922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran - Appleton, WI Sermons

What are the odds that good would triumph over evil and that God’s promise would be fulfilled? In this message, great odds when you remember God.

Show Notes

What are the odds that good would triumph over evil and that God’s promise would be fulfilled? Great odds when you remember God.

What is 922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran - Appleton, WI Sermons?

The episodes are the weekly sermons from 922 Ministries campus in Appleton, WI. St. Peter is in the north part of Appleton. The CORE is our downtown Appleton campus.

God's Odds
Wk 6 - The CORE
Pastor Mike Novotny

Hey, Pastor Mike The young woman said it was sitting on the aisle right about there. Do you remember me?

I looked at her kind of familiar face and tried to smile and Nod, but inside the alarm was going off in my brain mayday, mayday. This is about to be very, very awkward. I wanted to so badly. But there's something I need to confess to all of you today as a church, and those of you who are watching at home, all of you, because there's so many of you Are super hard to remember.

I really want to. I really try to. I know that your name matters and your story matters and your highs matter and your lows matter. I love meeting you introducing myself, to you getting to sit down with you, but one of the curses about being so blessed with so many people is that it means even the most basic things become really, really difficult to remember

I tried, you know, there's a church printed church directory. It's the only thing that sits next to my computer on my office desk and every week I page through it, and I try to remember all seven hundred names and then I scroll through all the guests that I've met. Those of you who aren't members of our church family, and I try to memorize all of those and there's all of you, I don't have on the list just yet that I meet for the first time on a Sunday morning, and that's just the name parts. It's super hard to remember. So if y'all could just do me a favor and go to your favorite tattoo artists this week and just first and last just right on your forehead.

In Jesus name. Amen. And if you have the same problem that I do, like you want to remember things, you know that it's important, but it doesn't all stick in your brain for the first time. A quick confession Pop Quiz. How many of you are here? Find it much easier to remember faces' names. Yeah. So you anyone here, ever had that moment where you introduce yourself to someone and literally ten seconds later your brain is saying oh no oh no what honestly just don't remember 10 seconds ago. How many of you frequently have to totally guess at your username and password?

Yes, me too. Students be honest, how many of you ever gotten to school and you realize that you didn't remember your lunch, your homework, your uniform, your stuff, yeah, parents. How many of you have ever been at home? And you realize, I forgot my kid. So I was supposed to pick them up for their texting. You like, where are you at? Mom and Dad. All right, here's the real one couples. If you're dating someone, how many of you have ever forgotten a birthday or an anniversary?

Yes, I did Jesus forgives, many things, but sir, you are in trouble for that. It's so dangerous. So like, we know, we know these things matter, and we want to remember them, but even the really important things are hard to not. Forget. Now, why am I telling you all of you that in church,

Because the exact same thing is true. When it comes not just the names and passwords and homeworks and pick up times and dates. The same thing is true with the most important parts of our faith.

Just because God matters more than anything. Just because His word is powerful and active. And life-changing doesn't mean that the first time we hear it, were instantly going to remember it. In fact there's this passage from Deuteronomy 6 way back in the days of Moses. 3500 years ago, where Moses said this to God's people, he said, quote be careful that you do not forget the Lord

That's a pretty big thing to forget which you agree. He didn't say what? Be careful. You don't miss Point number 9 of 72 on the things that I've just taught you. He started with the biggest, most basic thing: you people be very, very careful that you don't forget God himself. And I passage reminds me of a truth. I want you to write it down because it's so important. It's the problem that you and I and so many of us wrestle with here, it is that people of Faith forget.

Even though we don't want to, even though we don't try to ,it happens, we forget God and what God wants, and what God has said and what God has done. Now, I've been a Christian for just about 40 years and I found that there's really two seasons of life where I tend to be really forgetful and maybe you've been here. I tend to be forgetful when things are really good. I can also be very forgetful when things are not good. Which is my way of saying. I can always be forgetful, sometimes. Life is so good, right? There's so much to do, you're healthy, you're strong, you're running. You got the job, the friends are messaging you. There's you know, your romantic life and there's your financial life, there's opportunities there, Sportsman life is really good. Sometimes you're so busy that like life flies by you forget, You forget that God and what God loves and what God values and what God prioritizes, when your life is said and done, that is the stuff that will matter the most.

