Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Your Role in a Grand Story

Episode Resources

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

Leslie Basham: Do you ever feel small and insignificant? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is here to encourage you.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You may feel like a mere pawn on a chess board, being moved around. But never underestimate the power of God. Never underestimate the significance and the potential impact of your faith, of your prayers, of your faithfulness, of your obedience.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Tuesday, July 2, 2019.

Yesterday Nancy began a three-day series, walking us through the story of Esther. She’s challenging you to consider: why does God have you in your situation at this time? How does He want to use you in that situation? If you missed part one of this series, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When we left off, Haman, had just convinced King Ahasuerus to pass a law that put all the Jews living in Susa in danger. Esther had been given the position of queen in this pagan kingdom. And her adoptive father Mordecai sent her a message, asking her to speak up for their people.

Nancy: Esther’s heart is stirred by this appeal from Mordecai, and she realizes that she’s got to take decisive action, that there is no time for delay, so, verse 15,

Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do.”

“Gather all the Jews,” she said. Notice she doesn’t act alone. She realizes she’s a part of a community. She realizes the importance of being of one accord. She calls for a three-day fast. There’s a sense of urgency. Drastic times require drastic measures. Nothing is more important than this moment. She’s saying, “"This is not a time to play 'trivial pursuits.'" Now prayer is not explicitly mentioned here, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this was what was a part of this fast, that this is what they were doing. Before going to the King of Persia, Esther goes to the King of the Universe, who lifts up and tears down kings.

Now, we see that prayer and fasting were not the end. They were just preparing the way for Esther to move forward and for God to intervene on her behalf and on behalf of her people. So she says in verse 16, “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

Here’s a woman who is going for broke. This is not a half-hearted effort; it’s not a half-hearted commitment. She lays everything on the line in order to fulfill God’s purposes for her life—even if it means giving up her life.

As I was studying this text, I happened, providentially, on to a message by Pastor Tim Keller from Redeemer Church in New York City. He just mentioned Esther in a passing reference in that message. He said something that just really struck me. He talked about how Esther was willing to leave the palace and risk her life in order to save her people, and then the comparison there to Jesus who actually did leave His heavenly palace and did give up His life in order to save His people. So we have a foreshadowing here of the heart of Jesus in the gospel.

Now you know God supernaturally intervened. We won’t go through all that part of the story. His people were spared from annihilation, Mordecai was exalted, Haman the perpetrator was brought down to justice, and we have an important chapter in the history of redemption. So as we consider what it means for us to be true women of God in our day, I want to just walk through briefly several important insights and lessons from the story of Esther. I’ll just give them to you, and then you can go back to the text and meditate on these further.

  1.  We are in a battle.

We’re in a battle. In this story, we see how Satan, by means of Haman’s edict, attempted to wipe out the line of Christ. He is threatening the continuity of God’s purposes in redemptive history, threatening the future existence of God’s chosen people, threatening the appearance of the Messiah. Satan was behind Haman, trying to stamp out the line leading up to Christ. So you see that the real battle was not between Haman and Mordecai. They were just pawns on the board, so to speak, symbols of a conflict between two kingdoms—the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.

Ladies, our battle is not against feminists. They are not the enemy. Our battle is not against men. They are not the enemy. It’s not against human powers or political parties or secular culture. We’re in a spiritual battle here, and we need to keep our eyes on that reality.

  1.  The weapons and tactics of the human kingdom are entirely different than the weapons and tactics of the heavenly kingdom.

You see, in the human drama, the world depends on weapons like: worldly power, human laws and decrees, military might, self-sufficiency, anger, force, deception. Those are the world’s instruments and weapons. The children of the kingdom of God win the war with humility, prayer, fasting, sackcloth and ashes—reliance on God. Remember that, and remember that regardless of the outcome of elections, the outcome of the economy, the outcome of your situation. The battle is fought and won in the spiritual realm with spiritual weapons and tactics.

  1.  God has a sovereign redemptive plan, and His plan will not fail.

He has a plan for your life, a plan for your family, a plan for His people, a plan for our world—to reveal the glory and the splendor of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and to fill the earth with His glory, and His plan will not fail. Nothing can thwart it—nothing—no economic crisis, no ungodly husband, no challenge. Nothing can thwart the plan of God. Even when you cannot see His hand, even when it seems that nothing is happening, God is always behind the scenes at work fulfilling His purposes. He will prevail.

  1. Through faith and obedience, you can be part of God’s plan.

There are times when we feel helpless. You may feel helpless in your situation, outnumbered by ungodliness, the ungodly people around you, overwhelmed by the powers of darkness and wickedness. You may feel like a mere pawn on a chess board, being moved around. But never underestimate the power of God. Never underestimate the significance and the potential impact of your faith, of your prayers, of your faithfulness, of your obedience. The power of influence of one woman, an Esther, a Mary, a Sarah, a Ruth, a Deborah, who is filled with the Holy Spirit of God and says, “Yes, Lord, I’m available to fulfill Your purposes.” Don’t think that your life cannot make a difference.

