Everybody makes history in some way or another. But we usually only remember the famous history makers; like, Joan of Arc, Marco Polo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Christopher Columbus or Florence Nightingale.
What the story of Esther teaches us is that God orchestrates history, because it’s “His-Story.” But he chooses to shape history through the lives of ordinary people.
For instance, Esther was used to change the course of history for an entire nation – but only because she said “Yes” to God. If Esther had not agreed, God may well have saved his people – but he would have used another person to do it.
The fact is, every person has a place in God’s story – we all have a place in “His-Story.” And Esther shows us that if you want God to make history through you, you must adhere to certain principles. So let me try and explain some of the principles involved in becoming a history maker for God.
1) Learn when to Shut Up .
It is commonly known in the world of advertising that the most successful ad campaigns don’t try to change people: they try to reflect how people are already feeling. Advertisers know that consumers won’t respond to an ad unless the ad is a response to them. This is why advertising companies spend so much time and money on market research. They want to “Listen” to the market and respond to it.
Esther teaches us the same lesson. If you want to be a history maker then you must learn when to shut up and listen.
Esther listened to her shrewd mentor – her uncle Mordecai – and kept her mouth closed.
Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so (Esther 2:10).
Keeping her mouth closed preserved Esther’s life and enabled her to gain access to the king.
So learning how to shut up and listen can give us access into another person’s world. It certainly helps us to understand others better. And it’s not until we understand the people around us that we can truly begin to have an influence in their lives – and perhaps change the course of their personal history.
Proverbs describes the kind of person who won’t shut up, it says ....
A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions (Proverbs 18:2).
This kind of person has a closed mind and an open mouth. Instead of listening to gain a new perspective this person loves telling others what’s on his mind.
This kind of person is too self absorbed to be a history maker. History makers are listeners; they are students of people and their times. Again Proverbs confirms that a wise person knows when to stay silent.
A man who lacks judgement derides his neighbour, but a man of understanding holds his tongue (Proverbs 11:12).
So what does all this mean to us? Well for a start, people are more likely to listen to you, if you have first listened to them. And gaining a hearing is crucial if you want to begin changing history.
As Christians we want to see people’s personal history changed – we want their destiny to be in heaven where they belong – not in hell which is place that has been prepared for the devil and his henchmen, not humans.
Yet so often all Christians are interested in doing is telling people how to run their lives. So this week, if you want God to use you to change someone’s personal destiny, shut up and listen first. People won’t listen to you until you have listened and understood them first.
2) Learn when to Speak Up .
But there is another side to this coin. Perhaps you know the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. DB was active in the anti-Hitler movement of the second world war. He was a German Lutheran Pastor who spoke up against Hitler; he worked as a double agent; and he was actively involved in an assassination attempt on Hitler’s life. DB was imprisoned by the Nazi’s in 1943 and hanged on 9th April 1945, just days before the end of the war.
But what DB’s life shows us, is that if we want to be history makers we must also learn when to speak up.
Esther also chose her time speak very carefully - - this was the third occasion she had approached the king. And then she came out with the hard truth .....
Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman" (Esther 7:6a – cf vv3-7)
There’s no getting around it, Christianity by stealth is wrong. Keeping our faith a secret is a habit motivated by fear & shame. And Jesus issues a stern warning to those who are unwilling to speak up on his behalf.
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38)
Saint Paul explains why we should not be ashamed to speak about Jesus. He says ....
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)
Paul says that we should not hold back from telling people what Jesus has done for them because there is power in these facts that can transform lives - - that can change people’s personal history. God’s truth about Jesus can bringing people into the greatest relationship they will ever know.
However, speaking up may mean suffering. It did for DB – and it may for you. Paul knew all about it .....
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8)
So strategic silence is wise, it gives an opportunity to really hear the other side. But when there is an opportunity, we must be prepared to speak up and give a considered answer.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)
How do we know when to speak up? We should always speak up:
* When asked (The king and Mordecai both asked Esther to speak)
* When it will protect or help others (Esther’s motivation was the welfare of others – the Jews)
* When it will advance the kingdom (Esther’s message saved God’s people from annihilation)
3) LEARN HOW TO SEE GOD.
So if we want to be history makers we must first learn when to shut up, and also when to speak up. But there is a third principle we must understand if we want to become history makers for God. And it goes something like this.
God is like a Dolphin. One of the lesser known facts about Dolphins is why they have dark grey backs and silver bellies. The answer is simple: camouflage. When a Dolphin swims on the surface its silver belly masks its shape against the surface of the water; it makes it difficult for predators below the surface to spot it. And when the dolphin dives deep the dark grey masks it against the darker water. In fact the dolphin only has to dive A few metres and it disappears from view.
If you’ve ever seen Dolphins you’ll know this is true. Everyone oohh’s and ahhh’s with delight when Dolphins are spotted. Then they dive deep and we lose sight of them. And that’s what makes it fun. Because all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a pair of dolphins burst through the surface of the water, leap high in the air and crash back down into the water. Then they dive deep and they’re gone again.
Sometimes God seems like that to us. There are times when God is spectacularly present in our lives, leaping through the air like one of those dolphins. Maybe it’s walking in the forest and having an overwhelming sense that God is present; maybe it’s a dramatically answered prayer; maybe it’s a sense that God has provided you guidance for a difficult decision.
And there are times when God is like those dolphins when they dive, when all we can see are the deep waters of our lives. We fear the sharks and the stingers that lurk down there, worried that they will leap out and bite us – and sometimes they do. And we hope like crazy that the dolphins are down there too, that somewhere hidden in the depths, invisible to our sight God is there. We long for God to come crashing through, though we’re not quite sure just where it will be or when it will be or how it will be. And some of us wait for an awfully long time between appearances, sometimes almost a whole lifetime, but wait we do and we enjoy those moments when God does.
The point is this. If we want to be history makers, then we need to learn how to see God (OUTLINE).
Esther came to see that her being the queen was no coincidence. She came to understand that God had a purpose for her position as queen. Mordecai reminded her ....
And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14)
Where you are at in your life today is no mistake. God has a purpose for you in your position at work, at home, at school in your neighbourhood. - - - - Your life, as it is today, is no accident. God want’s you where you are in order to work out “His-Story” through you.
The Bible says ....
Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. (1 Corinthians 7:17).
In other words we must understand where we are at in life and learn to see that God has us there for a purpose.
God has a plan for “His-Story.” Again the Bible tells us that ....
The LORD works out everything for his own ends-- even the wicked for a day of disaster (Proverbs 16:4).
Everything is moving according to God’s plan in order to accomplish his purposes. And he wants you to join him in accomplishing that plan. Jesus reminded us of this when he said ....
"My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working" (John 5:17)
Jesus was looking for where his Father was at work and he moved to meld his life with God’s purposes – just as we see Esther did in this story.
For us this means that there is no such thing as coincidence. God has a purpose for everything, and our role in his story is to observe how it is unfolding and to surrender our lives to God’s plans – this is how we become history makers with him.
We often find it easy to obey God when there is little or no risk or cost involved. However, when God prompts us to speak to a stranger about Christ, to take an unpopular stand on a moral or ethical issue, or to take a step of faith into the unknown, we often become indecisive.
Esther found herself in a similar fork in the road with only two options before her - - - - to deny her identity as one of God’s people or to offer herself as God’s instrument and thus become a history maker with God. - - - What will you do?