Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Watch your mouth!

This past week I experienced something that shocked me. Let me start by saying last week was not a good week. Everything that could go wrong did. Mainly the trouble came from work. Those of you who work with the public know there are some crazy people out there. Some people feel like the world is out to get them and then there are those that feel like if they scream and yell they can get anything they want. They do this with no regard to the person on the other end of the screaming temper tantram.

Well last week I had two such customers. Both yelled, screamed and cursed at me with really no reason other than the fact they felt it would help them get their way. You may ask what this has to do with my blog on theology. The reason this is relevant is because one of these men is an usher at one of the largest Baptist churches in Knoxville and the other is a priest at a local Catholic church. That’s right, two men that claim they are religious, love God and attend church on a regular basis yelling, screaming and cursing.

The only thing that I am thankful for was that they were doing this to me. That’s right, I’m glad it was me they were cursing at. The reason I am glad is because I already know Christ. I am saved. I have a good church to attend. Imagine if they were doing this to someone who did not have the background I have. What if it was a lost man they were cursing at? Would that man think to himself, “If that’s the way a Christian acts then they are no better than me.” “If that’s Christianity I don’t want anything to do with it.”

No wonder James tells us that the tongue is set on fire from hell. “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”

So this got me thinking. First I’m thinking about my own tongue. Let me be very clear that I have never cursed at someone because I was not getting my way. At the same time there have been many times when I have lost my cool and said things that I wish I could take back. Most of the time these hurtful things are said to the ones that I love the most, namely my family. I’m sure that you readers have never done anything, or said anything hurtful to your loved ones, but I have.

Second, I am thinking how embarrassing it is that those of us who say we belong to Christ act like we belong to the Devil. How can you be an influence on someone who is lost, if you cannot control yourself? The answer is that you can’t. You cannot bite some ones head off, and then invite them to church Sunday. There is a reason God placed our tongue behind a wall of flesh and a wall of ivory.

Let me finish by saying that when we are unable to control our tongue we are not only hurting the ones we are speaking with, we are also hurting the church of Jesus Christ. Let me give you the same advise I’ve been giving myself the past couple days, “Sometimes I need to just shut up.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Time to take action

Esther Chapter 5

In the fourth chapter of Esther we read the account of Mordecai’s mourning. This mourning eventually comes to the attention of Esther. Mordecai explains to Esther the evil plot of Haman to destroy the Jews. Haman has convinced the king to sign into law a decree that allowed the Persian people to kill the Jews, take their possession, and the Jews were not even allowed to defend themselves. When Esther is presented with these facts she determines that she will go before the king (a potentially deadly decision) and beg for the lives of her people.

I have titled chapter five “It’s Time to Take Action.” Just to determine to help was not enough to save the Jewish people. If the Jews were going to be helped, Esther would have to act on what she had determined.

A church was praying one night that God would do away with the new night club that was built right next to it. While gathered around the altar praying the congregation heard sirens, ran outside and saw the night club burning up in flames. The congregation was so surprised that God had answered their prayers. Then the pastor notices one of his members running around the back of the church with a can of gasoline in one hand and a lighter in the other. The pastor asks what the member is doing. The dear sister replies “sometimes you have to put legs on your prayers.”

I’m not saying that you should do something this crazy, but I am saying that sometimes we need to put legs on our prayers. Just think what would have happened if David would have just prayed that Goliath would go away. What if Moses would have just prayed for God to make a way around the Red Sea? What if Jesus had have just prayed that God would provide a way for us to be saved? What if Esther would have just prayed for God to change the kings mind?

No doubt all of these people prayed, but each of these people put some legs on their prayers. Sometimes it is not enough just to pray that God will save your family. Maybe you will have to go after them. Sometimes it is not enough just to pray that God will restore your home. Maybe you have to make it happen. It is not just enough for you to pray for God to use you in His service. You have to get busy. Esther is about to get busy putting legs on her prayers.

Take Action on the things you Ask for

When chapter 5 begins we see the king sitting on his throne. No doubt he is surrounded by his attendants and officers. He is conducting some sort of official business. While the king sits on the throne, in an alcove stands a very nervous Esther. Esther had been preparing for this moment for three days. When she steps into the throne room the moment is dramatic. I can picture Esther stepping into sight and just standing their nervously waiting for the king to notice her. The question is will the king raise his scepter to her? We have no record of this, but I would imagine in that moment Esther prayed.

You can almost see as the king looks up and notices Esther. In the midst of the crowd of people around the king, he notices Esther. She must have been striking. In that moment the king’s heart is moved toward Esther and he raises his scepter to her. Can you see her smile? I can. She goes forward and places her hand on the end of the scepter.

He knows that she has come with a need. Something is troubling the queen, maybe she is trembling. Seeing this, the king wanting to make Esther feel comfortable, tells her that she can ask whatever she wants and he will give it to her. Instead of making her request known, Esther invites the king and Haman to a lunch. She wants Haman there when she lets the king know that he has tricked the king into the death of the Jews, her death.

The question is, “Why didn’t Esther just go ahead and tell the king Haman’s evil plot?” Dr. Wiersbe says there are at least four reasons.

