Listen Online

Sunday, February 18, 2018

 

In his message today, former associate pastor Neil Harris draws some powerful lessons from the stories of Esther and Joseph:

1. Life is hard!

Both Esther and Joseph were taken from their homes and found themselves in foreign lands, subject to the whims of those in power. Their stories (and their lives) could have ended much differently if they had not applied the following concept to their situations:

2. Grow where you are.

Esther learned to navigate the system of hierarchy and protocol at the palace and made the best of it. She proved herself to be a person of exceptional grace and presence of mind, and the people who had been placed in charge of her took notice. They helped her learn what she needed to know in order to become a worthy candidate for the position of Queen.

The administrative skills possessed by Joseph led to one promotion after another. And even after being thrown into prison for resisting the advances of his former master's wife, he kept learning and applying himself at every step of the way. Eventually he too had proven himself to be so entirely competent and trustworthy that was chosen for a powerful position, second only to Pharoah.himself.

What's the common thread between these two stories? In a word, it is that they made the most of whatever came their way. Esther and Joseph made themselves ready for God to use them, in His time.

"Maturity is the result of a lot of time spent moving in the same direction." Even in the midst of the daily grind, the constant challenges of life, it is choosing every day to follow God that will lead to maturity.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

post a comment

Sunday, February 11, 2018

 

Oh, how the tables have turned! Those who intended to harm God's people found themselves in harm's way instead.

The book of Esther doesn't mention God or prayer, yet as this story reaches its climax it is clear that the sovereign Lord has been at work behind the scenes. And to this day the festival of Purim is celebrated to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of those who would destroy them. It is certainly a theme that has played out many times in world history!

But while Esther, Mordecai, and all the Jews in the Persian Empire were in the midst of the story, it sure looked like things were spinning out of control.

Can you relate?

We think life should go a certain way, we think we know what we want to happen, and so often we seem to be on the brink of disaster in some area of our lives.

But God works according to his plan, his timeline, not ours.

Two lessons we take away from today's conclusion of the book of Esther:

1. Spiritual growth is seldom instantaneous. Esther was queen for 5 years before it became evident that God had placed her in just the right spot "for such a time as this." (Esther 4:14)

2. The wicked sometimes seem to have the upper hand. But God will deal with them (Prov. 11:21).

There are even larger themes examined during today's message: the nature of justice, hell, and the ulitmate sacrifice that enables us to belong in God's kingdom.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

post a comment

Sunday, February 04, 2018

 

Things were going really well for Haman: he was second in command of the kingdom of Persia, he'd been invited to a private dinner with the king and queen two days running, and he was only hours away from impaling his worst enemy, Mordecai the Jew, on a pole with the king's blessing.

Or so he thought. Instead, in the space of 24 hours his entire life and all of his plans unravelled.

- The king ordered Haman to lead Mordecai in a royal parade, singing his praises

- The queen revealed that Haman was the mortal enemy of not only her people, but her as well

- The king caught Haman offending the queen's honor as he pleaded with her for his life

- He was impaled on the very pole he had set up for Mordecai's execution.

It's an astounding turn of events, one in which God clearly worked His sovereign will to save His people.

But there are more lessons to draw from this story:

1. God will not forget your good work for him (Heb. 6:10, James 4:10). Xerxes had forgotten that Mordecai saved his life, and God brought that to his attention by not allowing him to sleep until he was reminded.

2. There is poetic justice. In other words, what goes around comes around; you will reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7) Haman plotted for the destruction of Mordecai, and those who scheme against God's people have made a fatal error (Esther 6:13).

3. Justice and mercy are in conflict. We like justice as long as it's being meted out to someone else. For ourselves, though, we desire mercy. But what about those we've hurt? If we are shown mercy, where is justice for them?

The Bible addresses this issue head on: All have sinned (Rom. 3:23), and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). 

But read that whole verse in context: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

God can't simply forgive everyone, as some claim He should: that would violate His own inherent nature of justice. So to satisfy his justice, he sent his son Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins. With that payment his justice is satisfied, and now his mercy can take effect.

"For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ." (2 Cor. 5:21 NLT).

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

post a comment

Sunday, January 28, 2018

 

Most of God's activity in world history, and in our lives, is not blatantly miraculous. It is often only in hindsight that we recognize His guiding hand.

Such was the case with Esther, an orphan adopted by her older cousin Mordecai, both members of a conquered race from a tiny nation on the outskirts of the Persian Empire.

In face, there is no evidence in the first half of the book that bears her name that Esther acknowledges God at all. Yet by the middle of the story she is operating in faith that God may have placed her in such a prominent position at a critical time in the history of her people. So she stepped forward in faith, risking her life on behalf of her people and her God. And God protected her.

It is beyond dispute that God has protected his chosen people throughout the ages, keeping them alive in spite of the best efforts of the Babylonians, the Philistines, the Persians, the Romans, Hitler, and Stalin to wipe them off the face of the earth.

