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Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.
Again you hear when the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins. Someone said if the only tool you have is a hammer, it's tempting to treat every problem as if it were a nail. It's always best to have the right tool for the job, and each of us is a unique instrument in the hands of God. Today on A New Beginning, as Pastor Greg Laurie continues our studies in Esther, we'll see how Esther was uniquely equipped and chosen to prevent a catastrophic annihilation of her people. And we'll see how we may be uniquely equipped to serve God in a special way in our time. This is the day, the day when life begins. Let's pray together. Now Father, we're so thankful to be Your children because of the blood of Jesus that was shed for us at the cross of Calvary. We pray as we visit this story again and look at this heroic young girl, that we will be inspired, both men and women, to make our stand and speak out for what is right. So help us to see how this applies in our life. We commit this time of Bible study to You now. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Let's pick up where we last left off. King Xerxes, the ruler of the mighty Persia. He had a lot of women. They'd snap his fingers and a woman would be there, but apparently the king wasn't satisfied with just sexual pleasure. He wanted love. He wanted a companion.
He wanted someone that actually cared about him. The king wanted a queen. So the word went out and all these girls applied. The ancient historian Josephus believed there was 400 contestants and these girls had to be virgins. They had to go through an extensive makeover. They had a team of stylists there that would do their hair and makeup and help them to become as appealing as possible to the king.
And then the winner would be chosen to be the queen. And that's where we pick our story up. Esther chapter 2. Drop down to verse 5 and let's read together. Now at the fortress of Susa there was a certain Jew named Mordecai son of Jer. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shemaai.
His family had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar along with King Jehoiakim of Judah and many others. This man had a beautiful and lovely young cousin named Hadassah who was also called Esther. When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter.
We'll stop there. So standing up from all of these gorgeous Persian women is the beautiful Jewish girl named Hadassah. She was an orphan adopted by Mordecai so he became a father figure to her. Most likely her aspirations in life would have been to marry a nice Jewish boy, raise a family, serve the Lord, and live in relative obscurity. But God had another plan for Esther for such a time as this.
Reminding us that there are no coincidences in our life. Only providence. So all of the beautiful women of Persia are paraded before King Xerxes and he chooses Esther. Look at Esther 2 verse 16. Esther was taken to King Xerxes at the royal palace in early winter on the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women.
He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti. God was at work. Now if this was a fairy tale it would end right here.
Poor little girl becomes the queen and they lived happily ever after. But this is not a fairy tale. This is a Bible story. And Bible stories are true. They are history. And so here is what happened after that.
The plot thickens. As Esther was made queen her cousin Mordecai was made a counselor to the queen. And Mordecai made Esther promise him that she would not reveal her national identity. In other words she was not to say to the king or anybody else that she was a Jewish girl.
Now if that was good or bad we will deal with in a couple of moments. But that is the way it was. And she went by that. And one day Mordecai uncovered a plot by two of the king's guards to kill him. He revealed it to the king. The guards were arrested.
They were executed. And he was never rewarded for that or acknowledged for that. And you know that happens in life sometimes doesn't it? You know we do something for someone and we don't get the credit.
Maybe it is your idea and someone else stole it and they got all the glory for it. Or at your workplace you choose the path of honesty and integrity and you don't advance. While the person who chose dishonesty and scheming did advance. And you are saying this isn't fair. It is not right.
Well hold on now buckaroo. It is not over until it is over. As we are going to see in the book of Esther how things played out in the big picture. Because among other things the book of Esther is about reaping what you sow both good and bad. So not only was Mordecai not recognized but a wicked man was elevated. Instead enter the villain of the story Haman. Let's go to Esther chapter 3 verse 1.
Sometime later. King Xerxes promoted Haman son of Hamadatha the Agagite over all the other nobles. That would include Mordecai. Making him the most powerful official in the empire. All the king's officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by because the king had commanded.
But Mordecai refused to bow down or show him respect. Now Haman probably fond and flattered his way to this position. And the command is given by the king. You better bow down before him. This is a very insecure man. This is a very ambitious man. Because if you are a good leader people will follow you naturally.
You have to yell at people all the time or force them to do what you want. You are not a good leader. So Haman you better bow down before me and show me some respect so everyone is bowing, bowing, bowing.
And there stands old Mordecai. I am not bowing. And Haman sees him and says, well why aren't you bowing?
I won't bow before you. Now you say, well why was this? Well it is interesting because there was sort of a blood feud between Haman's clan and people and Mordecai's clan that goes back a long ways. It is found in verse 1. King Xerxes promoted Haman son of Hamadatha the Agagai.
