ultimately worth it and eternally worth it, but it doesn't mean you're going to get the promotion, you're going to get the raise, everything is always going to work in your favor.
Galatians, chapter 6, says, "…whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." In other words, don't stop doing good even when you don't see it being repaid immediately and rewarded. God may not come back five years later and do what the king did for Mordecai, but in eternity he sees every act of faithfulness and obedience, and he sees your actions.
He sees it, and he hasn't forgotten you. It will be worth it. Eternally, the reward will be yours, but in this life, it's not promised. I hope everything goes awesome and nobody listening gets sick and all of that, but God has promised we live in a broken world, and things don't always go good. It is like a baby believer who thinks, "Man, if I give $10, God is going to give it all back." Not necessarily in this life. I know…
JD: Yeah. I know one time after my dad died of cancer, there was a season where, obviously, I'm questioning why. I'm trying to figure out why. Why?
JD: Someone told me it could be one of two things. Either someone had sin in their life, or my dad had sin in his life, and that was why, or, secondly, "Did you have enough faith? Y'all must not have truly believed God could heal him, or you needed more faith, more faith," and that… I mean, luckily, I had the right people around me, but I feel for the people who hear that lie, because that is a lie.
David: It is totally a lie.
David: It almost takes more faith or as much to see God not take the cancer away and still say, "I trust him. He's still good." That takes enormous faith.
David: Just as much faith as the person who says, "Wow! I saw the miracle happen." It's just as incredible when someone says, "I didn't see it happen, but God is still good, his Word is true, and I trust him." He hasn't promised it's always going to be easy. We can move on to the third example. But just quickly, do you know what the hall of faith chapter is?
JD: Yeah. I mean, I'm not trying to flex, but yeah.
David: Yeah, you do! Come on, flex!
JD: Hebrews 11.
David: Ah, there we go! He just put it out there, reading his Bible. Okay…
JD: It's the truth, man.
David: It's Hebrews, chapter 11. It's such a cool chapter.
JD: It is. It's just the whole Old Testament
David: I wish we had time. Oh, it's awesome. Okay, it's called the hall of faith. So it lays out just one dude after the next, after the next, guy and girl, who walked by faith. Over and over, it says, "By faith, Abraham did X. By faith, Sarah did X. By faith, Isaac… By faith, Abel…" It goes through all these different things people did.
Dude, this ministers to me so much. At the end of the chapter, the author, he's like, "Whew! I'm getting going, and I wish I had more time," because he literally says, "Time would fail me. What more should I say? For time would fail me if I was to talk about…" Then he lists off Gideon, Barak, all these different guys, who by faith did these incredible things.
Then here's what he says. "…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions…" By faith, they "…quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again." All these incredible things happened. By faith, they did this.
Then halfway through the paragraph…it kind of gives me chills…he takes a turn, and it goes from all these amazing things that were done to they also did and faced incredibly horrific, painful things.
David: It didn't always end with the lion's mouth shutting. "There were others who were tortured…" By faith. "…refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging…" They were insulted for their faith. "…and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword.
They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received…" In their life. "…what had been promised…" The Bible says there are two ways our faith lives itself out in our lives. One is in feasting, and one is in famine, and both require tremendous faith.
David: It requires faith to shut the mouths of lions, and it requires faith to say, "God is not shutting the mouth of the lion, but I still trust you." Both of those are involved when you walk by faith. He doesn't always take the pain away, keep your job, promise everything is going to work out all the ways we want it to for any of us, but he promises, and it involves I'm walking by faith.
In the Bible, those are the examples of Old Testament men and women. It's not always everything went perfect. So this idea that, "Man, if I always do good, it's always going to end up good." Not always, but it's the best way to live, and eventually and eternally, God says, "You will see it was worth it to live according to what I've called you to."
JD: Man, that's convicting.
JD: It's convicting because I do think that myself and a lot of people, especially people my age, are looking for the first half of the chapter of faith.
JD: We want the victory.
JD: Because it actually points at us, and we disguise it like, "God got all the glory." It's like, "Look at how good I'm doing. Look at what I'm getting because of my faith. Look at me. Look at me."
JD: Faith in suffering only allows you to say, "Look at God."
JD:"I need God."
