Waiting for the Lord

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I’m going to invite you to Esther 3. Esther 3 is where we’re going to be together today. We’re going to learn, I think, an important lesson that we’re not perfected in, in our relationship with the Lord, but this is something we grow to appreciate and grow to learn to do.

The sooner you learn this lesson, the better your Christian life goes, I find. We’re going to talk about waiting on the Lord, which for those of you that are impatient, you just hate the word waiting. I’ll say, this lesson’s for you more than anybody. Okay. What does it mean to wait on the Lord or wait for the Lord? How does that look within our lives?

We, as people by our own nature, I think we often grow impatient, especially in times of adversity and trying to learn to wait on the Lord is not an easy thing to do, but we discover as you go along in your relationship with God, if that relationship is a growing relationship, the depth of your trust in God develops and therefore, your reliability on you diminishes because you have a greater reliability in him as you grow in your trust.

And so waiting on the Lord is an important thing. I’ll let you know, as we look at this together, this is a common area that many of the godly people you might think of in the Bible, if you think of just godly characters, this is an area that they often struggled in. If you see God’s people doing dumb things, it’s typically because they grew in their impatience and they escalated their reliability on themselves and they stopped listening to the promises that God gave them.

There are consequences from that. In fact, the book of Esther has served really well for us in looking at all the poor choices people make. First three chapters of Esther, if you want to know what it’s about, it’s about here’s all the poor choices, don’t do that. Here’s some biblical principles on how to follow after the Lord in light of who he is.

That’s how Esther has worked for us. Esther 3 is going to be that. We’re going to look at three characters in chapter 3 that were poor in their choices and waiting in the Lord. And the consequences that relate to that in life, as a reminder to us of how important it is that we learn to wait on the Lord in our life.

So Esther 3 is where we’re going to start together. 2:21 is actually the backdrop that leads into chapter 3. We’re actually going to start in verse 21 of Esther 2. The story begins like this, first four verses, a little background. It says, “In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the King’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of King’s officials from those who guarded the door became angry and sought to attack King Ahasuerus.” I’ve told you, King Xerxes is his Greek name.

And so some translations might translate it as Xerxes, some pronounce Ahasuerus. Some say Ahasuerus. That’s not even how the Hebrew word is spoken. Just say it fast and maybe throw in Xerxes if you want, but there’s the king. And Mordecai’s ruling at the gate. What they want us to recognize here is Mordecai’s in a place of prominence. At the King’s gate, this is a place of prominence, a place of where the wise in the kingdom will rule and reign and make judgements for the kingdom. No doubt, Mordecai is likely here because Esther who was his adopted daughter, Esther had risen to prominence.

She’s now the queen to King Xerxes. Because of that, now Mordecai finds himself in a place of prominence ruling from the King’s gate. And so Mordecai has ultimately got what he has desired.

I said to you last week, that Mordecai in 2:11, when queen Esther was being considered to possibly become the next queen in Persia, he would go to the gate to check on her every day. And we questioned as to whether or not his motive was actually Esther or his motive was for his own political gain. I tend to think that Mordecai wasn’t as much interested in Esther as he was in what he might receive because Esther might become queen in Persia.

You see regardless that Mordecai is now in that position. He, through Esther, I think is now in a position of authority and he’s ruling outside of the King’s gate or at the King’s gate. And then he gets where of a couple of guys who want to kill Xerxes. Eventually, Xerxes is going to be killed by one of his servants.

It’s not in this case because Mordecai finds out. And then in verse 22, here it is, “But the plot became known to Mordecai and he informed Queen Esther and Esther told the king in Mordecai’s name.” So Mordecai becomes this hero. He finds out about the plot. He goes in and he shares this with Esther. Esther tells the king and Mordecai saves the day. Yay, the kingdom’s not being disrupted. Xerxes who’s this less than incredible guy gets to stay on his throne, thanks to Mordecai. Everyone cheer.

And then in verse 23, “Then when the plot was investigated and found to be so, they were hanged on a wooden gallows and it was written in the Book of the Chronicles in the King’s presence.” The Book of Chronicles is an important note a little bit later in the story, but what happens is once this plot is discovered, the king builds these galls.

When the king builds these galls, he makes a big to-do of the moment. Because what he wants to do is strike fear in the heart of anyone who might make an attempt against his life. It’s his way of saying, “There’s nothing you can do in my kingdom that I’m unaware of. And if you do anything that sounds like it’s out of line and might be directed towards me, here’s what’s going to happen to you.”

