Lord Jesus, we worship You, we worship at Your feet, those nail-pierced feet, we worship You. We lay everything we can at Your feet, for You are worthy - You're worthy of everything that we are and we have, and even the things that we struggle to give and relinquish. We say: Lord, help us to be made willing to lay everything at Your feet - for You are Lord of all, You are Lord of all, and so You deserve all. Lord Jesus, You gave all for us, and, Lord, what do we really give, at times, for You? But we want in this moment to give You our hearts, to give You our worship. Lord, we thank You that You are here with us, and so we pray, Lord, that we will, through the Holy Spirit's ministry, we will hear the communication from Your heart to ours. So come near, Lord, and open our minds and soften our spirits, unplug our ears, Lord - may the oil of the Holy Spirit be outpoured to soften, that we might be mouldable for the pouring out of the new wine into our skins. Lord, make us supple, make us mouldable, come, we pray - nearer still, nearer still, we draw near to You, You draw near to us, Lord. Thank You, Jesus; thank You, Father; and help me please, Lord, Amen.
Okay, we're turning to the book of Esther. It's good to be back with you in Loughbrickland, I have always fond memories of being here and it's a privilege to be with you again. I'm with you on Sunday night again - I haven't a clue what I'm preaching on, so you can pray that I will know by Sunday night hopefully! I have been preparing for a message for Sunday morning in my home church, that the Lord gave me last week when we were in a caravan on a bit of a holiday from Monday to Friday. It's not usual, but the Lord gave me a message out of the blue, and I've been preparing it this week for Sunday morning - but I really felt the Lord impressing me to bring it to you as well. Some of you are going to get a second blessing, because you're going to be where I am on Sunday morning as well! I believe that this is a message from the Lord, a prophetic message for you here, individuals and corporately. So we're turning to Esther, and we're going to read just nine or so verses of chapter 1, but we'll be jumping about the book - we haven't got time to read the nine chapters, but we will jump about through the story.
So verse 1: "Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twentyseven provinces, from India to Ethiopia), in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the citadel, that in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and servants; the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him; when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days in all. And when these days were completed, the king made a feast lasting seven days for all the people who were present in Shushan the citadel, from great to small, in the court of the garden of the king's palace. There were white and blue linen curtains fastened with cords of fine linen and purple on silver rods and marble pillars; and the couches were of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of alabaster, turquoise, and white and black marble. And they served drinks in golden vessels, each vessel being different from the other, with royal wine in abundance, according to the generosity of the king. In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had ordered all the officers of his household, that they should do according to each man's pleasure" - that basically means you could drink as little or as much as you wanted. "Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Ahasuerus" - and we will leave our reading there for the moment.
I want to speak to you about 'God's Door In Disaster' - that's the message, 'God's Door In Disaster'. Really there is a personal disaster in this book related to Esther as an individual, but there is also a potential national disaster for the Jewish people because Haman - the wicked man in this story - because Mordecai (that's Esther's cousin) would not bow down and worship him, he took an umbrage towards the Jews, which he obviously had originally, but it seemed to ignite this, and he just wanted to exterminate the whole Jewish people - to the extent that really what we're talking about here is a holocaust. So there is a personal disaster for Esther, but there is also a national disaster for God's people.
I want to first of all deal with the personal disaster, although they are intermingled. Ahasuerus, or Xerxes as he is also known, inherited the vast kingdom of his father, Darius - which was the Persian Empire. It's very hard for us to conceive of how great and large and empire this was. It really incorporated modern-day Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, and also part of Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Arabia - a vast swathe of influence across the known world. As a character, Xerxes was what we would call a hedonist. Do you know what a hedonist is? A person who worships pleasure and sensuality. He enjoyed drinking, as you can tell, he was able to pop the corks of wines that probably had been in the cellars for years, and for this whole feast you could drink as much as you liked of the finest fare of the vine. He was also into other forms of debauchery which will become very clear as we go through this story - and if you already know the story of Esther, you will be aware of that.
