The Freedom of Forgiveness
May 22-23, 2010
Please be seated, please be seated. How are you guys doing today? Doing well? I want to welcome all of our campuses, our different environments.
Today, we’re talking about a very, very interesting subject, a subject that all of us deal with, and before we do, let me pray once again.
Father, You brought us here for a reason. Use my vocal cords to communicate what You have to say to every life here. And when we leave this place, may we be changed because of Your power and Your mercy and grace. In Jesus name, Amen.
A couple of guys were going to work. Their jobs were working at a vineyard. This happened a couple thousand years ago. And as they were walking along the path, everything was great. A beautiful day, clear, and they were walking beside this palace. And one of the guys stopped in his tracks because he saw some gallows. He saw a body hanging from the gallows. A lifeless body going back and forth in the morning breeze. It really shocked him.
And his friend looked and said, “Hey, that’s the body of our Prime Minister Haman. Didn’t you hear about it? He built those gallows for Mordecai, but the king commanded yesterday for him to be hung on the gallows he built for somebody else.”
I give you the chilling words of Esther 7:10. “So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.”
If that lifeless body hanging from the gallows could talk, what would it say? What would that body say to you and to me? Because several thousand years ago, before they would hang someone, they would impale the body on a stake, then they would be there on the gallows for all to see. What would that body say to you and to me? What would Haman say to you and to me?
Is there anybody in your life that you want to get back at? Is there anybody in your life that you want to make pay? Is there anybody in your life that you want to attack, that you wish harm to fall upon? I’m talking about an ex-spouse; I’m talking about a former friend.
I’m talking about maybe someone you dated. I’m talking about someone that you used to work with.
I’m talking about someone that used to coach you. I’m talking about a family member. Is there somebody that you want to get revenge on? Is there someone you want to hurt?
Now, I think if we were all honest, including myself, we would all say, “Oh yeah, I can think of somebody.” That person, or maybe persons, that I want to get back. And a lot of us are allowing that person to rule our lives.
Now, before I develop that, I want you to think about Haman. I want you to think about his body. I want you to think about what he would say to you and to me. One of the things he would say to you and to me is, “Don’t let one thing poison your purpose.” He would say, “Don’t let that one thing poison your agenda, poison your potential.”
A king in Persia named Ahasuerus or you might read in your Bible, Xerxes, was throwing a giant par-tay. 7 days long. I mean, when they party back in the Old Testament, they par-tayed. He had this party for men; all of his nobles and princes and all of the cool people. And he was showing off his wealth and his stuff and I began to research these parties. And a lot of the kings, you talking about the king of bling, they would weave diamonds and rubies in their beards. We’re talking about that kind of stuff. The finest wine in the world was brought in. It was a par-tay.
His wife, Vashti, who was a biblical babe, threw a party for all the women. So the women were partying, 7 days, and then the men were partying for 7 days. And after the guys started really feeling free, if you know what I mean, the king invited his trophy wife, Vashti, to dance for all the guys. And guys you can let your imaginations go here, ok? Dance. I don’t want to get too specific – dance.
Vashti was like, “Are you kidding me? I’m not going to dance in front of those men. I’m not going to dance in front of those drunken guys.” So, the king banished her.
A beauty pageant was put on. And the most beautiful women of Persia were cameled in for this event. There was one Jewish girl named Esther. Gorgeous, gifted, talented, bold. What a background. Her parents had died. Her hundred-year-old cousin, Mordecai, had reared her. Mordecai was like, “Esther, I really feel like you should enter this beauty contest, because the winner becomes the Queen of Persia.”
So, the contest was put on, Esther won, and all of a sudden, you’ve got Esther, the Queen of Persia. Esther was a Jew. And the word Jew when you read it here in the book of Esther is ‘one who worships God, one who follows Jehovah.’ So when you threw the name Jew out, that’s what it meant, someone who bowed down to God and God only.
Esther becomes the queen, everything is going well. Mordecai, hundred-year-old foster father Mordecai, he gets just a typical, you know, low-paying governmental job, and he’s hanging out around the city gates and the palace gates, just talking and working. And he was the guy who really had that integrity; you know what I’m talking about? He just had that character. He had something different about him.
So this story is cruising along, everything is going well. Kings got a beautiful, beautiful wife, Queen Esther. She’s a Jew; she keeps it on the down-low. Everything is fine and dandy.