Their death would’ve been on a very public display to strike fear in the hearts of people that might rise up against the king. When this sort of scenario arises and rescues the king, you think that the individual responsible would be praised. That’s kind of the expectation. That not only would the king get justice against the villains coming against him, but the king would also turn back to the one who rescued him and offer some sort of reward or elevation or a higher position in the kingdom.

And so in 3:1, that’s what you would expect. And so when you get to that chapter and you read it, here’s what happens, “And after these events, King Xerxes honored Haman.” What is it talking about? You would expect the very next thing to say, “And because of the events, King Xerxes honors Mordecai.” But that’s not what happens at all. It says, “The King Xerxes Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite and promoted him and establish his authority over all of the officials who were with him.”

That’s the opposite of what you might anticipate in this story. It’s like there’s throwing a curve ball, something strange is happening here that don’t look good. Who you’re going to call? Not the Ghostbusters. I don’t know where that came from.

But you see that you would expect Mordecai would be the one elevated, but it’s Haman. For the Jew, when this would be phrased in 3:1, instantly in the Jewish mind, there would be over 600 years of history that would come pouring into the content of this verse. We don’t catch it right away in our day and age, but before the Jews, this would’ve been very important because the Agagite who is Haman represents a lineage that has been in the thorn in the side of the Jewish people for hundreds of years.

In fact, this goes all the way back to King Saul. 1 Samuel 15, King Saul was told to eliminate a people group because of what they were doing to the Israelites. King Agag was the representative of the Amalekites and King Saul determines to allow king Agag to live. Agag, then becoming from Haman, an Agagite.

There’s this connection all the way back to 1 Samuel 15 with King Agag and King Haman, who has been a thorn in the side of Israel. King Saul disobeyed what the Lord said to do with King Agag and allowed them to live. Now, here you have hundreds of years later and this Haman rises to the surface. And again is, usurping. You’ll see later in the Book of Esther, this position over Israel that challenges them and causes great conflict and even will ultimately put them in a position of where they’re looking at death because of Haman and the position that he’s in.

Not only that. Just to add a little extra drama to the circumstance, Mordecai is from the family of Kish, who was from the lineage of King Saul. Here, you have all the way back into hundreds of years ago, over what? 1100 BC century, when King Saul is ruling and reigning, and you have King Agag and it’s not resolved the way the Lord says. Now, during the time of Esther, all of it has come back to the surface again.

Hundreds of years of drama playing out. The question then is, how does Mordecai respond? He waits on the Lord. He sees the situation. He recognizes. This is different. Normally, in most kingdoms, when you save a king, the king would praise you in some way. Obviously, the Lord is up to something. That’s how Mordecai respond, right? Well, no. In verse 2, here’s what happens. “All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so, the king had commanded regarding him, but Mordecai never bowed down nor paid homage.

Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, ‘Why are you violating the King’s command?’ Now, it was when they had spoken daily to him and he would not listen to them, that they told Haman to see whether Mordecai’s reason would stand for he had told them that he was a Jew.”

Mordecai refuses to bow. And he says the reason is, “Because I am a Jew, I can’t bow.” I want you to know that this, at least in the south, is hog wash. There is no law in the old Testament that says, “Sorry, because you’re a Jew, you can bow to no one.” In fact, you can go back and see all sorts of instances where individuals are bowing down to other people. I wrote down just a few. Genesis 33:3, “Jacob bowed down to Esau.” 1 Samuel 20:41, “David bowed down to Jonathan.”

Just because Mordecai is a Jew doesn’t mean Mordecai can’t bow and pay respect. I think the Bible actually tells us the opposite, that we’re to honor one another, especially those who are in authority. It’s just Mordecai decides he doesn’t like the way things have transpired. That should be him who’s elevated, that should be him who’s praised. He doesn’t like it. When Haman walks by, Mordecai, rather than bow, he decides, “I’m going to stand on my tippy toes just so people see that I am not about this.” That’s Mordecai’s decision. He’s not waiting on the Lord in the circumstance.

What Mordecai is interested is in himself because Mordecai’s pride has been hurt and Mordecai wants people to know that he feels disrespected and Mordecai wants to make the moment about him. Mordecai doesn’t bow.

