Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: There is a time for everything. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We battle sin; we battle the world; we battle the devil. Our spiritual battles should be followed by a time of celebration and joy. It’s a good thing and a right thing to stop and take note of what God has done and to celebrate. But you can’t enjoy the celebration and the joy until first you’ve waged the warfare.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 25.

We tend to celebrate in order to forget. We want to leave behind our work and our problems and just have some amusement. There’s a far more fulfilling way to celebrate, though.

Throughout the Bible, God calls His people to celebrate, not to forget but to remember. Here’s Nancy to explain, continuing in a series called Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time.

Nancy: They say in literature that something that makes a great plot is having tension and [big sigh] relief. Today is the [big sigh] relief of this story.

There’s been a lot of tension in this story of Esther—tension for us, but imagine being in the position of the Jews! All these months they’ve seen this escalating tension between Haman and Mordecai, between the Jews and their enemies. They’ve had to wait for nearly a year to have the opportunity to overcome their enemies.

It’s been a long haul. It’s been a tough waiting period. There’s been a lot of emotion, a lot of tension, and today we have the [big sigh]. After the battle, what happens?

Esther 9:17-19,

This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar [that’s taking us back to the end of the battle where the Jews defeated their enemies], and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth [they had two days of battle, as you’ll remember from our last session], and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. [So what followed the battle? Rest, feasting and gladness.]

Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.

After the battle was over, they rested. That word rest means “to be quiet or free from anxiety.”

Actually, all along there was no real cause for anxiety because God, in His providence, was orchestrating events toward this end. But they still had these anxious feelings as they were awaiting the outcome.

And we have anxious times and feelings. But then we get past the situation, we see what God has done, and it’s important to stop and rest and celebrate the victory.

This was a time of feasting and gladness. They sent gifts to one another and to the poor.

This was a spontaneous celebration. No one had to tell them to celebrate. It just came out. They couldn’t help themselves.

You’ve been there. When you’ve seen God bring a prodigal home that you’ve prayed for for years, what does the father of the prodigal say? “Kill the fatted calf, let’s have a party! Let’s celebrate.”

What does the woman say who’s lost a coin and she finds it after searching for it hard? She’s been through the tension, the anxiety of having lost it. When she finds it, what does she do? The same thing that happens when the shepherd finds his lost sheep. They have a party. There’s a celebration. Heaven celebrates; we join them in their celebration (see Luke 15).

Proverbs 11:10 tells us, “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.”

Isn’t that a good description of what’s taking place here in Esther? What should have been a day of slaughter for the Jews turns into a day of great celebration. What should have been a day of destruction becomes a day of deliverance.

So fasting has turned to feasting. Mourning has turned to joy and gladness. Fear has turned to boldness and confidence. Despair has turned to hope.

It’s really an astounding story. If you think about it, this little obscure minority of Jews rises to a position of great influence and power in this massive empire, and all as a result of a series of circumstances that have been clearly orchestrated by the power of God.

Let me suggest that, in the spiritual realm of our lives, our spiritual battles—and we do have them; we battle sin; we battle the world; we battle the devil—our spiritual battles should be followed by a time of celebration and joy. It’s a good thing and a right thing to stop and take note of what God has done and to celebrate. But you can’t enjoy the celebration and the joy until first you’ve waged the warfare.

I think one of the problems in the Christian world today is that we want everything to be gladness and joy and celebration, but we don’t want to go through the pain and the agony and the anguish and the waiting and the spiritual battle. We want to just celebrate without saying no to our flesh, without doing battle against the enemy.

You can’t really enjoy the feasting and the celebration if you haven’t been through the battle. Both are necessary, both are appropriate, but in their proper order.

Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness [see those words recurring over and over again—feasting and gladness], days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor (verse 20-22).

So Mordecai institutes a Jewish Memorial Day of sorts. It’s to be not only a one-time feast but an annual observance—a time for them to remember how their sorrow was turned to gladness and their mourning was turned to a holiday.

This was a day of recognizing, celebrating, commemorating God’s deliverance and their liberation. So on that day they shared gifts with each other. They sent food and gifts to those who were less fortunate than themselves.

This isn’t the only time in the Old Testament we see this. Again and again and again—after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, when they got into the Promised Land—at different points God said, “Stop and remember what’s happened. Stop and celebrate. Stop and commemorate.”

The Passover was to be an annual celebration of God’s deliverance from the angel of death. Commemorate the works of God.

It was important not only in biblical days, but it’s important for us to celebrate God’s deliverance in the past, for a couple of reasons: Number one, so we remember.

It’s easy to forget how God has delivered us, and then we get into another difficult circumstance and we think, “Oh no, what am I going to do?” Well, if we have these regular reminders of what God has done, it gives us courage for the future.

And it’s important to tell the next generation, and the one after that, the story of what God has done. Do you celebrate your salvation? Do you take time to stop and commemorate where God found you, how He delivered you from your enemies of sin and Satan?