What we read about at the beginning of the book were three feasts that Xerxes ordered to happen. The first was - and this is staggering - for 180 days! That's 180 days, if you work out the maths, is half a year, isn't it? The second feast was a lot shorter, it was seven days, just one week - but it was for the citizens of Shushan, which was the capital of the Empire. Then the third feast was for the women, and in verse 9 you see that, and Vashti the Queen arranged that. Now imagine unlimited drinking for 180 days, and the men and women are segregated. Jewish tradition tells us that an argument broke out - surprise, surprise - between the men from different nations in the Empire. You understand that there are different nationalities in the Empire represented. It appears that the argument was over which country in the Empire had the most beautiful women. You remember that this is a feast that has been called by the King, Xerxes, and so that is the backdrop to verse 11 which we haven't read yet. But in that context Xerxes orders that his Queen be summoned from the women's feast, verse 11 says: 'Bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold'.
Now, you might be familiar with the story of Esther, but you may not be aware of this: it's believed that the inference here in this language is actually, could be translated like this, not literally but it is inferred, that Vashti was being called into the presence of the King and these other men to appear wearing only her royal crown. And the answer came from the Queen: 'No' - which you should not be surprised at! King Xerxes was furious. Already intoxicated with plenty of liquor, he is now intoxicated with pride, and probably infused and exhilarated by power - because he was vastly powerful. Now we know from history that he lacked great wisdom, but nevertheless he had power at his fingertips. You've got to understand that emperors in this type of era, they behaved like gods, they conceived of themselves as being gods. In fact, on one occasion we're told that Xerxes executed builders of a bridge because an ocean storm destroyed it. He also after that commanded that the water and the waves be whipped, and that the water be chained to punish the sea! So this is the type of character we're dealing with here.
The Queen refuses to come, and so Xerxes asks his advisers: 'What do I do now? I'm in an argument here, I'm top dog, these guys are arguing with me over who is most beautiful. I want my wife to come out and show that she is the most beautiful woman in the whole world, and she says no! What's going to happen now?'. This is a man who doesn't know what it is to be refused. Here's the advice that his advisers give in verse 17 of chapter 1: 'For the queen's behaviour will become known to all women, so that they will despise their husbands in their eyes, when they report, 'King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come'. This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media will say to all the king's officials that they have heard of the behaviour of the queen. Thus there will be excessive contempt and wrath'. Do you know what that means? If the Queen can get away with doing what she likes, every woman in the Empire will, and all the husbands will have headaches for the rest of their days! So the king sent an edict throughout the whole kingdom that gave male subjects the right to rule over their wives in all matters. But as well as that, there was a decree given that Vashti the Queen be put it away, and there should be a search for a new wife.
So the search begins in chapter 2, 'After these things' - and there is a period of a number of years there and, in between, we know from history that Xerxes tried to conquer Greece, which was a very strong power in the day. He returned after that failed attempt dejected and downcast, discouraged, and so to cheer him up his advisers in his court had the idea, verse 2: 'Then the king's servants who attended him said: 'Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king'. Josephus, the historian, tells us that this resulted in a gathering of a harem of 400 virgins. Can you imagine the policies and the organisation and the scheme that was engaged to get all these girls, scouring the whole of the Empire - and I've told you how far the swathe of that empire was - scouring the whole kingdom for the most beautiful girls? Among them was one Jewess by the name of Hadassah, that's her name - Esther is her Persian name - and it means 'star'.
