Esther Week 8 Sermon Notes
ESTHER PART 8: HOW NOT TO BE OPPOSED BY GOD | A TALE OF TWO CHOICES
The Pivotal Moment
Esther uses one of the the key pivot points of the story to illustrate one of the most powerful truths about the posture and position of our hearts towards God. 15 million Jews lives are on the line, more than were killed in Germany and Russia during WWII, and the outcome of the story will determine their fate. And so too will the outcome of our story as a result of our choices determine the fate of our own life. The stakes could not be higher…both in this story and in our own.
Big Idea #1
Don’t Doubt God’s At Work Around You, Assume It (vs. 1-3)
God is always at work, even when you can’t see him. Even in the most unimportant, seemingly boring, bland, normal event, God is in the middle of it. A sleepless night, a called servant, a random picking of one history book of the shelf filled with hundreds of books, a chance reading of a few sentences buried in a forgotten archived account…and the destiny of an entire race is altered. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference in God’s stories.
The providence of God. The hidden hand of God. Underneath and behind and above the self-centered decisions of a narcissistic genocidal maniac is the unwavering and unstoppable hand of God. God is omnipotently and powerful present even when God feels most conspicuously absent.
When God appears silent, move from thinking emotionally to thinking biblically.
When we ask where God is or why he let something happen or why he didn’t do something we thought he should do, we’re usually responding emotionally to hurt or pain or fear. It’s in these moments we must move from standing on the quick-sand of our changing emotions to standing on the rock of God’s unchanging truth.
Faith assumes God is at work…and then asks for eyes to see it. It is assuming the hand of God is present before we can see it.
To see the providence of God, we must look backwards (Puritans…providence is like Hebrew…better read backwards)
Big Idea #2
Don’t Disdain, Despise, or Dismiss Humility, Pursue it (vs. 4-11)
Humility is often seen as weak; pride is often potrayed as strong. But nothing could be further from the truth. Pride makes you increasingly weak, vulnerable, petty, and small. Humility increasingly makes you strong, deep, immovable, unshakable, steady, magnanimous.
COMPARISON OF PRIDE WITH HUMILITY
- Pride is the unconscious, unrelenting, concentration on the self.
- Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
This is why both arrogance and self-pity, both superiority complexes and inferiority complexes are simply different forms of the same thing…pride. They are both a focus on the self. Inferiority and insecurity are a form of pride because if you’re self-conscience you’re self-absorbed…which is pride.
- Humility is more a direction you’re headed than a destination you arrive at
Humility is a process, not an achievement. Nobody ever “arrives”.
- Pride is about my glory; humility is about God’s glory.
Jonathan Edwards… “Once the question of glory is settled, everything else is settled.” So the most important question you could ask every day of every thing is, “who’s glory is this for?
- Pride isn't a character trait you have to forge, and humility isn't the default posture of the heart.
Which means everyone is proud.
Pride and Humility are like weeds and grass…one is native to the soil of my back yard, the other isn’t; one needs watering, the other doesn’t; one will flourish if I ignore it, the other will die if I ignore it.
- Humility is the pre-requiesite for an emotionally, mentally, spiritually, relationally healthy world; pride is the death to them all.
Pride and humility are like trees…they both bear fruit.
- Humility isn’t optional
It’s either humility now of your own choosing, or humiliation later at God’s. “Every kneed will bow…” Phil. 2
THE BIBLE ON PRIDE / HUMILITY
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.
Pride, arrogance, and the way of evil…I hate.
The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
I Peter 5:5
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Big Idea #3
Don’t Merely Grieve Over Your Sin, Repent From it (verse 12-14)
Worldly sorrow is sad about affects of sin, not source of sin. Grieves the consequences of sin, not the sin itself. Feels bad for self, not the others that it affected. Mourns what will happen to self, not that they offended God. Wordly sorrow does not change anything. Repentance changes your heart, your mind, and your actions.
How do I cultivate HUMILITY?
-Look In…to discern your sinfulness
-Look Out…to embrace your smallness
-Look Up…to see your Savior.
We become like our king…Haman became like Xerxes. We move from pride to humility not by looking at ourselves but by focusing on Jesus. Phil. 2
1) What was your #1 take away from this sermon?
2) As you look back on your own life story, where have you seen "coincidences" that were actually the clear providence of God when looking back?
3) Of the two sides of pride (arrogance & self-pity; superiority & inferiority), which do you tend to battle most?
4) Why is it helpful to think of humility as a direction and not a destination? How does that change your thinking or approach toward humility?
5) Read the list of 7 points of comparison of pride and humility. Which one or two grab you the most and why?
6) Read the list of Bible passages and discuss the thoughts & reflections that come to mind. What do you notice?
7) Can you describe a time when you were sorrowful over your sin but failed to actually repent of it? What was that experience like? What lead you to repentance? Why do we think we stop of short of genuine repentance?
8) What is your next step of action in response to this sermon?