JD:"I'm dependent on God." I think a lot of people try to quicken the process of being in the valleys and in the low moments of life. They try to get out of those, and they want to ride the highs.
David: I know I do!
JD: Yeah. It's so natural. Man, but when you truly access this kind of faith in the Lord in those seasons, over time every time they kind of get sweeter.
JD: You start to see. When you approach hard seasons, when you approach pandemics across the world…
JD: It's like, "Man, I know this is bringing a lot of hurt and grief and chaos to a lot of people, but there's also something sweet going on with the clear evident movement of God in the midst of this tragedy."
JD: I feel like the church is uniting. I feel people are looking and searching, and it's a time to not try to quicken and hurry out of this season, but to go, "Man, how can we be great men and women, brothers and sisters of faith, in this time?" so that the world can look at and say, "Man, God is doing something in those people."
David: By faith.
David: Even if it's not going how we want it to.
David: Absolutely. Which leads perfectly into the third idea. I think fairy-tale faith involves not just thinking, "If I do good, then I'm always going to get good, that I'm going to get a reward immediately in that moment"; it also involves thinking, "Life is about me." Fairy-tale faith involves thinking life is about you. There's this lie, and it's really common among our generation, just like Haman.
I mean, Haman walked in there, and he was like, "Oh, the king is talking about somebody they want to honor. Of course! Who else is he talking about than me?" This dude was so thoughtful and so obsessed, not just in the way he thought that moment, but he also was bragging to all of his friends, "Look how great I am." It was clear…a self-focus…that his life was focused and revolved around him. A fairy-tale faith commonly in our generation… There is an epidemic where we are the selfie, self-focused generation, and it is really messing us up.
David: Here's kind of what I mean by that. You're going to love this. Have you done the Disney app that… It's not a Disney app. It's on Instagram. There's like an effect where you can go on and you can decide…
JD: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
David: We're just sticking with this whole Disney theme. I can go, and I choose, and it tells me which character I am. I'm going through…
JD: Are you getting it?
David: Yeah, oh. Oh, I was Moana. Here I am, Moana. Standing strong.
JD: Oh wow. I'm going to…
David: Isn't that guy Moana? He's the big guy in Moana.
JD: Oh, is that Maui, or something?
David: Oh yeah, have you seen it?
David: No. Have you seen these? Clearly, you've seen this app.
JD: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm about to do it. One second, please. Oh, here we go. I don't even know who this is!
David: Let me see.
JD: From Cinderella, it's like the evil step-sister.
David: Ah, I think you should do it again.
David: If you don't know who it is, you should take that one out.
JD: One more time. All right. Cinderella?
David: Oh yeah. That is Cinderella.
JD: Man, I'm not trying to be Cinderella.
David: Dude, you got back-to-back Cinderella stories. Okay.
JD: All right, anyway.
David: So it's really common. It kind of went viral I feel like a few months ago at some point.
JD: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You guys should try that out if you haven't.
JD: Tag the Porch or something.
David: Yeah. Tag us, @theporch, and you just show us yours on there. We'll post ours. But here's the same experience everybody has on there. At least I feel like I do. I'm like, "Ah, dude, I don't want to be the step-sister in Cinderella. I want to be Hercules!"
JD: Why is that even on there?
David:"I want to be Simba. I want to be…" Like no one wants to be Pumbaa or…
JD: I mean, come on.
David: I mean, Pumbaa is pretty likable. I will give you that. But especially girls are not like, "Ah, great, I'm the warthog."
JD:"I'm the warthog."
David: We all want to be the star, the hero, the princess, the pretty girl. We don't want to be the step-sister over there.
David: I think that's fine with an app, but that's really how a lot of us think about our lives. We're like, "Man, I'm the star. I want to be the star. I want to be the focus. I want to be seen as the princess. I want to be someone who they put their attention on me." Our life becomes so self-focused, and this generation truly…
I think one of the reasons depression rates or depression levels are so high amongst our generation is because we're so self-focused on what everyone thinks about me, how nobody is as nice as they should be to me, how I bet they're talking bad about me, or they should think more importantly of me, or no one is texting me on my birthday as much as they should. We're so self-focused. There is like a trap and a prison that comes through that because you're believing the lie that this life is about you.
