Summary: Learn with Esther how to understand and follow the invisible God through the incredible trials and challenges of life.

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

Series: Letting God Guide You

April 24, 2005

Last week, (if you were here), you’ll remember that we left Esther with a catch-22 decision to make. She had to decide if she was going to save her own neck and be safe… or risk her life by going out on a limb for Gods people. She needed to tell King Xerxes about Haman’s plan to exterminate the Jews, but without an invitation it was against the law… and she could die. This past March 24, Jews all over the world fasted and prayed in commemoration of the 3 days of fasting and prayer Esther requested before her appearance with the king.

Finally, she made the tough decision saying… “If I die, I die”. Those words have been echoing in my mind all week. I’ve asked myself… “What kind of a person would say something like that? What kind of conviction and character would be needed to stand for what you believe so strongly that you’d be willing to give up your life to defend it? And then… how do I become a person like that? How do I develop those kinds of convictions and character?”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not the person I want to be when it comes to convictions and character. I feel like the English bishop who complained, “Wherever the Apostle Paul went, there was a riot, wherever I go… they serve tea”. Paul was a man of passion and conviction…we know that… but how did He get that way? I was stunned to reality this week when I was confronted by 2 different people… who said I sometimes came across as… ‘wishy-washy’. And that’s what my ‘friends’ say about me! You say, with friends like that, who needs enemies! (Actually we all need friends like that!) But that’s not necessarily something you want to hear! Especially when you’re getting ready to preach a message on courage and conviction, like I am today!

This morning you may find yourself in a situation where you need to stand for what you believe…

· Maybe you need courage to stand for your convictions around your friends who are still partying.

· It could be, you need the strength to stand up to that person who’s able to control you by manipulating your emotions.

· You’re a teen and friends are pressuring you to drink or take drugs…

· Maybe you’re an ‘approval addict’ and you want to break your addiction.

· Or you need the courage to stand up to some dishonest business practices in company…

If you’re someone who needs to ‘grow a backbone’ this morning… then keep your eye on Esther. She had the integrity and grit to be true to herself. Esther’s moment of truth comes in chapter 5 of the book named after her. READ Esther 5:1-2. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to confront your boss or maybe a friend about an issue, about problem you’re having. You really didn’t want to do it… but you know you have too, or things are going to get worse not better. I have! And no matter how many times I’ve had to do it… I still hate it.

At those times, it’s easy to bail out and live with the consequences of our fear…condemned to go through life knowing we played the ‘coward’. What you may not realize is that if you’ll confront the issue head on…instead of sticking your head in a hole…it actually releases you! It gives you a sense of self-respect and satisfaction knowing that you stood for your convictions. You did what you had to do. You confronted the situation and now you get to live with the rewards of your courage.

Esther, even though I’m sure she was afraid… did what she had to do. She took her life in her hands, but not before putting her life in God’s hands. God answered the prayers of His people & she caught the king in a good mood, (think that’s a coincidence?)

Not only did he lift up his golden scepter and invite her in… but he offered her up to ½ his kingdom! Wow! The most powerful ruler in the ancient world, and she wins a hearing!

Esther was a strong person of character. But where did she get it? Well, you don’t have to look very far! She got it from her older cousin (not uncle) Mordachai, who raised her. Mordechai was a strong man of character himself. Remember, it was Mordachai who refused to bow down and worship Haman. So Esther saw character modeled before her. Today we’re going to learn about character… because no matter who you are… we could all use a little more. Because we’re facing a world today that is increasingly hostile to people of integrity. We’re going to learn this morning “How to Become a Person of Character” (not how to become a character!)

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