Close

What Type of Kingdom Are You Building?

01.16.22 Nathaniel Wall

  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

What Type of Kingdom Are You Building?

01.16.22 Nathaniel Wall Esther: Such a Time as This Series

I’m going to invite you to the Book of Esther. We’re going to start a new series today in the Book of Esther. The major theme of the Book of Esther is for such a time as this, and it’s, I think, a very fitting phrase for us to think of when we read the Book of Esther. Esther is a book written almost 2,500 years ago, a little over 400 years book for the time of Jesus. And Esther, like a lot of the Old Testament, is a book of a hot mess, right? And so when you live your life and you think life doesn’t always go the way that you want, and you’re looking for the hand of God to sort of direct you in a moment that seems complicated and difficult. You’re looking for the Lord in the phrase that’s very similar to Esther for such a time as this, God, like if you’re ever going to show up, let it be in this moment.

And that is the Book of Esther. In fact, a lot of the Old Testament, if you’re doing our yearly Bible reading and you’re in the Old Testament, we’re somewhere in the middle of the Book of Genesis somewhere, I think, chapter 35, 36, something like that in the book of Genesis, if you’re reading through the Old Testament. And already you should have, if this is even your first time through the Bible, look at it and you should be able to see first 35 chapters. Man, life was messy then just like today, right? If you ever want to feel good about yourself, just read the Old Testament, right? It is a hot mess in motion, and sometimes if you look at your own life, look at the Old Testament, you kind of see some correlations. Like my family life feels, the dynamics feel broken and messed up.

You read the Old Testament and you’re like, ah, my tribe. There’s some connection here and God still loves them, cares about them, moves forward with them. And the same’s true in the Book of Esther. You read this book and you see there is a lot of things to talk about that go wrong. And what’s interesting about this book is that God has not mentioned specifically though. I think the Lord is certainly implied. And I find a lot of correlation to our lives that way that we think about the things of God, we read versus like Matthew 10:29, the Bible tell us that God cares even about the sparrows of the sky. And if God cares about the sparrows of the sky, how much does he care for you?

Even the hairs on your head, God knows every hair on your head. That’s how much God cares about you. And you read verses like that, and you think, that’s great for everyone else, but I feel like the anomaly to what God says, where is God and his presence in my life? And I think the Book of Esther relates to us in that way. God’s people are going through a hard moment, and they really need the Lord to show up. And if they feel distant to the Lord, they’re going to be asking the question, God, how do I find you? How do I meet you in this chaos, this mess? And the Book of Esther shows us, reveals to us how the Lord intervenes for his people in way sometimes we’re not even aware. And so you see the providence of God in collision here with human responsibility.

And God has not specifically spoken about here though his presence is implied. And anytime you go through an Old Testament book, I’d like you to see just how it lays out in correlation to the Old Testament. If reading the Bible is something new to you, picking up the Bible feels a little overwhelming to you, sometimes having an understanding of how the Bible fits together works for us. We call the first portion of our Bible, the Old Testament,. We divide our Bible in two sections, old Testament, New Testament. We call the first portion of the Old Testament. Unless you’re Jewish, referring to it as old is an insult, right? The Jews refer to the old Testament as the TaNaKh. There is no New Testament, it’s just the Testament. It’s the TaNaKh to them. It’s not old. But for us, we separate it between the Old and New Testament.

If you were to pick it up and start reading it today, the Old Testament is not written in chronological order. That’s not how it flows from beginning to end. You’ll find some books repeat themselves. If you get to 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, a lot of those stories are intertwining. And so when you open up the Old Testament, it’s to understand the Old Testament is broken down according to literary genre. And so if you grab some notes this morning, some sermon notes, you’ll see on the back of those notes, this little cheesy chart that I drew for you with all of my artistic abilities. But you’ll see there’s, on the left hand side, this column of how the literary genres are broken up in the Old Testament. The first 17 books are the historical books.

The next five books are poetic and proverbial books. If you were to find, for example, the Book of Esther this morning in the Bible, if you flipped generally to the middle of the Bible, you’d find the Book of Psalms. And if you go back two books, the next book place that would be Job and then previous to that would be Esther. The Book of Psalms is usually right in the middle of the Bible. That’s one of the five poetic books. And the Book of Psalms spans about 1,000 years of written history. And then the 17 books that end your Bible are the prophetic books. And the prophetic books, you can even them break into various sections. I’ve broken them down into three for you in this chart. The ones that are before Israel goes into captivity, then there’s a few books written in captivity and the few books after captivity.