And then, Mordecai hears about an assassination attempt. He hears about a couple of the kings trusted people trying to take him out. Haven’t you noticed that about betrayal? The people that hurt you the most are those you trust the most. It’s impossible to be betrayed by someone that you don’t trust. That’s betrayal.
So, these guys try to kill him, but Mordecai is like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” And he tells Esther. “Hey, Esther,” he tests Esther, “Esther, Esther, listen, listen, they’re trying to take out Ahasuerus.”
So Ahasuerus finds out about it, puts these guys on the gallows – takes them out. And the Bible just says kind of flippantly when you first read it, that all this was recorded in the king’s history books. And I read that and I thought, “Ok, you know, that’s fine. Who cares? I mean, that’s great, it was recorded in the king’s history books.”
But what’s so interesting about it, is the fact that Mordecai the Jew did not say, “Oh, look at me.” Mordecai didn’t start twittering or blogging or he didn’t start trying to say, “Well, I’m the man. I saved the king.” He didn’t do that, he just lived a life of integrity. Integrity.
I like that word integrity, don’t you? The word ‘grit’ is right in the middle of it. Grit. To live a life of integrity, you’ve got to have some (sound effects) grit. You know, take a licking and keep on ticking – grit. Because we either live by grit, we either want to quit, or we throw a fit.
Where are you? Grit? We quit. “Oh, it’s tough; people are saying this about me. That group doesn’t dig me.” We either have grit, we quit, or we throw a fit. We get angry because everybody doesn’t love us. Because everybody’s not drinking our Kool-aid, we get angry.
Haman, all of a sudden, he appears, Haman. A guy who’s talented, a guy that was a climber. You know people like that? Climbers, posers. Over in Australia, my friends call them try-hard people. You know people like that? People that like get close to you, but they don’t really love you. They’ll use you like a rung on a ladder to get to the top. Am I the only one that’s ever met people like that? You know kind of name-droppers. And when you’re in conversations with them, it always comes back to them. You can ask them about anything – aluminum siding, it’ll come back to them. It’s unbelievable.
Well, Haman gets promoted to the Prime Minister-ship of Persia. People are like, “Wow, this guy’s got it now.” 2nd most important position in Persia. Loaded, real estate everywhere. People are applauding; people are bowing down to him. People are showing him the love. Everybody is like, “Haman.” Everybody is like “Hey, man!” Haman. “Hey, man!” Haman. “Hey, man!” Haman.
If Haman’s body could talk to us from those gallows, do you know what he would say? If you’re trying to get ‘in’ with the ‘in crowd,’ it will lead to in-security.
Let me back up. (Beep-beep-beep) If you’re trying to get ‘in’ with the ‘in-crowd,’ trying to play for the applause, (crowd noise) and the popularity thing, (Oh, ah, ee-ah-aah) it will lead to in-security.
And that was Haman’s game. That was his vibe. That was his mission statement. The Bible says after this appointment where he’s like, boom, Prime Minister, he’s walking around, and everybody is bowing down before him.
Now, let me stop here for a second. In this context, if you were royalty, or you had a top governmental position, it was taught that you were like divine. So everybody was like hitting the floor when Haman would walk by, bowing down to him, and he loved, he loved me some me, man. He loved all the attention, all the acclaim, all the stuff. But there was one guy when everybody else was bowing down; there was one guy who bowed out.
Let me say it again, there was one guy when everybody else was bowing down, who bowed out. Who was that guy? Mordecai. Mordecai the Jew. Mordecai the Jew who bowed the knee to God, who worshiped Jehovah. Mordecai would not bow to Haman. He just wouldn’t do it. And it messed Haman up. It messed him up.
I think something that Haman would tell us from the gallows would be, “Don’t try to please everybody. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.” Because there’s some students here right now, some young people here right now, you are trying to please everybody, you’re trying to bow down to this, bow down to that, bow down to this, and bow down to that, and you’re doing it because of popularity.
And some of you are like, “Well, he’s not bowing down to me.” Or, “She’s not bowing down to me.” And you’re so focused on the people that are drinking the Hateraide, the people who aren’t really with you. The people, if I could argue Haman’s case for a second, who don’t really dig you, you’re so focused on them that you’re not appreciative of where you are.
Again, let me take Haman’s side for second. Hey, man, the guy was blessed. Hey, man, he had it going on. Hey, man, he had gifts and talents. Hey, man, Hey, man, look what you’ve got, brother!
