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Four Significant Steps of Faith

03.20.22 Alpine Bible Media

  1. Four Reasons to Celebrate
    03.27.22 38m 19s
  2. Four Significant Steps of Faith
    03.20.22 36m 57s
  3. Four Traits of a Powerful Ministry
    03.13.22 42m 37s
  4. Who Lives and Who Dies
    03.06.22 41m 04s
  5. God of the Gallows
    02.27.22 43m 52s
  6. Confident Identity
    02.20.22 39m 36s
  7. A Coming to Jesus Moment
    02.13.22 45m 11s
  8. Waiting for the Lord
    02.06.22 42m 48s
  9. Messy Grace
    01.30.22 44m 28s
  10. Marriage Troubles
    01.23.22 48m 31s
  11. What Type of Kingdom Are You Building?
    01.16.22 40m 21s

Four Significant Steps of Faith

03.20.22 Alpine Bible Media Esther: Such a Time as This Series

I’m going to invite you to Esther chapter nine. Esther chapter nine is where we’re at today. Now, we’re only going to do the first half of this chapter, because you recognize this is a little longer chapter. But Esther chapter nine, an important chapter. We’re going to be talking about, in this chapter, four significant steps of faith that on your journey with God … Through these 19 verses, we’re going to look at in chapter nine, we’re going to look at some important steps of faith that Esther takes, that the Jewish people take within the content here. But also compare this to our lives. That when you think about any healthy journey in your relationship with God, all four of these components you see taking place in this faith journey in this chapter should be something that you should find repeated in your Christian journey. So four significant faith steps that you will take in your relationship with the Lord.

And with that, I’m going to jump right into it. So point number one, if you grabbed the notes this morning, point number one is this. Faith step number one is to be fully surrendered. We don’t have that on the screen, do we, Shalom? It’s to fully surrender your life to the Lord. To fully surrender your life to the Lord. I wanted to write this morning and I started to describe it this way. That when we think about pursuing Christ, I wanted to say, prepare your heart for the Lord. Rather than talk about being fully surrendered to God, to prepare your heart for the Lord. But then I realized, it’s not as theologically accurate as it should be in simply saying fully surrender your life to God.

And the reason for that is, none of us can truly prepare our hearts to meet Christ. We all struggle. We all have sin. We all battle. And we can’t eradicate that from our lives to the state of perfection. None of us are really prepared for what lies ahead. And it’s God who truly prepares the heart. What God is interested in, no matter where you are in your life, is that your life be completely surrendered to Him. And the truth is, your Christian life will never be a joyful experience until it is. There’s nothing healthy about a relationship with Christ that if you just kind of dip your toe in the water and try to keep your foot half with the Lord in half in the world, that you’re going to find yourself satisfied.

And the reason for that is because it’s a covenant relationship. It’s like if we compared it to marriage and you come before your spouse on your wedding day and you give your vows and your vows are like, “I’m going to 50% of the time be here for you.” Like that does not fly with the intimacy of what that relationship is intended to be. And you’ll never experience healthy covenant marriage that way. And the same is true with the Lord. That in relationship to God, the relationship is described as covenant relationship. And the only way you experience the depth of that joyfully is to fully commit yourself.

And Jesus says as much to us in Matthew chapter 16, verse 24. He says, “Anyone who wishes to come after me must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” It’s a complete dedication just as Jesus has completely given his life for us. And we think about this step of a faith journey, that really the Christian life begins with fully surrendering yourself to the Lord and continuing to that. And in Psalm chapter 10, verse 17, it says this. “Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble. You will strengthen their heart. You will make your ear attentive.” Look in the humility of your life, it is God who strengthens your heart and his ear then attentive to you.

There’s all sorts of things that can provoke us to come to Christ. And I’m reminded in the story of Esther in chapter nine, verse one, the way it’s described is that when Esther comes to the Lord, it’s not the ideal circumstance. It’s a moment of tension, a moment of adversity, that draws her to trusting her life completely in him. It says, “In the 12th month, that is the month of Adar, on the 13th day when the king’s command and edict were to be put into effect.” And if you follow along in this story, we’ve learned that the king’s command, this edict, was for the annihilation of the Jews.

