ESTHER #14

10/19/21

Esther has approached King Xerxes to plead for the protection of her people. Hamani tricked Xerxes into passing a law that was designed to kill all the Jews in the kingdom. Esther has been showing us the proper way to approach a king. After Esther had gone as far as she could on her own …

Esther 5:2 b  He “held out the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.”   

The king reached out to her with his Gold Scepter. His signet ring gave him the power to make and enforce the laws, but the gold Scepter gave him the authority to sit on the throne; the place of highest honor that only the king could occupy. Esther was not allowed to touch him directly because he was the king, but she could touch the gold Scepter. 

When we come to God, we can only go so far on our own. Our sin keeps us from fully receiving His love for us.  So if we want to experience the fullness of love the Lord has for us, we have to do what Esther did.  We have to touch the tip of His Scepter. 

When Esther touched that Scepter, the gap between her and the king was closed.  There was no more separation.  Now there was a connection; there was unbroken contact between Esther and the king.

 God has done for us what we had no right or no power to do for ourselves.  By His grace, God has reached out to us.  With unconditional love, God is reaching out to us today.  He has closed the gap and removed the separation that was created by our sin.  God has extended His Scepter to us; the cross where Jesus shed His blood so our sins would all be forgiven. 

Touching the Scepter; believing in the cross; trusting in His blood that was shed on that cross; acknowledging and repenting of my sin; inviting Jesus into my life –  brings me into a direct, personal and unbroken relationship with God where I can fully experience the height, the length, the depth and the width of His love for me.

It’s when we come into His presence and see Him on the throne; that it really hits us.  That’s when it becomes undeniably clear to us that He is the King.  Jesus Christ is Lord of all.  That’s when we begin to fully realize who God is and all that God is.  That’s when we first become “gripped by awe.”   Now we are finally able to worship Him with “holy fear and awe.”   

Now we can see that He is holy and we are not.  He has all the power and we have none at all.  He is always greater; always beyond our understanding and we will never catch up.  As we stand in His holy presence knowing full well we don’t deserve to be there; it becomes undeniably clear to us how much of a sinner we are and how much of a Savior He is. 

It makes us deeply and eternally thankful for His grace and His mercy to us.  We can come into His presence with boldness and confidence because, through the cross of Calvary, He’s made a way for us to be there.  Not only does God want us to come and stand before Him; He’s more eager to answer our prayer; He’s more eager to grant our requests than we are to make them. 

Esther 5:3  “Then the king asked, ‘What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half of the kingdom, it will be given you.’”  

King Xerxes was willing to give Esther up to half of his kingdom.  But, Jesus, our King has told us…

  “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

He’s pleased to give us the whole kingdom.  He’s willing to give us far more than we’re willing to ask Him for.   

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

God’s throne is “a Throne of Grace.”   In the Old Testament, it’s called a “Mercy Seat.”  It’s a place we’ve been invited to come; a place we’re allowed to be even though we know full well we don’t deserve to be there.  But when we go all the way into His presence; reach out and touch His Scepter through our faith and trust in Jesus, “we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  He’s invited us to come and we’ll never be turned away.  

Esther 5:7-8   “Esther replied, ‘My petition and request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Hamon come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.’”

Esther was afraid to approach King Xerxes because she actually thought she was going to die.  But after she got there, she realized he was happy to see her and eager to grant her request.   Esther never gets around to making her request until Chapter seven because some surprising events take place between then and now, but we’ll get into later.

But, how about you?  How close do you want to be to God? How far are you willing to go with God?  His gate? The outer court? The inner court?  His presence?  Move up a little closer.  Start today.  Start here.  Start now.

Lord willing, we’ll begin from here next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

ESTHER #13

10/12/21

Esther is preparing to approach King Xerxes to inform him of the diabolical and deceptive plot that is designed to annihilate all the Jews in his kingdom. She knows that she risks death if she just barges into his presence without being invited so she follows a protocol that teaches us the proper way to approach a king. She began with a period of fasting that we mentioned last week.Then…..

Esther 5:1a    “On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall.”

The first thing Esther did after she finished fasting was change her clothes.  She “put on her royal robes.”   Jesus said all our good works look like filthy rags to Him.  We will never be acceptable to Jesus as long as we’re trusting in the good things we’re trying to do to satisfy Him.  When we come to worship the Lord, we have to stop trusting in our own efforts and become dressed in what the Bible calls, the garments of salvation.”  

“For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”  (Isaiah 61:10 )

What we call “good” is not acceptable; it’s not good enough to please an awesome, holy God.  When we come into His presence, we remove the filthy rags of our own ideas about how to become acceptable to God and we have to put on the clothes He gives us.  We have to be willing to accept His standard of goodness.   