But he was so into one obscure Jew. He was so into one obscure Jew who didn’t really dig him, that it cost him his very life. Don’t let that one thing spoil everything. That’s what Haman would say.
What are you doing? What are you doing focusing on people who don’t like you? Everybody’s not going to like you.
Now, let me take Mordecai’s side for a second. Mordecai was like, “I’m not bowing down to this guy. I’m bowing out. I’m not bowing down to that influence, I’m bowing out. I’m not bowing down to that temptation, I’m bowing out.”
By God’s grace, you know, I’ve lived the life once I became a follower of Christ. For a long, long time, not perfectly, but I’ve lived a life. I went to some rough and tough public schools. And as many of you know, I was heavily involved in athletics and had the opportunity to do that, and in college. And I’ve been around a lot of people who were totally far away from God. Many, many times, by God’s power, I’ve had to bow out of situations.
And students, if you’re going to live the life, if you’re going to discover the greatness that our great God has for you, you’re going to have to bow out. You have to bow out. Not every time, but many times. You’re going to be like Mordecai. You’re going to be in the minority. God always works in the minority. He always works with a remnant. You’re not going to have to go to all of the parties. You’re not going to have to go to all the events. You’re not going to have to go to this and that, because you’re bowing to a higher authority. And when you bow down to popularity, and bow down to applause, you’re going to try to please people and you’ll never please everyone. You’re trying to fit in and you’ll be insecure verses being like Mordecai did, bowing the knee to God, doing it God’s way, and God will give you true worth, and true security.
Now, I’m talking to some people, man, you’re trying to bow down to these influences. You’re trying to fit in. You’re trying to bow down to this and bow down to that. If you do, the payoff is destructive. The payoff is not going to work for you.
Now some of you right now are like, “Ok, I’m doing the Mordecai thing. I’m bowing out of situations, but Ed, where’s the payoff? Dude, where is the payoff?”
Well, God promises us He’s going to pay us off. God promises us He will reward good works. God promises us that you can bet your cash money on it.
Several months ago I went to my high school reunion. And again, I lived a pure life, a holy life. Not a perfect life. Jr high, high school, down at Florida State with the criminals, I mean Seminoles. Took some abuse, took some hits because of it.
I remember showing up at my high school reunion and looking around at people who are popular. People who were like with the ‘in crowd’, doing the ‘in thing.’ And here I am with Lisa walking around, I’m like, “I was worried about pleasing her? Her? I was worried about pleasing that group? What? What?”
And then I just thought, “Oh God, you are so awesome. Many times I was lonely. Many times it felt weird to bow out. But because I had bowed down to You, and because I centered my life on you and my life at church, look at my wife and 4 kids, and the opportunity and what You’ve allowed me just to experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
So students, don’t waste your youth. Don’t waste it. Solomon said, “Remember God when you are young, man. When you are young.” You’re at the Zenith of your life. Bow out. Bow out. Bow out. Do what Mordecai did. Bow out.
Well, Haman didn’t like the fact that Mordecai wasn’t showing him the love. So, he basically said, “I will kill you. I’m gonna take you out.”
And then he said, “Yeah, you’re a Jew? Not only am I going to kill you, I’m going to kill every Jew on planet earth. I’m going to kill them in Persia, and I’m going to kill them in their home land.”
Now, that’s pretty heavy because remember, had this taken place, we don’t have Jesus, we don’t have salvation, so, the stakes here are sky high.
Hebrews 12:15 tells us what to do. It says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God,” What’s grace? Unmerited favor. What’s grace? Something we don’t deserve, “and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Anger, if left unchecked, and the Bible says it’s ok to get angry. But it says, “Be angry and don’t sin.” It’s ok to get angry. But just don’t sin. If anger is unchecked, it will move into bitterness, and then bittermess, bitterness will have this spirit of revenge, and then vindictiveness.
The Scripture says, “Leave room for God’s wrath.” Leave room for it. We don’t have to take it in our hands, or take it upon ourselves. We don’t need that stress or anxiety. And some of us are carrying around stuff, we’re holding grudges, and the person that’s messed us around has forgotten the whole situation. And we’re allowing them to lead us around. God is going to take care of it. God will settle all accounts.
“Leave room,” the Bible says, “for God’s wrath.” And I’m telling you, when people abuse and hate and betray, wow, read about them in Scripture. When God settles accounts, it ain’t pretty. It ain’t pretty.
So, Mordecai was not bowing down. And Haman says, “I’ve got to convince the king that I need to wipe out all the Jews.”