And it was in the pressure of that moment that it stirred Esther’s heart to really look at the value of life and to find that the only way you find life is in the Lord. And she committed herself to the Lord in pursuit of him and using her position for his glory, but to the benefit of others. Guys, I don’t think it matters how you come to Christ, but rather to simply ask the question, have you come to Christ? It doesn’t matter if it’s a moment of desperation or everything’s going perfect in your life and you just simply see the need for Jesus. But to simply recognize and order to enjoy this faith journey that God calls us on, that is a full surrender, which he asks us to commit as he has fully surrendered his life. Have you surrendered your life to the Lord? And in surrendering your life to the Lord, it’s in that faith step that the Lord begins to prepare heart for what he calls you to and what lies ahead.

Faith step number two. Discover where God is working and join him. Discover where God is working and join him. Esther’s moment looked like death. And that’s what was placed against the Jewish people. This moment of extermination. But in the Lord, she sees this as a great reversal from a moment of death, which is going to play out in chapter nine to now an opportunity of life as they trust in him.

When I think about this kind of statement, discover where God is working and join him, we tend to make this complex, but this doesn’t have to be hard. Generally speaking, God is working when you begin to feel your heart stirred towards a particular need. And as God works on your heart for a need in this world, he’s stirring in you to become that answer. I love how the Lord does it with his disciples. He says in a few of the gospels, “Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers.” And then the very next chapter he says, “Now go.” Saying, in your own heart, you recognize this need and you begin to pray for this need, that you also begin to recognize that the place that God is stirring to be the answer to this need is in you.

Discover where God is working and join him. Look in the world around you for the opportunity that God is presenting. And one of the ways we begin to see that is God presses up on our heart a gospel need in the world around us to step into that. And look, another way we tend to make this complicated in our life is that, here in our American and culture, we try to make big to-dos about everything. We got to create some kind of program. Other people have to participate. And that doesn’t need to be how every answer has to be solved. It could just simply be … It could be a formal answer where a program is created and lots of people are rallied and we all, you go together. But it could also be informal. That simply God has placed you in that place to become that person who answers that need. But however God is stirring discover where God is working and join him.

Don’t be timid to be that answer that the Lord will use. You read the story of Esther. And we realize, in chapter four, when they saw this need that their immediate response was to begin first to turn to the Lord and pray and seek God. Right? They fasted. They joined as a community towards that purpose, chapter four, verse 16. But at the end of the day, you still have to do something. You can pray all day long, but at the end of day, someone’s got to stand up and do something, right? I mean, Israel could have prayed all day long against Goliath. But at the end of the day, David had to pick up a stone. Right? Moses could have stood before the burning bush all day long. But at the end of the day, Moses had to go before Pharaoh. Noah, he had to pick up a hammer to start building a boat, right?

And God calls us to simply just pray for an answer, but to also let that answer work through us. In fact, if we’re praying, it’s to recognize. We see that need and our heart is aligning with the Lord towards that purpose and asking God to give us that strength. And then we get to step forward on that journey with him. Discover where God is working and join him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a minister during World War II in Germany. He had an opportunity, actually, as a pastor to be hired in America right when World War II was coming to a head. And he chose, rather than be a pastor in America, to go back to Germany. And people warned him, “If you go back to Germany, we see the writing on the wall. We know what’s going to take place.” And he said, “I know, but my people need me.” And he ended up, towards the end of the war, losing his life. But he said this. “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless.” Not to speak is to speak. And not to act is to act. There is no middle ground.

That God calls us in this world to be a light. And that light advances in the darkness. In fact, another way that we could consider taking a step of faith to discover where God is working and join him is twofold. You can either be reactive towards problems, or you can be proactive against the darkness. And what I mean, reactive is you wait for the darkness to overcome a circumstance and you step in to be a gospel light in that moment. Or you begin to recognize that God sometimes gives you opportunity to invest in lives. To be proactive. Sometimes they refer to it as preventative counseling. That you invest healthy things into a circumstance so it doesn’t have to become unhealthy in order to be reactive to a response. But we keep building the work of the Lord as God moves in us to make a difference in the lives of people around us.

In chapter one, it went on like. Or chapter nine, verse one, it goes on like this. “On the day when the enemies of the Jews hope to gain mastery over them, it turned out to the contrary. So that the Jews themselves gained mastery over those who hated them. The Jews of assembled in their cities throughout the provinces of the king, [Ahashuras 00:10:37] or Xerxes, to attack those who sought to harm them. And no one could stand against them because the dread of them had fallen on all the people.” The Jews began to see where God was working. And they moved. No doubt that this moment looked difficult to for them. They were just a small people in the greater Persian empire. But if your purpose is noble, even if it looks as great as Mount Everest, if others see the importance of it, they’ll join you on that journey.