Don’t forget the story, and be sure your children and their children never forget. Keep telling the story of what God has done. That’s why meaningful traditions and meaningful family celebrations are a good thing—to commemorate the works of the Lord.

Psalm 78:4 says,

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

When it comes to Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving holidays, even holidays that celebrate great days in our nation’s history, do you remember the reason for the season? What are you doing, and what does your family do, to commemorate the redeeming work of God in salvation?

As I was preparing this series, I came across something on my laptop I had forgotten about. On my 35th spiritual birthday, which was several years ago—and each year I do celebrate May 14, 1963; it’s the day I came to Christ, so May 14 is a special celebration, a special time of the year for me—I sent out an invitation to friends, co-workers, people in my area, and here’s what it said:

“You’re invited to share in a celebration of redemption.”

Then I had the date and the time and the place—I did this at my home—and then I had this verse on the invitation: Exodus 13:3, NKJV, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place.”

Then I said on the invitation: “On the occasion of my 35th spiritual birthday, I wanted to invite my friends to join in celebrating the great gift of salvation which is ours through Jesus Christ. This will be an informal time of praise, worship, and testimonies.”

We did. We had a celebration of redemption, and I remember it now. We had this opportunity for people to share their testimony, how they came to faith in Christ.

At the end of that invitation, I wrote, “Bring a snack or dessert to share, and children are welcome.”

I thought as I read that, “That’s a lot like the book of Esther.” They had food. They had feasting. Children were welcome. Children were a part of the celebration, and that was a special evening.

But it’s important not to do it just once, but regularly take time individually, personally, and as a family, and as the people of God to celebrate, to commemorate the deeds of God. As we do, we’re always picturing and anticipating that coming celebration when the battle will be completely over, when God will triumph over all His enemies, and we will enter into eternal joy and feasting and celebration.

What we do now is just a glimpse. It’s just a taste. It’s an appetizer, a picture of what we will spend an eternity doing—celebrating, honoring the King of kings and Lord of lords, celebrating His great redemptive triumph in this world.

Leslie: Celebrations can serve as important markers in your spiritual journey. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been explaining why it’s so important to have those markers.

Studying the book of Esther with Nancy could be one of those milestones for you, a time of great growth. I hope you’ll remember this season in some way.

We can help you at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can order the CD of this series called Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time. Some of the teaching segments on the CD are longer than we were able to air.

You can also follow up in your personal devotions by studying the booklet Esther: The Exile Queen. Our team created this devotional inspired by Nancy’s teaching. We’ll send you a copy when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts. For details, visit our website or ask for Esther: The ExiledQueen when you donate at 800-569-5959.

“Don’t worry.” That might be one of the most difficult clichés to actually put into practice. Some of our listeners have been learning some important things about worry and trust during this series on Esther. Some of them have been talking with Nancy.

Testimonial: I feel greatly encouraged because the whole concept of being patient and being quiet and waiting on the Lord and not trying to solve everything and manipulate and “do” but to “know” . . .

This whole book of Esther has encouraged me that God is so much of the time unseen. I knew that, but this really brought it to life for me. I do love to marvel at what God does. I journal and write it down because it’s so exciting to my soul and my heart.

At the same time, I want to marvel at Him being unseen and working just as much even when I don’t know it. Of course it’s going on all the time, and I’m so encouraged by that.

Testimonial: This whole issue of providence—I feel like a lot of this generation lives with purposelessness and the idea that nothing really matters. I think maybe your follow-up book on fear should be a book on providence, or possibly it could be a large portion of that book on fear, because the answer to fear is trusting in the providence of God. Just a little thought there.

Testimonial: In this day when women are striving so much to be recognized and are often despised in this world, and when we read in the Word what God wants a woman to be, we sometimes get really discouraged. But it’s a blessing to see that in this particular story, in this particular situation and time, the hinge of this action depended on a woman. So it doesn’t matter where we are or who we are; we just might be much more important in God’s plan than we think we are, and God will use us no matter where we are if we obey Him.

Testimonial: I thought it was interesting to note that in the king’s feast there was no joy or gladness. It’s also interesting to note when the drinking stopped at the feast. It made me think about how the world’s ways—there’s no joy or gladness there.

Nancy: It said there were 18 references to feasting in the book. The first 3 chapters have the king’s feast, the middle chapters are Esther’s feasts, and the last chapters are the Jewish feasts. In the king’s feast, there are no references to gladness but a lot of references to drinking, and what starts in feasting ends in sorrow.

In the Jewish feasts at the end, there are no references to drinking; there are a lot of references to joy and gladness, and what starts in sorrow ends in feasting. So it’s just the other way around.

The world is feasting now at things, but it doesn’t really have joy, and that’s why it has to rely on things like alcohol. But when you feast for the right reasons, as a result of God’s redemption, there’s true joy—not a dependence on another substance, but a joy that comes from within, from the Spirit of God; so that’s what I think Jane was referring to there.