Esther 5:1b   “The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance.”

The king lived in the luxury of the palace while the people lived in the poverty of the city.  They lived in two separate and completely different worlds.  You had to leave one world and enter another in order to get to the king. 

First, you had to pass through the King’s gate.  You couldn’t just walk through the gate; you had to get past the guard.  If you weren’t wearing the right clothes, the guard wouldn’t unlock the gate. 

Next, you had to enter the king’s courts.  There was a large outer court where many people gathered, primarily out of curiosity; hoping to catch a glimpse of the king without the king catching a glimpse of them.  These people never asked the king for anything and they never received anything from him either.  They were either too frightened or just not interested in doing it. 

It took a great deal of boldness and confidence to walk into the inner court where Esther was standing.  There weren’t too many people who were willing to go this far.  The king sat facing the entrance.  If you came this far, there was a good chance the king would see you and if he saw you, you couldn’t predict or control what might happen to you. 

Psalm 100 is the pathway to the King.  It tells us to “enter His gates by giving thanks and come into His courts;” come into His inner and outer courts “with praise.”  “Come into His presence singing joyful songs.” 

The question for me is; after I get to church and sit down in my pew, how much further do I want to go?] Is just being there in the outer court good enough for me or am I hungry and thirsty for more?  Do I want to learn and experience everything God has for me or is fellowship, a few songs, a sermon and a couple of prayers enough to get me through the week?   

Esther 5:2a    “When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her…”

If you came into the inner court because the king invited you, it meant he wanted to see you.  He wanted to be with you..  But if you went into the inner court without being invited, like Esther did, it was because you needed something from him. It was risky and dangerous to approach the king without an invitation. You had to be pretty desperate to try it. There had to be absolutely no one else you could turn to; no one else who could provide what you needed.

 When King Xerxes saw Esther standing in the court, “he was pleased with her.”  She didn’t know it at the time, but King Xerxes was happy to see her.     

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”   

(Matthew 11:28)

Anyone who wants to do it is invited to come to Jesus.   

“And whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”  (John 6: 37b)

We can come to Jesus knowing we will never be rejected.  We’ll never be turned away.  He’s always happy to see us.  With all that assurance, why would anybody be content to just sit in church? We don’t have to wait until we need something from Him.  We don’t have to wait until we’re desperate.  We have an open invitation to come into His presence at any time because He enjoys being with us.  If we enjoyed being with Him half as much as He enjoys being with us, we’d have absolutely no desire to ever leave. 

Esther passed through the gate.  She moved beyond the outer and inner courts and she’s standing in the presence of the king.  That’s as far as she could go by herself.  There was still a space; still a gap; a separation between her and the king.

We can come into His Gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise; we can come into His presence with joyful songs; but there is still a gap; there’s still a barrier between us and Him; still something preventing us from fully knowing the joy of being in His presence.

It’s our sin.  We still have to deal with our sin.  The Lord wants to be with us and He wants to give us whatever we ask, but if we haven’t dealt with the sin in our lives, He can’t hear our prayer.

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18) 

Let’s stop  here for today and, Lord willing, continue with this next Tuesday. Thanks again for being in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

ESTHER #12

10/05/21

Evangelical believers today do not agree on the interpretation of certain passages of scripture that talks about living in the “last days,” the days just before Crist’s return. Some are convinced that if you just look at what’s happening in the world today there can be no doubt that the chaos and decline going on around us right now obviously indicates that Christ’s return is imminent. Others are quick to point out that when the Bible was being written, conditions under the Roman Government were much worse than they are today.

Regardless of your theological position in this area, it does not change the fact that the Bible makes it very clear that “the Day of the Lord WILL come,” (2 Peter 3:10) and that “Day” is much closer now that it was two thousand years ago.

Mordecai has been trying to get Esther to understand that the DAY is coming soon. There was a definite date set for the destruction of the Jewish people and Mordecai knew exactly what day that was. He was  pleading for Esther’s help to stop it.  The Holy Spirit is pleading with pastors, preachers and teachers today to present God’s Word of truth that will help believers prepare for the day that is coming soon, like a thief in the night. (2 Peter 3:10)

ALSO, we’re not really going to fully understand the fifth chapter of Esther until we address what has got to be the most over-used and least understood phrase in our churches and in our society today.  “That’s Awesome!” 

Psalm 89:7 [NLT]  “The highest angelic powers stand in “awe” of God.  He is far more awesome than all who surround His throne.”

We say it.  We sing it.  We may even understand it a little.  But very few, if any, of us have ever actually experienced any real sense of awe in our lives.  Most of us have no idea what it feels like to “stand in awe of God.” 

