January 22, 2006 when I was installed as the Senior Pastor
of this church and Bill Hybels preached a message on prayer,
he challenged all of us to pray. He talked to us about several
characters that appear in the bible from whom we should
pattern our prayers. Today, I want to share with you the
words of Bill Hybels when he said, "We can pray that
Robert would lead with the courage of Esther who said, 'I
will do God's bidding and if I perish I perish.'" And he went on to say, "Because some
things are worth dying for."
If you want to read the story of Esther it is in
the Old Testament. It is a wonderful story of an event that
took place in history, about 500 years before Christ was
born. There came a time where Esther had to really put everything
on the line. The
4th chapter of Esther beginning with verse 12 says:
Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, her cousin, he
sent back this answer; 'do not think because you are in
the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain in silence at this time
relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another
place and you and your father's family will perish.
Who knows but that you have come to royal position
for such a time as this.'
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai her cousin,
'Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast
for me. Do
not eat or drink for 3 days, night or day, I and my maids
will fast as you do. When this is done I will go to the king,
even though it is against the law and if I perish, I perish.' So Mordecai went away and carried out
all Esther's instructions. (Esther 4:12-17)
let me give you a little background.
Esther is a Jew. She is queen to King Xerxes of Persia
who was by all accounts the strongest king of his day and
remained so until Alexander the Great overcame that empire.
She became the queen and one of the prime ministers
came along and decided that they were going to exterminate
all the Jews. Can you believe it? There have been numerous times throughout
history where people have tried to exterminate the people
of God and this is one more time.
The queen has kept her identity secret; nobody knows
she is a Jew, except for her cousin Mordecai.
So now she has an opportunity to put her life on
the line and save her race or remain silent and hope that
somehow, someway she can keep her identity a secret.
we read these words and we look at her life, we discover
the prayer that we have been challenged to pray. The challenge
from Bill Hybels was this: "that we could pray that
your leader, Robert Anthony Schuller, being installed as
the Senior Pastor of this church would lead with the courage
of Esther, being willing if required to put his life on
the line in order to save this church, this congregation,
thousands of lives and the race of Jesus Christ. That's
our prayer." To be quite honest, that is my prayer
for you today. I have no doubt whatsoever that my life is
not worth the value of the lives of people who need to hear
this message on the Hour of Power. I would gladly give my life to sustain
the ministry of this church.
Because I know that the power of this ministry is
a penetrating, life changing, hope delivering message that
has the ability to do far more good than anything on planet
earth today. It
begins by realizing who we are in Christ Jesus. Esther had to come to the realization of who she was; not only
was she a queen but she was also a Jew; that she was in
a particular position where she could have influence to
make a difference in society and save her entire race.
you examine your life and you look at the different circumstances
and situations you've gone through in your life, every single
one of us without exception has a uniqueness which has put
us in a position where we have a destiny that we can fulfill
if we have the courage and say, "Okay, Lord, if it's
your will let me go." Then we can go.
But, like Esther we need some assurances.
Here is the assurance I have for you today.
These are the words of God and I'm quoting from Genesis. He says, "I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will
be a blessing. I
will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I
will curse and all the people on earth will be blessed through
are the words of God for us today, and it is imperative
for us to realize that God is in process of blessing us
every moment of every day.
who you are and as you know who you are you can seize the
opportunities in all of the obstacles of life because God
is in process of blessing you which means everything that
happens to you is in some way a blessing.
That doesn't mean we are going to go through life
without pain, in fact I can guarantee you will have pain
in life no matter what you do. The bible also says that the rain falls
on the just and the unjust.
It doesn't matter how good a Christian you are; it
doesn't matter how good of a person you are; it doesn't
matter how bright you are, how smart you are, how good looking
you are, how rich you are; you will suffer struggles and
pain. But every
single one of us can take that pain and we can learn to
receive the blessings of God in bountiful ways beyond our
imagination. We can turn our pain into gain.
Ten Boom was an example of another time in history where
people tried to exterminate the people of God. Corrie Ten
Boom was a woman who tried to help the Jews escape the hands
of Hitler. She
was a Dutch woman in Amsterdam and she helped with the Underground
Railroad and helped people hide and find their way out of
Europe. She was ultimately captured along with the rest
of her family and she was the only one who survived. She went on to become a tremendous teacher
of the church and there was a book written about her story
and her testimony called "The Hiding Place." In fact there was a movie made by the Billy Graham Association
by the same title.
What a wonderful, spiritual giant she was.
had the privilege of being able to sit with her in her home.
She would teach.
I'll never forget the day she pulled out a little
bottle. I couldn't
quite make out what was inside until she told me. Here's
the story she told.
She said, "I was bitter and angry.
My family members were dead.
I was alone. I was in prison. I wanted to die. I didn't believe in God. I didn't think He existed. I was angry with Him. I felt like I just wanted life to end
and I didn't even believe He existed.
And at that point I fell on my knees and I prayed
and said, 'God, if you are alive, if you are real give me
any sign that I might know that you are true.'"