And so he goes to the king and goes, “Hey king,” I’m sure the king was half drunk. “Hey king, listen, there’s a group of people who are kind of acting crazy. They’re not really following you, they’re not really obeying everything, and can I destroy them?”
And the king made a bone-headed move. He goes, “Yeah, just destroy them. Just destroy them. Can I have another glass of wine, please?”
“Sounds like delegation,” some of you are saying. No. It sounds like just ‘dele.’ Dele is part of delegation. And most of us are good at dele. What’s dele? Out of sight, out of mind. It’s off my plate. That’s not delegation. That’s dele. Delegation is all about investigation. Had the king really been a great leader, when he delegated it, “Ok, uh, you telling me, Haman, I should, uh, put my signet ring on the whole deal and allow these people to be wiped out?”
He should have said, “Who are these people? I mean, what race are you talking about? What are you talking about, genocide? You talking about murder?”
Then, if he had investigated, he would have found it was the Jews. Then he would have found out, “Whoa, my beautiful wife is a Jew.” And he wouldn’t have done it. So we’ve got to investigate the situation.
But see, haters like Haman, climbers like Haman, will always tell you what you want to hear. And they’re liars. They’ll leave out critical elements of the story. Always remember this, and Haman would tell us this from the gallows, there’s always a story behind the story. There’s always a story behind the story. So unless you’re there in the midst of it, you don’t really know.
The king said, “Ok, let’s kill the Jews.”
Well, Mordecai finds out about it. And what does Mordecai do? He starts texting Esther. “Girl, we got a problem. They’re trying to wipe us out. You gotta go to the king. And you gotta talk some sense into him. He’s lost his mind. He’s drinking too much again.”
Well, now this doesn’t seem like a big deal to most of us. We’re like, “Ok, what’s the big deal. She’s married to the king. She can just walk into his bedroom and say, ‘Honey, this is just terrible what you did. I know you been drinking a little bit too much, but you made a decision, you didn’t check it out. Baby, let’s just change the deal.’” It didn’t work that way.
Back in the day, if you walked into the presence of the king without being invited, even though you’re his spouse, heads would roll, impaled on a spike, you’re hanging on the gallows. “Wow, she walked in and I didn’t really like her walking in.” I mean, that’s what would happen.
So it was serious. You just didn’t walk into the king’s presence. But see, God put Esther where she was for a specific reason. And she took advantage of that opportunity. And here’s where we can’t really understand everything. Because you’ve got the sovereignty of God. God is in control of the situation. But also, you’ve got Mordecai and Esther stepping out and acting and doing what they knew before God they were supposed to do. And I don’t know where that ends and begins. All I do know is this. God works when people act. God works when people act. Take advantage again of those opportunities.
Too many of you are going, “Well, if I had that opportunity, I wish I had that opportunity, I wish I had this and that.” Whatever.
God is saying, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You don’t have that. Take advantage of the opportunity you have today.” And that’s what our girl Esther did. Esther said, “If I perish, I perish. I’m going for it.”
So she walked into the kings private chambers. And when the king saw her, he was like, “Oh, how you doin’ baby?” that’s my interpretation.
And she goes, “Well, I’m doing fine.”
Have you ever noticed when guys talk to their wives, their voices are higher. Have you ever noticed that? You go home, husband, and when you talk to your wife, I promise you, you’ll talk higher. I guess to get on their level. When I’m talking to Lisa, I don’t talk to Lisa like this, “(Deep voice) Hey honey, how are you doing?” I go, “(a little higher, sweeter voice) Hi honey, how you doin’? How’s…” It’s weird.
Some of the guys are going, “Man, I do that.” Seriously. Do you find yourself doing that? You don’t talk to women like, “(Deep) Hey how you doin’? Hey honey, how’s it going?”
“(Higher) Hi, is everything ok?”
Anyway, so, she goes, “I really need something.”
He goes, “I’ll give you anything. I’ll give you half the kingdom.”
And she said, “Well, baby, all I want is just a banquet. Just a two-day banquet. And I want to invite you, obviously, because you’re the king, you’re my king and I love you. Also, I want to invite this Prime Minister Haman to the big party.”
Now, the king is not even connecting the dots. He doesn’t realize he has already signed off on the execution of all Jews, which getting specific is going to happen 12-months from when they’re talking. And he doesn’t realize either that Haman, Hey Man, wants to take out Mordecai, the guy that’s got his back. So he’s like, “Ok, honey. Let’s have a banquet. It’ll be me and Haman, and we’ll have a great time. I’m sure the food’s going to be awesome.”