Now, there are instances in scripture where the Jewish people I would say are told not to bow, and that is in worship to someone else. Now, if you go back, this is the Jews right now are in captivity because of their disobedience to God, they were carried away by the Babylonians. Babylonians are eventually conquered by the Medo Persians. King Xerxes is a Persian ruler and he’s ruling over the Jews at this moment. But when this captivity first started, when the Jews were first taken by the Babylonians, you can read about the story in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are brought before the king and told to bow and told to worship the king.

3:6, they refused. So they were thrown into the fiery furnace, if you know this story. In that instance, the Jews wouldn’t bow because they were to worship that king as if he were God. They only worship one God, the true God.

There is a place in which the Jews should not bow. There is a place in which we should not bow. But it’s not in this instance. Mordecai rather uses his identity as a Jew for convenience. He’s already set the precedent in Esther 2 and now he contradicts his own behavior in Esther 3. If you remember, in Esther 2:10 and again, in verse 20, he gave Esther the same instructions twice.

He said, “Don’t tell anyone you’re a Jew. Keep it covered up.” To the point when Esther is taken into before the king, that she is given all the choice food of the Persian kingdom, which would’ve violated her own position as a Jewish lady. The things that she was put in front of her to eat, they were not kosher. Yet, she was told by Mordecai for their own convenience, to deny her Jewish lineage in order to get ahead in life.

And now you have Mordecai do the same thing in this story. He’s not using his Jewish practice in order to really honor God, he’s using his Jewish practice in order to serve himself. He told Esther, “Do this for our convenience.”

He says, in this moment to Haman, “I’m doing this because I’m a Jew, but we recognize this isn’t obedience to your law. This is really about what you want.” You’re mad because you didn’t get the recognition and someone else did. You’re reacting, point number one in your notes, by the way, Mordecai reacts. Mordecai reacts to this circumstance.

Guys, I want us to recognize when we see how Mordecai interacts in this, he’s using his position as a Jew for his convenience. I want to be honest. For us in this world, we’re not told to use our Christianity for our convenience. They’re certainly tact to the way you live as a Christian in this world. Why is this serpents harmless as doves, the Bible tells us. But the Bible doesn’t tell us to hide it.

In our culture, we tend to promote that sort of an attitude, this idea of separation between church and state. We have to have that separation between church and state. And I think when people make that phrase, I think I understand the danger in not doing it. Historically even when Christianity has held the upper hand and they’ve combined church and state, it has not looked good for Christianity. They have come in like this authoritarian and forced people. It’s not just Christianity. It’s lots of religions that seem to think that they can combine church and state. I get the hesitation in that and the thoughtfulness of making that statement.

It is never healthy or good to try to force someone to believe anything. But to think that you can completely separate the two is foolish. It’s a farce. What I mean by that is when we talk about the separation of church and state, any position that you hold in life is ultimately driven by a belief. There is something about it in which you are promoting, some greater purpose behind that sort of a statement. When you try to separate church and state, or you try to completely void the secular world from the believing world, you’re isolating yourself from the very purpose for which you exist.

You’re going to claim all sorts of truths apart from God and have no basis for those truths that you’re making. You can’t ultimately separate belief from the way that you live your life because the way that you live your life is ultimately driven by a belief.

We, as believers, are called to be wise in the way that we live, but not to hide the beliefs that are so important to our identity. But like Mordecai, when we feel disrespected and our enemy feels respected, it may makes us angry. Or at least as if some sort of injustice has been done against us, we want to run. We want to scream. You think, if you ask the question, you come in, you rescue, you rescue the king and you expect the king might give some sort of reward to you and all of a sudden he doesn’t and he elevates your enemy, how would you feel?

Would you stop in that moment and think, “God must be up to something. Let’s see what happens.” Would you say to yourself, “God doesn’t love me. He loves everybody but me. I never get anything good. It doesn’t ever happen to me.” I’ve seen some people go to extreme and they say something like, “God can’t exist. There’s bad things that happen. My enemy’s been elevated. Obviously, there’s no loving God in this world if my enemy gets elevated in this situation. There’s just no God at all.”

How would you respond to that moment? And then in verse 5, we’re introduced to Haman. We’re introduced to how Haman’s going to respond to finding out that Mordecai doesn’t react the way that he’s supposed to, to Haman’s presence. And what would you expect Haman does? Haman comes in and he is like, “You know what? There must be something going on at a deeper level with Mordecai. Let’s find out what’s really happening in his heart guys. Let’s stop and have a counseling session.” Is that how you think Haman responds? Are you looking in 5, “Haman reacts with hate.” That’s your next blank. Haman hates.

