Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Bold Calling on Your Life

Episode Resources

Learn more about the Esther: Trusting God's Plan Bible study.

Leslie Basham: How would finish this sentence? “Living according to God’s Word is like . . .” Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says your answer shouldn’t included words like “picnic” or “cake.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It’s not a calling to comfort and convenience and self-fulfillment. It’s a calling to glorify God, with the laying down of your life. It will involve hardship when we follow in the steps of the Savior, who was willing to lay down His life so that we could live.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Wednesday, July 3, 2019.

For the last couple days, Nancy’s been telling us the story of Esther and showing us insights from God’s Word. If you missed the first two days of this series, you can catch up at ReviveOurHearts.com. We heard how Esther’s people were taken captive. In a foreign land, Esther was forcibly brought into the King’s harem and elevated to the position of queen. This wasn’t a Cinderella kind of story, but a very difficult situation. Then when the Jews were in danger of being annihilated, Esther was called to speak up and be God’s woman acting according to God’s timing. Nancy will conclude this message looking at another woman who knew she was called to serve the Lord “for such a time as this.”

Nancy: Many of you are familiar with the story and the writings of Amy Carmichael who in 1895 went to India as a twenty-eight-year-old single woman. She stayed for the next fifty-five years without a furlough. When she got there, she discovered that there were children, infants, little girls, young women, who had been taken captive and sold into prostitution in the Hindu temples. Her heart was broken by what she saw, and she said, “Someone has got to do something about this.”

Well, God had brought Amy Carmichael into His kingdom for such a time as this, and so one life at a time, she and her little band of co-workers began to rescue those children from the temples in which they were held. It was dangerous work. It was difficult work. They had to withstand centuries-entrenched religion and cultural issues. They had to go against the flow.

As we talk about this counter-cultural revolution, I often say to women, “We’ve got to be willing to be salmon, swimming upstream.” What do salmon do? You’ve heard the stories, and you’ve seen the pictures of how they swim upstream. They get bloodied and beat up on the rocks. And why do they do it? To give birth. To give life. They give life, then what do they do? They die. You say, “That doesn’t sound like something I want to be called to.” What a picture that is of the heart of Christ, the heart of Calvary, who swam upstream, bloodied and beaten, to give spiritual life, laying down His life to give us eternal life.

Listen, we may die in the process, but if we die fulfilling the kingdom purposes and will of God for our lives, so be it. If I perish, I perish. I’m going for broke.

That’s what Amy Carmichael did over all those years—risking her life to rescue one little girl, one young woman at a time—working tirelessly to salvage those lives and to expose the works of darkness that had claimed so many children’s lives in India. Each step of the way she was fighting against, pushing against the powers of darkness, but not in her own strength—in the strength and power of God who had sent her there. She endured, and she persevered through all those years through a handful of victories, but also through numerous heartbreaking losses and apparent defeats.

Now the issues are a little bit different in our day, perhaps, though we do have the whole issue of the sex trade, which is a serious issue in our world. The issues around us are no less serious than those of those little girls sold into prostitution in the temples. Women and girls all around us—we live in and among them—are in bondage to guilt and fear and bitterness and anxiety and eating disorders and sinful behaviors and addictions and depression. They need to be rescued from the enemy who has taken them captive. We are called to fight the powers of darkness in the name and the power and the Spirit of the Lord Jesus and to join God in His great rescue operation. We’re called to shine the light in the darkness, to see captives set free, and to see God glorified.

As I was in the process of praying with friends and colleagues about launching the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, I’d asked those on our Board of Directors and Advisory Council for our ministry to pray about that decision. We came to a board meeting, and I was sitting in on a discussion about whether it was time for the ministry to launch what became Revive Our Hearts Radio Ministry. There was an older gentleman—I suppose he would have been in his late seventies, maybe eighties—who was in that group of men. He’s a man of prayer. Some of you know the name of T.W. Hunt. He’s been a Bible teacher and leader for many years.

He was real quiet for the longest time as there was a lot of discussion going on in the room, and then when everybody else had had their say, Brother T.W. spoke up. He said,

I’ve been praying about this. I want to tell you that for many years I have been deeply burdened and concerned in my heart about the widespread, increased corruption among women in our culture, the coarsening of women, the rawness, the vulgarity, the secularism. I’ve been burdened and praying about this for years and what could make a difference, what could address it, what could go against that tide.

As I’ve been praying about the potential of launching Revive Our Hearts, I believe that God has raised up this ministry to be a light and to make a difference and to take on the powers of darkness among women, to turn back the tide of corruption among women.

As I heard those words, on the one hand I was inspired and grateful for helping to clarify the mission, and on the other hand there was within me a real sense of weakness, overwhelming inadequacy, fearfulness. The Lord brought to mind, as He has numerous times over the year, and I share this not to just to tell you my story, but to say whatever God is calling you to, maybe you have feelings of weakness and inadequacy and fear. I assume I’m not the only one who struggles with those things.