But in the blur of constant blessings in the midst of a really good fast-paced life, it's easy to forget.

And then there's the bad times, there's this part about pain, it's in its very nature that pain will take almost all of your attention. Write something bad happens. You get the news that things are falling off at work, maybe suffer the pain of just mental health struggles. You're anxious today. You're super depressed today, someone dies, you're betrayed, you get a bill in the mail that you didn't expect. When, when pain happens, we just All the things we learned in church, go out the window instantly and June Our hearts just get captivated by the scary thing. This unnerving thing, this really difficult thing, has happened before.

Is it you could be in church, you could be learning that there is a God and he is a god of love and he puts people in place for a purpose that what you're going through, it's no accident. Like God wanted you here to teach you something, really? Like you can say Amen to that, you can sing the closing song of praise to that. But then you walk out of church. And real life hits you. And it was like the sermon didn't even happen. Right. You're afraid you're looking at the comments on social media and now you're angry. Someone gives you attitude at home and it's just It's like you're praying even if you're a person of Faith quickly forgets,

Sometimes happen when certain people walk into the room that you don't really get along with. Like you could be reading devotion, your Bible at home about the importance of love, right? Just be loving and love is kind. Love is patient and loves not easily angered and you say yes, yes that's the kind of person I want to be and then that person shows up and like every every verse of scripture just gets squeezed right out of your body and you're tense and you're Moody and your Passover, you're aggressive or you're passive-aggressive. And

And you know how to matters, right? You know, just to love people even if they're your enemy to turn the other cheek to show them Grace. But but we forget,

If you're a person or your family that struggles with anxiety, This is huge, isn't it? Like anxiety when it comes on strong, it just makes you forget God's got the whole universe in the palm of his hand. The nations are like a piece of dust, it's not, he's not anxious about it, but when you feel anxious you get so focused on the what ifs and you forget about the one who holds all the what ifs in the palm of his hand. If you battle depression and you're in like the darkest Valley, You just get so self-critical and you feel so unlovable and you forget that God has made a promise that he will Journey with you into the darkest Valley, the Valley of the shadow of death. You don't have to be afraid even in those moments because he's right there with all of his people. At the biggest things of Life, the love of God, the Forgiveness of Jesus, the way we treat people. We know here now that this matter is but when life happens we so quickly forget

So here's the big question, I want to wrestle with today. How do you remember?

If that happens to you, if it happens to all of us, even with the most important things, how do you not forget? Is there anything we can do? Or is this just the Human Condition? And we're always going to be forgetful, and then you die and God will fix it. Well, today, we're going to find an answer in the Book of Esther. The Book of Esther is going to offer us this answer and it's going to tell us something very specific that you and I can do that will help us, remember will be a light switch, like you'll never forget again after I say. Amen. No. But you learn a really practical tip of what you can do to kind of turn up. The dimmer switch of your own memory and stay constantly connected to the most important things of the universe. So today we're going to wrap up this six-week study of the Book of Esther. And just in case it's your first time here in the six-week series or just in case, some of you didn't remember.

All right, I'm going to give you the one minute recap of the Book of Esther. Someone is timing me. All right here goes around the year 480 BC there was this Pagan Persian kind of perverted King named Xerxes here in the first ever season of the Persian Bachelor where he slept with dozens, if not hundreds of women and he chose one an orphan named Esther to be his new bride. Esther had a cousin /, dear family member named Mordecai and King Xerxes had a right-hand man, and good friend named Haman. And that was a problem, because Haman and Mordecai hated each other. In fact, Haman hated Mordecai so much that he passed this law called The Purge. That on one day of the Year, everyone could kill all the Jewish people in their

I don't want to wait till that day. He wanted to kill Mordecai, even before the day came, but God puts people in place for a purpose and he used Queen Esther for such a time as this. She saved her dear cousin, Mordecai Haman came down with Justice upon his head, he died. And then on that fateful day, all the Jewish people by a new decree of King Xerxes were able to stand up and defend themselves when they heard the decree, they felt joy. And then they decided to fight and by the grace of God, they were able to win. And when all was said and done, who the Jews had survived the Holocaust and happen. Hitler's plan wasn't

It was that under Like, it was a huge moment in the story of the Jewish people, but people are forgetful. So as life got back to normal, how would they not forget like their salvation from Annihilation? How would the people who weren't born yet? Remember these incredible moments in the history of the Jewish people, that was the question and answers, cousin, Mordecai had the answer. So, jump with me into Esther chapter 9 where we read these words.