Teenagers, we’ve got some twelve- and thirteen-year-olds here. We have older women. We had the other night an octogenarian—that means over eighty—stuffing the tote bags, standing on her feet for hours that night, helping us prepare of this conference. She’s a true woman. Women of all ages, between all seasons of life, don’t think that your life cannot make a difference in God’s kingdom. He has brought you into His kingdom for such a time as this. So be courageous. Be willing to step out in faith when it’s time to speak, time to act.

  1.  There is no situation so desperate that God cannot redeem it.

If ever there was a situation that seemed hopeless, it was Esther’s. Think about it. She was orphaned as a girl, taken into a Persian harem, married to a cruel, arrogant, alcoholic husband, and then experienced a law being enacted that every Jew was to be exterminated. It was a desperate situation. Her plight seemed hopeless, but the heavenly kingdom rules over the earthly kingdom. Are you getting that point? Will you remember that twenty-four hours from now when you’re in the midst of the earthly drama? The heavenly kingdom rules over all.

What did Dr. Piper say? “In every situation, God is always doing what?—a thousand things that you cannot see and you do not know.” Get it written, not just on your notebook, but on the tablet of your heart. So wait for God to act. Wait on His timing, and remember that you don’t win by pushing, nagging, screaming, yelling, badgering, manipulating, whining, shaming. Those things may get you your way in the immediate sense, but they will not win the kingdom of God any victories.

We tend to justify that kind of behavior—becoming shrews and getting shrill when the circumstances are dire. Even in our political situation right now, you hear a lot of shrillness; you hear a lot of anger. That should not be coming from God’s people—not in your marriage, not on the national scene, not on the “blogosphere.” There needs to be that gentleness and that meekness of spirit that is power under control, God’s power under control.

Here’s a woman in the most dire of circumstances, confronted literally with the likelihood of death, and you see Esther being remarkably in control of her tongue and her emotions. There’s no hurry, no histrionics, no hysterical outbursts. She’s an incredible picture of self-control because she knows that the kingdom of God is in control. Remember that when you go home. I know I keep saying that, but I know that twenty-four hours from now you’re going to be tempted to forget that I said that, so I want to say it enough that you don’t forget.

  1.  Don’t judge the outcome of the battle by the way things look now.

You see, in the here and now, as we saw with Mordecai and Haman, the wicked often flourish and the godly often suffer, but don’t despair when you see that happening. Remember that things are not now as they always will be. In the early scenes of Esther, we saw the wicked partying. We see the righteous mourning as the story unfolds. But by the close of the story, the wicked have been judged, and the righteous are partying. That’s a picture of what is yet to come. Are you ready for that day?

The wicked are riding high now, but one day they will give an account, there will be a final judgment. The righteous suffer now, but one day there will be the triumph of the kingdom of God. The Man coming riding on a white horse will burst through the clouds and will come to take over, and there will be everlasting joy for the people of God. In the end, Psalm 58, verse 11 tells us mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous. Surely there is a God who judges on earth.” God writes the final chapter.

And let me say, by the way, we haven’t read the final chapter. We don’t even have a—well, we have a glimpse of it, but we haven’t read it yet, but it’s already written. No mysteries in heaven. He’s written the final chapter in eternity past, and it is being unfolded in the human drama.

So now is the time. We are believing God for a movement of reformation and revival in the hearts and homes of Christian women all around this world. We have many joining us through the Internet today. You’re a part of this as well. We want to give you an opportunity to join with us in saying, “This is what we believe, this is what we affirm, we want to be a part of that counter-cultural revolution to take back the ground that has been given over to the world’s way of thinking for so many years.”

As you think about that counter-cultural revolution, it may seem very possible today while we’re all here cheering for each other, cheering with each other, but when you get back to your work place where everybody thinks you’re nuts for the ways that you believe, because you don’t talk the way they do; you don’t sleep around the way they do; you don’t have the attitudes they do.  People, you talk about the True Woman Manifesto, and you’ll find many Christian women today who either don’t agree with what we’re about to affirm, or who think it’s totally irrelevant, like, “What’s the big deal?”

You say in your heart, “This does matter,” and in your heart you know it’s true, but you feel so alone in that; it seems like such an impossibility. When you feel that way, remember Esther—raised up by God for such a time as this to make a huge difference in her world. A common, ordinary, young woman in the human drama with a lot of difficult things in her background, but God gave her courage and faith. As a result of her surrender and her obedience, one woman in God’s scheme of things, millions of her people were spared from destruction.

So many women today, even Christian women are disoriented. They’re not experiencing freedom and fulfillment and fullness in Christ. We have a lot of truly desperate housewives even within the church, but God has given us in His Word a message of grace and hope for those women. So I believe, in case you didn’t hear me say it yet, that God has brought you into this kingdom—His kingdom—for such a time as this, and that means the willingness to go against the flow.