The Biblical word “awe” means “respect and wonder.  It means “a holy fear of God because of His great power.”    

   When Jesus drove an evil spirit out of a little boy, “Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.”” (Luke 9:43 [NLT]   

 When was the last time you were “gripped by awe”?    Have you ever seen a “majestic display of God’s power?”  Do you have “a holy fear of God because of His great power?”

 Awe is the full realization of who God is and all that God is.  Has there ever been a time in your life when you fully realized who God is and all that God is?  

“He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’”  (Luke 5: 24-26)

”Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me.” (Jeremiah 2:19)

Sin, especially pride and unbelief, will keep us from experiencing awe in the presence of God.   Sin causes us to lose our “awe” of God.   

“Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe.” (Heb. 12:28 [NLT])

When we left off last week, Esther was preparing to go to King Xerxes and plead with him to spare her life and the lives of all the Jewish people who were scheduled to be killed on one single day.

Esther 4:11  “All the king’s officials  and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death.”

Esther clearly “stood in awe” of King Xerxes.  She had a holy fear of King Xerxes.  Esther was fully aware of who Xerxes was and all Xerxes was.  She was gripped by awe because of Xerxes’ mighty power. When Esther finally gets over her fear of approaching Xerxes, she realizes that she just can’t go in there and start talking.  She has to find a way that is pleasing and acceptable to him or she’ll be dead before she even gets a chance to speak. 

Next Tuesday, Lord willing, Esther is going to show us how to approach a king; how we approach Jesus, our King; how to please God by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe. I hope you will be back to see it. Thanks for being in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.  

ESTHER #11

09/28/21

Mordecai is urging Esther to go the King Xerxes and plead for her people because the day is coming soon; the day of Israel’s appointed destruction.  We compared this to hearing the pastor preach a stirring and emotionally dynamic sermon from the pulpit about the urgency of being a believer in these perilous times we are living in today. Esther knows what Mordecai is urging her to do just like we know what God is urgently asking us to do, Let’s see what happens after the church service is over.

Esther 4: 10-11   “Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, ‘All the king’s officials and the people…know that for anyone who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law; that they be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter…and spare their life.”

Go back to the gate and tell Mordecai that I can’t do this because it’s been thirty days since the king has asked to see me. The church wants to hear what God is saying today.  They want to hear the Word of God; so they send the pastor to the gate. 

The pastor spends hours at the gate; talking with God; pouring out his heart in prayer for the people; reading God’s Word and hearing what the Spirit is saying to His Church.  Then he comes back and tells everyone everything he’s heard.  He tells them what God said and what God wants. 

And the church says, “That was a great message, pastor.  I don’t know how you do it.”  The pastor says, “Thank you.  But are we going to do what God has asked us to do?”  Oh Pastor, I’d like to.  I want to, but I can’t because – because I’m too old; because I don’t feel well; because I’m too busy; because I’m afraid; because I’m shy; because I’m not that kind of person; I can’t because. ..   

Esther 4:12-13a    “When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer”

 Hathath goes back to the gate and tells Mordecai what Esther said, what Esther has done with that message he had sent her. Then Mordecai sends Hathath back to Esther with next Sunday’s message; another fiery sermon; same text; different title. 

The title of this week’s message is, “You’ve got to, because.”    

Esther 4:13b   “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.”    

#1.  You’ve got to because if we’re not actively participating in spiritual warfare, we’ll become the casualties of it.

Don’t start telling yourself you’re not a part of this. If we don’t believe we’re in a struggle with principalities and powers and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places; if we don’t get up every day and put on that whole armor of God that’s mentioned in Ephesians 6; if we don’t carry and know how to use the weapons of our warfare, including the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God; if we don’t stand up to and resist the devil – we’ll perish.

#2. If we don’t stand up for Jesus, we’ll fall away from Him.   

Esther 4:14a   “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place.”

#3. You’ve got to because if we won’t, someone else will.  

God will find a way.  God will find someone who is willing; someone who trusts Him.  But somehow; some way, God’s work will be accomplished, His will’s going to get done and the devil is going to be defeated with or without my help.  

Esther 4:14b  “but you and your father’s family will perish.”   

#4. If we refuse, we lose.  If we refuse to actively participate in spiritual warfare, we’ll become the casualties of it.  If we don’t stand up for Jesus, we’ll fall away from Him.  If we refuse to act on His Word, God is going to win, but we will definitely lose.     

Esther 4:14c   “And who knows but that you have come to royal position FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS.”

 #5.    You’ve got to because that’s why this church is here – right now. 

