May 6 Bible study: Surrendering to God leads to great things

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John Yarbrough, director of Alumni Affairs and Public Policy
Truett McConnell University

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Esther had a decision to make. Was she safe in the palace and would getting involved put her at risk? Mordecai challenged her with her responsibility. She would not usurp God’s will, but would not escape the consequences of her failure to surrender. Mordecai said that deliverance for the Jews would come from “another place”, but that her disregard for what God had positioned and prepared her to accomplish would receive the consequences of her disobedience.

For more than 50 years our culture has been “slouching toward Gomorrah’ (judge Robert H. Bork), we have now arrived in downtown Gomorrah. During our cultural decline, much of the church has been silent. We felt “safe” in our fellowship suppers, committee meetings, conferences, and battling over hymn books and PowerPoints.

Now that the social earthquake is knocking on the doorsteps of our churches and family conclaves, we have (at least some of us) been shaken and awaken. Christian churches have been culturally marginalized by growing secularization. The question for our day is: Will the church stand, and how will we stand?

We have choices much like Esther. We allow the descending voices to cause us to fear the social isolation, lawsuits, and churches being punished by tax laws. Yet, we can decide to be the “salt and light” our Lord has commissioned us to be. By the way, both “salt and light” irritate and bless.

Could it be that God has placed you right where you are “for such a time as this”? Could it be that your workplace, your school, community, family, and even your church needs you to be “salt and light” right where you are?

We do not see the word “prayer” or even God’s name in our passage. It seems obvious that the call to “fast” is not merely a call for self-denial, but a call to seek God’s peace, God’s presence, and God’s direction. Have you seriously sought God’s will for your life in the midst of the cultural crisis we are experiencing? Perhaps there is a personal area around you that God has placed you to roll back the darkness.

Our prayers are often for God to raise up someone to engage the culture. We even select people, pastors, leaders, or politicians who we pray will be the one. Could it be that each of us are the “one” right where we are? Is it time for us to each say, “yes” and seek God for the “what”?

Esther had no idea when she entered the palace what would be ahead for her. She may have been thinking about the lifestyle and comfort her new position would afford. Instead, she found her entire world was disrupted and that God had better things for her to accomplish. Would we know her name today if she had remained “silent”?

She becomes a hero because of her faithfulness. Note what she says at the end of our passage, “If I perish, I perish.” She recognizes that doing the right thing may carry a high cost, but she would rather do right and perish than live wrong and long.

I remember a time, years ago, when as a pastor I had been very involved in a fight against an alcohol referendum in our community. We lost the referendum. A dear evangelist friend of mine saw my disappointment and encouraged me by saying, “Brother John, I would rather lose in a cause that is destined to win than to win in a cause that is destined to lose.”

I have remembered his words many times. Often, when the battle has not gone my way, even when I knew I was standing for the right thing, in the right way, based on the Word of God, we lose a battle. I know one day we win the war in the end!

Esther didn’t perish, but she had to get to that place that she feared and loved God more than she feared and loved the world. Her total surrender put her in the hand of God to see Him accomplish amazing things.

Will you stand? Martin Niemöller is best known for his statement that reflects our challenge,
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

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Daily Bible Readings for January 16-31
Bible study for Jan. 20: When life is expendable
Bible study for Jan. 13: When races collide
Daily Bible Readings for January 1-15