Now we read that and it doesn't mean a lot to us. But back in 1 Samuel is the story of King Saul. He was told by the prophet Samuel to kill the Amalekites. They were the lifelong enemies of the Jews. And in fact the Amalekites had attacked Israel after they left Egypt.
So that is how far back this feud went. So Saul partially obeyed the prophet. He killed most of the Amalekites but he allowed Agag their king to survive. And the Agagites were the descendants of Agag. So Haman was an Agagite and Mordecai was a Jew. And so Mordecai is so ticked off that Haman won't babble for him. He decides not only is he going to die but all of his people are going to die.
This is payback time. It is sort of a precursor to Hitler's final solution. Anti-Semitism. Let's destroy the whole Jewish race and wipe them off the face of the earth. So Haman goes to the king with his wicked plot and amazingly the king goes along with it. He says yeah okay go ahead and wipe them out.
Because Haman promised the king a bunch of money in return. We will get into that next time. But incredible turn of events and a lot more to discover in this book. And we will get to that later. And so what do we learn from what we have seen so far?
Number one. When God tells you to do something do it. God told Saul to destroy the Amalekites including their king Agag.
He didn't do it. Now Haman is a descendant of that man and Mordecai is dealing with it years later. You know sometimes the Lord will speak to our heart and he will tell us to break off a relationship. With someone that is pulling us down spiritually. Do you know someone like that? Someone that whenever you are around them they just pull you down. Or worse yet you are the person pulling someone else down.
I just saw a wife nudge her husband. I would like to know what is going on right there. See I have eyes. I can see you.
I don't know if you know that. I see everything. I see it all.
Yes. Maybe it is giving up something that is taking over your life. Something you regarded as an innocent pleasure.
That is now becoming something of an addiction. It could be a substance, alcohol, drugs. But it can be other things that you just become obsessed with. And that thing or that pursuit is becoming more important to you than God. Maybe it is the Lord speaking to your heart and telling you to take a bold step of faith and do something you have never done way out of your comfort zone. Start that little Bible study at work with just you and a couple of friends and see what the Lord will do. Go engage that person that seems so hostile with the gospel. Whatever it would be. If the Lord tells you to do it.
Do it. Coming back to King Saul. The prophet Samuel said to him in 1 Samuel 15, what is more pleasing to the Lord? Your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to God? He said, behold to obey is better than sacrifice. In other words Saul said, well I will offer these offerings.
It will be ok. No. God told you to do something and he didn't do it. And sometimes they will say, well I will go to church to a midweek service this weekend. I will give you know a little more in the offering. I will receive communion.
Whatever it is. You think some little thing, some ritualistic thing is going to take the place of what God really wants from you which is your obedience. When God tells you to do something, do it. Pastor Greg Laurie will have more of the insights we learned from the story of Esther in just a moment.
Stay tuned. So many listeners have commented on the help they receive from these daily messages. God's word ministers to them and it often gets them through some of their darkest hours. Dear Pastor Greg, I wanted to let you know how much your daily radio ministry has meant to my wife and I. At the beginning of the pandemic my wife started chemotherapy for breast cancer. It was a difficult time for us both but I was thankful that I was able to be home during this time to help. Many mornings I would make breakfast and we would listen to A New Beginning on the radio while we ate. Your messages and especially your kindness that you always expressed while preaching were so important to us. They gave us hope to face this difficult challenge. Looking back with my wife now healed of her cancer, we both have such happy memories of those mornings spent listening to you. We will always be in your debt for your messages and your kindness. Thank you. How have these daily studies ministered to you and your family? Would you let us know? Tell us your story by calling 1-866-871-1144.
That's a special number, 866-871-1144. Well Pastor Greg is pointing out some practical lessons we can learn from the Old Testament story of Esther. Let's continue now. Point number two, God gives gifts and talents to each of us that we need to use. God gives gifts and talents to each of us that we need to use. For Esther it was extraordinary beauty. Not everybody is extraordinarily beautiful or incredibly handsome.
I mean let's just deal with reality. Some are given these abilities, some are not. I have had to struggle with this my whole life. Why are you laughing? Gee that kind of hurts.
No I meant that as a joke. Maybe one of the downsides of being beautiful as a child or a young lady, an older lady, a young man and so forth is people always comment on your attractiveness. She's so beautiful. You're so handsome and you know they hear that. And some of these people sometimes can end up being rather shallow because they always kind of got to the front of the line and had some advantages early on.
And God wants us to develop the inner person too. I've never shared this before but because it sounds kind of prideful but I was offered a very nice modeling contract. It was a hand modeling contract. Did you know there are hand models? So I was contacted, could we use your hand on the cover of our magazine? I quickly agreed until I found out the name of the magazine, Old and Decrepit. That was very depressing. I made that up.