“For such a time as this;” that’s right now; today.  I am the one; we are the people God has called; the ones God has placed together; the ones God wants to use to fulfill His purpose right now. 

The Lord doesn’t want to hear anyone saying, “I can’t because.”  The Lord is telling us we’ve got to, because the Day is Coming Soon.

Esther 4:15-16  “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

 Go back to the gate and tell Mordecai “I will go and if I perish, I perish.” I’m willing to lay down my life for the sake of doing what Mordecai is asking me to do.  

Can any truly repentant believer who claims that “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”, (Philippians 1:21) really refuse to carry out the mission the Lord has sent us into the world to perform?

Esther 4:17    “So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.”

Mordecai, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth gets the whole family of God fasting and praying.  I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. Thanks for being in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.

ESTHER #10

09/21/21

Esther 4:3    “In every provence…there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.”

There’s a world of hurt and pain outside the gate and God’s heart is breaking as a result of it. We talked about that gate in Esther #9.

There is a form of truth that exists inside the gate. The truth inside the gate consists mostly of reason and intellect, with a smattering of superstition and selfish imagination.   The problem with the truth on the inside of the gate is that it’s not the whole truth.  It’s just enough truth to frighten us; just enough truth to get us hooked; just enough to keep us in captivity.  It’s not the kind of truth that can give you life or set you free.  It’s a truth that keeps you walking on a path of destruction.

Esther 4:4a  “When Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes to him to put on instead of his sackcloth,”

Esther hears about Mordecai tearing his clothes and walking around in sackcloth; covered in ashes. Mordecai needs new clothes.  We have clothes.  We have royal clothes, the world’s best and most expensive clothes.  Let’s send some to Mordecai.  So new clothes are delivered to the gate and passed through the gate. 

How can I make God happy without letting Him get too close; without actually letting Him get past the gate?  I’ll start going to church.  That should make Him happy.  I’ll even give Him some money.  I’ll help out.  I’ll become active in the church.   

Esther 4:4b    “ but he would not accept them.”

 Mordecai refused the clothes.  You go back inside the gate and tell Esther that’s not what I want.  That’s not what I’m asking for.  That’s not going to make me happy.   

Esther 4:5    “The Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.”  

If we want to know the truth; when we’re searching for truth; for the truth that can give us life and set us free, we have to go to the gate. There is no such thing as a long distance, impersonal relationship with God.  Prayer is not emailing, texting or tweeting.  Prayer comes from having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and it requires going to the gate and meeting with Him in Person through His Holy Spirit. 

Esther wants to know the truth about what’s troubling Mordecai so she sends Hathath to meet with him personally at the gate.  

Esther 4: 6-9     “So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasurer for the destruction of the Jews He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told her this to urge her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.”  

I see a striking similarity between this scene involving Hathath, Mordecai, and Esther and the church in the world today. Disturbing events are taking place in the world right now and people are searching for answers. The world is in desperate need of hope. When they turn to the church for these answers, they don’t need to hear motivational speeches, THEY NEED TO HEAR FROM GOD. They need to hear sound, expository Biblical preaching coming from the pulpit. Preachers need to be exposing Satan’s demonic schemes by preaching the truth from God’s Word.

So, in this passage, Hathath (the preacher)

returns with a message from Mordecai; – (The Holy Spirit)

to Esther, (the Church.) 

The title of Mordecai’s message is “The Day Is Coming Soon.”  

The text is Esther 3:13. 

Mordecai is urging Esther to go the King Xerxes, and plead for her people because the day is coming soon; the day of Israel’s appointed destruction. 

Jesus has commanded us, His Church, to go into the world; preach the gospel and make disciples because “The day is coming soon.;” the day of the Lord’s return and judgement of sin.

Will Esther hear the message and be moved to act on it? Does Esther have the courage; does Esther have the will to do what Mordecai has told her to do?  There was a time when she did.  Does she still have it now?  Does the Church have the courage; does the Church have the will today to do what Jesus has told us to do?

Lord willing, we’ll find out next Tuesday. I hope you’ll come back to be in God’s Word with pastor Buj. 

ESTHER #9

09/14/21

Esther 4:1     “When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.”

What exactly had been done? Let’s look back and see.

Esther 3: 13-14   “Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill, and annulate all the Jews – young and old, woman and little children – on a  single day…A copy of the text…was issued as law in every province and made known to the people…so they would be ready for that day.”

Mordecai tears his clothes and walks the streets of the city wailing loudly and bitterly.  He’s mourning. His heart is breaking because of what Haman is planning to do. 