Look, in verse 5, “When Haman saw at Mordecai, neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage.” No, one’s waiting on the Lord. It’s the tit for tat, the back and forth here. Mordecai, doesn’t get what he wants so he responds in the flesh and now Haman doesn’t get what he wants, so now he’s retaliating him, he’s elevating things even a step further. Verse 6, “But he considered it beneath his dignity to kill Mordecai alone.” That’s not enough for Haman.

“For they had told him who the people of Mordecai were. So Haman sought to annihilate all the Jews, the people of Mordecai who were found throughout the Kingdom of Xerxes or Ahasuerus.” Haman decides to go scorched earth. This is what happens between two proud people. You hurt my feelings, I react and now your feelings are hurt and you react. Now, Haman decides to elevate it to a point beyond Mordecai, scorched earth and we find that hurt people, hurt people.

In fact, we could say it like this, “Hurt people, harm people.” This is where Haman has the rage within him does not have him thinking clearly. Not only does he want one person to pay, but everyone around him to suffer.

Sometimes we feel wronged. We get that way. We characterize people like that, don’t we? We sort of write a narrative where the only thing that we can think about is the one thing that they did. Nevermind all the other things that their life has been about. If Haman could have taken a step back for a moment and thought about this reasonably, you’re angry at the guy that just saved the life of the king.

If the king finds out that you want to kill the one who spared him, perhaps this may not go well for you, but all that Haman could think about was the injustice done against him. And so in verse seven, the first one that gets spiritual in the whole group that we’re reading in the Book of Esther is Haman. We really haven’t had any indication of God mentioned at any degree, whether it’s a real God or a false god, until you get to verse 7, “In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, the 12th year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, this is the lot was cast before Haman from that day to day and from month to month until the 12th month, that is the month of Adar.”

So here’s what Haman does. He’s saying, “You know what? I’ve got to kill somebody. The best thing to do is see how the God’s align with this. Let’s cast die to see how they fall to determine, that God’s will lead us in the casting of die to determine when we can kill people.”

And so we cast these die. And the only reason I really bring up this verse for us is because this is going to play a big part in how the Lord works a little bit later when the Jews celebrate the day of Pur, which is the day of casting the die. It relates to this event here and how God spares his people. But in this moment, Haman casts die to decide when to kill God’s people.

And then he goes on a little further, “And then Haman said to the King Xerxes, ‘There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples.'” Let me say this. Haman now, when he has cast the dye, he realizes, “Okay, I’m going to eliminate, not just Mordecai. My heart is to eliminate all the Jews. I’ve got to get the king on board for this to happen.” And in order to get the king on board, what Haman does is he goes to the king and he paints a half truth.

Half truths are some of the most dangerous types of somewhat truths. If you think anyone ever goes into error, it’s usually on the back of half truth. We, as people don’t buy into outright lies that easy. It’s when there’s a little bit of truth twisted in that we’re often susceptible to be deceived.

I find in a counseling world, when you talk to people, no one likes to come in front of you when there is a problem and really expose to you every part of the problem. Everyone likes to talk about the problem in a way that paints themselves looking good. Here’s the issue, but let me explain what they did to cause this. It’s not my fault I was a victim of the circumstance. Don’t think bad about me. Think bad about them.

It’s not until you hear both sides of the story that you begin to realize everyone’s got a fault to play. When you see Haman in this story, he’s coming to the king and he’s presenting a one-sided half truth to get the king to buy-in to what he is saying. And here’s how it goes. “There’s a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom.” That’s true. Jews are scattered all over the kingdom. That’s true. And he says, “Their laws are different from those of all other people.” That’s half true. They do have some laws that are unique, but it’s not totally foreign to what’s happening in Persia. So he tells the half truth, and then here comes the lie. “And they do not comply with the King’s laws.”

That’s not entirely true. In fact, the only place that we find that that’s not been true is just been the one time Mordecai didn’t bow. There are times when the Jews won’t obey the Persian law if they’re obedient Jews, because they won’t violate their position with God. But you see what Mordecai’s doing. He started on the basis of the truth to get to a half truth, tell an outright lie in order to produce what he wants.

Their laws are different from those of all the other people and they do not comply with the King’s laws. And here it goes, “So it is in the King’s interest to let them remain.” We’ve got to do something about this king. So here’s this proposal in verse 9. “If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be eliminated and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who carry out the King’s business to put into the King’s treasury.”

