Elements City Church
Building Bravery - wk1 (God in the background)
We're beginning a series in the Book of Esther in the Bible. Esther is a story where God seems silent, yet His sovereignty is incredibly active. It’s a story set against impossible odds. Esther’s story highlights the incredible potential of brave and faithful people and their power to impact society and situations. It’s a story that calls us today to integrate culture and not hide away. A story that calls us to be strong and seek to have influence within the culture around us. All the while we're to stay faithful to following God, his principles and allowing Him to build bravery within us for our moment in history.
Locations & Times
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  • Elements City Church
    1825 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712, USA
    Saturday 5:00 PM

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Q) Have you ever become aware of the things that you don't notice?
Keep that in mind as we begin a series in a book of the Bible that is so much centered on God, His activity and sovereignty and yet He is never mentioned once in the book.
If we were describing the setting of Esther in 6 words: “Game of Thrones without the dragons”
*this is about kings and queens, politics, elaborate wealth, hidden agendas, death (lots of impaling), trickery, good and evil; it involves sex, power, pride, tragedy and triumph == and God’s hand guiding and overseeing it all.
It is set in the Persian Empire around 480 BC
This story opens with a banquet.
Q) now, how many of you have thrown a party before?
Birthday party, celebration of some kind – how many of you are tired after 5 hrs, or a day of that? Well – if you thought yours was elaborate…consider this:
3 years into his reign – Xerxes throws a 6-month long party - which makes today’s Hollywood overnight award shin-digs seem rather passé.
Archeologists have uncovered inscriptions in Susa, in which the king referred to himself as: “The Great King – King of Kings – The King of the Lands occupied by many races. The King of the great Earth”

Xerxes certainly didn’t struggle with an inferiority complex. By all looks and appearances – king Xerxes is large and in charge. But as we look into this story; we’ll begin to see the invisible ink that is written into this book by the ONE who really is fully & completely in charge of all things. God himself.
There are 5 main characters in this story:
King Xerxes
Queen Vasthi (only in the story in ch. 1)
Mordecai
Haman
and the star: Esther (becomes the new Queen)
Queen Vashti is banished and never heard from again after she disobeys the King's order. Time passes and it's now a few years later and after some defeats in battle against the Greeks; Xerxes's advisors set up a kingdom wide 'beauty pageant' (adult version) to find a new Queen. This is where we meet Esther and Mordecai (her cousin).
Mordecai is a Jew that has done what the prophet Jeremiah wrote about in (Jeremiah ch. 29)
She keeps her nationality hidden as she enters into a year-long spa treatment plan to prepare these women to have their one night evening with the King – **think: kind of like the ‘Bachelor’ – Persian Empire edition.
Her time comes to meet the king and suddenly she is chosen to be queen!
Esther is orphaned and a young woman of great beauty. As this story unfolds: She embodies everything we think will make us happy. She is beautiful, she becomes rich and powerful as the Queen; she has sexual charm and charisma; and she has a bunch of servants at her beck and call.
**outsiders glance: she’s kind of the Kim Kardashian of the Old Testament.
But what we begin to see developing within her story is a heart of bravery; it's not blazingly visible at first, but God is at work building bravery within her; her character and soul is becoming stronger throughout this story. She is growing into a person who will wield her influence for the good of others beyond herself. And she will be used by God in mighty ways…
Now, Chapter 2 finishes where we’re introduced to a plot against king Xerxes that Mordecai uncovers. He reports this to the new Queen Esther. Who then informs the king – who orders the impaling of these two guards that were trying to begin a coup.
This information probably reinforces Esther’s position, but Mordecai isn’t recognized at all in this protective moment. His good deed seems to go unnoticed. (or does it?)
As you read it – you’ll see that there is so much hiddenness in this story – so much irony that unfolds. The significance of the irony is that it demonstrates that there is always more going on than meets the eye and more in the works than any one individual understands or is aware of.
God’s control cannot be calculated, God’s solution cannot be anticipated and God’s plan cannot be thwarted, because no one person has all the information and no one person has the control that they think they might.
Theologians today call this Providence or God’s Sovereignty. God supersedes and oversees all things. Sovereignty = supreme power or authority.
Xerxes believes and acts as though he’s the one who possesses this.
Haman will begin to act in the same way – His pride growing…
But it is the unmentioned ONE who ultimately is SOVEREIGN: God himself. He alone is sovereign over all. He alone has ultimate providence.
When you find yourself living in exile, (in a culture opposed to your beliefs) you are tempted in 2 directions: conformity and isolation.
In conformity, assimilation works. You adopt the worldview, ethics, and way of life of the surrounding culture, and you experience deep change inside and out.
In isolation, you hedge yourself into closed communities where the culture can’t get in and your own culture can’t get out.
They are equally paths of ease. It’s easy to conform, and you’re richly rewarded for it. It’s also easy to hedge in and protect yourself and isolate.
But both ways lead to failures. Assimilation is a failure of nerve, and isolation is a failure of heart. Assimilation fails to resist; isolation fails to love.
We must learn what Mordecai and Esther learn throughout this text: the call to live in the tension in-between and following God within that tension.
To not drift toward assimilation - nor isolation!
To live a 3rd way, if you will.
Romans 12:1
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Jesus’ priestly prayer in John 17: 15-18
15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
Matthew 5
Jesus calls us to be SALT AND LIGHT – he doesn’t tell us to duck and cover. We’re to have influence into this world, even as we will be at odds with it as we follow after God.
Quote:
“Even when God seems silent during your trials, He's still with you---as close as ever. …Teachers are always silent during the test."
-Caleb Kaltenbach
*key take-away:
At times, God may seem silent, but He is never absent.
NEED PRAYER? ....we've got some of our prayer team and pastors available following service to pray with you. You can also submit your prayer request via our app. We look forward to partnering with you in prayer.

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IF YOU'RE NEW: we throw a 10-minute party immediately following the service in the back corner of the room, if you're new, we'd love to meet you and welcome you! We invite you back next weekend as we continue this series on Building Bravery (Esther's story).