Now, if you've been reading the Bible long enough and reading it seriously, you will know that the Bible never exaggerates anything. In fact, if anything the Bible understates things. It says that Esther was lovely and beautiful. One translation says she was 'lovely in form and features'. Now that's Bible speak for saying Esther was a stunner, she was gorgeous. She had to be, to be one of the 400 most beautiful girls in the world. As you read this story you find a lot of information of the culture. These 400 virgins were gathered, and before any of them could come before the king - literally to the king's bed - there were prescribed 12 months of beauty therapy, six months with oil of myrrh, followed by another six months of special perfumes and ointments, and there would have been a lot of bathing within that type of cosmetic. So the girl's pores would have been seeping scent. We read in chapter 2 that these girls were also given a special menu to eat off. They were also given seven maids, at least Esther was, and a choice room or chamber in the Palace itself. For each girl, on the night that they were to go to the king, they could choose the clothes that they wore, and whatever jewellery they liked - imagine the jewellery that would have been at their disposal in such an Empire.
So you ought to be saying: 'Wow! That's something else, isn't it? To be that one girl, picked out from your neighbourhood or your village to go into that harem of 400 with the prospect and possibility of being chosen as the one out of 400 as the Queen. What glamour! It's like the life of a celebrity!'. Now you can view this two ways. You can go off the deep end, and say: 'This is incredible fortune, this is the opportunity of a lifetime' - and that is, basically, a superficial way of looking at this. It has to be said, that's the way society is today, isn't it? Popular culture, the celebrity cult - but the other way of looking at this is seeing that this type of skin-deep beauty hides layers of pain and anguish, the type of glamour that airbrushes reality. You know the magazines, you know they are all airbrushed - do you know what that means? They don't really look like that, they have more of a tyre around their waist, they have more cellulite on their legs, and they just computerise those out and make them more beautiful. That's the way society is: hiding the blemishes and the blots in our creation.
Now, the way I see Esther, personally, and this story is: tragedy. Now, how is it a tragedy? Well, I want you to think of Esther, think of her for a moment: she may well have been 14 years of age - that's right! Now that was the culture in the day, it was common for a 14-year-old girl to get married, and it was even common for a 15-year-old boy to get married as well - but, nevertheless, 14 is 14, isn't it? Esther was exiled originally - remember that, she is a Jewish exile. So this is a girl who is 14, just a teenager, and she has already been taken from her homeland - even if it's not in her living memory - she is not in the land of her fathers. Add to that that she is an orphan, because she effectively has been adopted by her cousin, Mordecai, cared for very well by him. The tragedy is not only for Esther, but for all these girls, that there was this 'Miss Persia' competition to gather all the most beautiful young women in the Empire, and yet all of these girls were effectively being treated as disposable commodities of pleasure for the king.
I want you to hear, in the New Living Translation, Esther chapter 2 verse 14, just listen. This is speaking of what would happen when these girls, having had a year's beauty treatment, are sent to the chambers of the King: 'That evening she', Esther, 'was taken to the king's private rooms' - or any other girl - 'and the next morning she was brought to the second harem, where the king's wives lived. There she would be under the care of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch in charge of the concubines'. Listen to this, now when I read this, this really pierced my heart: 'She would never go to the king again unless he had especially enjoyed her and requested her by name'. Now let this sink in for a moment: one night with the king - all of these 400 - potentially one night with the king, and the possibility of a life of celibacy for the rest of their days living in a palace with other concubines in the second harem. The most beautiful girls in the Empire! One night with the king and the rest of their lives on their own. Is that not tragic?
Now, here's my message - and it's personal to you tonight: the circumstances that you might find yourself in right now may not be, probably are not of your own choosing. Just like Esther, there are things that are out of your control. I don't think you could say about Esther that it was God's will for her to go through all these tragic circumstances. What I mean by that is: we couldn't say this is what God wanted for her, do you understand? God doesn't want people to go through such tragedy and godlessness, and yet the miracle of God's sovereignty is that God works His will through these types of things. To put it another way: God is not bent on getting His way, but He always has His way in the end.