Teenage gals, that means the willingness to follow Christ and His Word when it seems that all the other girls your age are consumed with beauty and guys and self and sex and having a good time. It means, girls, setting your affection on Christ, guarding your heart, choosing the pathway of purity, become a truth-speaker in your generation when all the peer pressure is going in the opposite direction.

Single women, it means going against the flow for you. It means choosing the pathway of contentment, to be willing to be married, willing to be single, whichever God has for you for His glory and the sake of His kingdom. It means while you are single, doing what many of my single women friends are doing—in using that time to serve the Lord without distractions. It means the willingness to be sexually pure, into your twenties and thirties and forties as a single woman, to be a servant of the family of God. There are some of you, I believe, here today, single women, that God may want to use your gifts and your training in vocational Christian ministry, perhaps even taking the gospel to other parts of the world as many single women have done before us.

Married women, it’s a call to go against the flow for you as well. A call to be faithful in a world of broken promises, to love your husband, to pray for him, to build a marriage that glorifies God. It means being faithful in the good times and the hard times. It means saying, “Yes” to your high and holy calling of being a helper to your husband, to reverence him, as the Scripture exhorts, to submit to him as a picture of your submission to Christ Himself.

It means to give yourself wholeheartedly to that husband and to say “no” to emotional or physical intimacy with any man other than your husband. I believe there are women here that God . . . you’ve been going with the flow, you’ve been going with your emotions, you’ve been going with what’s natural, and God is calling you today to break off those wrong attachments and to say “yes” to faithfulness, even though it means going against the current.

Mothers, going against the flow means to embrace the calling and the gift of being a giver and a nurturer of life. Don’t let the world tell you how many or how few children to have. Let God give you His vision for the impact that your children and your grandchildren could make for His kingdom for generations to come. It means a willingness to do battle for the souls of your children and your grandchildren and saying, “Lord, we’re not going to let the enemy have this next generation. We want them to belong to You.”

Older women—what does it mean for you to go against the flow? It means you choose not to retire spiritually. Don’t settle for a life consumed by golf and bridge and meaningless activity and preoccupation with self. I see some gray hairs in this place, and I’m so thankful for them, and I want to say to you women, younger women need you. They need your counsel, your encouragement, your prayers. They need you to take younger women under your wings and help them to learn how to live lives that please the Lord.

I’m wearing today a necklace that was given to me by a woman I called “Mom Johnson.” I lived with her family when I was a student at the University of Southern California many years ago, and we stayed in touch over the years. She was one of my most faithful prayer partners. I watched her age with grace. I watched her stay in the battle. I watched her stay pursuing Christ in spiritual growth. At her funeral, I believe, if I recall correctly, she was ninety-two years of age, and she gave this to me when she was in her nineties, found this and sent it to me for a birthday. At her funeral, I met a young mom in her thirties who said, “Mom Johnson has been mentoring me for years”—into her late eighties and early nineties, Mom Johnson was taking women under her wing and encouraging them and discipling them. We need some more Mom Johnsons to take her place.

And just another word to those of you who are my age and older. We are a part now of the generation of seventy-seven million baby boomers. There is so much energy and capacity and opportunity—that is the largest generation we will ever have, because of birth control and not having children, there will never be probably another generation that size of the baby boomers. So we have this huge force of men and women with an opportunity to invest our lives in His kingdom at that season of life, and I just believe there is a massive women’s movement of true women in those millions of women who are able to capture all kinds of battlefronts for Christ. Something or someone is going to get the attention and the affection of those baby boomers as they move into their latter years, and we need to pray that God will raise up an army of true women of God out of those boomers.

Leslie: No matter what your season of life, God has a plan and purpose for you. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing you some ways to get involved in building God’s kingdom for such a time as this.

Nancy delivered that message at one of the True Woman conferences, and we’re bringing it to you here in July as we focus all this month on trusting the Lord. This is such a powerful story, and I hope you’ll respond to what we’ve heard by learning more about Esther.

Revive Our Hearts has a new study on this biblical hero—part of our Women of the Bible series of devotionals. It’s called Esther: Trusting God’s Plan. As you go through the study, you’ll dig into the text of Esther and answer some questions to make it personal and apply these truths to your life.

We’d like to send you the Esther study as our way of saying "thanks" when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. To make your donation, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.  We’d like to help you take another step in studying Esther.

As you go through this study, I also hope you’ll listen to a new season of the Women of the Bible podcast. The new six-episode season goes along with the Esther study. So you can answer questions in the book, then be part of the discussion on the podcast. It’s also available on video, and you can get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

How would finish this sentence? “Living according to God’s word is like . . .” According to Nancy, your answer shouldn’t include words like “picnic” or “cake.”

Nancy: 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: She’ll talk more about it tomorrow. 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.

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