Like the city of Susa in Chapter 3, the world today is frightened; it’s confused and bewildered by the devil’s plans.  People are anxious, depressed.  They’re either in denial or in despair. Like Mordecai right now, the Lord is walking the streets of every city, every town, every village, and every hut, weeping loudly and bitterly.    

Esther 4:2   “But he only went as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it..”    

It’s impossible to fully understand what the Book of Esther is all about unless we understand the significance and the importance of “the king’s gate.”   We don’t know the Book of Esther if we don’t know about the gate.  It’s where all the action takes place.  It’s where everything begins. 

The king’s gate is the passageway between two different worlds; two different realities.  Inside that gate, you have King Xerxes, the leader of a very large and powerful nation.  At least he still likes to think of himself as the leader of a large and powerful nation. 

As I pointed out last week, the real leader right now is Haman, a deceiver, a liar and a manipulator who has been elevated to the role of second in command, next to Xerxes.  Last week, Haman lied to Xerxes by telling them that the Jews were troublemakers who refused to obey the laws. Haman managed to convince Xerxes that the Jews should all be destroyed. 

The king believed that lie, took off his signet ring that represented all the power and authority that goes along with being the king and he told Haman to do whatever he wanted to do with those people. Haman managed to get King Xerxes to believe that destroying the Jews was actually Xerxes own idea. It was all done, by Haman, in Xerxes’ name. That’s how demonically clever and evil Haman is. 

Esther is also inside the gate.  Esther is the Queen; Xerxes’ wife.  But we see Esther as the Church, the Bride of Christ.  Today with Esther living inside the gate, we can also see Esther as the Church living in the world.  We can also see her as individual believers in the world; repentant believers who are living in the world, but trying not to become a part of it; trying not to become pressured by the thinking or the standards of their world; a Church of believers who are trying to maintain their unique and special identity; their convictions; their purpose in the world. 

Mordecai sits outside the gate.  Mordecai represents the Holy Spirit at work.  He has been Esther’s guardian, her counselor, her comforter and her protector since she was a child.  We see Mordecai as the Spirit of Truth. 

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him because He lives with you and will be in you..”

(John 16: 13-14)

Truth, God’s truth about what is “yet to come” is forced to stay outside the gate.  Mordecai can’t just open the gate and walk in.  The gate only opens from the inside.  The gate is always locked and guarded. Everyone one of us has a gate that determines who or what comes and goes in and out of our lives. It also only opens from the inside and we tend to keep that gate pretty well locked and guarded. 

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.”    (Rev. 3:20)

Like Xerxes and Haman, our sinful nature wants to keep Jesus locked out of our lives   Mordecai, the Spirit of Truth, is outside the gate.  He’s not wanted; he is not welcome in the king’s world.

Let’s break here for now and, Lord willing, we’ll continue next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s Word with pastor Buj.

ESTHER #8

09/07/21

Haman is deceitfully manipulating King Xerxes to approve of his plans to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom. Satan has a way of packaging evil to actually make it sound good and right.

Esther 3: 8-9    “Then Haman said to King Xerxes, ‘There is a certain people…in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from all the other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten talents of silver into the royal treasurer for the men who carry out this business.’”

Haman manages to convince the king that there is a dangerous, radical, intolerant group of extremists in the kingdom who refuse to obey the laws of the land. They preach hatred and refuse to tolerate other beliefs or other lifestyles and it’s in the best interest of the kingdom to get rid of them. I’ll personally take care of this and it won’t cost you a dime.

But the truth is that Haman doesn’t really care what’s best for Xerxes or the kingdom.  He’s only concerned about his own interests and his own personal agenda.  He’s not satisfied with being number two.  He wants to become the king.  He wants to replace Xerxes and rule the kingdom himself but Mordecai was standing in his way; so he and his people had to be destroyed.  

Esther 3: 10-11  “So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman…the enemy of the Jews. ‘Keep the money,’ the king said, ‘and do with the people as you please.’”    

The King gave Haman his signet ring.  Haman now possesses the power and the authority of the king.  That’s what the king’s ring represented.  Now Haman has what he wants.  The next one to go will be Xerxes.  

Esther 3:12    “Then…the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out…all Haman’s orders to the king’s  satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. They were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring.”

Haman’s orders are written in King Xerxes’ name. Xerxes has been replaced; he just doesn’t know it yet.   

Esther 3:13-14   “Dispatches were sent …to all the king’s provinces…to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews…on a single day…and to plunder their goods.”     

Under Haman’s direct influence, laws are passed and persecution of Mordecai’s people increases; with the ultimate goal of eventually destroying everything Mordecai stood for.  