The Lord took me back to that passage in Luke chapter 1 where the angel came to Mary and said, “You’re going to have a baby. It’s going to be God’s Son. I know you’re not married. I know you’ve never been intimate with a man, but this is what God is going to do.” Mary asked the obvious question, “How can this be? It’s not humanly, physically possible.” That’s what I was feeling when we talked about launching this ministry with this mission. How can this be? I don’t have the gifts, the skills, the abilities—no one does. This is a big, big issue—what needs to happen among women today. The angel said to Mary, and these words have been God’s word to my heart many, many times over the years, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

Who’s going to win the battle? God is. Who’s going to fill you with power? God is—His power. “Nothing will be impossible with God,” the angel said. What was Mary’s response? If I have a life verse, this is probably it, Luke 1:38, Mary said simply, in faith and humility and surrender, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Mary said, “Yes, Lord.” Esther said, “Yes, Lord.” Amy Carmichael said, “Yes, Lord.”

If you were to ask those women today, “Was it worth it? Would you do it again?” Do you have any doubt about what they would say? Millions of Jews spared—the line through which the Messiah was to come preserved. Hundreds and hundreds of little girls in India rescued from Satan’s clutches and given physical and spiritual life. The Savior was born. His calling on our lives will be difficult at times. Maybe you’re in that hard place right now. His calling will involve hardship and suffering and obstacles. I’m just telling you—it’s not a calling to an easy life. It’s not a calling to comfort and convenience and self-fulfillment. It’s a calling to glorify God, with the laying down of your life. It will involve hardship when we follow in the steps of the Savior, who was willing to lay down His life so that we could live.

When you and I see the face of Christ, and it won’t be long, if we’ve been faithful in fulfilling His calling in our lives, we will say, “Jesus, it was worth it all for You.” In fact, I think most, if not all of us will say, “I wish I’d given Him more.” Would we do it again? Absolutely.

I’m asking God to raise up a great host of women, women of courage and faith and compassion and humility and wisdom. Women filled with Jesus for such a time as this. Will you join me in that mission? Will you be a part of that counter-cultural revolution? Will you say, “Yes, Lord. I am Your servant. Take me, use me, spend me. Fulfill all Your holy eternal purposes in and through my life, whatever the cost”?

Oh, Father, how I pray that You’d find here a host of women who would say simply, “Yes, Lord,” for Jesus sake, and the sake of Your great kingdom, amen.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, challenging each of us to say, “Yes, Lord” to whatever He is calling us to. That wraps Nancy’s message on Esther from one of the True Woman conferences. But it can just be the beginning of your exploration of the book of Esther.

As you may know, Revive Our Hearts has developed a series of devotional studies called Women of the Bible. The latest study has just come out, titled, Esther: Trusting God’s Plan. When you go through this study, you’ll get to know the book of Esther for yourself. Questions will help you get into the text. And you’ll also answer questions to help you make this material personal in your life.

We’d like to send you Esther: Trusting God’s Plan as our thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. You can make your donation to support this ministry when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call 1–800–569–5959.

And to go along with the release of this new devotional, you can also listen or watch a new season of the Women of the Bible podcast. Listening to the podcast will be like having your own Bible study discussion. We’re going to give you a taste of what you’ll hear on that podcast. Let’s join host Erin Davis. She’s talking with Dr. Venessa Ellen. She’s the chair of women’s ministry at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston. And we’ll hear from Betsy Gómez, who helps work on digital media for Aviva Nuestros Corazones, the Spanish ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Let’s listen as these friends help us get to know the book of Esther better.

Erin Davis: Let me take us to verse 5 where we meet Esther:

Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother.

The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter (vv. 5–8).

What do we already know about Esther from just these few verses?

Dr. Venessa Ellen: Life had already been hard for her from a young child! Her parents were deceased and she was technically orphaned, and she’s growing up, probably (it doesn’t tell us, but we could speculate) . . . She might not have known Mordecai that well. We don’t know.

Erin: They’re cousins. He takes her in. And what do we know about Mordecai just from these few verses? His life hasn’t been any easier, right? What can we see in the passage?

Betsy Gómez: We see him taking her in. He adopts her as his daughter, and this is beautiful, because we see adoption right here.

Erin: And it’s only after he’s been taken from his homeland. We see in Scripture this captivity of the people of God. He’s been removed from Jerusalem and taken to Susa, which is about 700 miles as the crow flies (it’s probably a lot more like a thousand travel-miles). There aren’t planes, there aren’t cars. He’s a long way from home!

Esther and Mordecai had both endured a great deal of heartache. I think we tend to romanticize what happens next in the story. If you’ve seen movies of this or Sunday school portrayals, it sounds like Esther is a Cinderella. She’s rags-to-riches! There’s this elaborate beauty contest. We saw in verse 2 that the contestants are these virgins.