So now, check this out. Esther 5:9-14. Haman is prancing, I mean, in pride, he is so happy. He has been invited to this party only he and the king and the queen. And the queen has invited him. He is just having a great time. He’s like, “Oh, yeah.”
Well, In Esther 5:9-14. After the first day of the banquet, “Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai.” Again, he didn’t like Mordecai for who he was, and he didn’t like him for whose he was. It was a spiritual deal.
“Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.” Well that was not a good move because his wife was absolutely straight-jacket crazy. Mean as a pit-viper. “Haman restrained himself and went home. Calling together his friends and Zeresh his wife.” Wow. “Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials.”
See, it’s all about elevation. It’s all about climbing. But see, when we’re a climber, we’re climbing the gallows and we’re going to hang ourselves. Because elevation left unchecked leads to humiliation. Then ultimately devastation. That’s what I want you to see. And again, that’s what Haman would tell us from the gallows. If this dead body could talk, he would say, “I’m telling you, you elevate yourself, you’re going to eat a slice of humble pie and it tastes horrible. It’s not sweet, it’s bitter. And it will lead to devastation. Because on the gallows, your dreams will die, your vision will vanish. Your purpose will never be fulfilled in this one and only life.” That’s what Haman, I believe would say to us.
So, he’s bragging, you know, this and that. And verse 12, “that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the King tomorrow.” Oh, he’s blogging about it, he’s twittering about it, he’s just talking about himself. “But all this,” isn’t this incredible? “But all this,” isn’t this crazy? “But all this,” this is whack, “gives me no satisfaction” verse 13, “as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Hey, build some gallows outside of our mansion 75-feet high. Build it.” And then if you keep reading, “Ask the king for permission to hang Mordecai. Tomorrow morning, you be there before his morning espresso, and you ask his permission to hang that Jew Mordecai. Then you’ll be happy, and then everything will be A-Ok.”
Well, let’s talk about the king for a second. That night, the king couldn’t sleep. He had insomnia. He tried Benadryl. He tried Lunesta. Nothing would work. Finally he got really bored, he brought his servants in. He goes, “Hey, servants, read to me the history books of my reign.”
So, they’re reading, “(Mumbling) and also, Mordecai the Jew saved your life when he thwarted an assassination attempt.”
The king was like, “Whoa, say what?”
“Mordecai the Jew saved your life by thwarting an assassination attempt.”
“Whoop, Hey guys, have we honored him? Have we shown Mordecai the love?”
“Oh, one second… Uh, no sir, we haven’t.”
“Oh-ho, man, I feel terrible! He saved my life. I feel horrible. We are going to show him the love.”
So, early the next morning, the sun is rising. Haman gets up, (door bell rings). The servants look in the security camera, “Hey King, guess who’s here? Hey, man, it’s Haman.”
So Haman walks in and he’s getting ready to say, “King, give me permission to hang Mordecai.”
And before he can get the words out, the king goes, “Stop, stop, Haman. You’re my man, Haman. You’re the Prime Minister, Haman. Haman, you have great ideas. What would you do for someone who’s a hero? I mean, what would you do for someone who is just amazing? What would you do for someone who has like saved the country?”
It’s hilarious, this is biblical humor. Haman thinks that the king is talking about himself. Ha-ha. You know people like that? They just, “Oh, you talkin’ about me. You know, me, me, me.”
Sometimes I’ll speak, and I’ll have people come up to me around the community and go, “I guess you were talking about me when you said that.”
I’m like, “What? I wasn’t talking about you.”
Many people are that ‘me-istic’ because everything is about “Me, me, it’s me, me, me, it’s me. It’s me, yeah, me. Me.”
So Haman is like, “Yeah, he’s talking about me.”
“Haman, what would you do for someone, how would you honor them?”
Haman’s like, “Oh, I tell you want I’d do. I’ll tell you what I would do, man. I would call Ryan Seacrest up and have a huge, parade. He will host the parade, ticker-tape parade. I would have this hero ride on the royal horse. Have the royal suit, the royal rubies and jewels in the beard and everything. That’s what I would do, that’s what I would do.”
And the king’s like, “Man, that’s brilliant, Haman! Because the man that we’re going to honor is named Mordecai the Jew.”
“Wha-What? What? You’ve got to be kidding me? Are you serious?”