Okay. So Esther had inner character to match her outward beauty and she had great courage as we'll see soon. But maybe you have another gift given to you by God.
It's not necessarily beauty but it's brains or musical talent or artistic talent. Then again you might be good at crunching numbers. One is a great visionary but not very good with the nuts and bolts. Another is a detail person. We can't have all visionaries running around and we can't have all nuts and bolts people running. Everybody plays a part.
Everybody has a role to play. And every one of you has talents and gifts that are given to you by God that you must discover, cultivate, and use for His glory. We're told in First Timothy 4.14, don't neglect the gift that has been given to you. Or as another translation puts it, keep it dusted off and in use. Use your gift. You might say, well, Greg, how do you discover what your gift is or your gifts are?
And as I pointed out before, sometimes it's literally through a process of elimination. Walt Disney, you've probably heard of him, quite a visionary himself, used to tell a story about a little boy. And as the story went, a circus came to town and they were going to have a parade. So the bandmaster needed someone to play trombone so the little boy signed up.
They hadn't marched a block before the horrible rocket coming from his horn caused two old ladies to faint and a horse to run away. So the bandmaster went to the boy and said, why didn't you tell me? You couldn't play the trombone. And the little guy said, well, how did I know?
I never tried before. You know, sometimes finding out what you're good at requires you finding out what you're not good at. So you volunteer. Volunteer for that job nobody else wants. And say, I'll do that. Okay, maybe that's not my gift.
But another area develops. Trust me when I tell you, I never aspired to be a public speaker. Like most people, I was afraid of speaking in front of crowds. And I remember a class I had where I had to get up and give an impromptu speech and I almost had a heart attack. And I got an F in that class, by the way. I like to work behind the scenes.
I was more into design and graphics and things like that. But when I became a Christian, God put a call on my life to speak publicly. I fought it. I didn't want to do it. But it was something I was sure the Lord called me to do. Maybe it was because I finally had something to say. You know, if God calls you to do that or something else, we want to take these gifts and use them for His glory. But it might be something unexpected God will call you to do.
Point number three and the last point. There's a time to speak up and a time to be quiet. Verse 10, Esther 2.
Esther had not told anyone of her nationality and family background. For Mordecai had told her not to. Now was this right or wrong? It can be argued both ways. Some would say she should have identified herself as a Jew. And by not doing so she was effectively compromising her faith. There's some merit to that argument but there's some flaws in it as well because sometimes you should speak up and sometimes you should be quiet. It seems sometimes some people almost speak up too much. You might be surprised hearing me say that as a pastor and an evangelist.
You speak up too much. I've seen some Christians like it's overkill. Everybody they talk to they feel they have to give a complete gospel presentation to.
It's this constant drone. And that is not the best way to do evangelism. Sometimes one of the best things to do to engage a non-believer is just listen to them for a while and get to know them a little bit better. But then when the Holy Spirit prompts you to speak up.
But some people are always talking, talking. But the problem is they don't back it up with their lifestyle. So you want to live that godly life. I'm telling you it's a huge plus for the church when Christians just go out there and they're faithful to their spouses. And they keep their marriages together.
And if they're a single person they don't have sex before marriage and they work with integrity and they work hard. That's a great testimony. Do that. Be that.
But then when the moment comes speak up. And we have to give credit to Esther. She delivered when it was needed. She put her life on the line and spoke up for her people and as a result saved the nation.
Yes she saved the Jewish people. And they needed to be saved because Haman hatched a plot where they would all be exterminated. Why did Haman want to kill all the Jewish people?
I think this is bigger than Haman. This is about the devil. The devil wanted to kill them.
Why? Because the devil knew that through the Jewish people the Messiah would come. How did he know that? It goes way back to the Garden of Eden. After our first parents ate of the forbidden fruit. And God said to Satan, There is coming one who will crush your head but you will bruise his heel. So the devil knew that Jesus was coming. Messiah was coming.
And he would come as a Jew. So he tried to stop Christ from coming. He inspired the king of Egypt the Pharaoh to kill all those Jewish baby boys. He inspired Haman to come up with this plot to eradicate the Jewish race. And then later on he entered the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Christ and to help orchestrate the crucifixion.
But you know what? It was all according to God's plan because Messiah had come to this earth yes to love us. Yes to teach us. But ultimately why did Jesus come? He came to this earth to die for our sins.