David: The truth from the Scripture is that this life is not about you. You're not the hero. You're not the star. Neither am I. We're not the princess. There is one hero, and his name is Jesus, and the more I live life going, "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!" the less able I'm able to go, "Hey, look at Jesus! Look at Jesus!"
David:"Look at Jesus!" As Christians, true faith should mark our lives. As you've heard us probably say before if you've tuned in, the posture of a Christian should not be, "Man, I want to be famous. I want to have a bunch of followers for me." I want to spread the gospel, live for Jesus, die, and be forgotten.
David: When I'm healthy, that is really the posture of my heart, and when I'm not, I'm concerned about how other people don't do enough for me and nobody cares enough about me and how great I am and just so self-focused on me. That definition of humility. Do you know the one I'm talking about?
JD: Yeah. It's not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less.
David: Yeah. You just spend less time thinking about yourself. You don't go, "Oh, I suck at life." It's that you just don't spend a lot of time thinking about yourself.
David: You think about others.
JD: I think a character in the Bible I have looked to of this example is John. In John 1, I love the description of John. It says, "He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light."
JD: I always say… Coincidentally, my name is John David, and I'm like, "I want to be that."
JD: He is not the light. He came to bear witness. He spent his life pointing everyone to the light.
David: Yes. I mean, John, chapter 3, verse 30. John the Baptist, speaking to your exact point, says, "He must become greater…" Jesus. "Put more focus on him; put less focus on me." I think that's really challenging for a lot of us.
David: We want to be seen. We want to be in the spotlight, or we want people to know us. It's really unhealthy, because life is not about you. Fairy-tale faith believes life is about you. The truth is life is about Jesus. Colossians 1 says, "He is before all things. All things were made by him and for him and through him. He's the center, and he holds everything together, and life is about him."
The more I try to make it about me, I lose, and it's depressing, and it's lonely. The more I focus on him and others knowing him, and not how much credit I get, the more I experience a freedom in life in the midst of that.
David: It's like this, and I'm about to close or shut us down here. My hometown. I grew up in Houston, and where I grew up, they recorded a movie. Did you ever see the movie Tin Cup?
JD: I haven't. I'm sorry.
David: I feel like nobody… This is like a 90s movie. Do you know who Kevin Costner is? There he is.
JD: I've heard the name.
David: Oh, Kevin Costner. Like, "If you build it, he will come." He was really famous back in the day. Anyway, that was recorded in my hometown. So people I grew up with got to go be extras in it, and my mom was actually in the movie.
David: So if you go watch it, you go see my mom in the movie. But here's where she was in the movie. It's like a golf movie, so at golf courses. There's like one quick scene in the movie.
JD: She's over there, like…clap, clap, clap!
David: Yeah, yeah. Like a golf clap. No, it's not even that. It's one quick scene in the movie where the back of her head is there. It kind of quickly pans, and you're like, "Oh! I think that's her right there!"
David: If I was to, or if she was to… But she wouldn't. She's like the sweetest, greatest person ever. But if she was to be like, "Hey, guys, I just want to make sure everyone knows I'm starring in this movie. Me and Kevin Costner. Go see my film. You're really going to love it," people would go, and they would be buying a false perception. Really, she would just be believing a false perception. That is not a movie starring you and Kevin Costner. You're not the star of that movie. You are a blip on the second of the screen.
David: You can't even really tell it's you. It's clearly not about you. In the same way, that is what our life, the Scriptures say, is.
David: It's like a blip on the screen. It's not about… You're not the starring role. You're not the main person in the story; Jesus is the main person. So if you buy the lie, you're as delusional as my mom saying, "Oh, look at this movie. It's me and Kevin. It was a really big deal. I'm a really big deal."
You're as delusional as she is, because you're even a quicker blip in the scheme of eternity that is about Jesus. If you live your life, and you focus your life and your time and your energy on you and what you need and what you want in life at the expense of knowing Jesus and helping others to know him and using this, even corona now, to serve other people, you are wasting your life…
JD: That's good.
David: …and that blip on the screen. The last thing…just as we kind of conclude…that jumped out of the text was at the very beginning. It says, "On the third day of the fast…" I just want to recognize there's such a parallel to Jesus here. Here's what I mean by that. It says on the third day
she went in. She fasted three days, and on the third day, in the place of death, she put her life out there, and by doing so she ends up saving her people.
