Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Shepastor: "Speak Up!"

The Greatness of Mordecai
10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. Esther 10: 1-3

The Book of Esther is a story of “divine reversals,” showing the activity of God behind the scenes, if you will, even though the name of God is not called or mentioned. Esther is the story of a people who were targeted to be destroyed, slain, annihilated through a plot devised by the 2nd in command of the Persian Kingdom, Haman. It all started when an average Jew by the name of Mordecai refused to bow and pay homage to Haman as he passed by.

Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman. This so infuriated Haman, and taunted his out of control ego that he felt he had to destroy Mordecai. Since he did not want it to be obvious that the only reason he wanted to destroy Mordecai was because he didn’t bow down to him, Haman convinced the king that ALL of the Jews should be destroyed. He made the king believe that they were a threat in the land – didn’t follow their laws, their customs or their gods…

The king agrees and the journey begins. Most frequently the focus now turns to Esther. But today, I’d like us to focus our attention upon Mordecai. Read again verse 3 of chapter 10…

3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

Shepastor: “Speak Up!”

In 1945, the anti-Nazi German pastor Martin Niemoller wrote the following:

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

There are many reasons and excuses why it runs against human nature to speak up…the main reason is fear…fear that we will bring attention to ourselves and the evil, the injustice, the taunts, the bullying, the unfair treatment, the abuse will be turned towards us. So we remain quiet, declare, “It’s none of my business,” “I’m not getting involved in that,” “I just thought it best to keep quiet…”

But if you remain silent when you see others being abused, discriminated against, mistreated, bullied, etc., it’s only a matter of time before those same experiences will come upon you. Martin King said it best when he declared, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In essence, this is what Mordecai said to his niece Esther, whose identity as a Jew was unknown when she became Queen after Vashti.

When Mordecai told Esther about the plot of Haman to annihilate the Jews, Esther initially was reluctant to go and speak to the king about the matter. Going in to see the king uninvited could mean death! It is understandable that Esther did not want to risk her life to go and speak to the king on behalf of her people. But listen to what Mordecai said to Esther…

"Think not that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, 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?"

In essence, Mordecai was saying, “Look, don’t think that because you are beautiful and pleasing to the King that you will be saved from the slaughter that’s coming. If you don’t speak up, God will raise up another person WHO WILL speak up, but you and your folks will get destroyed!”

Sometimes God strategically places us in situations and circumstances for the express purpose of speaking up, taking a stand, making a difference, bringing about a change…but it’s hard to do that when we fear man more than we fear God. We fear losing something…position, friends, income, security, being in the “in crowd,” etc.

What we don’t realize is that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away…Even if humans become angry and seek to strip you of what is yours, God can and will restore you if what you are doing is just and right. But who will restore you if God takes it from you? Who will protect you if God steps back and let’s your enemies have their way with you? Who can and will stand in the gap with you if God says, “it’s your time – your number is up!”

Sometimes God gives us the opportunity to rise to the occasion…to open our mouths…to say, “No, this is wrong…no we won’t accept the perks and the privileges of sin for a season. We will stand for what is right!”

Some pastors and preachers will not speak up about ungodly, sinful ways and lifestyles, injustice in the community, abusive people in the church, etc., because they do not want to offend parishioners…they don’t want to impact the offering plate, they do not want to empty their pews. But by remaining silent, they are jeopardizing the very souls and the health of the people God has entrusted to their care.

Silence is not always golden. Silence can be consent. Silence can mean devastation and destruction. Like Mordecai said to Esther, if you deliberately turn your head, close your eyes and behave as if nothing has happened or is happening while your sister or your brother suffers, that same pain will come back to haunt, afflict and ultimately destroy you.

God’s Word declares that Mordecai,

3 … was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

When you with courage and by faith, according to God’s Holy Spirit and timing, speak up, the Lord Himself will raise you, the Lord Himself will fight for you, the Lord Himself will defeat your enemies, the Lord Himself will use you to bless and benefit many.

I’m so glad that somebody spoke up for me, stood in the gap for me, fought some fierce battles for me and His name is Jesus! Jesus spoke up for me. Jesus spoke up for you! Jesus defeated our accuser who stands before the throne day and night accusing us…JESUS SPOKE UP, JESUS MANNED UP AND HUNG ON THE CROSS AND JESUS GOT UP WITH ALL POWER IN HIS HANDS!

He calls us now to speak up for one another. Speak up for what is just and right…not joining together with people in their wrong, in their belligerence, in their mean spirited and divisive ways…there’s plenty of “speaking up” around those issues.

Instead, may we speak up when we see others being abused…speak up by getting out and voting and letting deceitful politicians know that they cannot buy our vote…speak up when we hear of clandestine plots and plans to get rid of people for unjust reasons…speak up when we hear others accusing and speaking falsely about people…speak up when we are around people who are tearing down the man, the woman of God…speak up and point out the good when others are constantly criticizing and ignoring the right…by GOD SPEAK UP!!!

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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