You might find yourself, tonight, in godless circumstances. Maybe it's a marriage, maybe it's your employment, maybe it's family in some shape or form. Whatever it is, you didn't choose it, you would never have chosen it. Now please don't misunderstand what I'm saying here tonight: I'm not talking about deliberately making godless choices, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about circumstances that are completely and utterly out of your control and remit. My message to you from the Lord tonight, and I believe there is a prophetic aspect to this: God is saying to you tonight, 'You need to look for God's door in this disaster' - God's door of opportunity! You might want to call it 'God's door of escape'.
Turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 10 - put a marker there in Esther please - 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 13. Now a lot of you will know this verse as it relates to temptation, but of course the word translated 'temptation' in the Bible can often be translated 'trial', and so it can speak to the trials of our lives as well. First Corinthians 10 and verse 13: 'No temptation', or trial, or test, 'has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful' - hallelujah! 'God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted', tested, tried, 'beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it'. Some translations vary at the beginning of verse 13, 'He will not give you more than you are able to bear', another says 'more than you can stand', another puts it 'He will not give you something that is beyond your ability, but He will bring a way of escape'. One translation puts that 'He will show you a way out', and many translations say 'He will provide a way of escape', just what we have here - a door of opportunity.
So the Lord would say to you tonight: 'Look for the door in your disaster' - there is one! He has promised that there always will be one! You see what we often do, because it is human nature, and especially fallen human nature, is that we tend to focus on our disaster and we don't even know that God's door is there, let alone look for it. But by changing your focus, not concentrating on the disaster, but rather looking for God's door, that will effectively change your perspective and then your whole interpretation of the situation in its entirety. So God is calling you to lift up your eyes from the debris of the chaos and the mess around you, and look for His door. If you do that, it even has the potential - I'm not saying it always happens - but it has the potential of even changing your circumstances; but even if it doesn't, it will change you in the midst of your circumstances to be able to overcome.
So, where are your eyes tonight? Esther, in the midst of her personal tragedy, saw the door - and it was effectively a door of promotion. She did become Queen. It was also a door of prominence, it brought this young teenager from the background to the foreground out of disaster. A door of promotion, prominence, and a door of prosperity - she became Queen! Now I know he called the shots, but effectively everything was at her disposal that she ever could need. She knew favour in her life out of disaster, because she looked for a door.
We're going to see from this story how much favour she got from the King, but before we do that I want you to see that this is New Testament stuff. You don't have to turn to it if you don't want, because I'm going to look at several verses, but follow if you want. First Corinthians 16, Paul is in Ephesus, the city of Ephesus, and he's writing to the Corinthians of course - that's the book - and he's saying really that he would like to visit them, but in verse 8 of 1 Corinthians 16: 'I will tarry', I will stay, 'in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries'. So Paul didn't go immediately to Corinth, why? Because of the opportunities that there were in Ephesus. Yet not only were there opportunities, there was opposition: 'a great effectual door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries'. The two often come together, and if you want to know what that was like for Paul, you read the background story in Acts chapter 19, and you find out a lot of wonderful things. You find that there were unusual miracles done by the hands of Paul, there were great healings, there were deliverances, many believed - it says the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. But there were also riots, there were charges brought against the servants of the Lord. So, though there was a door of opportunity that had nailed to the ground in Ephesus and wouldn't allow him to go into Corinth, there was also opposition, many adversaries. In the midst of what we would consider his disaster, there was a door of opportunity that Paul recognised - he was always looking for the door in the disaster.
In Colossians 4 we see him again, we're reading Colossians 4:3-4, listen to this: 'Meanwhile praying also for us', Paul requests, 'that God would open to us a door', Colossians 4:3-4, 'God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak'. This is laughable if it wasn't so real: he's imprisoned, he's under arrest - and he's looking for a door in jail! Have you ever been in jail? Maybe you shouldn't answer that! But it must be awful to be in jail - I know it's a cushy number these days, as people think, but I wouldn't like to be in jail. But here's a man whose eyes are not on the disaster, but he's actually looking for a door to preach the Gospel when he's not allowed over the door to do anything, or say anything, or meet anyone except the people that are allowed into the house!