The Bible tells us in I John 4:3 that the spirit of the Antichrist is already in the world.  The devil is out to destroy the Church, its’ message and its’ influence in the world.  He’s out to ruin the lives of anyone who resists him; anyone who will not bow down to honor him; anyone who chooses to stand with Jesus on the side of truth.   

Esther 3:15a     “Spurred on by the king’s command, the couriers went out, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink.”

King Xerxes has no idea who he’s chosen to sit down and drink with; whose wisdom he’s been trusting; whose advice he’s been following.  He’s completely ignorant; pathetically naïve about who’s really in charge; who truly rules the kingdom.   

Esther 3:15b  “but the city of Susa was bewildered.”

The leadership of the nation has no idea how its’ judgments and decisions are affecting the people they’ve been entrusted to protect and serve.  When King Xerxes listened to Mordecai, he was saved and the nation was blessed.  But after Xerxes decided to place his trust and confidence in Haman, the city “was bewildered.”  It was perplexed; confused.  The word literally means to become all tangled up in thick branches.  The harder you struggle, the worse things become and the more helpless you feel. 

It’s so different when we know Jesus.  We may have troubles all around us, but those troubles can’t defeat us.  We don’t always know what to do, but we never lose the joy of living.  We may feel persecuted, but God is always there.  We may get hurt, but the hurt never stops us.

As we leave this morning, the nation of Persia is bewildered and God’s people are about to be destroyed. Mordecai, who represents truth; God’s wisdom and knowledge, is sitting outside the gate, being ignored.  But all of that is about to change.

Meet me back here next Tuesday to see how this plays out. Thanks for being in God’s word with pastor Buj.

ESTHER #7

08/31/21

Thanks to Mordecai, the plot to assassinate King Xerxes was exposed in time to save his life and the perpetrators were caught and executed.

Esther 3:1     “After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman…elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other  nobles.”

Whenever someone is exalted; whenever someone is “lifted up,” others will be drawn to them. 

“ Jesus said…Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. “ (John 12: 30-32)

Xerxes “elevated” Haman.  He exalted Haman.  He lifted him up above all the other nobles and the entire nation was drawn to him and deceived by him.  King Xerxes knew that listening to Mordecai had saved his life, but Mordecai is still not allowed in the palace.  Instead, the king welcomes and honors a man named Haman; a man who seemed to come out of nowhere. 

Xerxes makes Haman the most important; most powerful man in the entire kingdom; second only to him.  Why would Xerxes do that?  Whatever possessed him to give so much honor and power to someone has never done a thing to help the king or the nation? 

There’s probably a lot of reasons. Haman had his own personal agenda. But one thing is certain; Haman would never tell the king something the king didn’t want to hear.  Haman would never confront; he’d never challenge; he’d never upset the king by telling him the truth.

Basically, Haman was a deceiver. He was a master manipulator.  He was a liar and now he’s second in command in the kingdom of Persia.  You could say Haman represents Satan.  You could say he represents the Antichrist.  But whatever you say, the point is that in spite of what happened in the past; in spite of what was recorded in their nation’s history; the leadership of Persia has just turned its’ back on the truth.  They completely ignored the truth of Proverbs 14:34 – that “righteousness exalts a nation.” 

People are drawn to a righteous nation but sin is a disgrace to any people.  With total disregard to the wisdom that had blessed them in the past, they allowed themselves to drift away from the truth and formed an unholy alliance with something very evil; something very destructive and very demonic. Xerxes has just opened the door of his heart and his nation to the deceptive and manipulative control of Haman.      

Esther 3:2a      “All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him.”

The king commanded everyone; he passed a law requiring everyone to honor Haman. While Mordecai, who represents the truth; the truth that had once made their nation great, is forced to remain outside the gate; forgotten and ignored.    

Esther 3: 2b-3  “But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, ‘Why do you disobey the king’s command?’”

Refusing to obey the king’s command could cost him his life, but “Mordecai would not kneel down or pay honor” to Haman.   

Esther 3:4    “Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. They told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.”

Mordecai stubbornly refused to become politically correct.  Day after day, he refused to deny or compromise the truth.  Jesus had to deal with this when He began His earthly ministry. 

In Matthew 4: 1-11 “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”

Satan tried to get Jesus to turn stones into bread. He challenged Jesus to jump off the highest point of the temple to prove He really was the Son of God. He showed Him all the Kingdoms of the world and said, “All this I will give you…if you will bow down and worship me,” but Jesus refused to comply.  The devil left, but he didn’t give up.  He wasn’t finished with Jesus yet.   

Esther 3:5     “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.”

Haman’s anger toward Mordecai ignited into a burning rage because Mordecai continually refused to submit to him.    

Esther 3:6     “Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.”