And so if you want a general timeline of how the Old Testament breaks down at the very bottom, you’ll see that there’s God in creation. Then through the time of Abraham and then to Moses, which is in the Exodus. God brings Israel out of slavery in the Exodus. And then they go into this conquest stage where they take over the promised land that God had provided for them. And then into a kingdom stage where they have Kings ruling and reigning, and then the kingdom is divided. And then they start to be conquered. The 10 Northern tribes of Israel. Israel has 12 tribes, the 10 Northern tribes separate from the two Southern tribes. The 10 Northern tribes go into captivity by Syria and 722 BC. The Northern tribes never return. The Southern tribes go into captivity in 606 into 586.

There are three waves of captivity that they go into by the Babylonians. And they’re in captivity for 70 years before they’re able to return. And then the last three books after captivity are the books we’re going to find ourself in today, the Book of Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah. Those books are the last recorded historical books that you have in the Old Testament before they go into 400 years of silence, and then Jesus. So, the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi is also the last prophetic book written. After Malachi is written, there’s nothing written for hundreds of years until you get to the New Testament. Over 400 years of silence. And then you get to the New Testament with the gospel. So, that gives you a little bit of a layout into the Book of Esther. But the beautiful part of Esther is that it’s written really for regular people.

And it explains to us really for Israel and for us, how they came to celebrate the holiday of Purim, a translation means the rolling of the dice. God’s people, their life hung in the balance by the rolling of a dice. There was a man that hated Israel. He wanted to see them all massacred and killed. He decided up on a day in which that would take place. He persuaded the king to do that. And the way that he decided up on the day was he just threw some dice and where it landed, that was the day that he encouraged the king to create a law to kill God’s people. And so it Israel finds themself turning to the Lord and seeking his protection and his guidance for such a time as this. And this story doesn’t start without the king of Persia or Mito Persia, I’ll deal with it in chapter one verse one. This is how it starts.

It says, “Now it happened in the days of Ahasuerus,” some of your translations, rather than say Ahasuerus would say, Xerxes. I find Xerxes easier to say. So, sometimes I will not say Ahasuerus. I’ll just throw in the word Xerxes, where Ahasuerus is. Xerxes is his Greek name, Ahasuerus is his Hebrew name. It’s the in person, but he’s reining over the Mito Persians as king. It happened the days of Xerxes that Xerxes who reigned from India to Kush over 127 provinces. In those days as King Xerxes sat on his Royal throne, which was at the Citadel in Susa. When you study about this guy, he was a piece of work. He was born into royalty silver spoon in mouth. He ruled, it tells us from India to Kush, which is about the modern day size of the United States of America.

It gives you some kind of a correlation. Went as far east as India, and as far west, all the way into Africa, into the Northern parts of Egypt. He dominated what was at that time, the known world. And this guy thought so highly of himself. Wherever he went, especially as they went into military battle, this guy didn’t walk. This guy had people carry him on his throne. I mean, he was all about himself wherever he went. I think he’s depicted, I believe in the movie, one of the popular movies, and I’m not endorsing this, but I think he’s in the movie 300. At the end of it being carried on a throne with his soldiers going into battle against the Spartans. But wherever he went, he just thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. And his kingdom in this part of the story, it tells us in verse verse one and two is in Susa. And it’s it’s in modern day Iran, just north of the Persian Gulf.

So, he had actually two castles. He had his summer home and his winter home. And Susa is his winter home. It says in the area of Susa that it was hotter than eighties in the summertime, but in the wintertime, it was a great place to vacation. If you were to compare it to somewhere in America today, we’re talking about Phoenix, right? You don’t want to be there in the middle of summer, but in the wintertime, it’s a great place to get away from the snow, if you ever want to take a break. And so that is where Caesar Xerxes is ruling and reining at this point. And then in verse three, it goes, “And he’s in the third year of his reign.” So, he is about middle to upper thirties at this point.

“And he held a banquet for all of officials and his lieutenants, the army officers of Persia.” And this looks like, I know it looks like media, but it’s pronounced Madai. The nobles and the officials of his province in his presence at that time, he displayed the riches of his royal glory. So, you think 127 provinces and he’s carrying out a time of celebration, of a great banquet for all of his leaders and officials and parts of his army to come to his place of residence in Sasa, his castle, where he’s ruling and reigning. People estimate that this number would’ve been easily tens of thousands, some say as high as 50,000. He’s leading this banquet to celebrate and to invite people around him. And here here’s what’s interesting. When he talks about his army and royal officials, this guy had, it said, that the army that protected him was as numerous as 10,000.

