We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
- We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
- We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
- We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
- We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
- We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
- We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
- We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
The story of Esther is all about a girl who shines brightly in a dark world. Through a crazy turn of events brought on by the crazy king of Persia, Esther finds herself as the newly minted queen of Persia. And it's just in time, because at the same time, it is decreed that the Jewish people - HER people - are to be crushed. With the help of her trusted adopted father, Esther sees that God has positioned her to be the solution to this huge problem. She chooses to risk her life and bravely confront the king to save her people from extinction.
Mordecai was Esther's cousin, and he had taken her in as his own daughter when her father and mother died. He chose to guide, protect, and challenge her to be brave in the midst of her greatest fears.
Do you have someone like Mordecai in your life? Someone who cares for you and encourages you to lean into what God has created you to do?
Do you have any people in your life that would call you their Mordecai? Who in your life could you move toward with that kind of encouragement and guidance?
The opposite of courage
Fear is a natural reaction, but self-preservation is the choice we make when we are confronted by our fears. Esther had to overcome herself to do what God had created and positioned her to do.
- Think of a time you had the opportunity to be brave, do the right thing, and follow God's way. What did it cost you? What kind of self-preservation stood in opposition to that choice?
- What kind of fears stand in your way most often? Can you see a connection between your fear and some kind of self-preservation?
The context where miracles happen
Mordecai is convinced that if Esther chooses to remain silent, God will still deliver the Jews in a different way. Jodi said that even when we refuse to obey God, he still accomplishes his agenda another way - but then we miss out on the fulfillment of our own life's purpose. We all want miracles, but then we spend our lives avoiding the context in which miracles happen.
Have you missed out on opportunities be brave, make a difference, and follow God when it wasn't easy? What stood in your way?
For such a time as this
Esther 4 says...
"12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants 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.”
- God has purpose for every season of our lives, whether our position is like Esther's or Mordecai's - royal queen or persecuted commoner. But that purpose isn't always easy to see. If God really does have a role for you to play to make a difference in the world, what might that role look like right now? What's the next thing he's asking you to say yes to?
The mention of God
Strangely enough, God is never mentioned in the entire book of Esther. But it’s clear, because of all the “just so happens”, that God is the true hero of this story. We can look at Esther’s story and realize that even when we don’t think we can see God, he is at work behind the scenes.
- Is it hard for you to trust that God is at work behind the scenes when your circumstances say otherwise? What helps you see God’s direction and presence in the midst of your current challenges or struggles?
How we can see God’s hand
There are a few ways that we can continually lean into God to uncover the direction he has for us.
BIBLE - The Bible is NOT a straightforward answer book where we can find our personal life plan. BUT, it is filled with the richness of an entire history of people have struggled just like us, asked questions just like us, screwed up just like us, and found hope just like us. God consistently uses the Bible to tell us who He is, what He's like, and what the surrendered life really looks like.
Prayer - In seasons where God seems absent, it's time to pray more! Even though prayer doesn't function like a magic billboard in the sky, it does tune our ears to hear him more quickly and allow him to shape our hearts and minds. Pray honestly, ask real questions, and start looking for how he might respond.
Friends - Esther's story makes it really clear that no one can follow God alone. We need people that speak the truth to us, pick us up when we fall, and stand beside us when we have to face our fears. And we don't just need those people - we need to BE those people for others as well. God often speaks to us through those closest to us.
READ. PRAY. DO.
Read the book of Esther for yourself! Even though we covered the whole story, reading it for yourself will give you a fuller picture of the "coincidences" and "just so happens" moments that God has hidden throughout the whole story!
- Pray this prayer on your own, or use it to kickstart your own personal prayer time.
Father, grow my faith this week. Help me trust that you are always at work, always giving me purpose, and always inviting me to play a role in bringing your kingdom to this earth. Give me eyes to see how you are always working behind the scenes. Give me humility so that I can overcome myself and be brave. Give me ears that can hear you clearly as you call me your much loved child, no matter what my circumstances are threatening otherwise.
Mission is moving soon! When we get there, there will likely be a rush of interest from new people - and that means we have a huge opportunity to help people stick around!
Connection with others is what makes people feel at home. It’s not the coffee, the message, the music, or the comfy seats - it’s the people.
So for the next few weeks, we are going to stretch ourselves!
Introduce yourself to someone new at church next week.
I.e. Hey! My name is ___ we haven’t met before!! Have you been around Mission long? Or are you new?
*Try to look for someone who is like you in some way that you can picture getting to know better.