I think we see that here at ABC. It has not been an easy road to hoe to get to where we are. But God’s doing things here. It’s incredible to see. I think last year, 26 people we had baptized in our ministry last year. And this year, our first baptism’s coming in April. And, and even this past month, you guys gave over $30,000 in missions. Most of it went to Africa. But we even gave another $1500 to the pregnancy resource center. And God’s doing incredible things. And here you see in the story with Esther, they have a very difficult task in front of them. But in verse one, we see the reminder that the king worked in their favor by allowing them to write a law, to stand up for themselves. Haman had written a law to exterminate the Jews, and now Mordecai is given the right to write a law that the Jews can defend themselves.

And in verse two, others begin to see the hand of favor moving to the Jewish people. And so, in recognizing that hand, they join in that. And then verse three, it goes on. “Even all the officials, the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and those who were doing the King’s business were supporting the Jews because of the dread of Mordecai had fallen on them.” They see the hand of God moving on Mordecai. And so, even leaders now are jumping on board and supporting where God is moving.

And then in verse four. For Mordecai was great in the king’s house. And the news about him spread throughout the provinces for the man, Mordecai became greater and greater.” Mordecai went where God was going. And Mordecai’s news was a message of impending death that came to thriving life because of the hand of God. And Mordecai’s message was only possible because it was the Lord’s message. Right? From death to life, this message of great reversal. And even today, as God’s people, in relationship to this, that’s the same message we carry. It’s different circumstance, but it’s the same message that there is a God who has pursued us. Who takes our circumstances from death to life in him. He resurrects the soul because of what he’s accomplished for us on the cross. That’s the way that the hand of God is moving. That we have opportunity to stand and see the darkness pushed back as the church moves forward. And the beauty of that message. See where God is working and join him.

In verse five, though, you get the contrast of these steps. So the story of Esther is good for that. Every time we see something godly in the story of Ester, it also takes a moment to recognize. And then there’s the alternative that when you don’t embrace the hand of God as he moves with life in this world, the alternative for that is death. There is no in between. That the reason Jesus came was because of the urgency of the need in the midst of darkness that we could find life in him. There’s not a middle ground in this.

And you see in verse five, the juxtaposing of these two positions. And this is incredible to read because it’s so obvious to most of the people that God’s hand is working this way. And that we shouldn’t fight against God’s hand. In fact, we should join the Jews. And chapter eight, the way it ended was, it was unpopular not to be Jewish. And so people are starting to identify with the Jews and even become Jewish because they want to work with how God’s hand is moving in this culture. It is not popular to stand against that. But even still, there is a group of people in the hardness of their heart, that reject this.

And in chapter five, it starts to say as much. “So the Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying. And they did as they pleased to those who hated them at the citadel in Susa. The Jews killed and eliminated 500 men. And they killed,” and look at this. “Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha.” And whatever. All right. I pronounced all those right. I went to public school in West Virginia, Alabama. Don’t question me on this. Okay? But that’s what happened. “And the 10 sons of Haman, the sons of Hammedatha, the Jews enemy.”

So those last 10 names, those are the sons of Haman. I read a Jewish commentary on this. And it said it was Jewish tradition that whenever they read these verses, that they have to utter all 10 names in one breath. So you want to challenge later today, you can attempt that yourself, but they had to utter all 10 names in one breath. And I read that and I thought, “Wow, why do they do this?” And I’m expecting the commentary to tell me the rest of that. And that’s all it said. I don’t even understand why. If in one wants to Google that later, let me know. But they had to utter all 10 names in one breath. Challenge accepted.

But the critical thing to see here is, even as God’s hand worked, there was still opposition. People stood against them. And even more sorrowful in this, I just think, Haman with such wickedness and hatred for a people group. How his sin affected so many people. His sin not only led to his death, but it led to the death of others. Even his sons, now. That hatred perpetuated in their lives. And maybe even with this vengeance, they wanted to come against the Jews to justify their father’s death. Or avenge, I should say. Avenge their father’s death. And yet, it leads to their own destruction.