  1. It wasn’t the right time? The king was unprepared to receive this shocking news. It could have been that the king would have considered her accusation an act of treason, or maybe just gossip.
  2. It wasn’t the right place. It would have been against palace etiquette for the queen to make her plea publicly.
  3. Esther wanted Haman, and only Haman present when she told the king about the evil plot.
  4. One more event had to occur before she could share her burden with the king. This will happen that very night. We will see this in the next chapter.

Take Action on your Attitude

The chapter ends with the wicked Haman calling his friends together and bragging about the day he has had. Haman is so excited. He was the honored guest of the king and queen. He has also been invited back the next day to another banquet.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”   Proverbs 16:18

There are a few things that men like to brag about. They like to brag about their riches, the money they make. They like to brag about their children, or grandchildren. Then they like to brag about their promotion or position. Haman boasted about all three of these things. Notice the number of times the word “his” is used. He is so full of himself.

The last thing men like to boast about is how great they are with the women. Haman is bragging that the queen invited him to lunch, and then tomorrow he will eat dinner with her. If Haman knew what the queen had in store for him, he would have turned down the invitation. Things are not going as well as he thinks.

But, all of these good things are meaningless as long as Mordecai will not bow to him. The size of the man can be determined by the size of the things that irritate him. Mordecai was only one man, a man that Haman should have ignored. Instead Haman complains that all the good things that have happened to him are meaningless because Mordecai will not bow to him.

Haman’s malice is so great that it has infected his wife and friends. It is suggested by Haman’s wife that they build gallows for Mordecai. So that night Haman had built gallows 75 feet tall. I would like to point out that the name Mordecai means “little”. Mordecai was a short guy. Why build gallows that tall? The reason that Haman does this is because of the hatred he holds in his heart. Satisfied with this plan Haman ends the night with construction of the gallows that will eventually end his life.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


The phrase “Christian” is one that is heavily abused today. We say that we live in a “Christian nation”. Most people here in the south will proudly proclaim that they are “Christians”. But have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “What does it really mean to be a Christian?” I think we might be surprised by what it truly means to be a Christian.

To be a Christian means that you are like Christ. In Acts chapter 11 the disciples were the first group of people referred to as Christians. These men were called Christians because they conducted themselves in a way that reminded the people in Antioch of Jesus Christ. Therefore to be a Christian you must be like Christ. So, that brings up a good question. What was Christ like?

Jesus was a man who cared more about others than He did himself. Everything that Jesus did, He did for someone else. From the time that Jesus left heaven to be born in Bethlehem until the present, when He is seated next to His Father making intercession for the child of God. Everything He did was for others. When Jesus walked among men He confessed that there were times that he didn’t even have a place to lay his head, but when the multitudes came to hear Him teach and grew hungry He always found a way to feed them. Jesus was mocked, beaten and killed by an angry mob. Why, because He cared more for others than He did Himself. He cared more about your sins and my sins than He did His own personal wellbeing.

Jesus went about to do good. Everywhere He went He was looking for someone to bless. Jesus was a shining example of how to care for the poor, how to reach out to a community, how to share the good news that is the gospel message. Whether it was healing the sick, feeding the hungry, teaching the ignorant, He always went about to do good.

I could say so much more. Jesus was a man that had compassion. Jesus was a man who was willing to compromise when necessary, but unwilling to compromise when necessary. Jesus was a man who believed in hard work, paying your bills, being honest in business and helping your fellow man.

So, this brings me to another question. Are you Christ like? Are you a Christian? Do you care more about others than yourself? Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was. He answered that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, but He quickly added that the next greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself.

Do you go about trying to do good? Could it be said of you that you are compassionate? Are you willing to compromise if needed, and at the same time unwilling to compromise on certain things? Do you work hard, pay your bills, and are honest in business? If you can’t answer yes to these things then you may not be as much like Christ as you think you are. Oh how we use that term “Christian” so loosely.

Let me say before I finish that another characteristic of Christ was that He always had His priorities in the right place. When Martha complained that her sister Mary was not helping her with the house work Jesus answered that Mary had chosen the “good part.” You see, Mary was not working around the house because she was sitting at the feet of Jesus. On another occasion Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for complaining about the disciples. The Pharisees did not feel that the disciples were doing enough for the poor and needy. They felt they should spend more time working in the community and less time with Jesus. To this Jesus explained that the poor and needy would always be around, but He would not.

It is possible to get so involved in helping others, working in the church and in the community, that we lose sight of what is really important. Jesus complimented the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2 for all their hard work, but also warned them because they were so focused on their work they lost sight of their love for God. It is sad when a church ceases to be a church and becomes a community outreach center. Yes, we are to help others, but that should never take the place of spending time with God.

I know it seems like a fine line we are supposed to walk. Jesus said that the path that leads to heaven is straight and narrow. Fortunately we do not have to walk this path alone. Jesus knew that we would need help, so He promised that he would never leave us alone. I challenge you to examine yourself. Ask yourself the question. Could it be said you are a “Christian”?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Refuse to no nothing!