When you look at this verse, it’s a ridiculous amount of money that Haman says. It’s just showing that his hatred for getting rid of these Jews is so high that he is going to pay an absurd amount of money just to allow the king to let this take place. The way that he scratches the King’s back is saying this, “Not only are we getting rid of a thorn to you, king, but I’m going to make you rich. Can I do it?”

Mordecai’s hatred fuels in this circumstance and his hurt hurts. His hurt destroys. And then there’s King Xerxes, verse 12. How does Xerxes respond? He certainly has a responsibility as a king to take care of people, but Xerxes, this is your next blank, enables. Xerxes enables.

You see in verse 12, “Then the king’s scribes were summoned on the 13th day of the first month. It was written just as Haman commanded to the king’s satraps, to the governor’s who were over each province and to the officials of each people, each province according to its scripts, each people according to its language, being written in the name of the King Xerxes and sealed with the King’s signet ring.”

There’s no one at saying that can break this law. Once it’s sealed with the king’s ring, no one can break this law. Verse 13, “Letters were sent by couriers to all the King’s province to annihilate, kill and destroy all the Jews, both young and old, women and children in one day, the 13th day of the 12th month, which is the month of Adar and to seize their possessions as plunder. A copy of the edict to do be issued as law and every province was published to all the people so that they would be ready for this day.”

If we had half the zeal to tell people about Jesus, as they do just to pass some foolish law, this world would be different. But what does a king do? He enables. He doesn’t investigate. He doesn’t look into the details. He doesn’t determine what’s true, what’s not. But he enables to the point that he says, “Little babies with cute little baby cheeks, kill them. Pregnant moms? Who cares. Old grandpa rocking in his chair, can’t even hear you coming, take him out.”

That’s the rule. Xerxes has no concern for life and his desire at this moment is just to keep things simple and get rich. But then in verse 15, you see the response. The last word here describes it for us. “The couriers went out and speeded by the king’s orders.” This is to say, if you don’t wait on the Lord, if the Lord doesn’t lead your life, inevitably, this is where everyone ends up.

When a culture doesn’t walk with God, this is where the culture ends up. When you read Esther 3, we’re on a fast track to seeing. When a people group has no concern for the Lord in their lives as we’ve seen all the way through with Kings Xerxes, this inevitably is what happens to the people. “The courier went out, speeded by the King’s orders while the decree was issued at the citadel in Susa; and while the king and the Haman sat down to drink, the city of Susa was agitated. City of Susa was agitated.”

Some translations say confused. You could put either blank in there in the notes. Everyone is confused or everyone is agitated. When you don’t follow the Lord, this is where you end up. This is what the people are asking, is what do we believe? What in the world are we supposed to follow? Who do we follow? None of this seems right. Everyone’s been mad and at each other’s throat. No one has surrendered to anyone but themselves.

Now, all of us are confused and a little bit agitated as to what we’re supposed to do. Where is our next step? This is what happens in life when you become your own authority. When the actions that you take aren’t undergirded by anything other than yourself. At the end of the day, when things seem to get misaligned or you’re heading down a path that you’re not sure where it’s going or you don’t trust who you’re following, you’re left to wonder what in the world can you follow? Because in that moment, all that you followed is people. And now that people feel broken. Who is the ultimate authority?

Where do you go? I get to this moment, I ask myself, how would I feel as the Jews? Or how would I feel more specifically as Mordecai? I think most likely the Jews, when they see this law, would’ve started asked the question, “How in the world did this law come about? Where did this law come from?” They’re going to be thinking, “This was just out of nowhere. We’re just living in this kingdom. Now, all of a sudden, the kingdom decides he hates us? What’s responsible for this?”

And as they start to tell the story, people find out, well, it was Mordecai because Mordecai was upset he didn’t get acknowledged and Mordecai didn’t bow a Haman and Haman, it turns out, really hates you. Could you imagine being Mordecai walking around? You’d be thinking as a Jew.

Well, can we just take out Mordecai and get rid of this law? Is that a possibility? The loneliest person on planet earth and on this day had to have been Mordecai and all of it, all of it could have been avoided if Mordecai had just waited on the Lord. Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.”

How do you do that? You know how a verse like this exists? It exists because this isn’t always easy. We, as people, get impatient. We want to take matters in their own hands and force things to happen and retaliate. This type of thought is repeated many times throughout the bible, especially in the Psalms. Wait for the Lord.