Because we've all sinned. And Satan failed and Christ succeeded. He voluntarily laid his life down for us at the cross of Calvary and took the wrath of God on himself as he hung there in our place. And then he rose again from the dead and he's alive. And now he stands at the door of each heart and he knocks.
And he says if you'll hear his voice and open the door he will come in. If you would like Christ to come into your life, if you would like your sin forgiven, if you would like to be a child of God, he's just a prayer away. So let's all bow our heads and pray. And Father I pray now for any person here that does not yet know you. Lord Jesus I pray that your Holy Spirit will convict and convince them of their need for you and help them to come to you and believe in you now. We would pray. Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer. And if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord today, Pastor Greg will help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. Well Pastor Greg you've just released your new book Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus.
And we're making it available right now through A New Beginning. Yes. Let me ask you in researching and writing the book, why do you suppose rock stars and for that matter celebrities of all different stripes, why do they seem to self-destruct so often? I think a lot of these folks are damaged goods. So many of them come from broken homes. So many of them come from horrible backgrounds.
Or they come from horrible poverty or something else. And they want to be noticed. They want their life to matter. They want their life to have meaning. And I think they're actually searching for fulfillment through fame and fortune. They're thinking if I could one day be famous, if I could one day live in a mansion, if I could one day drive a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari or whatever it is, if I one day had people chanting my name, that would bring happiness. And of course that's not true.
And they climb to the top of the mountain and they find out there's nothing there. So I think many of them are really just on a search for the meaning of life, but they're born with a talent as a singer, as an actor, as a performer of some kind. And so many of them rocket quickly to the top and that is like the worst thing that can happen when you don't have a support structure to help you deal with all that adulation, fame and success and all that money you make. I mean I know it's a cliche when we read the stories of these folks that just spend money like crazy and they find themselves bankrupt and in trouble. Well they're not prepared for that kind of a life. They just like to sing or they like to perform or they like to do something else.
And then they have this incredible success that can be absolutely, in many cases, devastating to them. But I think a lot of these guys are searching for peace and meaning. Why are they here on this earth?
It's just about this. Don't take the wrong course in life. Don't think that things will fill that void in your life or a career will do it or success will do it or sex will do it or any other thing. What you really want, what you really need is a relationship with Jesus Christ and discover his plan for your life and get to know him. And then you'll have that happiness and that peace that you've longed for throughout your entire life.
Yeah, yeah, that's right. It's such a strong evangelism tool and a fascinating group of many biographies of so many of the names we know well. The subtitle is The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll. And we'd like to send you Pastor Greg's new book, Lennon, Dillon, Alice, and Jesus. It's our way of saying thank you for your investment in these daily studies. We're completely listener supported. We couldn't be here each day without the generosity of listeners like you.
So thank you for your partnership. And when you send your donation, be sure to ask for Lennon, Dillon, Alice, and Jesus. Call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here around the clock to take your call, 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514.
Or go online to harvest.org. Well, Pastor Greg, you've mentioned how someone can become a Christian with just a simple prayer. Yes. Maybe somebody would like to do that right now. Could you help them with that?
Sure, I'd love to. A simple prayer is right. In fact, I would like to just pray a prayer and I would ask you to pray it after me. You might even pray it out loud. This is a prayer I've let a lot of people in over the years and I've seen God change lives. There's no magic in this prayer. It's the God you're speaking to who will hear this prayer and answer this prayer. So if you want Christ to come into your life, if you want to be sure your sin is forgiven, if you want to be confident that you will go to heaven when you die, just pray this prayer.
Even out loud after me right now. Pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, but I also know that you are the savior because you died on the cross for my sin and you rose again from the dead. Jesus, come into my life and forgive me of every sin I've ever committed.
I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer. Thank you for answering this prayer, Lord, and I pray all of this in Jesus' name.
Amen. If you just prayed that prayer and meant it, I want you to know on the authority of scripture, God Almighty has heard your prayer and he will answer this prayer. You are now a newly minted child of God, so congratulations.
You've made the right decision and welcome to the family of God. I want to send you a special gift because of that prayer you've just prayed. It's called the New Believer's Growth Packet and in it is a copy of the New Testament in a very understandable translation called the New Living Translation. It also is filled with hundreds of notes that I wrote that will encourage you in this commitment you've made to follow Christ and there's some other outstanding materials in this little packet I'll send you as well. So order your copy today and let me be the first to say to you congratulations and welcome to the family of God. Yeah, and to get that New Believer's Growth Packet, just get in touch and we'll be glad to send it right out. You can call us anytime at 1-800-821-3300. Call right now, 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click the words Know God.
Well next time, more from our studies in the dramatic book of Esther. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make Him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org.
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