"And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"
In the Book of Esther we find a woman who risks her life to save her people from extermination. Mordecai has urged Queen Esther to go to the king and plead for the lives of the Jews. Even though she is the Queen, going before the King unannounced could result in death. At first Esther is reluctant, and who can blame her? But then she agrees to do as Mordecai requests, saying "if I die, I die." The result is the salvation of all the Jews, including Esther. We often don't know why we're in a certain place at a certain time, and it may be that God has us somewhere that we really don't like. It could be a certain city, or job, or with a particular group of people. But what if God has positioned us there for a particular purpose, to accomplish something important for Him? It takes courage to look past our circumstances and submit to God's unseen plan, but if we only see the place where He has us as a burden and annoyance —something from which we wish to escape— we may miss what God has already prepared "for such a time as this."
"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;"
1 John 1:5-6
There is no darkness in God. None whatsoever. Anyone who walks with Him — who comes out of the darkness of wanting to go their own way into the light of going His way — understands this. The light of His truth illuminates all the dark places in our being and we see ourselves as we really are. Sinful creatures in need of a Savior. If this isn't obvious to each of us, then we need to ask ourselves if we really do have "fellowship with Him." Pride can deceive us into thinking we have all the light we need. But the truth is that kind of thinking only keep us in the dark. Who wants to stumble around in the dark when light is available?
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus didn't have to ask the disciples, "Who do the people say I am?" He knew what the people thought. He asked the question as a set up for the second question, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter, on behalf of all the disciples, gives a politically incorrect answer, "You are the [Messiah], the Son of the living God." After almost three years with Jesus, His followers knew and confessed the truth of who He is. Jesus has revealed His identity to us through scripture: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."--John 14:6
"I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.." --John 6:48
"I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." --John 8:12
"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." --John 10:11
"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." --John 11:25-26
Who do you say Jesus is? The answer is a matter of life and death.
"And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all."
By today's standards of a successful ministry, the Jerusalem church would look like a failure. They didn’t own a building, had no programs and very little money. The religious establishment harassed them and their leaders were in and out of jail for preaching Jesus Christ as “The Way” to salvation. But instead of folding under pressure, the church flourished, enjoying “the favor of all people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). The late Vance Havner said, “We are not going to move the world by criticism of it nor conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.” The truth of his words can be seen in the impact the early church had in spreading the gospel of Christ. A small group of believers “ignited by the Spirit of God” turned the world upside down. Holy Spirit power is no less available to us today than it was in the early days of Christianity. If we're not moving the world toward God, maybe it's because there's no internal combustion in our lives.
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."
1 John 4:18
God doesn't want His children to live in fear of judgment. The man who has placed his trust in Jesus Christ has nothing to dread. The woman who knows Christ as her Savior can approach God confidently. We "fear" God in the sense of reverence, as a child respects his father, but we do not cringe before the Lord. A believer in Jesus Christ has no fear of the past, present or future. Our sins have already been judged at the cross and God will not bring them against us again. God now treats us as He treats His own Son, whom He loves. There is nothing to fear in the future, for we can never be separated from the Lord. Death only ushers us into His glorious presence where He welcomes us home. If you are living in fear of God's judgment, it can only mean one of two things. Either you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior, or you have not yet been "perfected in love", which means you have not matured in your relationship with God. Fear departs from us as we grow in the love of the Lord.
"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."
Before the resurrection, do you imagine that the disciples could have fully grasped the power God the Father could exert? After having seen their crucified master again walking on earth, do you suppose Christ's followers prayed with greater belief and expectation? Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know the "surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. . ." (Ephesians 1:19-20). Surpassing greatness of His power. Resurrection power! If He can do such an unimaginable thing as resurrect His son, what can He not do? When we pray with a desire for His glory, not ours, He will hear us from heaven and use His power -- the very power that resides in believers today -- to accomplish even more than what we ask. Farmore. Abundantly far more. Abundantly beyond far morethan that which we can think to ask. Have you thought of something extraordinary? Have you asked God to do it? If not, why not? God can do more than that. He can do things you haven't even thought about.
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Another natural disaster struck our world this week. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan took many lives and left thousands of people homeless and without food and basic necessities. This is a time for Christians everywhere to pray for Japan. A good place to begin is to pray scripture. We can ask God to give courage to the victims and to make His presence known. To strengthen each person and carry them when they are too weak to go on. As God moves to answer our prayers, He may call on each of us to help the Japanese in a particular way. Let's be open to the Holy Spirit's prompting. We may be the answer to our own prayers.