How do we do that? Important to grow in this lesson because your soul can learn to have peace in chaos. So many biblical heroes struggled with this. Abraham, given a command and a promise by God that through him, his people would be blessed and we find in the life of Abraham, he gives up his wife twice because he gets concerned and doesn’t wait for the Lord. And knowing that through his lineage, all nations would be blessed. He tries to go outside of God’s commands for him and have a child outside of Sarah in order to help God fulfill that promise.

He didn’t wait for the Lord. Or Moses doesn’t go into the promise land because he strikes a rock when God tells him not to. Or Moses is promised to deliver his people and one day he grows impatient when he is in Egypt and he kills an Egyptian military leader, who’s striking the Jewish people and Pharaoh finds out and wants to kill Moses and Moses has to run for 40 years and hide because he didn’t wait for the Lord.

God’s people struggled with this. Peter denies Jesus and Mordecai didn’t get recognized. They didn’t wait for the Lord. They were fixated on their problems and couldn’t see God moving in a bigger way. How do we wait for the Lord?

Let me give you three answers to end today and we’ll go through these quickly, but point number one, the first thing that we should demonstrate while we’re waiting on the Lord is this, keep your character consistent with Christ’s character no matter the circumstance. Keep your character consistent with Christ’s character, no matter the circumstance.

It’s easy to believe because an injustice has happened to you, that you then should have the position to retaliate with hate. When we have been treated poorly, we oftentimes feel like it gives us a platform to behave poorly.

Learning to walk within character and not compromising who we are is an essential part of waiting for the Lord. It’s never right in any circumstance to degrade another human being. To Mordecai, this whole thing could have been stopped in the beginning to remind him, I know you’re angry in this moment, but it’s never right in any circumstance, even to leverage your Jewishness as if it’s some sort of special privilege. It’s never right in any circumstance to degrade another human being.

God tells you to honor those in authority. It’s also important to remind us because you never regret or you rarely will regret, I should say, what you don’t say. It’s not common you find someone on Twitter or MySpace. Twitter or Facebook, Twitter or Facebook. I’m old. Twitter or Facebook, apologizing for something they didn’t put on social media. You rarely regret in life what you don’t say.

But rather, God’s people should strive to make it hard for others to hate you. Make it hard for others to hate you. As Jesus says, “Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you.” When you think of Christ’s ultimate example, he loved the very person that was to betray him towards the final moments of his life. He washed the feet of Judas.

If the one that you follow would surrender to his enemies like that, who are we to ever treat people poorly? Our responsibility in life is to trust in the Lord, keep our character consistent with Christ’s character. And Christ’s character demonstrated a life of loving servanthood to the end. Romans 12:19 says this, “‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay,’ sayeth the Lord.”

When you see yourself needing to be the hero it’s stressful. When you feel like you’re the only one to fight for you at the end of the day, carrying all that weight, because you are responsible to save yourself. It’s stressful. But when you grow in your trust for a God who loves you, a God who promises that he’ll work all things together for good and he gives you a verse like, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” He’s saying to you, “Look, you can just spin around in circles and all your little strength to try to make something happen. But I promise you,” God would say, “I promise you that the way I’m going to work it out is going to be far greater than anything you’re going to do anyway. So why waste your energy?”

God will work it out for his glory, your good. Keep your character consistent with Christ’s character, when we talk of waiting in the Lord. Point number two is this, hold on to truth in the love no matter the costs. Hold on to truth in love, no matter the cost. And you get three examples of how to do this between these three different characters.

With Xerxes, sometimes you might find it’s easier to sweep things under the rug. Xerxes kind of ignores it, doesn’t do anything about it. He could investigate just a few of questions to find out whether or not what Haman saying’s accurate. But Xerxes doesn’t care. He just wants to keep the peace. Let’s just sweep it under the rug. I want to remind you that in scripture, the Bible doesn’t call you to be a peacekeeper. The Bible calls you to be a peacemaker. That’s what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount. “Be a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper.” Peacekeeper, let’s just sweep it under the rug and ignore it. It’ll probably go away. Forget that there’s a mound piling up underneath.

A peacemaker understands what truth is and they pursue it lovingly for the benefit of everyone. God calls us to be peacemakers. That means you can approach difficult circumstances. You can. But to be consistent in your character, when you do it. Approach the adversity, but do it in love.