He says Mordecai recorded these events and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes near and far, to have them celebrate annually, the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and is a month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of Celebration.

He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving the presence of food to one another and gifts to the poor. Therefore, these days were called Purim from the word, poor. Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, the Jews took it on themselves, to establish the custom that they and their descendants. And all who should join them should without fail. Observe these two days every year in the way prescribed, and at the time appointed, Gotcha. How is mordecai going to help the people. Remember the calendar.

He decided to pass a decree that the Jewish people should celebrate annually and is a bit like Christmas for two days. Nobody works. We're going to eat a lot. We're going to donate to the poor and we're going to give gifts to each other. Right and just like you aren't shocked. That is Christmas because it's on the calendar. The Jewish people won't be shocked about Purim because every single year they would take two days on their calendar, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth of the month of Adar, which was the 12th month of the Jewish year.

And I want you to notice just how official this was, I notice things in my Bible like they were to observe the days. What else had him and say they established the custom Mordecai mean they should without fail. Observe these two days every year in the way prescribed. And at the time appointed this was a Like official we're all going to do it and when we do it we're not going to forget the great things that God has done for us. And I called this brand new Jewish holiday. Per diem. Grab a pen. Let me help you understand what that is the Hebrew word. Poor pu are. Simply means a lot heard of casting lots before. A poor was the name of like a little stone or a piece of pottery that they would write. You can put a name on it or a month on it and I am in Hebrew is just like s in English, it's plural. So if poor is, Lots Pari means Lots. So in the story of Esther, when they were trying to pick which month, this big battle would happen with the Jewish people. They had all the months, maybe a little piece of pottery. And among those premium, those many pieces they picked one and it decided,

Date, when the big battle would happen. And so Mordecai decided, while, since we were delivered and rescued from our enemies in the process of picking a Kareem, let's capitalize the p and this will be our brand-new official holiday.

And now, here we are. Not in 480, 470 BC were in the 2020s ad, and did you know that to this very day? 2,500 years later, Jews around the world, still premium.

And in fact, they premium pretty hard actually stumbled upon this when I was in Israel, just before covid started. I remember we're setting up to watch this record, this video and a bunch of kids like in Halloween costumes, started walking past princess and a little cowboy like, what what exactly is this? And then some dude, I think he wasn't wearing a shirt had this big 80s style boom box and it's like cat in the morning. He's like, pumping EDM dance to it's like what is happening?

Right now. And then they told me, it's pretty him. And two days every year, whether you're a religious person or not, you take time off of work, you donate to charity, you Feast with your friends, you exchange gifts, you party, you celebrate. What? It's been two and a half Millennia since the Book of Esther happen and yet Jews today, still remember, I remember having lunch one time in the second floor Cafe, looking down and seeing a bunch of young guys and yarmulkes like Frat Boys with arms around each other bottle full bottles of wine in their hand red Solo cups. They were premiering and they were premiering very hard. And then I learned about these

I've seen these before on premium, Jewish people will read the entire Book of Esther. Start to finish all 10 chapters and they have a custom that every time the name of Haman is mentioned. Which I think is 54 total times all the people in the congregation will stamp their feet yell and they'll grab one of these is called a Gregor and they will.

Fifty-four times.

Parents. It's a new school year. If your kids have trouble getting out of bed, I'm selling right here at the core 2410. Gregor's All right on, I warned just wife and they shout the name of Haman actually, make little cookies called hamentashen, which is Hebrew for haman's ears that they eat like they're devouring. This enemy is named Haman. They have custom after custom. After custom after custom that draws them back to this story of Esther. My favorite one, I'm not endorsing it but I want to tell you about it. Some not all rabbis.