Haman hated everything Mordecai stood for and was determined to vent all his anger and release his rage on Mordecai’s people. Mordecai’s people would be experiencing the brunt; the full fury of Haman’s anger and frustration.

Are you identifying with this at all? Satan is not content to take on Jesus because he knows he can’t possibly defeat Him. In fact, he know he’s already lost. So he’s focused what little time he has left to destroying as many followers of Christ as he possibly can. He’s determined to destroy the Church.

 As a nation, we have tragically allowed ourselves to forget the lessons of our own history and we have gradually drifted away from the truth that made this nation great and we have formed an unholy alliance with something demonically evil; with a mindset and a philosophy that is hostile to everything God stands for. 

As I think about everything that’s happening in our world right now, I have to ask myself; do I bow down with the world or do I stand up for Jesus? Do I conform to the thinking of this world or do I stand up for my Savior and experience the fullness of Satan’s rage?

Come up with an answer and meet me back here next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s Word with pastor Buj.

ESTHER #6

08/24/21

As we look into the book of Esther today, Esther will continue to represent the Church; the Bride of Christ; the Body of Christ in general; every local church in particular. Throughout this study, the Lord will be speaking to us about our own lives; as individual members of His Church.  But, stating today, we’re going to see King Xerxes take on an additional role in this story. 

From now on, instead of thinking of him as the Bridegroom, we’re going to see him as the leader of a very large and powerful nation.  Instead of focusing on the relationship between the Bridegroom and the Bride, Esther and Xerxes are going to show us the relationship between the Church and the State; faith and politics; the voice and the influence of the Church; the voice and the influence of my life, of your life in the world today.  

Esther 2: 19-20     “When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.”

Mordecai has guided Esther since she was a child and she’s learned to depend on him and trust in his wisdom. Because of Mordecai, Esther never feels alone. Mordecai represents the Holy Spirit, the one who is always with us; actively monitoring our daily circumstances; guiding us, advising us and protecting us from anything that threatens to destroy us. 

But now, through Mordecai, we’re going to see the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth whom God has sent to reveal the truth and make us aware of the truth.  Notice in verse 19, “Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate.” 

Truth “was sitting at the gate.” Actually, truth was sitting outside the gate.  Mordecai was kept away from the king by a high wall and a thick gate.  He had never been invited into the palace.  Mordecai was not allowed in the palace.  He was not welcome in the palace.  His presence and his advice were not wanted in the palace. 

Esther 1: 13-14 told us that king Xerxes had his own so-called experts who were given special access to the king when he needed advice or direction.  In this nation, the separation between the Church and the State keeps growing wider and wider every day.  We keep adopting policies and passing laws that have created an environment where God’s name, God’s Word and God’s presence are kept “outside the gate.”     

Esther 2: 21-22a   “During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate,…two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot.”

Mordecai overhears two of the king’s officers conspiring to assassinate king Xerxes.  Xerxes doesn’t know anything about it.  He doesn’t realize his life is in danger.  But Mordecai knows about it and he wants the king to live.  But how can the king’s life be saved if truth is not allowed past the gate?      

Esther 2:22b      “Mordecai…told Queen Esther.”

Mordecai wants to use Esther to reach the king. Esther could bring the truth into places Mordecai was not allowed to go.  Mordecai tells Esther about the plot to assassinate the king.  Now Esther knows the truth; the truth that can save the king’s life. Esther knows the king is about to die and it’s up to her to tell him what he’s got to do to be saved. 

The question is, now that Esther knows the truth, what will she do about it?  What will Esther do with what she knows?  Will she speak up and save the king’s life or remain silent and let him die?  The Holy Spirit has shown us, through God’s Word, how much danger this world is in today and we know what’s about to happen in the future.  The Holy Spirit has shown us the truth. 

So the question is, does Esther have the courage; does the Church have the courage; do I have the courage to speak the truth that can save the life of my family and my friends; truth that can insure the future of this nation?  What will Esther do; what will the Church do; what will we do with the truth we’ve been given?      

Esther 2:22c   “Queen Esther…reported to the king, giving credit to  Mordecai.”

Does Esther have the courage to speak the truth?  Yes, she does.  Esther tells the king about the plot to take his life and she makes sure that Mordecai gets all the credit.  You would never have known about this Xerxes, if it hadn’t been for Mordecai.  He’s the one who wanted to save you.    

Esther 2:23a   “And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were hanged on a gallows.”  (i.e. impaled on a stake)

The king listened to Esther.  He took her words seriously.  He looked into it himself.  The king was searching for truth and he found it.  As a result, his enemies were defeated, his life was saved and the future of the nation was secured.  

