Preparing for Worship // September 11, 2016

Preparing for Worship // September 11, 2016

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My dog loves two things more than anything else: chewing on whatever he can get his teeth on and playing with our neighbor’s dog. Any time the two of them get together, they always have a blast biting and wrestling each other, and when they’re done, my dog is inevitably covered in a nice layer of dirt and saliva. This means it’s bath-time. If playing with my neighbor’s dog is his favorite thing, then taking a bath is definitely in his list of top five least favorite things. From the moment I get him in the tub, it becomes a battle of the wills as he seeks to escape and I try to get him to sit still. He can’t see the end result; all he knows is that he doesn’t want to take a bath.

God often leads us into situations that we don’t want to be in. Sometimes it’s the death of a loved one; sometimes it’s family troubles; sometimes it’s the loss of a job; but in every situation God is at work for our good. It’s not always the good that we would choose in the moment, and we may not be able to see how it could possibly be used for our good. Not only is it not the good that we would choose in the moment, but sometimes it’s not the good that we would choose at all. When I give my dog a bath, he could care less about getting clean. He would be perfectly content to live his life covered in mud and grime. The same is true of us. Without the Holy Spirit giving us life, we would be perfectly content to live in the mud and grime of our sin and earthly desires. Because of this, it is easy to forget that the good that God has in store for us is not earthly pleasure. We want to experience the sufferings of Job; we want to go through suffering and come out on the otherside with more wealth and earthly blessing than before. When the Bible speaks of God working all things for our good, this is not what it has in mind. The “good” that is in view is our growth in holiness. It can be easy to become disillusioned with the Christian life, if you expect earthly blessings to follow suffering in this life. God is at work doing something much more important than providing for our happiness: He is reshaping us in His image. 

In our passage this week, Esther marries King Ahasuerus, which I doubt she would have chosen if she knew how he had disrespected his first wife. But that is what God had planned for her, and He used it for her good, as well as the good of all the Jews! It is a great story to show that God knows what we need, and He works all things for our good and His glory. As you prepare for worship this week, meditate on these questions: is there a situation in your life that makes you feel like a dog being forced to take a bath? What has God given you that overwhelms, frustrates, or depresses you? Are you trusting God in this situation? Do you believe that He is using it for your good?

Note to parents: This week’s Scripture covers some mature themes, which will be addressed but handled tactfully in the sermon.

THE WORD

Scripture: Esther 2:1-23
Sermon: God Is Always Working For His People, Even When it Doesn’t Look Like He Is

SONGS

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) (Matt Redman)
listen | chords | lyrics/info | purchase

Psalm 130 (From the Depths of Woe) (Indelible Grace)
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O Love That Will Not Let Me Go (Indelible Grace)
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Blessed Be Your Name (Matt Redman)
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Song of Preparation: Brokenness Aside (All Sons and Daughters)
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Song of Response: Grace Greater Than Our Sin (Traditional)
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