And there is an opportunity to reverse that curse. Even for us to see where God’s hand is moving. To be willing to stand up for that and to follow the Lord. Just the place it provides in our own relationships in this world. To not be a person of toxicity, a person of destruction, a person of death. But a person of goodness and mercy and justice and ultimately life because of Christ. And to be able to speak that life into the lives of others.

And here, Haman’s sons find death. And I know in reading these verses, we all come to this sort of question. Or at least, I think we should come to this question. How do you deal with the killing of people under God? How do you handle that? And for some, sometimes the challenge of this is a hard one to swallow. But let me give you point number three, and we’ll talk about that point. Point number three in your notes. Actively watch over the motive of your heart. Third faith step in following after Lord is continue to watch over the motive of your heart. Actively watch over the motive of your heart.

Jeremiah is 17:9 tells us … Reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” And my hearts even surprise ourselves sometimes and how wicked it can become and how quickly that can happen. And it’s important for us, as Proverbs says, to guard your heart. For in it’s the wellspring of life. Actively watch over the motive of your heart, because at any moment, the thing that can lead the heart rather than the Lord, it can be anger. It can be vengeance. It can be jealousy. It can be hatred. It can be your popularity. It can be your pride. And in all of those things, it leads to destruction.

And in this next section, in verse 10 down to verse 16, it really gives us two ways of just thinking through, how do you deal with the Jews taking life in this section of scripture? Verse 10, it begins to show us. End of verse 10, it starts to show us the motive behind their heart. And we can see their action, but what’s important for us to also see is what is the motive here? In the end of verse 10, it helps us to begin to recognize this. It says, “But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.”

You remember the way the law was written originally by Haman when he wanted to exterminate the Jews? The Jews wrote a law almost exactly like Haman’s. But one difference. In Haman’s laws, if you were willing to kill the Jews, you could plunder what they had. But here in this story, the Jews want us to recognize that their heart was not about that. When they went out in this moment, it wasn’t about what they could gain from the destruction of others. And so they began to speak towards the motive of what they’re about in this moment. It’s not to be an aggressor. What their interest in is to defend and find peace.

No one following God should be looking to kill anyone, right? Human life is sacred. Everyone is made in the image of God. And to desecrate another human being in that way is to bring an attack against our creator who made an individual in the image of God. And so, just to simply end human life is not something to be taken lightly. It certainly should not be the primary interests of the Jews here. For the Jews, fighting was the last resort. Remember, when Esther came before the king, in Esther chapter seven and verse four, when Esther came before King Xerxes, she said to the king, “King, I wouldn’t even have bothered you if you were simply selling us into slavery. But we’re talking about extermination. And we need to be able to do something here.”

And verse 10 not only talks about the fact that they didn’t lay hands on their plunder, but throughout this passage, this section, it wants to remind us that this perpetually was the attitude of the Jews as they continued to move forward into verse 15. “But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.” Verse 16. It reminds us, they were there to defend their lives and they did not lay their hands on the plunder. God calls us as his people to protect the life of the vulnerable. In fact, in Isaiah chapter one, verse 17, it says this. “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Rebuke the oppressor. Obtain justice for the orphan and plead for the widow’s cause.”

And let me just remind us of the circumstance for a moment. If this law written by Haman says, “Look, if you go kill some Jews and they have things that you like, you can take them and make yourself rich.” And if you’re thinking that you’re going to live out that law and you’re wondering who you’re going to take down, I can tell you in a circumstance like this, you’re going to be thinking, “Who’s the wealthiest person that’s also the most vulnerable that I feel like I can overcome?” And in that moment, they become the easy targets to the circumstance.

But Micah chapter six, verse eight says this, for God’s people. It says, “He has told you, mortal one, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” And God is saying like this. This word for justice is word for the for mishpot. It’s the word mishpot in Hebrew. It’s this carrying out of justice. So, justice is the action. Loving kindness is the attitude. With the reminder, everything we do, we’re accountable to God. Everything that we do is accountable to the Lord. And so, with Esther in this moment, for the Jewish people, being an aggressor to defend themselves or taking another life in defense themselves, it’s not their primary desire. But for the sake of the moment, in order to preserve life, it was necessary.