Some rabbis have a custom that God wants us to celebrate, right? Well, how do you celebrate? Well, you drink well. How much should we drink years ago? Some Rabbi said you drink until you can't tell the difference between someone saying cursed be Haman and blessed be Mordecai. Which turns out to be quite a lot of alcohol. In fact, if you would look up premium on Wikipedia, you would find maybe one of my favorite pictures in the world. Can I show it to you? All right here, just sit back and enjoy this.

Hahaha. All right, on the bottom are the Jewish Elders, right? They have their fancy hats and just, just enjoy the expressions for a second. So what one guy in the middle is like preaching with eyes half open the guy next to him is mad about something. The guy next to him is just totally done with the conversation. Then the second row of middle-aged guys like me. You see the one on the left? He's done for the guy right. Next name is my favorite and look how he's enjoying that fan right there. He is like, rosy cheeks and leaning into it. The guy in the middle is preaching his own sermon and The Guiding. His right is just really mad about life, but my favorite all the way in the right in the second round. You see him, big fuzzy hat full face palm, he is having a bad day.

And notice all the bottles of wine and the tipped over cups that is preme. Now let me say it again, I'm not endorsing drunkenness. At this point, the sermon, here's the point. I want to make it for you. I'll take the picture down so you're not distracted by that. Did you know that the average secular Israeli knows more about this part of the Bible than the average bible-believing Christian.

There are millions of people in the nation of Israel and around the world who even if they don't believe in God, even if they don't think this book comes from God, they know the people and the plots and the events of the Book of Esther. Better than many of us who follow Jesus and believe the scriptures come from the Holy Spirit himself. So my question to you is how is that possible?

If we, if we value it as Holy Scripture, more than other people how do they know more than we do?

And the logical answer is.

The calendar.

They have something intentionally built into the rhythm of their lives. That doesn't let them forget. It's my big idea for today. The calendar is what helps us remember. If you want to remember the things of God, You don't want to forget the biggest parts of our faith, then the answer isn't just to say, this is important, this is important. The answer is to build something into the rhythm of your life that will help you to remember

All right, so let's make this practical. How are you? And I do that.

I have to put a big pause button. Kind of asterisk moment right now in the sermon. And I need to tell you that we need to be very careful answering this question because we don't want to add rules that. The Bible does not have Okay. Over the years, some Christians, and some Churches, and some denominations have actually created an official Church calendar, a church year. So they don't forget the day of Pentecost or the baptism of Jesus. They invented the season of Lent. If you've heard of that before, Good Friday, Holy Week, all those things are great but they're not commanded by God and so you and I must not judge each other by the individual specifics of how we remember.

Did you know for about the first 300 years after the birth of Jesus? They did not celebrate the birth of Jesus in December.

So, if you remember that, Jesus was born for you in April, or July baby. Jesus is super chill with that, right? And if you don't worship on a Sunday morning, but a Sunday afternoon or a Tuesday night, if your spiritual Community chooses to gather those moments, that doesn't make God mad. All right? So let's judge each other by the specifics. But there are two principles that I want to share with you today that have really run throughout the Old Testament, and the new and all of church history to things that you and I can put into our calendar.

That will help us remember, right? These, two down. Number one, Is a weekly worship service.

A weekly worship service.

If you don't want to forget about Jesus and everything he's done for you, one of the smartest, most biblical things you can do, the Bible puts it this way. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together. Every seven days.

Figure out. Do I have time or not so I feel like going to church or not. Has it been a busy weekend or not to build into your calendar every 7 days a gathering around God's word, with God's people. For some of you, you've done that your whole lives. Some of you grew up like that and then you got to like high school or college and you said I'm kind of done with that. So if you're kind of getting reconnected to church and you show up once or twice a month, that's kind of the new average in America. What I'm encouraging you today with the Bible actually is encouraging. You is to make every Sunday a don't miss moment for the message about Jesus.

And I'm not saying that to you because I want to just, like, take your time. I'm saying that to you because I've pastored people for 15 years and what I know is that it's very hard for them to remember.

I'm guessing when you walk out these doors, there's not a ton of people who talk to you about your sinfulness and your salvation through Jesus. Right? You probably don't go to your staff meeting on Monday, or your geometry class and someone says, hey everyone, I just want to let you know that even though we're bad. Jesus was so good to us, wasn't he?