This is because he had a plan for them, and we see that plan at work through the faith and bravery of Esther: a plan to sustain the Jewish people and through them bless the world by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

God has a plan for you also, and his plans will not be thwarted by the enemy (Job 42:2, Isaiah 14:27).

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

post a comment

Sunday, January 21, 2018

 

Some say the book of Esther shouldn't be in the Bible at all: It doesn't mention God, prayer, any of the prophets, Moses, the Law, or King David, for example. It also was not written on any of the Dead Scrolls.

But as this story unfolds it is clear that God is at work behind the scenes, setting the stage, choosing the characters, and lining up the events so that everyone and everything fulfills its role as part of His grand design: the survival of the Hebrews, through whom the Messiah would come to the world.

God is in the business of transforming Zeroes into Heroes. Esther was a nobody, but through a series of just-right situations she was chosen to become the Queen of Persia and save the king's life. And that's just the first part of the story! Tune in next week...

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

post a comment

Sunday, January 14, 2018

 

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV)

As Christians we have been given this command by Jesus: go and make disciples. Guest speaker Pastor Dennis Larkin encourages us that even though we may think "I'm too old," "I'm too young," "I'm too busy," "I'm too tired", this is much easier than we think! And it is something each Christian should be doing.

Pastor Dennis provides some very simple steps and some exciting stories about work being done by e3 Partners in 70 countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Mexico, to name a few.

And maybe you won't be able to go to Nigeria or Ethiopia, but what about going to your next door neighbor or family member who doesn't know Jesus?

A young woman named Madison also shared her touching story of how the Lord rescued her after a suicide attempt, and how she is now training others for evangelism at home and overseas.

To contact Dennis about the work of e3 Partners please e-mail him at dennis.larkin@e3partners.org.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

post a comment

Sunday, January 07, 2018

 

At the start of every year many of us make a resolution of some sort: eat less, exercise more, start a daily Bible reading regimen, whatever. These are all attempts to make ourselves better people in one way or another.

It's also an acknowledgement of the human condition: we are all weak in some areas, broken in others.

The Bible describes the human condition quite accurately in both the Old and New Testaments:

Psalm 14:3: "All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one."

Ecclesiastes 7:20: "Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
    no one who does what is right and never sins."

Romans 3:22a-23: "There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

And the "answer" provided by every religion except Christianity is some variation of the same theme: "Be a better person and you'll find yourself in heaven."

But in Christianity God says, "The only way these creatures are going to get better is if I do it myself."

He knows we were born with a sinful nature, so he accepts us as we are: with all of our weaknesses and imperfections, our bad attitudes, our fears, and our insecurities.

Thankfully, he is also in the restoration business. He takes what is broken and makes it whole again. You see, he loves us as we are, but loves us too much to let us stay that way. He will make us like Christ (Romans 8:29).

For the audio of today's sermon, click here.

For a copy of the sermon notes, click here.

post a comment

Sunday, December 31, 2017

 

"Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
" (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

Dr. Carl Wilson joined us again to help us close out 2017...actually to help us "sweep 2017 out the door" so God can do a new thing in our lives in 2018.

He helps us learn to forgive, forget, and let go of past hurts and disappointments so we can live more, give more, and be everything God wants us to be.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

post a comment

Sunday, December 17, 2017

 

The Incarnation: God becoming flesh.

Jews and Muslims don't accept Christianity largely because to them, the idea that God would become man is blasphemy.

But this concept is the very center of God's plan, the pivot point where renewal begins in this fallen world.

Someone had to do something. Death, a common experience of all who walk the earth, is the result of a broken relationship with the Source of Life.

And since humans broke this relationship, a human had to fix it.

In the Incarnation, the Maker becomes what he has made. This is a difficult concept to comprehend, and through the years terms like "hypostatic union" and "kenosis" have been developed to represent the inconceivable: God with us, Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man.

Inconceivable for us, true: but God's thoughts are much different than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

As a man, Jesus emptied himself ot the attributes of Deity (Philippians 2:6-7): he experienced emotions like grief and fear. He was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

As a result, he understands temptations far better than we do. We usually give in well before we experience the full strength of a given temptation.

And as a man, he died. But then he did the impossible: he rose from the dead.

Jesus has pased through death and into life! And he promised that those who follow him will do the same. (See John 20:31.)

For the audio of today's sermon, click here.

For a copy of the sermon notes, click here.

post a comment

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

 

Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. (Isaiah 28:16 NLT)

A cornerstone provides a standard for the alignment of a building, to keep everything laid out straight.

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. (Ephesians 2:20-21)

Those who choose to follow Christ are living stones in God's spiritual temple, aligned with the true Cornerstone, Jesus himself.

The birth of Christ, God's Cornerstone, is the sign that God's plan is moving towards competion; his spiritual Temple, built of living stones, is now under construction.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

post a comment

Follow Us:Facebook Twitter
© 2009 - 2018 Grace Bible Church - All Rights Reserved.