For Such a Time as This

Anyone familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures knows well this phrase. It certainly makes for a great sermon title. I recall early on in the pandemic we were doing outdoor services and I did a short series on “Now More than Ever”. As I prepared that series I soon realized it’s a topic and theme that are timeless and necessary. We all live only in the moments we have and want to be purposeful about getting the right things right. The same is said of Mordecai’s words from Esther 4:13-14.

Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

This evening, March 16th is the start of the one day celebration of Purim. This is the Jewish holiday remembering and celebrating God’s deliverance of His people through the prompting of Mordecai to encourage Esther to go before the King with the news of Haman’s wicked plot. Esther knew what it might cost her, which in turn prompted Mordecai’s famous challenge.

For those who are following the teaching at Grace, we are finishing up a study of Ezra and Nehemiah. Interestingly there is overlap in the stories with the timeline of Esther. It is not specifically stated in the scriptures, but tradition gives us cause to wonder if Nehemiah’s request of the Persian King was granted in part by the influence of Esther’s story just a few years prior. Same city. Same family dynasty. We won’t speculate too much on that, but there’s nothing wrong with wondering about the potential impact. What we do know is that the people (Jewish people still in exile) were spared and given a celebration in place of a mass memorial. Just a few years later, the people were encouraged to return from a place of exile to a home with expectation.

Is the Lord leading you to stand up, speak up, to sit up and lean in towards something that may in fact turn out bigger than you realize?

Today, the Lord dwells within His people. His work is our work. Our identity isn’t found in how well we do that work, but rather in the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit living and working within us. It is Christ in me that causes me to lean in and say, “Yes Lord, I’m all in. For such a time as this, You made me, loved me, and have empowered me to do Your will for Your great glory. Let’s celebrate God’s faithfulness to His people then and now as we remember the remarkable story of Esther.

Filled with the Holy Spirit…

All week I’ve been considering Acts 4 in preparation for tomorrow’s sermon at Grace.

4:8 “The Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, …”

I wonder if we realize what a big deal it is that today, followers of Jesus who know Him because they’ve been saved, have the Holy Spirit.  We teach here that a person receives the Holy Spirit when they come to faith in Jesus as their Savior.  Romans 8:9-11 tells us that if we know God through Jesus, then we have the Spirit.  In Ephesians 5:18 we realize that there is a regular (perhaps daily?) filling of the Holy Spirit.  Are there Christians who have the Holy Spirit yet don’t live as though they are filled with the Spirit? Sure.

To be filled with the Spirit is to yield your life to Him and not be “filled with yourself”, but instead, know the Holy Spirit is in you to empower you for serving, loving others and let Him guide you.

Imagine the words, “Then [fill in the blank with your name] filled with the Spirit, said…”


Teaching on Gifts of the Spirit

Tonight at 6:30 I’m teaching week two of our 4 week class on “Gifted for Ministry”. If you missed the first week, you can still come and jump in tonight. The purpose of this class is to help you understand how the Lord has gifted each of us with what we call ‘spiritual gifts’ and how we can best serve the Lord through our church. There is a $5 charge for the class and an optional book fee for our theology text, Understanding Christian Theology, for $32. I’ll have copies of last weeks notes and handouts for any that can join us tonight.

The Monday Night Classes that Grace offers are intentional teachings of what we call our essential doctrines and themes. Look for upcoming classes to choose from. Each class is intentionally designed to better equip our body in theology and practical living. Most classes are about 4 weeks long, so that you can continue going to your Grace Group without having to miss any sessions.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Wow. What a day. I love Sunday’s at Grace. Tonight I want to highlight a few things that are on my mind.

First, thanks to the Hospitality Team for an amazing lunch today. The place was packed out! It was awesome. Food was great and I’m thankful Sinagua has added more tables. It looked to me like you guys were all having a great time. Thanks for staying after church and enjoying a meal with “One Another”. Great job everyone. I hope you were encouraged.

We just finished our first Grace Group tonight. I already love our new group. If you haven’t joined a Grace Group yet, we’ll have all the updated information available for you this next week. There are Grace Groups spread around town on several different nights of the week. It is an awesome experience to get around the table or the living room and talk about what God is teaching us.

Tomorrow night I start a new class. As you know we’ve started these Monday Night Classes for teaching more doctrine and essential truths of Grace. The Classes are designed to average about 4 weeks long, some will be a bit shorter or longer. They all start at 6:30 and finish by 8. One of the main reasons we keep the classes to just a few weeks is so that you can do both a class and your Grace Group. If you are in a Grace Group and see a class you’d like to take, the design allows you to do both with only a few weeks of having two nights out. So, please don’t miss out on the classes we’re offering. We’re being very intentional about the class topics and the schedules. We’ve already had one on the Deity of Christ, one on Spiritual Growth and one on Biblical Finances. Many of the classes will be offered again.

So, tomorrow I’m starting a 4 week study on “Gifted for Ministry”. We’ll examine the biblical teaching on the Holy Spirit as a gift and the gifts He gives us. We’ll look at why the church is dependent upon the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to individuals. By the end of the 4 week study, you’ll be able to identify how God has gifted you and how you can serve Him at Grace. I’m very excited about this and I just love the timing, especially how it fits with our recent study in John.

Most classes have fees and books. From here on out, any class that requires a theology text, we’ll be using one: Understanding Christian Theology. I have a few copies available tomorrow for $32. It’s a big book, and it’ll serve you well for years to come, especially in a variety of classes we’ll offer. For this class the book is NOT REQUIRED, but it is highly RECOMMENDED. I’ll have some handouts as well as some class notes. I believe the fee for the class is $5.

If you have any questions, let me know or call Bekah in the morning.

I really hope you’re finding your way to a Grace Group, or that you will this next week. I invite you to join me for class tomorrow night as well.

It’s been a great day. Thanks to all who serve Jesus at Grace in making it a welcoming place for some great ministry to be taking place. God bless you all, have a good night.