David: She saved the people of God. In the third day, where death could've been present, or death was there, she lays her life down, and in its place, life rises to save the people. Biblically, the third day, over and over, is just such a foreshadowing of Jesus, who would die, and on the third day, where he would lay down his life, life would be given, and it would save his people. That's us. That's anyone who has ever trusted in Jesus.
Tonight, there are people listening, as there were last week, who have never had a moment where you trusted in Christ, where you put your faith in Jesus, the God who came into this earth, and he gave his life on a cross for you. Not because of anything you did to deserve it, but because he loved you so much despite all the different ways you didn't deserve his love.
He gave his life on the cross. He died, and he was buried, and then he defeated death by coming back alive as though the payment for all sin everywhere. Every sin you've ever done, it cleared. It was more than enough, and it broke through, and now the invitation has been given to anyone who will trust not in how good of a person you are…listen to me very closely…or how bad of a person you are. That's why you couldn't have a relationship with God. All those put you at the center.
David: The gospel is Jesus at the center. Anyone who trusts in what Jesus did on the cross, despite the fact that I don't deserve to have a relationship with God, paying for my sin, and rose from the dead, they will have eternal life, and God…make no mistake…has had you here listening to this message even this moment right now because he is extending to you that invitation. If you will just say, "I believe that. I trust not in what I do but in what Jesus did," you will have eternal life.
That gift and that ultimate expression that foreshadowed all throughout the book of Esther of Jesus and his third day, laying down his life to give you and me, in the place of death, life, you'll experience that. God doesn't say, "Good people go to heaven; bad people go to hell." He says, "Forgiven people go to heaven." There's only one way to get forgiveness, and that is by putting your trust in Jesus, and it is no mistake. It's not a coincidence, because people are going to think, "Ah, I just got shared and just popped on here." It's not a coincidence.
David: Just like every moment in the story, there's not a coincidence. Like that night the king reads that book, and it ends up with that one story, and that saves Mordecai's life. I mean, think about that. It was all like the point you see is like, wow, clearly. What are the odds that he wouldn't sleep that one night, the night before Mordecai was supposed to die?
Then he's like, "Hey, read me a book," and the guy picks that one book. There are thousands of books. Then he opens to that one chapter about Mordecai saving his life. It was no coincidence. God was moving it around. It's no coincidence you're listening right now. The God who's there hasn't forgotten you. He loves you, and he proved it by giving his life for you.
JD: So good.
David: I just want you to know that invitation has been extended. He wants you to know him and have a relationship more than you have any idea. If you by faith tonight receive Jesus as your Savior, as your Lord, the payment for your sin, you are eternally in relationship with God. So, man, that's all I have. I'm going to pray for us unless you have something else.
JD: So good, David. No, I think we pray, and then I'll wrap us up.
David: Come on. Well, Father, thank you that you are a God who doesn't have coincidences. You are a God of control and power and sovereignty. You're over all of it. I do pray for anyone listening right now who's never received that free gift that you don't want something from them; you want them to know you did something for them on the cross. That tonight would be the night they receive by faith that free gift.
Or if they listen weeks later, they would receive that free gift by faith you gave us in giving us your life. Thank you that you have conquered sin and death, and you are going to totally remove the consequences of sin and sickness and disease and all the chaos in the world fully and finally in all of eternity. But as we wait, would you help us?
I do pray for anyone who's suffering right now through job loss, which we know there are many, to people who are experiencing sickness or illness, or loved ones who are, that you, the God of comfort, would meet them right now where they are, and the body of Christ would tangibly come around them and support and care. Would you help us to be strong and to be your people and not have fairy-tale faith but true faith in the midst of everything we face. We love you. In Christ's name, amen.
JD: Amen. Man, thanks, David. That really encouraged me. Seriously. You guys just remember, like I said at the beginning, we'll be going live on Instagram every day this week at noon with many friends.
David: Lots of guests.
JD: It's going to be really fun. Then, like I said, if we can pray for you, we want to do that. So go to theporch.live/prayer and please invite us into that with you guys. So, until next week…
David: We'll see you next week! Let's go!
JD: All right, see you guys.