“And I want you, Haman, to lead him around on the royal horse.”
So, check it out. Haman is leading Mordecai around Susa, the capital city, where the king’s palace was. And everybody is showing Mordecai the love because he saved the nation.
Well, the Bible says that Haman was so distraught, he just covered his-his face and his head and he walked home dejected and totally, totally distraught. And he went to the banquet, the 2nd day of the banquet that night. And they’re sitting there eating and drinking. And drinking and eating, and finally, the king goes, “Esther, baby, tell me, what do you really want? I mean, I understand the banquet, but what do you want? I can tell something is on your mind, honey.” He probably said, “(in a higher voice) I can tell something’s on your mind, honey.”
She said, “Well, there is something on my mind.” She said, “Haman is going to exterminate all of the Jews, and baby, I’m a Jew. And also, he wants to hang the man you just honored, the man that saved your hide, Mordecai, he wants to hang him from the gallows outside of his house.”
Oh, then it hit the fan. Oh man, the king became angry. And when the king gets angry, heads roll. And they took Haman to the gallows he had built for Mordecai, after impaling his body, then they hung him from the gallows.
You try to elevate yourself, you try to be the man, the girl, you try to be with the in-crowd, you try to please people, inevitably, you’re going to hang yourself. And then, check this out, all of this stuff, the estate that Haman had, was transferred over, vwoom, to Mordecai. Mordecai became the Prime Minister. Mordecai, the man of integrity, Haman, the man of insecurity. Mordecai, the man of character, character lasts. Character is who you are when no one’s looking. Haman, the man of dishonesty. Mordecai, the man who bowed to God, served Him only. Haman, the guy that wanted everybody, “Oh, you gotta bow to me. You gotta bow to me. Why aren’t you bowing to me? Man, I’m going to kill you!”
You want the best for your life? I do. You want the best for your life? We all do. Bow the knee to the Lord. Get your security from Him. Give the people who’ve messed you around, who’ve betrayed you, who’ve lied about you, give them to God, because we have to leave room for God’s wrath.
Proverbs 26:27, “If a man digs a pit,” that’s a hater, “he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.”
God has an amazing record for making evil plans backfire on the planners. Let God take it. Live for him and you’ll discover what it means to live a Mordecai-esque life.
Let’s pray together.
Lord, we all deal with it. We all struggle with it – that sweet revenge. But in reality, it’s not sweet, it’s bitter. I pray in my own life, and in every life here, that we don’t allow bitterness to take route. That we don’t allow this mentality to mesmerize us and dominate us. I pray right now that we would release that person, or those people who we want to get back. God understands, just tell Him. And maybe you don’t want to release them, I understand. There’s people in my life, ha, before, that I’m like, “I don’t want to release them to You, God.”
So we might have to pray, “God, give me the desire to want to pray this prayer.” I’m talking about that ex-spouse, I’m talking about the ex-business partner, former friend, employee, teammate, coach, uncle, parent, whatever. God knows. Because as long as we keep hold of this, they’re running our lives. We’re ruled by revenge.
Hey, let’s take some cues from Haman. His lifeless body billowing in the breeze. His lifeless body that vultures are circling. A tragedy of what could have been. Let’s release those people.
I pray also that we would take advantage of opportunities that You’ve given us. That we wouldn’t say, “Well man, I wish I had this, I wish I had that. Wish I could do that.” No, no, no, no. Right where we are.
I’m praying for students now, for boldness to bow out of situations. Too many people here are bowing down to influences as opposed to bowing out. I’m telling you, God will reward your faithfulness. It’s the only way to go. The Bible says, “Yeah, sin has its kicks for a season, but the kickbacks are wicked.”
Others here need to give their lives to God. You might be saying, “Well Ed, how do I do that?”
Well, you have to believe to the best of your ability, that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sins. And you’ve got to receive that, you’ve got to turn from your sin and turn to Jesus. If you want to do that, just simply say, while I’m praying, you can pray along with me, “Jesus Christ, come into my life. Come into my life. I bow the knee to You. I’ve been trying to bow to everything, everyone else, I want to bow to You and You only.”
Hey, if you said that, if you prayed that prayer, after this service is done, make a way to the lobby, there’s a kiosk area. I’ve written a book that I want to give you called Next Step. It’s critical that you read about the next step in your life.
So God, we worship You, and thank You for the weaknesses and also the strengths of characters in the Bible. In Jesus name, Amen.