I’ve seen presidential motorcades. I was just in another country a few weeks ago and I saw the motorcade of their leader in that country. Every time you got a leader of a country going somewhere, there’s always a group that goes with them to protect him. You got a few dozen cars, at least. Sometimes some countries, if it’s a little bit more concerning for the protection of their leader, you might find more than that. Nobody is rolling as deep as the king of the Mito Persians, right? 10,000. And here’s the deal breaker in all of it that just trumps, I think, any motorcade or any protection you’ll ever see against some governing leader. The group that protected this guy, 10,000 is about half the size of the jazz arena. They were referred to in history as the Immortals, right?

If you’re going to think of, what kind of secret service do you want behind you? Do you want some Vikings? Do you want some samurai? Do you want some Spartans? I’m not taking any of those. I’m taking the group called the Immortals, right? That is an incredible group of people to protect you. And that’s who Xerxes had guarding him. And Xerxes invites this group, the political leaders of all of his provinces to come to celebration this banquet that he’s holding. And it tells you in verse four, what is his motivation in this? Is it because he’s a king that loves to serve his people and just wants to show his appreciation for them? No. Not Xerxes. His motivation is to his glory. His motivation is all about himself.

Xerxes in this time period, the ruler of the Mito Persians was looked at as basically God in the flesh. And he was worshiped as such. And his interest is that people continue to promote his glory. And I’ll often remind my boys of this. Something as a father I just repeat to them frequently is, when you live life for your glory, it’ll treat other people as tools and inevitably hurt them. But when you live life for God’s glory, it will see the blessing of who other human beings are and you will bless them. All right. Life for your glory will just leverage people and things all for you, and it will diminish the image of God and others. But life for God’s glory will elevate the image of God and other people, and you will live your life to bless them.

And here in the story, you see the kind of person that Xerxes is. His interest isn’t for the wellbeing necessarily of his people, unless the wellbeing of his people is what promotes him. And so we invite him banquet if in the end for that banquet, it’s not about them, but rather it’s all about him, and people think that he is great. And so his purpose in life is very selfish in its motivation. And you see within these first four verses the selfish heart of Xerxes. But what you find through the selfish heart of Xerxes, then point number two, is the destructive life of Xerxes. Look at this, the second half of verse four goes on this way, “And the splendor of his great majesty for many days, he did the celebration 180 days. 180 days, Xerxes leads a celebration with tens of thousands of people.

If there is one job in this providence that is going to be secure, it’s the chef, and the bus boys that are taking care of all of this. But if there’s one job that I am sure I do not want during this time period, it has to be those positions. Thousands of people for 180 days that you’re constantly serving. Some of us, we get through the Christmas holiday and we’re like, Ooh, I am so glad that is done. We don’t have to do that again until next year. And for them, it’s the Christmas celebration every day for half of the year. And when these days were finished, the king held a banquet lasting seven days for all the people who are present at the Citadel Susa from the greatest to the least in the courtyard of the garden of the King’s palace.

What is he creating a picture of is this is? This is the image of Vegas meets Madrigal meets frat party. That’s what’s happening here with Xerxes in his leadership, inviting all these people, 180 days. It’s just absolute chaos. And there’s really no concern other than seeking after your own pleasure. And it gets so big that people say, at its pinnacle point especially these last seven days, some estimate as many as 50,000 people at one time at this celebration. Just for future knowledge when reading a text like this, I want to identify for you in verse five when it talks about the courtyard of the garden of the King’s palace. The very end of verse five. The word for the courtyard of the garden is actually, in the new Testament, it’s the same word for the word paradise.

When Jesus hung on the cross and he looked at the thief and he said to him, “You will be with me this day in paradise.” That word for paradise became a picture of heaven. When this idea of this garden in Persia became so influential of people’s understanding of heaven, that Jesus and Jews in the first century would use that word interchangeably with the celestial kingdom. That the Persian word for paradise was the same Jewish word for the celestial kingdom of God. And they viewed these paradises, these gardens, these menageries as this place of tranquility, this place of peace, of comfort, of luxury. It was a place only the wealthy possess.

It wasn’t just at the King’s castle, but it was in other locations among the wealthy as well. But their view of heaven was described much that way, that it was that place that welcomed you in that you found comforting to your soul and refreshing to your life. And Jesus looking at thief at the cross, he correlated heaven that way to him. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, first four verses connected the celestial kingdom of God to the idea of the Persian word for paradise.