The historian, Josephus, estimates that there were about 400 virgins rounded up for this contest. So let’s not race past that. Let’s sit in that a minute. What is happening? Four-hundred women taken—taken!—and forced into the king’s harem. Imagine the culture; think with me what is happening in those young women’s lives.

Betsy: Yes, we think that these women are like Cinderella’s sister, craving to be picked, like, “Oh, yeah! The king, the prince will love me. I’ll love him! I want to be chosen!”

Erin: They hope the glass slipper fits!

Betsy: But this meant to be taken away from your family, from your life, from your dreams. Everything’s shattered, and it’s not like you’re going to a nice place. You’re going to a harem. And that’s not a beautiful picture, because there you’re an object. It’s horrible.

Dr. Venessa: Yes, and they’ve already been taken. They were in this position because of disobedience, so they’ve already experienced being exiled. Some of them have gone back and some of them haven’t, so they’ve been going through turmoil for quite some time.

And now we look at this. It says the young women were “gathered.” They weren’t like volunteering.

Erin: No, this isn’t American Idol. They don’t sign up and hope they get picked.

Dr. Venessa: No, they were gathered. Verse 3 tells us that. What I found interesting is, they were gathered into a harem. Then after their night with the king, now they’re tossed into concubines. So you don’t even get to go back home if you’re not picked.

Erin: No, they’re tossed aside. That’s what happens systematically. I would have to imagine that some of them are never called upon. I mean, there are 400 of them in the harem. They’re called to a night with the king . . . and we know what that is. They’re not sitting on a couch watching a chick flick.

They are summoned to the king at his whim and forced to do what he requires of them, and the one who pleases him will be crowned queen, but the odds are almost none of being chosen. And if they are ever summoned to him and not chosen, you’re right, they’re sent back as concubines, totally discarded, never to be called on again.

This is a degrading system that treats women as property. It’s not romantic, it’s not lovely, it’s not sweet. We see a picture of Xerxes in the text, that this is a man who abuses his power to get what he wants. He is using these women to get what he wants.

I think it’s important, as we look at this story, to think how difficult these circumstances were! You or I are not going to face circumstances this dark. We will face hard things, but I can’t fathom a situation where we’re rounded up and held as property at the whim of a powerful man. This is a difficult, difficult circumstance . . . and yet . . . the Lord is at work.

Betsy: You would ask yourself why God allowed this to happen! Why? Where was God here? I really love the fact that God is not hiding the consequences of our brokenness . . . and that brings me hope. Because when I see a situation where I’m tempted toward that: “Where is God at work in that place?” I can look here and I can see the invisible hand of God working in spite of the situations.

Erin: Absolutely.

Dr. Venessa: And this is very akin to what we still in our day today, the sex trafficking.

Erin: It’s what it is!

Dr. Venessa: We did some missions work down in Mexico, Queretero. They were telling me of a lady’s testimony there. She had been taken and mistreated and violently molested and so on, and in the end God comes around and saves her. And she goes to the prison and ministers to the guy that does all this to her.

It’s always the hand of God. We don’t always know the end of the story, as Esther didn’t know the end story, but God is there! He’s working there. I think we still see this happening today. Young girls are taken off their porch, taken from a poolside, gathered up. We still see it.

Betsy: And something that is a contrast, that I think we can highlight, is with all these evil, crazy things happening, the word “favor” appears so many times. So even though she was going through this difficult situation, God was granting her favor because He had a better plan in mind. It’s important for us to understand that, even in the dark places. God is shining His light because He’s at work!

Dr. Venessa: Yes, it’s important not to become hopeless, because He is our hope! And it may be that your situation, your circumstances may not even change.Technically, Esther didn’t know if her situation was going to change. Look at Joseph: his situation didn’t change for years. But God is with you. If you belong to Him, He’s with you.

Erin: He’s working things that you cannot see, that you couldn’t ask Him for. There have been so many situations in my life where I am somewhere in some circumstance. I’ll think, Man! If I had written today, if I had written this year, if I had written my life, I never would have inserted this into the script! And yet, the Lord in His infinite timing was working those things to my good!

Nancy: Well, you’ve been hearing part of a podcast produced by Revive Our Hearts called Women of the Bible. The new season of this podcast is all about Esther, and we just heard a sneak preview. Erin Davis has been talking with Dr. Venessa Ellen and Betsy Gómez. And they’ve been going through a new Bible study our team has developed called Esther: Trusting God’s Plan.

I hope you’ll get a copy of this Bible study, use it in your own quiet time, and then listen to the discussion. If you subscribe to the Women of the Bible podcast, you’ll hear new episodes coming out over six weeks, starting July 15. Or put together some friends, go through the study together, and then watch the video versions of these discussions led by Erin Davis. Again, they’ll come out each week starting July 15 at ReviveOurHearts.com.

That’s also where you can get a copy of the Bible study on Esther. We’ll send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Again you can do that at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Tomorrow we’ll continue exploring the life of this heroine of the faith—Queen Esther. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is preparing you for such a time as this. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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