Be consistent with who Christ is or you could be like Haman or you paint the half truth. You just want enough to leverage what you want to accomplish in the moment. You don’t really care about the wellbeing of everyone else. There’s just me in this moment because I’m the one that’s hurting. So you just create this half truth only to make you look good, because what you desire is to elevate you, not you specifically, but we’re talking about someone arbitrarily here, okay.

Or maybe you, it could be you. I don’t know. Or three. When you look at Mordecai and he simply wants to leverage the injustice for his gain solely. He knows he hasn’t been treated rightly and he wants everyone to know that and he uses Haman as that person to demonstrate this. No one acknowledged me.

Guys, I want you to know, it’s a challenge when you have the truth, not to get all emotional about it and over demand. And what I mean is God’s people especially need to be careful with the truth of God’s word, to not use it to abuse people, but to help people. That’s the danger with truth. When you know, you’re in the right and other people are in the wrong, you make the point about other people seeing that you’re right and they’re wrong. We see the purpose of truth of again, just elevating me. So everyone knows that I am the smartest person in the room and that’s not the point of truth.

The truth is intended to set people free. That those that embrace it would find themselves in freedom. When God calls us to go into this world as a light, it’s not to go into this world and just to prove everyone’s wrong and we’re right. That’s not what God calls us to. God calls us to rescue people.

God calls us not to fight against people, but to fight for people. To find where people are and to love them as Jesus would love them and help them take their next step on their journey with him. It’s truth and love. We keep your character consistent with God’s character. We hold the truth in love.

The last is this, we patiently rest in God’s promises, no matter the adversity. We patiently rest in God’s promises, no matter the adversity. When you think of God’s promises, God’s promises are important to remember, especially in adversity. We wrestle with truths when we’re challenged. But those are the great places to see that God is faithful.

And we ask questions like, “Do I believe God is good? Do I really believe?” When you’re facing adversity and you want to just lean into your own flesh and react rather than respond and to deliver someone the truth, to show them that you’re right. Rather than do that, we go through this place of reminding ourselves of God’s promises, “Do I really trust Lord? Do I believe God is good? Do I believe God is in control? I believe he knows where I am. Do I believe he knows what I need? Do I believe he cares for me? Do I believe he can work all things together for his glory and my good?”

Do I really believe that? Romans 12:12 says this, “Be patient in tribulation. Be patient in tribulation.” You know why it says that? Because we’re often not patient in tribulation. It’s to take a step back for a moment recognizing who is ultimately in control, figuring out how to stay consistent in our character, how to use the truth, not to beat people up, but to find the circumstance set free for those involved and to patiently rest in the promises of God.

Wait for the Lord. Wait for the Lord. The beautiful thing when we wait for the Lord is at the end of the day, we get to lay our head down on a pillow. You don’t have any regrets when you walk with integrity. You don’t have to churn with your energy when you know you’re trusting in the hands of a God who is greater, a God who is for you, a God who will ultimately resolve it.

Almost what Joseph said in Genesis 50:20. He says to his brothers, “You intended for what you did to me for evil, but God meant it for good.” Or in Daniel 3:16-18, when Shadrach Meshach and Abednego when they didn’t bow and they’re finally brought before the king and they say, “Our God has the ability to rescue us. Before you throw us in this fire, we wanted you to know that our God has the ability to rescue us. But even if he doesn’t, we will refuse to bow to anything other than our God.”

Because they ultimately know no matter what happens, God will work it out. Here’s the reality for us guys, is when we think about waiting for the Lord, this issue at the end of the day, this issue is a gospel issue at work within us. As waiting for the Lord becomes a, a gospel issue for us because the question really we ask is, “Do you rest in the gospel or not? Do you see Jesus as who he says he is?” One who came and fought for you, one who was a victorious in death and sin to offer you life.”

Based on the power of his resurrection, everything he promises, do you believe he will fulfill it? It’s a gospel issue. Here’s how we’re going to end together. I’m going to invite you to stand with me.

We’re going to partake of communion to end our service. We’re going to turn it over to the band to sing in just a moment. Waiting for the Lord is a gospel issue. It’s a reminder of what Christ has done for you that you could put your trust in him and continue to grow in that trust toward him and in him. Jesus paid everything for you that you could find your heart resting in his presence no matter the chaos around. That, God is for you, that God loves you. (silence)

Messy Grace

A Coming to Jesus Moment