And this is Xerxes throwing his party in these Royal areas. And then it goes on and says in verse six and seven, describes to us just how elaborate Xerxes was and his lifestyle. It says, “There were curtains of fine white and vile linen held by chords of fine purple linen on silver rings.” And you think in Xerxes day, and even up until Jesus’ day, if you could own something purple, you were considered the rich of the rich. These are the Rolls Royce people of life, right? And so he had these purple, and not just purple linens, you think in a castle how many windows you’re going to have and all of this purple just hanging in there. But it’s not just purple. It’s hung on silver rings. How many of you, when you look at your windows you’re loaded up with these silver rings, right?

And then it’s marble columns on couches of gold and silver. Not so much one for comfort, but definitely lavish lifestyle, right? Couches of silver and gold on mosaic floor, porphyry of marble on, I love saying it this way, sweet mother of Pearl, right? And then mineral stones and drinks were served in golden vessels of various kinds. And the royal wine was principle and proportion to the king’s [inaudible 00:19:26]. This is not just wine in a box. This is King’s wine, right? And you can imagine if you’re the bus boy of these parties, 50,000 people, and you’ve got to clean the cup for every meal, and you’re doing multiple meals a day. You would be like, okay, washing golden cup, 49,999, 50,000. Good. They’re all here. No one’s stolen. Let’s get them back out and start this over again. And this is the kind of luxury of this kingdom.

And in verse eight, “But the drinking was done according to the Royal law. There was no compulsion, so the king had driven orders to each official of his household that he was do as each person pleased.” What it’s saying in this passage is there’s no moral compass. I’m going to throw a party and I don’t care what happens. You feel like bar fight, bar fight, you take advantage of something or someone, take advantage of someone or something. There’s no compass. There’s no limit to the drinking. You just get as crazy as you want, and that’s the kind of party that Xerxes is leading here. Whatever is best for you, that’s what we want. That’s the theme of the party. Some people read the first eight verses of Xerxes’ life and conclude, this is exactly what I want, right? No responsibility, take everything I’ve got, just show off who I am so people think I’m great.

And everyone just do what you. That’s the whole theme of life. Whatever makes you happy. There’s no limit to that and just go for it. And whatever’s best for you, that’s not just the theme of Xerxes. I mean, that’s kind of the general idea of America. The whole point of life is you. Whatever’s best for you, that’s what you should pursue because as long as you’re happy, because you’re king of life, then that’s what you need. And you should justify any purpose in which to achieve that goal. What I want is most important.

That’s Xerxes’ idea that’s many people’s idea today. But when you read about Xerxes’ kingdom, what you find is inevitably it leads to destruction. And truthfully what we want is not what’s most important, rather what we should find ourselves seeking is what God desires, because what God desires is best. When you consider just these eight verses of Xerxes’ life and where this leads, just think about it. 180 days of neglecting your responsibilities. For Xerxes, this was just the tip of the iceberg on the debauchery of his life. In fact, some people say the last 15 years of life, he really paid little attention to anything related to governing. He only indulged himself in his pleasures. But in this case, 180 days of neglecting his responsibilities, the theme of the party is get wasted and drunk. There’s no repercussions for your actions.

And inevitably in this type of environment, decision making just starts to go out the window. And when you read about the lifestyle of these parties during the Mito Persians, what happens is women were treated as tools, and taken advantage of and used as sources of entertainment for the men’s pleasure. No one cares about what happens to the wealth as long as it’s just used for selfish purposes. And what you find is that Xerxes’ behavior ultimately really ends up hurting his kingdom, his people. Human beings are devalued at the party, especially women. And what you’re not reading in these 180 days outside of this party is, what about the people in the kingdom that have needs? What about the poor? What about the broken? What about the homeless? What about the orphan? What about the sick? What about the elderly? You’re going to use all of this wealth for you just to show that you could throw a great party, so people think you’re great at the expense of the people that you’re responsible for?

What kind of king is that? What kind of life is that? If we draw all tension away from Xerxes for just a moment, realize we may not have the expanse of a kingdom that Xerxes has, but all of us represent some sort of kingdom. It may just be a little place that you call home, but you have responsibility and that responsibility influences. But if you just use that for your glory, inevitably it comes at the expense of others. And how do we ultimately know it leads to destruction? Verse 12 starts to show a hint of this. We’re going to talk more about this next week, but it says,” Queen Vashti refused to come to the King’s order delivered by the union.” So, at one point, the king said, bring me Vashti, we’ll talk about why next week. But she refused.