Look at Revelation chapter 3, and the Lord Jesus appears to John and He gives a message which John writes down as a letter to the church at Philadelphia. Verse 7 of Revelation 3: 'To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, 'He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name''. John sees Jesus appearing as a fulfilment of Isaiah 22:22, which says of Messiah that He will have on His shoulder the key of David. He is taking that key, and He's putting it in a door for the church at Philadelphia that is weak and has little strength, but they have been faithful. He puts the key in the door, and He opens up the door, and He says: 'Nobody is going to be able to shut this on you, because this is My door, whatever disaster is going on'. Remember that the church in Revelation is being persecuted - 'Whatever disaster is going on from the Jews who are trying to slander you, from the pagan cults in Philadelphia that are working against you, I am opening a door for you, and nobody is going to shut it, nobody is going to shut it'.
I want to say to you in Loughbrickland: God has opened a door for you, and no man will shut it. You can shut it yourself if you want, but if you will obey God nobody else will be able to work against you. But in your personal situation, listen: Jesus has the key. Jesus has the key! Do you know what 'the key of David' means? It literally in the Hebrew mind was the sense of absolute sovereignty of God in opening doors and in shutting mouths - Jesus has the key! The question is: will you receive it from Him to find your door in disaster? I think that's what tonight is all about, I think that's why Jesus has shown up here this evening - the Lord in Christ is here, and I believe He has the key in His hand. The key of sovereignty to open the door that you need right now to open, and to shut mouths that need to be shut. But you see, we get so caught up with our own personal pain, don't we? Our crisis, what's going on - and I'm the same, I'm no different - all the debris of the mess, and we miss the big picture of what God is doing in the world, and how He actually might want to use you to fix what's wrong in the world.
Now let's look - because it's all intermingled anyway - at the national disaster here, there is a plot against the Jews. Esther would be the one, the kingpin or the Queen-pin, who would thwart Haman's plot to exterminate the Jews. God had planted Hadassah, a 14-year-old Jewess, there in the Palace as Queen, to be His secret agent. But imagine, just for a moment, if she had been so self-obsessed, engaged so much in navel-gazing because of her own personal tragedy - she's in exile, she is an orphan, and now she's 14 and she to marry this old boy (I don't know what age he was, but I'm sure he was no oil painting with all that drinking and eating for long enough) - but imagine if she had been overwhelmed, she could never have fulfilled the destiny that God had for her, and the purpose of her actually being allowed to be there. It's not that God wanted her to go through this, but God overrides the wicked wills of men and even the bad circumstances in our lives to bring about His purpose and destiny for us.
You know, there is this openness in this story. Turn with me to chapter 4 of Esther again please, and verse 14. Mordecai says to her, verse 14: 'If you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?'. So there was an openness, a fluidity in the situation, where she could have said: 'No, I've too of my own mess here to deal with. I can't cope with being some kind of deliverer for God's people'. Mordecai is saying: 'Look, if you don't do it, God will find somebody else to do it'. Now listen, I don't know the script for your life, or indeed the authorial intent of God Almighty for your destiny, but I know this: I know that God can turn it all around. Who knows why you're here, where you find yourself, in a godless mess? Maybe you've contributed a little bit or a big bit to it yourself, but you're here where you are, and if you take the key from the Son of David and look for the door of opportunity in your disaster, and obey the Lord in the midst of this tragedy, maybe God will do something great.
Sure, doesn't Romans 8:28 say as much? 'We know that all things work together for good' - it doesn't say that all things are good, because they aren't good, and all things are not of God, that's not what it says. You see some people believe in a sort of robotic view of the sovereignty of God, that we're all like puppets and we're made to do everything - but I believe in a greater view of God's sovereignty, which is that even when we do what we like, God brings it around for His glory and His purposes. To me, that's more profound than anything. 'All things work together for good to those who love God', that's important! It'll not work for your good if you don't love God! 'And to those who are the called according to His purpose', and that infers that you're surrendering to the purposes and destiny of the Lord for your life.
