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Sermon 09302012

Sermon 09302012

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Published by SmithfieldBaptist

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Published by: SmithfieldBaptist on Nov 13, 2012
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12/04/2012

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Message - September 30, 2012Getting Our Of Your Comfort Zone1.The story Esther is a wonderful story…filled with all the wonderful and terrible things that can happento human beings in all times and places.It is the story of the Jewish people and how, so often, because of their location in the world they are thetarget of greater powers that surround them…and carry them off into captivity…this time Persia.It is the story of how, as was often the case, even in times of great trouble people are able to do well andsurvive and adapt to their new surroundings. But it is also the story of how human pride and greed andsuspicion and fear turns people against each other…how hurt feelings can fester and become prettydestructive.But I think at its heart it is also the story of how a person…Esther takes all that she experiences and steppingout of her comfort zone…encounters the powerful and quiet working of God to help her and her people, not just survive, but thrive in their new home.It is a complicated story but it goes something like this…Israel is taken captive and its people transported to Persia…Their king is king Xerxes who throws a party…he wants his beautiful wife to come to the party but sherefuses…the king is vain and his advisors convince him to make a decree that anyone who disobeys the kingmust be banished…that is the last we hear of his wife, Vashti.He needs a new queen and so people are brought forth to be viewed by the king…Esther is one of them.She is an orphan Jewish girl who has been told by her guardian Mordacai not to reveal her Jewish heritage.She is the most beautiful of all the young women and so the king marries her.It is a good thing for the king because Mordacai discovers a plot to kill the king…and through Esther tellshim and saves his life and makes Mordacai a hero too.In the meantime Xerxes honors Haman for his good work and gives a decree that everyone has to bow downand honor him.In typical fashion, for stories of Jewish people in pagan countries… Mordacai refuses…He only bows toGod…and this makes him an enemy of Haman who decides that this is typical Jewish behavior and that allJews including Mordacai should and will be killed.Mordacai finds out about this and goes to Esther to tell her…she must tell the king…of course she isfearful…scared what will happen to herself as well as her people…she has seen what has happened to aformer queen…she knows how vulnerable the king is to his advisors and people in power…how moved hecan be by his own pride and fear of being seen as weak…Right now…this little orphan girl is prettycomfortable…but to accomplish anything she has to move out of her comfort zone.2.I think this is where her story connects with our story…and in its own way with the other stories fromscripture we have read this morning.It isn’t easy to move out of our comfort zones…it often takes something or someone who really gives us a push to get us moving and tackling some of the tough challenges life gives us…Me and punctuation…and Clyde Watson…I listened to a group of folks this week talk about a challenge they had been given the week before…theywere asked to confront a problem they were facing by utilizing some skills they were being taught…their task was to make a request or refuse a request and do it using a model they were being taught for problemsolving.They had to describe what they wanted…They had to explain why it was important…They had to assert themselves to let it be known this was really important to them.They had to reinforce what they wanted by saying it again if itwasn’t heard…This isn’t an easy thing to do…we form comfortable ways of doing things…getting along with others…solving problems…or not solving them and living with them…but even then old habits are hard to break… No matter how good things might be…it is hard to move out of our comfort zones.
 
We have a great example in the gospel story…jesus disciples are very comfortable in their relationship withhim and with their plans for being at his side when he brings in the kingdom…and then out of no wheresomeone they don’t know is found doing the same things they are doing…But he isn’t one of us, they tell Jesus and he has to remind them that God is always working all around us …sometimes with our help…sometimes without it to accomplish God’s purposes…And that is a good thing…3.It is a good thing because it is important to get outside of our comfort zones… Not a comfortable thing…Esther says it in chapter 4…I will go to the king…even if it is against the law…and if I perish I perish…But it was a really good thing…It was a good thing for queen Esther and her people.She was very skillful in her work to get the king to address his rule he had written which would have meantthe destruction of her people.She invites him and Haman to dinner…and they have a wonderful time…she is a charmer…And then she keeps them on the hook…asks them back…and gives the king a chance to deal with his problem with pride and with rules and law…the law of the Medes and the Persians is that once a king makesup his mind he can’t change it.And when they come back in a very mater of fact way she lays out her wish…in such a way that the kingreally couldn’t help but agree and to realize that his relationship with Haman is a terrible mistake for himand for all of his people…Esther’s included.Esther stepped outside her comfort zone and did two things that I think can happen for us too…First…she learned some important lessons about herself and her own abilities.The first time we step outside our comfort zone anywhere it is really uncomfortable…and we often goodthings up pretty well…I have always been uncomfortable playing the violin in public…even now with that thing up next to my ear all I hear are squeaks and groans…My teacher kept after me and had me play recitals…one was really difficult…the violin has places on thestrings…up high called harmonics…when you hit one right it is beautiful…when you miss it is aweful…inrecital I missed it…stood a moment then went back and played the run over and made it…great applause…great relief …great learning…that is where that note is…never really knew until I missed it.Stepping outside our comfort zone in the right environment can often teach us great lessons…The second thing it teaches us, however, is a great lesson about where God is in our lives.God is never mentioned in the book of Esther…interesting…must be for a reason…maybe to remind us thateven when not thought about and talked about …God is there…there in the story…there in our story…oftenmost certainly when we aren’t looking for him.This is pretty much the history of Israel and her people…they leave their comfort zones and in doing so findGod…Abraham leaves home and comfort to follow a promise…Moses turns to a burning bush…the peopleleave all behind in Egypt…and travel a wilderness…the disciples of Jesus come and follow one who tellsthem…birds have nest and foxes holes but the son of man has no place to lay his head…It is our story too…stepping outside our comfort zone…moving toward the unknown…unexpected oftenoffers us a very powerful encounter with God…It was the worst weekend of my life, a young woman tells me…my boyfriend and I had been drinking allweekend…and then we ran out…After a while I was sick…I couldn’t stand…I was in agony…rolling on thefloor in pain…O God I said…please help me…I have no where else to turn…she then experienced awarming starting at the top of her head and moving through her whole body…pain left…desire left…craving left…peace came and then sleep…She had a relapse after and others too but the experience stayedwith her and is still with her in recovery…reminding her of what can be when you step outside what youexpect…Kierkegard says faith is a leap…and it is only when you leap into the unknown that you begin to experienceGod in the fullest of our relationship with God…

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