And no one tells God, no, or at least Xerxes as he says he sees himself God. And because he thinks the world is all about him, when someone tells him no, his response is to become destructive in his behavior because life is all about him being at the center. When people disobey him at the center, then he’s seeing them as tools for his entertainment. He has the opportunity to then react to that. It’s the same thing for us. When we think the purpose of life is all about making me happy, because I’m the king of my world. When someone tells you no, the type of response in that interaction then is to become vindictive or aggressive towards is another person, because they didn’t serve the interest that you desired, because life is all about you. Not you specifically. It sounds very accusatory, but someone. If we get selfish and see the motivation about us.

And so it says, “So, the king became very angry and his wrath burned within him.” Destruction. I can’t get what I want, I will make it happen. You’re supposed to serve me because life is about me. When you read this book, one of the sorrowful things that you find is no one talks about God, no one prays, no one confesses. It’s all about self glory and self glory leads to destruction. Xerxes is accountable to no one. He answers to no one because he sees himself as God. So, let me ask you, just some thoughts to ponder as we just consider Xerxes. What would you do differently if you had no accountability? No law. If you had all the power and resources in life like Xerxes, who would you be?

Would you be different than the person that you are now? What would change? For some of us, that’s a scary thought because our character might be dictated by our accountability. It’s not really the genuineness of our heart, it’s just who we find ourselves being simply because there’s an authority over us. I mean, Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” A quick way to know the kind of person that we might be if we are not governed by anything or have no responsibilities, maybe simply ask this question, what kind of person are you when you’re all alone and no one else is in the room? Where do you go? What do you do?

What do you think about? Or maybe we could say it like this. If everyone in the room was able to see your thoughts, if your thought life could be exposed, the kind of things that you think, desire and gravitate towards. If the people in this room could see it, would they be shocked by the things that you think, the places that you go in your mind and what you desire? For some of us, the only reason we aren’t like Xerxes isn’t because we lack the desire, simply because we lack the opportunity. What I mean is, we talked about Xerxes taking advantage of women at this party. It’s known and documented that Xerxes had a very extensive harem in his life. And he devoted a lot of attention to that harem. Some of us may not have a harem, right? I don’t want to endorse that or encourage any stretch of the imagination. You may not have a harem like Xerxes, but maybe you have a hard drive at home that would shame anything Xerxes has done.

Maybe you wouldn’t get wasted drunk like these parties that Xerxes leads, but maybe you watch television shows that endorse that type of behavior. Maybe you don’t have the type of addictions that are described here in alcoholism, but maybe you do struggle with addiction to something. I know sometimes it’s easy for us to say, well, if I won the lottery and I got 10 million, I would give so many millions to charity, right? But I can’t do it now because I don’t really have that much. So, it only can come when I get to that point in life where I have that much wealth. Then when I have that much wealth, then, then I’ll start to do the godly things that I know that I should do with the resources God gives me in life. You know the encouragement in the Bible is never about the amount that you have.

The reality of scripture talks to us about whether or not we’re faithful with what God has given. Your faithfulness to what God has given as an indicator of where your heart truly is. When you have more, it doesn’t all of a sudden necessitate that you will be more godly with those things. But rather when you have little, it’s an indication of where your heart will go when you have more life. In fact, Jesus said as much in Luke 16, he says this, “The one who is faithful in a very little thing, is also faithful and much.” And the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much.” He said, you don’t all of a sudden become godlier when you have more, in fact, your problems might grow bigger. You might become even more ungodly. It works kind of like this.

When you parent your children, the Bible tells us in the book of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up your child in the way you should go. Even when he is older, he will not abandon it.” So, it works like this. Don’t wait to start training your children when they’re older in life and how to pursue a godly life. Because by that point, it’s too late. You want to see success in your kids, you got to start when they’re young. You want to start to help them understand the disciplines of what it means to follow after the Lord and living a life that’s not about them, but about using the things that God has given them to bless others. Because when they’re little, their problem are little. Little kids, little problems, but when they get older, their decisions have bigger consequences.

You don’t all of a sudden become more godly because you have more. You display the godliness now, so that if God ever blesses you with more, you can use it for his glory, but in either way, you’re using it for his glory. Maybe I said it in a different way for Luke 16, “Don’t wait until tomorrow to be the person God calls you to be today. Be who God calls you to be right now.” So, how do you find a better way forward? All that negative talk of Xerxes and the challenges of our own heart, how do we find a better way forward? There’s the type of kingdom that Xerxes builds, but we don’t want to live for that kind of kingdom. And we want to build that kind of kingdom.