She fell asleep praying that night and when she woke
up in the morning there was a beam of light that penetrated
through a crack in the walls and it went to the corner of
her cell and there in that cell she saw two blades of grass
and that was what was inside the bottle. Inside that small
bottle were two blades of grass to remind her of the presence
of God everywhere and in every situation. Every time we turn around in the bleakest,
darkest of nights God is there. He is bringing life and
hope and joy; and God is there.
He is there to turn our fear and our dread into relief
and assurance, to turn our sorrow and mourning into joy
and celebration, to turn our destruction and devastation
into restoration and victory.
gave the instructions to her cousin Mordecai to tell all
the Israelites to fast and to pray because she was going
to go to the king who was not allowed to rescind his decree.
She was going to ask him for a favor, if there would be
something he might be able to do to help stop the destruction
and the persecution of the Jews. The instructions were to
fast and pray. Fasting
and prayer take two things íV it's a physical action where we do something
physically and we combine it with prayer which is spiritual,
so it is a physical and a spiritual action in which we are
called to participate. If you are going through the most difficult
times of your life today, I beg you to do something physical
and spiritual that will let God know and people know that
you are serious about coming out of this and that you want
victory in your life today, and fasting and prayer may be
the thing you need to do. You may want to start very soon. March 1st was Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. Lent is the time in the church calendar,
45 days where many Christians decide to do something to
prepare them for Easter.
It is 45 days before Easter, that's the beginning
on Ash Wednesday. Many people decide to give something up for Lent and I think
it's a good thing, a physical thing. Last year my wife and
I gave up sugar and we never felt better in our life.
What a great way to give something up, to get something
back in return. I think we lost a couple pounds, I mean
it was great. If
you eat sugar I would highly recommend it, and I promise
you that no doctor will tell you, "you have to make
sure you get your regular content of sugar." So, I
think that is something everybody can do.
everybody can fast and I understand that, but I would recommend
giving up something of that nature where itíŽs
a physical sacrifice for 45 days. Then, I would take it
a step further. My father gave me these words a long time
ago, at least I heard it from him, and I am assuming they
are his words. It was,
"LENT = Let's Eliminate Negative Thinking."
that good? "Let's eliminate negative thinking."
If we could go 45 days without thinking negative
thoughts what would happen to this world in 45 days?
If we are going to eliminate negative thinking that
means we are going to think positive thoughts, we are going
to do positive actions. I want to encourage you for Lent
to participate in positive action íV do something good for somebody.
How about something as simple as taking the grocery
cart back to where it's supposed to go.
I'm down and when I'm really feeling low and I'm feeling
far from God and I need to feel closer to God I listen to
music. I listen
to the inspiring words of positive hymns.
Why don't you get a copy of our CD from Johnnie Carl's
beautiful, inspiring music and give it to somebody who needs
it today. Positive music, nothing lifts the soul
are so many things we can do to lend a hand of kindness,
it's the season. It's Lent, it's time to give up the negative and lift up the
time to realize that God is in the process of doing miracles
of redeeming lives, of bringing hope.
If you've read this message today and you think it's
something that people need to hear then tell them to listen
to the Hour of Power or go on line and listen to it on there.
Esther prepared herself physically and spiritually, with
fasting and prayer and then she made the move from tragedy
to triumph. The king wasn't able to rescind his decree but
he was able to give permission to all the Israelites to
take up arms and defend themselves against anyone who would
try to persecute them. So he accomplished the same thing and
the greatest tragedy in history became the greatest triumph.
was with a dear friend of mine recently and he gave me a
bronze plaque. It
He told me, "I give this to my good friends
and I want you to have it."
Then he told me the story of 46:10. He was a developer
and he was in a business. He was building a beautiful development;
it was one of his first projects. He had put everything he had into it, and it looked like he
was going to lose it all.
He got together with a friend of his and they went
up on a pinnacle rock and they prayed. As they started to
pray the wind started to blow and they prayed for about
15 minutes and the wind got fierce and fiercer, the more
they prayed. When
they said, "Amen," the wind stopped!
The Bible verse that was the center of their prayer
was Psalm 46:10, "Be still, be still and know that
I am God." There is a time in our lives when we do
everything we can and then we are still and realize that
it is the hand of God who directs, who leads, who lifts
us up, and who gives us the strength when we need it. When
Esther went before the king she was armed with only 2 things
íV God and prayer. The king didn't stand a chance! As we face our troubles
and our circumstances, we face our own destiny that God
has given to us and we stand ready to pray and do good things
today as we realize we truly are in the hands of God. "Be
still and know that I am God," and the Lord God Almighty
will fill you with the peace that transforms your understanding
and give you the strength to overcome the obstacles that
stand between you and the destiny that God has designed
for you today. So,
pray and know that our Redeemer lives!
Lord, you truly are a good, a gracious, a loving God.
You touch hearts, You touch minds, You touch lives
physically, emotionally and spiritually.
So it is our quest, O Lord that you will give us
the courage to move forward to receive the destiny you have
given to us. It is with faith and the assurance of things
not seen, that we have the conviction to move forward with
You, that we give you our all.
We love you, Lord. Amen.