A case in point is Joseph, isn't it? That Old Testament character, and he's thrown in the pit by his brothers who are jealous, and he's sold to the traders, and he becomes a slave in Potiphar's house. He is accused in the wrong and he's thrown in prison - and through it all, I know Joseph had his issues and his sharp edges to knock off, and there was maybe a bit of pride there and he had to be humbled and all the rest - but he behaves exemplary in Potiphar's house, before Potiphar's wife, in the prison - look at his behaviour! Then his day comes, and what has God done with this absolute disaster of a life's experience? We might have been saying at times: 'This is a waste of a life!' - what does God do? He brings it round so that Joseph is reigning - I know he wasn't Pharaoh, but he was effectively reigning in influence in the Egyptian society, and he has the key to feed his own brothers and his father when there is famine back in his homeland. When they appear before him - and you know how the story goes - and when he finally reveals to them who he is, the tears streaming down his face, listen to what he says: 'But as for you, you meant it for evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive'.
It's more than just working it together for good for you, it's more than that! You've got to see beyond your personal mess, and even beyond your personal door of escape. It's not about you! It's not about you! It's not about me! We're very important to God, but it's not about us! It never was and never will be! It's about Him! So would you stop saying something? Some of you are saying this: 'This is my mess, and what a mess it is!'. Somebody is saying that, 'This is my mess, and what a disaster'. See that this is your time, this is your door of opportunity. You know the difference between chronos time and kairos time, don't you? Maybe you don't. Chronos time is what's on this watch, the minutes, the seconds, the hours, the days and the weeks and months, the years - that's chronos time. But kairos time - that's Greek by the way - in the New Testament is God's time of opportunity. It could be a season, it could be a moment, but it's a God-moment that everything has been leading up to in your life and circumstances. Listen: if you can get past self-pity and wound-licking, and realise that your life is bigger than your life, that you are in a story, and that it is His story - that's what history is, His story - you could change the world, like Esther! To such an extent that future generations will celebrate God's intervention through you - and the Jews to this very day celebrate Purim, which is the feast celebrating Esther's deliverance of the Jews.
Now I'm not going to lie to you - you'll be glad to know that from a preacher, but there are plenty do. There is a cost, and in chapter 4 and verse 16, after Mordecai had said in verse 14: 'Look, if you don't do it, if you don't speak up in the midst of this disaster, in the opportune position that God has given you, God will save His people through somebody else'. Look at verse 16, when Esther realises that she's going to have to do it and go through, verse 15 she told the messengers to reply to Mordecai, verse 16 of chapter 4: 'Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!'. Wow!
We think Esther was probably about 19 now, and what we see here is death to selfish ambition, maybe even death itself. From the timing here we know, verse 11, she says that it's 30 days since she has been called by the King. Now she is the Queen, OK, nobody else is the Queen, she's the Queen. It's 30 days since she has been called, that would indicate and imply that she has fallen out of favour in some way, he has gone off her a bit. So this 19-year-old girl knows, this is the King that chains and whips the sea! This is the Emperor, if you looked at him the wrong way he would behead you! You're not allowed to just go and approach him, you have to be summoned - but she takes her life and her hands, and says: 'If I perish, I perish!'. What we've got to realise is that to a large extent today we have a cross-less Christianity, where there is very little cost. There is going to be more cost and persecution in our Western society, but we are really having it easy. To a large extent we don't suffer for our faith, but Jesus is calling us in this day of kairos time, this day of opportunity: 'Take up your cross and follow Me! Be a band of people who will say, 'If I perish, I perish!''. I'll tell you this: it's going to take more than what we're giving, if we're going to see society changed for Christ. It's going to take more. If we want national deliverance - that's revival - we're going to have to pay the price as the church.