How do we build the kind of kingdom that God calls us to? The kind of kingdom that’s not for our glory, but for his glory and blesses others. Proverbs 4 says it like this, “Above all else,” meaning here comes the priority of what we should make. “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it. So, he tells us to guard, but he gives us a reason that we should guard. And the reason we should guard is that God has given you something sacred.

God has given you something sacred. And what has he given you? Your heart. It’s the core of who you are, it will determine how you live. It is so essential to the type of life that you will produce. God’s desire right here, above all else, guard your heart. And when he uses this phrase of guarding, he really creates an image in our mind of how we’re to guard you. You’re guarding like a soldier at the city gates. Guard your hearts. What you’re protecting in your city is the core of who you are. It is your heart at the center of this city. Guarded it like a soldier responsible for the gates. And the soldier responsible for the gates, he dictates what comes in and what comes out. And knowing that he cares for that city, what he wants in is the things that are going to bless that city and what then he lets out are the things that will bless this world.

What he provide in nurtures the health of the community and therefore what he lets out nurtures the health of everything around it. Guard your heart that way, protect it. It is sacred. It is a gift because from it will flow something. And what will flow from it is determined by what you let into it. Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. When you look at the life of Xerxes, he didn’t become the kind of man he was overnight. He became this kind of man over time. He invested certain things into his heart, into his life that determined his steps. And the same’s true for us. When I think about being a Christian, being a Christian isn’t about rules. Being a Christian is about relationship. Knowing God, walking with him. But in knowing God and walking with him, we’re also called to be a disciple.

And the root word for disciple is discipline. It means we follow particular disciplines in our lives that shape our hearts to better follow our king, who is Jesus? So, how do we nurture a heart that from it flows blessing rather than destruction? Can I end by just giving you quickly five things? Just five things, it’s at the bottom of your notes. You can fill these in quickly as we go along, but five things to nurture a healthy heart that help us in a pattern of discipline, that makes us a better disciple that blesses in this world. These are not hard, fast rules. These are proverbial thoughts that if you think to yourself, you’re right, there are pieces of me that are like Xerxes. I don’t want to be like Xerxes, but rather I want to be like Jesus. And here he goes. Point number one, give God the first hour of the day.

When you start your day, align your heart with a thing that will produce the fruit that Jesus desires. Start your day by giving God the first hour of it. Point number two, give God the first day of the week, Psalm 63:1 says, “Early will I seek you, my soul earnestly desires you.” Hebrews 10:25 says, “Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” Meaning as God’s community, there’s not a law that we say that we have to worship on Sunday. That is not New Testament. There is an Old Testament law for Sabbath. There’s not a New Testament law. But for us, what is important is that God’s community still finds a way to gather because we’re supposed to spur one another on according to Hebrews 10:23 to love and good heeds. And we should not, verse 25, for safety assembling of ourselves together to do that. God, we thrive in community before the Lord.

And point number three, give God the first consideration in every decision. Rather than saying, life is about me, recognize life is about his glory. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean in your own understanding, and in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” Just to ask the question before you make a decision. There might be what I want, but what is it that God desires, and does my heart align with what God’s heart is? Point number four, give God the first portion of your resources. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” It’s to recognize this. The world looks at their possessions and they say that I own them.

Christians look at their possessions and say, the Lord owns them, I steward them. What it means is everything that God has given me, God didn’t have to give me. I could have been born anywhere else at any other time, but God let me be born here and with the things that I have. And they’re a gift. They’re a gift. My talents, the abilities God gave me, the way I think, the things that I can do, they’re all a gift. A gift that I’m responsible for, a gift that I steward for his glory. And I give God the first portion, because it indicates that my heart goes to him first and all things and the way that I live for him. And point number five is this, give God first place in your heart. Mark 12:30-31. “Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind.” What kind of kingdom do you desire to build?

Who do you desire to be? The investment you put in today will determine the kind of person you are tomorrow. There is a Xerxes of life that lives life for his glory, his purpose that leads to destruction of others. But then there’s a type of life that blesses, a type of life that mimics the Lord. And quite honestly, it’s a representation of the kingdom that our God already possesses. What you see this morning is really two kingdoms. A kingdom like Xerxes’ or a kingdom like God’s. And the question of our heart each day is which kingdom will I live for?

This message has been brought to you by Alpine Bible Church in Lehi, Utah. If you’d like more information, please visit us online at alpinebible.com.