Testimonial: I was convicted early on of the need to fully trust the Lord with my children, especially my daughter, who expressed her desire to go on a mission trip. I have always wanted her to do that, but when the rubber met the road, I thought of every awful thing that could happen to her in another country without a parent there. I’m really good at that.

I was struck at what a lack of faith that is and by who God is. In the picture of Mordecai letting Esther go into a situation that he knew probably better than she did how awful it might be and what could happen; yet God was faithful, and He did so much, as you shared so often—the providence of God and His hand.

I have to trust regardless of what happens on this mission trip. There still could be any of those awful things happen, but God is still in control, and He rules and overrules. So my faith has been encouraged. Thank you.

Testimonial: I was struck by how, when Esther would approach the king, she never knew how he was going to respond. He could blow up at her; she just didn’t know.

What a wonderful thing, that we can draw near to our Father and come boldly to His throne. I was flying over the Grand Canyon yesterday, and even the Grand Canyon looked so small, and I just realized how small I am. Yet my heavenly Father loves to have me come to His throne, to have that time with Him. He loves that, and that’s a precious thing, that we can come boldly.

Nancy: And we don’t have to worry about how He’s going to respond.

Testimonial: I want to comment on the part where Esther is about to go in to the king, and Mordecai tells her that if she doesn’t speak at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will come from another place. That reminded me of speaking truth into people’s lives, even if they’re Christians who just need a word of truth about something in their life.

If I don’t speak out about it, it will come from another place; but like Esther, her father and her family will be destroyed. I will be ashamed if I don’t do that, and God won’t be using me. But I do have opportunity to speak truth into people’s lives, in love; and even though it’s hard, it’s something that God will honor.

Testimonial: I was struck when Nancy was talking about the providence of God and how she journaled it. I have done that in my life, and to me it’s such a joy.

At night sometimes before I go to sleep, I say, “Oh, Lord, You have been so faithful through my whole life, beginning at my birth—actually from my birth—it was a miracle of God, because You knew I was dead. If You hadn’t had my father look at me, I would not be here. Lord, You have, in every area of my life—when I was a little kid, when I was a child, when I was a teenager, all my life—You’ve done things in my life that are really, really, really providential.”

It’s such a blessing to recount. I have these milestones that I look at along the way, and I’m so thankful for God’s faithfulness and how He never, ever makes a mistake.

Nancy: If there is no providence, then we have every reason to be terrified, because this whole world is chance and out of control, and we ought to be scared to death. But if there is a God who is the Creator, who is wise enough and smart enough and loving enough and good enough and able enough to control every aspect, item, and atom of His creation, then why would I fear?

I think, when we do fear, it’s an evidence of the fact that we’re not trusting that God is sovereign. We either don’t know it, or we don’t believe it, or we have forgotten it, but fear can’t coexist with faith.

Faith eradicates fear, and faith is based, not on some feeling I have, but on the reality of who God is, His promises, His character, His sovereignty. Now, does that mean that, if we’re trusting God’s sovereignty and God’s providence, we can just march in to the king and feel bold and not have any apprehension about doing that?

I think Esther probably did have apprehension, but only to the extent that she didn’t know what God was going to do. Any apprehension we do have—if we knew what God knows, there would be no fear. If we really knew God and knew what He was going to do . . . the more we know about God, the less fear there will be.

I’m more grounded in God’s ways today, as a result of spending weeks in the book of Esther, than I was before. As a result, I’m finding myself responding more to life’s circumstances with greater confidence in God, greater stability, less sense of thinking, “Oh, yikes, what are we going to do?” The more we grow, the more we know God, the more stable and grounded we will become, and the less fearful.

There’s a process. The person who has just come to know God, who doesn’t have a track record with God, who hasn’t seen God demonstrate His providence over and over again—that person, though a committed believer who loves God, may still have a lot of fears. But the more you grow, the more you know, the more you trust. “Those who know your name put their trust in you” (Psalm 9:10).

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been pointing us to the one Person who can deliver us from worry. If you know someone struggling with worry who would enjoy reading the transcript of today’s program, I hope you’ll take a minute to send them a copy. Just visit our website. You’ll find the transcript there, and forwarding it to a friend is easy.

Our website is a rich resource for women looking for biblical advice for all types of issues. You’ll find years’ worth of transcripts, articles from Nancy, and audio and other resources, like the book our friend Elyse Fitzpatrick wrote called Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety.

The website, the podcast, and the radio program are all made possible because women just like you believe in the ministry and donate. When you send a gift, it will help us reach women with deep needs—like the woman who wrote us to say she’s been living for 33 years with an alcoholic husband in a tough marriage.

She wrote, “I set my alarm to ensure that I have enough time to listen before I set out for work. You’re such an inspiration to me.”

You can donate at ReviveOurHearts.com or call 800-569-5959.

It’s hard to fathom how long eternity really is, but keeping eternity in mind will dramatically affect your view of trust and worry. Nancy will talk about that tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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