Esther 2:23b  “All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.”

It was all recorded.  It became public record.  It was now an undeniable fact in their nation’s history that Mordecai spoke the truth and listening to Mordecai had saved the king and the nation.

There was a time in the history of this nation when truth mattered; a time when our leaders prayed together and the Bible was taken seriously; when we followed its’ advice and our leaders paid attention to its’ warnings; a time when we, as a nation, acted in righteousness and were guided by the Wisdom of God.  And during those times, our nation was blessed, our enemies were defeated and our future was secure.

But, as we’re going to see in God’s Word, times change and the lessons of history are quickly forgotten.  Peace and prosperity have a way of being taken for granted. Lord willing, we’ll pick it up from here next Tuesday. I hope you’ll join me. Thanks for spending time in God’s Word with pastor Buj.

ESTHER #5

08/17/21

King Xerxes is preparing to select a new queen to replace the former queen, Vashti.

Esther 2:12     “Before a girl’s turn came to go to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.”

During this year of special beauty treatments, they all enjoyed the comfort and luxury of his palace and the extravagance of his food, his wealth and his lifestyle.  All of their needs were being provided.  They’ve always heard so much about him, but they’ve never actually met him. 

Can you relate to this at all? 

Ever since we asked Jesus to come into our hearts, we’ve enjoyed all the benefits and blessings of His Kingdom.  We’ve heard so much about Him.  We’ve been told how wonderful He is and how much He loves us and wants to be with us.  We’ve heard so much about Him, but we’ve never really met Him – face to face

  Esther 2:13-14  “And this is how she would go to the king. Anything she wanted was given her to take with her…to the king’s palace…She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.”

King Xerxes didn’t like ugly women. Even though they were all beautiful women to begin with, no woman was beautiful enough to stand in the presence of the king.  No woman was beautiful enough, by birth or by her own efforts, to satisfy the king.  Regardless of what she looked like before she got started, even if she had always been considered to be grossly unattractive, after Hegai was finished with her, she would be extraordinarily beautiful when the time came to meet the king.

God’s “eyes are too pure, (too holy) to look at evil.” (Habakkuk 1:13)

God can’t stand to look at ugliness either; the ugliness of sin, that is.  No matter how good or how beautiful we think we are; regardless of how good we try to be or how beautiful we try to make ourselves, no one is good enough; no one is beautiful enough to stand in the presence of a pure and holy God.  All sin, even just one sin,  is ugly and repulsive to God. Because we all have sinned, we all appear ugly and repulsive in God’s holy eyes. 

Jesus refuses to marry an ugly Bride.  If we want to please the king; if we want to be His Bride, we have to accept His invitation to come to His Palace; come into His House on a regular basis with the rest of the family and be willing to undergo an extensive series of beauty treatments, theologically referred to as Sanctification.   

Every time we pray together; every time we do what His Word tells us to do; every time we praise Him, especially during our trials; every time we gather to worship Him; every time we witness and tell someone else about Him; every time we repent of sin and ask Him to forgive us; every time we decide to trust Him, even when we’re afraid or when He’s not doing what want or expect Him to do; every time we endure a trial and our faith is tested, we become more beautiful to God and we are looking more and more like Jesus. 

Through all the things that are happening to us; we’re being prepared; we’re being transformed into the likeness of; we are being made to look as beautiful as – Jesus.  The Christian life is a series of one beauty treatment after another; preparing us for the day we stand in the presence of our King and finally get to meet Him face to face.   

 “…Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless,”  

(Ephesians 5: 25b-27)

A beautiful Bride; a radiant Bride; without any stains, wrinkles or blemishes; holy, clean and blameless when she finally meets the Groom.

Esther 2:15-17   “When the time came for Esther…to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai…suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. She was taken to king Xerxes…Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

The day has arrived.  The new Queen has been chosen and the bride is ready.   

Esther 2:18  “And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s  banquet, for all the nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.”  

The King prepared a feast and declared a holiday.  It is a great and glorious wedding celebration.    

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting” ’HALLELUJAH!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteousness of the saints.) Then the angel said to me ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’”    (Revelation 19: 6-9)

Jesus is the Lamb; the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world and the Church is His Bride.  So far we’ve seen how the Bride is chosen and we’ve seen what the Bride has to go through to stand in the presence of the Groom.   But we’re about to find out how the Bride is supposed to act.  What are her duties, her responsibilities in the Kingdom?  Is she just beautiful to look at or does she actually have a purpose?  What’s the purpose of the Church and what’s my purpose in the Church?

Come back next Tuesday and meet with Pasto Buj as the Holy Spirit continues to reveal and teach us new lessons from God’s Word

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