Look at chapter 5, this is the way it all pans out. Verse 1: 'Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace, across from the king's house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house. So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favour in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter'. I want to say to you tonight, and this is for people as individuals, but you take it if you want it: the Lord is going to show favour to you. Did you hear that? The Lord is going to show favour to you, the King's sceptre of favour has been reached out to us already, already! We just need to reach out and touch it, in other words we need to tap into the resources. We're not coming in fear to the Living God, we're coming to our Abba Father, we're coming boldly through a new and living way to the throne of grace with conscience sprinkled from guilt by the blood of Jesus.
Second Corinthians 1 and verse 20, no matter how many promises God has made they are 'Yes' in Christ - isn't that marvellous? Whatever promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. So through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God, do you know what that means? All the promises that God has made have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, He says 'Yes' in Christ, and as we say 'Amen' to those promises, God fulfils them and glorifies His name - that is the sceptre that has been reached out to us from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we need to reach out and touch it! Even the enemies that are in our lives, doesn't Proverbs 21:1 say 'The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes'. Wow! The Lord will give you even favour with your enemies. It's not happening yet, I know, it hasn't happened for me yet either - but somehow, not all of them perhaps, but God can do that - do you believe that? God can give you favour with your enemies. Isaiah 54:17: ''No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me', says the Lord'. Now that's not a warrant to go out and shoot, guns blazing all around you, and knocking people sideways with this type of declaration - it's a warrant to go to God and claim that promise, and love your enemy, and go the extra mile, and bless those that curse you, pray for those who despitefully use you, and leave your vindication with God and He will come through.
Do you know a very interesting fact about the book of Esther? You go home and check this out for yourself. I don't know how many years you've been reading the Bible - I hope you've read the book of Esther. Imagine meeting Esther and you haven't even ever read the book! But the name of God is not mentioned in the whole book, did you know that? Because He's behind-the-scenes, His fingerprints are all over the book of Esther. Maybe you're here tonight and you haven't been able to find God in your disaster. I've been reading through, these days, the book of Job. You remember he says: 'Oh that I might find Him? Oh that I could find where God was! Then I would start reasoning with Him and talking with Him' - we know the mood Job was in, he would be arguing with Him. 'Oh that I could find Him?', he couldn't find God in his disaster. I was sharing this morning at the House of Prayer, just for our devotions at the beginning, from Psalm 42. You remember Psalm 42, 'As the deer pants after the water brooks, so my soul pants after you, O God'. The enemies of God and the enemies of the king were all saying: 'Where is your God? Where is He? Where is He now in the middle of your disaster?'. Of course, the psalmist speaks to himself - people say speaking to yourself is the first sign of madness, but it's not always - he took himself by the scruff of his neck, and he says: 'Why are you downcast, O my soul. Hope in God, for you will yet praise Him, He will be the help of your countenance'.
You need to see tonight, even if you haven't seen God and been able to find God in the midst of your disaster, you need to see that there is a door of opportunity for you to find Him, and for Him to step in, and for Him to change your world, and maybe even impact the world. Do you think God can't do that in Loughbrickland? Think again! I don't mean to be cheeky or anything like that, I would never be cheeky! But there is nothing special about you lot, is there? Is there? Or me? I mean, let's face it: there is nothing special. Now we are special to God, I know the chorus 'I'm special...', I know that - we're all special to God. But what I'm saying is: look at us, look at us! Look at the room! Look at Loughbrickland - it's a lovely place and all, but in the big picture of things, it's not New York, it's not Washington, it's not Westminster, is it? But you look at every place that God came, and every person that God used - they were nothing special.