Esther chapter 4

In Esther chapter three we read about the terrible decree of Haman that sent shock waves through Persia. Haman has convinced the king to put a group of people to death. Without a concern the king signs the decree. As the decree goes forth the Jews are afraid and mourning, while the people of Shushan are confused. Esther is secluded in her royal palace and doesn’t even know about the problem.

At this time there are around 15 million Jews in the kingdom of Persia. All of them are going to die. The only option is to pull up stakes and leave, but there is nowhere to go. Even Israel wasn’t safe because it was under the control of Persia.

In chapter four we see the reaction of Mordecai and his call for help from Queen Esther. It was no coincidence that Esther is in the position she is in. God will use her to do an amazing work.

When Mordecai heard about the decree the king had signed he tears off his clothing, puts on sackcloth and ashes and begins to morn. Mordecai completely believed the decree would be carried forth. The Laws of the Meds and Persians was unalterable according to the book of Daniel.

At this time there were approximately 15,000,000 Jews in the Persian Empire. Now because of one very small man each of these lives is in danger. Let me point out that 15 million lives were at stake, but only one man was willing do anything about it. These other Jews were going to lose their life. Their children were going to die. Destruction was coming, but they do nothing about it. This reminds me of the average Christian, we see trouble ahead, sin is killing our family and we just sit back with our head in our hands and do nothing about it. Thank God there was one man who was not willing to sit back and do nothing.

I wish we would get to the place in our minds where we say, “I can’t do everything, I can’t do what someone else does, but I refuse to do nothing!”

Mordecai is not afraid to let everyone know where he stood, who his affiliation was with. At first he was not willing to reveal that he was a Jew, but in the face of trouble it brings out the best in him. Sometimes trouble is good because it brings out the best in some of us.

While this is happening Esther is perfectly safe inside the kingdom. This bad news had not reached into the palace. When news finally arrives that Mordecai is mourning in sackcloth and ashes Esther does not understand. They tell Esther that Mordecai is moaning, groaning, crying and making a big show of it. In light of this news Esther does the only thing she knew to do. She takes a brand new suit of clothes and sends them to Mordecai. If the king was to come out to the gate and see Mordecai like this he would be in trouble.

Let me say in passing that the new clothes could not change the king’s decree. So many times we try to change the punishment of sin by putting on a new set of clothes. Some people put on religion. Some put on self righteousness. Others put on the coat of denial. The problem is that none of these will change the situation.

Mordecai did not accept the clothes. Mordecai knew that a new suit of clothes could not solve the problem. I can imagine that when the clothes return back to Esther she knew something was wrong.

Mordecai sends a message back to Esther telling her the reason for the mourning. He tells her of the decree to kill the Jews. Mordecai even sends a copy of the decree to Esther so that she is able to read it for herself.

When Esther receives the decree and reads it for herself she does not know what to do. If she approaches the king without being called she could easily be put to death. If she does nothing millions of Jews will die. Because she is confused she reaches out to Mordecai for help. Mordecai was her adopted father, and gives her some good advice.

Mordecai begins by explaining to her that if she does nothing than she is going to be killed any way. Just because she is in the king’s house that does not mean that she will not be slaughtered with the other Jews. Haman would make sure that ALL the Jews were killed, even the queen. Later we will discover that the king didn’t even know Esther was a Jew.

Then he asks the question “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Mordecai is able to see the hand of the Lord in the life of Esther. It is not by chance that Esther is on the throne.

God has been arranging things for this very reason. Looking back thousands of years we are able to clearly see the hand of God moving in the affairs of the nation. It was no accident that Vashti was put away. It was no accident that Esther won the contest to become the queen. God has been moving all the time.

I would imagine that this was much harder for Esther to grasp. Esther did not have the benefit of history. Esther could not see the end result. It took faith on Esther’s part to believe it was God’s hand moving in her life.

So many times troubles and trials arise in our lives and we react like Esther. We are scared. She believed that if she went in to the king, she would be put to death. This was the end for her in her mind. This trial was going to be the death of her. All she could do is have faith that this trial was not going to kill her, but benefit her.

There may be someone reading who is facing something that they believe will be the end of them. You believe that this trial cannot be overcome and the outcome is going to be bad. It could be that this trial is not for your harm, but for your benefit. Can I encourage you to have faith in God? I know that you cannot see the end result, but be assured if God brought this into your life; He will bring you through it.

The lion that tried to kill Samson later fed him. The giant that tried to kill David became a stepping stone to make him king. The sorrow and sickness that tried to kill Job became a blessing to him in the end. The suffering that killed Jesus became the means of victory for you and I. God may not be trying to kill you. Maybe he is trying to bless you. Esther was not accidentally the queen. God was going to make this trial a blessing.

God knows what is going to happen tomorrow and next week. He knows the end from the beginning. All we can do is trust Him. One day you will be able to look back on this trial and see how God brought you through.

With nothing but faith in her heart queen Esther tells Mordecai to have the Jews fast. She and her maids would fast. And then in three days she will go before the king. If she dies, then she dies. She is willing to do what she can do. She refuses to do nothing.