And in defending life, it is sacred. Because God created life in his image. Now, just to be clear, I’m not advocating go out and kill people. Okay? But what I encourage you to do in anything you do for God, to always check the motive of your heart. Israel’s heart in this moment is not vengeance. But it’s sacred to the preservation of life that God calls sacred. Maybe the question for you is, where in your culture are the vulnerable being taken advantage of? And how can the Lord use you to encourage people towards him and to defend the sacredness of what life is about? I mean, that’s why we give to the pregnancy resource center every year, there is nothing more innocent than unborn children. They cannot defend themselves. But you, as God’s people seeing the sacredness of life, have an opportunity to stand and talk about the preciousness of what that represents, as God creates every human being in his image.

Verse 11 of 14, though, it goes on from there and gives us a little more of a challenge. It says, “On that day, the number of those who were killed at the Citadel in Susa was reported to the king. And the king said to queen Ester, ‘The Jews have killed and eliminated 500 men. And the 10 sons of Haman at the Citadel in Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now, what is your request? It shall also be granted you. And what is your further wish? It shall also be done.” In verse 13, “Then Esther said, ‘If it pleases the king, let tomorrow also be granted to the Jews who are in Susa to do according to the edict today and let Haman’s 10 sons be hanged on the wooden gallows.’ So the king commanded that it was to be done so. And an edict was issued in Susa and Haman’s 10 sons were hanged.”

Now again, we could ask the question, “Well, the Jews are defending themselves.” But people debate this. They say, “But what about Esther’s motive here? We see that they’re defending themselves. They’re not just out there to kill just to kill. They’re about protecting and preserving life. But what about Esther here? She seems to take another step and now she’s putting people on gallows. How can you justify that?”

Well, let me just say this. There is room here for a little bit of debate. Whether or not Esther is taking a completely godly step in what she is doing. Remember, when you read the Old Testament, especially in narrative stories, narrative stories are not this declaration for what to do. It’s just simply describing to you what happened. And so, this is not descriptive of how to live life, live a Christian life. Or live a life for the Lord. This is just simply narrating, this is what happened. And so, we can always look at actions in a narrative and determine, is this godly or isn’t this godly. And in this request, Esther has asked that the 10 sons of Haman would be hung on a poll. Is what Esther wants, is it really godly?

When you look at the challenge of that question, I would say just a couple things. One, remember, verse 10 and verse 15 and 16 is on both sides of this section of verse 11 into 14. And in verse 10 and verse 15 and 16, it reminds us, the motive of the Jewish heart was not about just taking advantage of people. That’s not what they were interested at all. They didn’t want to take from the plunder. That’s not what they were about. They were about defending their lives. And we find this story of Esther in between. So, this story being in between all that may say to us that Esther’s motive was just simply try to honor the Lord.

The other thing to here is Esther is in political position, which means she’s seen as an authority. And in this day in age, in order to warn people about conduct that was disruptive and illegal, they would take this kind of step. Which for our minds today, is way far out there. Right? But this was common in this era. And this was a way of communicating, “Look, the king, didn’t just say that he’s going to carry out the law. He’s actually showing that he means business in doing it.” Right? It’s one thing to say something, but if people don’t see your words as being serious, it’s another thing to see you act upon it. Right? There are all kinds of world leaders that say things. And then you see that they don’t really carry out what they mean by their statements. Right? It’s a lot of talk, but no walk. And I think, as a leader in Persia, this is a statement to the people. And we mean business. Don’t harm the Jews.

Maybe in a stranger way, we could compare this to parenting. Sometimes you may call your role, if you have kids, a parent. But you learn that a lot of times, your kids might be better at parenting you than you might be parenting them. And the way that you find that is you’ll say things, but you find, “I have to repeat this 10 times and it’s not until I start counting to 10 that they then start doing it.” Because your kids have learned to train you rather than training them. “Mom and dad don’t mean business until they start yelling. And so, when they just say something, you can ignore it about three or four more times. But when they yell.” Right? It’s not until they discovered, that’s when you actually execute. Wouldn’t it be better if delayed obedience was disobedience? And you could just say it once and they get done. Right? That’s what Esther’s doing. “We’re not just giving you a law and waiting for you to kill a few Jews before we act. We want you to recognize this is business. This is what we mean.”

