Wednesday, October 19, 2016

For such a time as this, continuing

The book of Esther certainly has been an emotional roller-coaster ride, hasn't it?  We have met some people who have been good, some who've been bad, and one that was downright ugly! (Grin) Haman was a mess, wasn't he?

In the first part of the book, we saw a queen take a courageous stand. Vashti took a moral stand. Remember her part of the story? She knew that her morals would have been compromised if she had walked around in that room full of drunken men. She decided not to cross the line, because she felt like it was the wrong thing to do.

What about us? Do we need to take a moral stand in our relationships? Is there someone who is trying to get us to compromise? Maybe it's a compromise of sexual standards. Maybe it's integrity. Maybe it's a question of how we treat people. Don't give in. Take a stand! We must hold our ground . . . if we have already crossed the line, we can ask God for forgiveness and make a fresh commitment. It's never, ever too late for that. Perhaps we've been talking to ourselves and justifying our compromise, but deep inside the Spirit is telling us that we are doing wrong. We need to quit trying to fool ourselves and live in God's ways.

That doesn't mean it's easy! In fact, sometimes it can be awfully controversial. And it can definitely make us unpopular. Doing the right thing can have some unpleasant consequences in the short term. Look at Queen Vashti . . . she did the right thing, but she lost her position of royalty and power. No more influence. Probably not as much wealth. She was banished from the kingdom. If we take a moral stand in sexual matters, or in matters of finances or integrity, or in matters of how we treat other people, we may be made fun of. We may lose some "friends." We may be ridiculed. We may lose some wealth, too. It requires courage.

Is it worth it?
You bet it is!

Did we see someone else in the story take a stand? We sure did. Mordecai.
Mordecai was willing to take a spiritual stand. Mordecai was a man who was devoted to his faith, and to his God. He had surrendered his life to God, and he wasn't willing to worship, or bow down to, anyone or anything else. It wasn't an easy stand to take. Think about him, seeing Haman coming down the street, and all of the people bowing to him. Think about the courage that it took, to be the ONE person who didn't bow down!

It takes courage to be a Christian in today's world, too. It takes courage for some of us to go to church. It takes courage for us to check out this faith that we see in others. It takes courage to turn our lives over to Jesus . . . we must have the courage to admit that we are sinners. To admit that we need God.
Then it takes courage to face those sins, and that holy God, and ask Him to forgive us. And then, when we receive Him into our lives, it takes courage to follow Him.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Do you and I have the courage of Mordecai? Will we stand up and be counted as a follower of Christ?
Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32)
Do the people around us even know that we are Christians? Let's be like Mordecai and speak up.

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