Will you see things from the heavenly perspective? As I bring this to a close, I want you to turn with me - and this is it - to Revelation 4, I'm not going to go on much longer at all. Revelation 4. Now, we spend that much time fighting over the book of Revelation, that we forget that it is a letter, as it was to Christians who were being butchered and persecuted. If it does anything else, it causes them to look out of the midst of their disaster and look to the heavenly perspective of what's going on in glory and what the end result will be. Look at chapter 4 verse 1. John, where is he? He's on the Isle of Patmos, he has been persecuted and he is writing to persecuted Christians: 'After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this'. Immediately I was in the Spirit' - can I just say to you, I haven't finished keep your Bible open, can I say to you: if you look up, the Holy Spirit is saying to you here tonight, 'Look up here. Stop looking around you at your disaster, I know it's there, but look up to Me now and you will see the door. I am Jesus and I have the key to this door, and it's an open door now because I have the key'. You look up, and immediately you look up there and look for the door in your disaster, do you know what's going to happen? You're going to be in the Spirit, you're going to be in the Spirit immediately; you're going to be walking in the Spirit, not the flesh. Now watch this: what do you see in the midst of your disaster when you go up through that heavenly door and you're in the Spirit, what do you see? 'Behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne' - and what does that mean? He is Lord! He rules, the Lord omnipotent reigns, He is in control!
Some people are delivered out of their situations, and that might happen to some of you tonight. Some are delivered in their situations, like poor old Daniel in the den. The way of escape is not always out of the fire, sometimes it is through the fire. But the Lord says: 'When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you'. For Esther, she had to go through a door that could mean danger, the door might even mean death - but it resulted in deliverance, not only for her, but for the people of God.
Let's pray. Now I believe God has given specific communications to individuals in the meeting tonight, who find themselves in disastrous circumstances. If that's you, I'm not going to ask you to do anything other than, before God, take the key, take the key from the Lord Jesus. Realise that the door is open, and look for that door. You mightn't understand how it will be, or what it will be, or what way it will appear in your actual circumstances; but it's by faith we're talking tonight, by faith to actually see that the door is there, even though it's not made evident yet in your personal circumstances. Take the key - the key is Jesus, and the door is Jesus, isn't it? 'I am the Door', the door is Jesus, you're looking for Jesus in the whole thing. You're saying: 'Jesus, take my hand, Lord, and get me through this. May this be a door of promotion, a door of prominence, a door of prosperity - not for me, but for deliverance of Your people, and for Your glory and Your great name, to show that there is a God in heaven and He's on the throne.
'Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long'.
Now in a moment I'm just going to close the meeting in prayer, and if you want to linger on in God's presence, it's not going to be a prayer meeting as such - I don't know what it will be, to be honest, there might be singing, I don't know. We will just lead God hover over us. If you have to go, God bless you; and if you want to, just stay. We're just saying you have liberty to sit before the Lord and let Him work on you in whatever way He needs. I'll be at the door to say cheerio to you. If you need prayer or want to talk in anyway, we're making ourselves available to you.
Father, we thank You that though at times we can't see You, and though at times we believe You do test us by withdrawing Yourself somewhat, taking away the tangible evidences of Your presence, thank You Lord that You're always there - You're always there, because You promised never to leave or forsake us. You're always there. I know it's an old worn cliche, but when there's only one set of prints in the sand, Lord, we know it's because You are carrying us. I pray for those who find themselves in disasters, personal disasters. We certainly are in a national disaster here in Ulster and right across the United Kingdom and Ireland and Europe. We are in moral, political disaster. Lord, help us not to drown in despondency, but help us to lift our eyes to the hills from whence comes our help - the Maker of heaven and earth. Lord, I pray for somebody personally here tonight, that a door in heaven will open for them, and they will see Jesus; and they will see that He is on the throne, and He is in control - and that their circumstance will be totally turned on its head, something that was sent to destroy them will actually turn round to glorify God and deliver His people, and bless them abundantly more than they could ever imagine. So, Lord, we commit each person here to You, each family here, each business here, each employment here, each and every one. May they know the blessing of the fullness of the Gospel of Christ tonight, in Jesus' name, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at the Oasis Bible Study in Loughbrickland Mission Hall, N. Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "God's Door In Disaster" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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