Point number four. Hopefully that helps you deal with some of the interaction here in this Old Testament. And the fighting and the killing that’s going on. But number four faith step. Celebrate what the Lord accomplishes. Celebrate what the Lord accomplishes. Let me be clear in saying this, on behalf of the Jews. Well, let me read it and I’ll clarify this. Verse 17. “This was done on the 13th day of the month in Adar. And on the 14th day, they rested and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing. But the Jews were in Susa, assembled on the 13th and the 14th of the same day and rested on the 15th day and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing. Therefore, the Jews of the rural areas who live in the rural towns make the 14th day of the month of Adar a holy day, or a holiday, for rejoicing and feasting and sending portions of food to one another.”

They’re rejoicing in what the Lord has done. They’re celebrating what God has accomplished. They aren’t celebrating killing and death. They’re not celebrating that. What they’re celebrating is that they have a way to life. They found life in a God who delivers them. Celebration, or as sometimes we refer to it Biblically, really, is rejoicing. Rejoicing is an important part of the Christian life. It’s recognizing that what we have in the Lord, it really, it never ends. Rejoicing is about being reactive and seeing the hand of God and how he’s moved. But the fact that the joy can re-joy over and over, is to remind ourselves in what we have in him continues forever.

You think in the things in this world that you may rejoice over, unrelated to God, the things in this world that you can rejoice over or might rejoice over, that rejoicing will only ever be temporary. That someday, the things this world fade. But what you have in the Lord and rejoicing reminds you over and over, you have it for all of eternity. And when we rejoice, it becomes a place that continues to shape our identity in God. When you think about how the Lord has rescued you in salvation in him, if you’ve put your faith in him, going back to that moment over and over and rejoicing. Doesn’t it just remind you of how Jesus saved you? But it also reminds us that Jesus is currently with you. And Jesus will always be with you for all of eternity. It’s a place of re-joying over and over what the Lord has done.

It helps us find an identity and continue to have that identity in the Lord. And it helps us to teach others. Especially in your home and your children, as you model rejoicing before them. They get to see these moments in your life that become pillars that represent who you have become in your identity in the Lord. It’s a way of teaching. It’s a way of being thankful. It’s important to the Christian life. The Jews were certainly rejoicing because they got to keep their life, for sure. But they’re also rejoicing in something much deeper. That in keeping their physical life, they’re also seeing a God who is with them. And a God who gives them incredible hope into their future.

They’re rejoicing is at a much deeper level than simply, “We survived the moment.” But there is a God who loves them. A God who is near to them. A God who looks after them. He did it for Mordecai, right? You see this place of death that Mordecai and all the Jews are walking into. And with this great reverse of the curse, they now step into a place of life because of a God who loved them. And the Lord does the same for you and for me. When I think about the reverse of the curse of sin and death in our lives because of Jesus, Jesus’s first message on the Sermon of the Mount was a reversing of the curse message.

Listen to this. In Matthew chapter five, when Jesus preached his first message, he says this. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted, blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” It’s a declaration of the reversing of the curse of this world, realizing the life that we ultimately have in Jesus. And the relationship that we can experience in him to today.

The preservation of life in this story is a tangible reminder of a God who cares for his people. So let me end with this one. There is a statue in Hungary. And it’s dedicated to men and women who have served in World War I and World War II who did not return. The statue is referred to as the Empty Silhouette. But looking at a statue like this is a reminder of the brokenness of life. To think about all the sacrifice of human life that went into World War I and World War II and fathers not returning home to their families.

Do you know, traditionally in Christianity, youth ministry is a fairly new thing in Christianity? Youth ministry really didn’t start in churches until about the 1950s. And the reason youth ministry started, it started out of a need. Churches, when they would gather, they would all stay together in one age typically. Or all together as one big family. But they began to recognize in the 1950s, as men went off to war, that they weren’t returning home to their families. And in the church, there was this big gap of men being able to stand for children. And point them to the Lord. And so, youth ministry started to become a way that they collected kids together in the midst of that darkness to point people to Jesus.

But as this statue even stands as a greater reminder to us and the world around us, there is darkness. There is a curse. But in Jesus, there is this great reversal. That God’s people have the opportunity to pierce the darkness and be a wonderful light for him. That just as we see God acting in the life of Mordecai and Esther and the Jews, he is still active and moving today. If we, as his people, would fully surrender to him, see where God is working and join him in that cause, to continue to check the motive of our heart on that journey. And as God does glorious things, celebrate it. Celebrate it. Because it becomes an identity for us, a pillar moment. And being able to look back because in hard days, we need to remind our lives that God has been there. And God will continue to be there for us as we walk with him together,