But not many, you're not like watching a show on Netflix and the plot is really about the Redemption that came through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Like, I'm that which doesn't happen out in the world. It doesn't Embrace or prioritize the gospel. So, what I want for you is the chance, every week. To hear about unconditional love.

Like to know whether it was a good week., so-so weak, a total train wreck of a week. Your conscience is just reminding you of where you fall in short. I don't I don't want you to go seven straight days without hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Your heart, your soul. The joy of knowing that God is for you. He's not mad at you. He's with you, his face shines when he thinks about you. I want you in this crazy broken world and you're crazy, broken Behavior to be able to come back constantly. And here this one, beautiful thing. That Jesus died for the Forgiveness of your sins. Now some people especially if they're about 14 or 15. Think I know that obviously I've been hearing that every day, when my mom drags me to church and gets me out of bed, I would ever forget that.

I've run into people ten years down the road. And it's not that they don't know. Jesus died on a cross. What? Never heard that before. Is that that battle in the heart between shame and freedom? Between being totally confident, that you're good with God and the doubts and questions of you. Hope you're good with God. That's real.

Faith. The Bible says, comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through this word about Christ. That's why I want to encourage you. I want to nudge you. I want to challenge you. I want to invite you to grab your calendar and just put the repeating event. And when the phone ask, well, when does it end? You just write in when I die. Because every Sunday God will bring you here for a purpose. It might be the case you something new, it might be to remind you of something old, but in both cases, God just wants you to remember.

Hey, you ever Sunday church tourist? Do you notice how helpful this is? Is it just me or does something happen like on Tuesday that makes me think? We just talked about this on Sunday. Right. Like a friend reaches out to you and you're like this is a crazy coincidence. Literally, we just sang a song about that Pastor Michael had a reading about that like you you will be shocked at how practical the scriptures are when you're constantly connected to them. God will not let these Services be in vain, he will use them for the purpose of blessing. His people. Weekly.

And you know what's even better?

Number two thing I want you to write down Is daily.

Some Christians call this a daily devotion. There's called their quiet time. You have children in your home. There is never a quiet time so you call it a kind of quiet time. This is when you just have this chance to connect with God on your own, no one's preaching at you, which is your time to worship to read the study and to pray. There's some incredible ways to do this just in case you're new to it. Three to five times a year, our church WIll promote a Bible reading plan and in a couple weeks going to find out an easy way to get on board. If this is new to you. Some of you are like me. You just love reading straight through books of the Bible, but one chapter a day, taking notes, rereading them, meditating on them, some of you sign up for the time of Grace emails, where I think at 4 a.m. every single morning. You get a written devotion, a video devotion, and other resources to kick start your day.

Some of you use the Bible app, 100 you have the Bible app on your phone? Yeah, look at that and there's plans on forgiveness, salvation, the basics, anxiety, depression, divorce reconciliation, raising kids, growing older, pain suffering, confused, and 84 other topics. So you can literally find whatever you're dealing with with a few clicks. That's absolutely free the YouVersion Bible app. There's so many ways for you and I to do it. It's difficult to get and stay into the

Habits, but I want to push you today. Do you think you could do it for just this week? Every single day to just open the Bible, even if it's 45 minutes.

I hope you can.

Because life is beautiful, but life is not simple.

And on Monday, when you go back to school, the kids are going to walk into the room that you don't really like And how you treat him matters? And maybe it's going to take the devotion you had just before you left the house. It's going to remind you to treat him with Grace and with patience and with kindness. Maybe this Wednesday is the Wednesday. You hear some really disturbing news? When the annual checkup isn't just another checkup, there's something that shakes your heart when someone you thought you could trust violates your trust. When you look at your bank account or your report card, you don't know how you're going to cope. When the anxiety comes back hard. The truth is I don't want you to have to wait until next Sunday for some good news that will give you great joy. The Holy Spirit does not want 24 hours to pass, without the chance to comfort you, and guide you and teach you. And so this might be revolutionary for you, but maybe before you open the Netflix, maybe before you grab the phone, maybe before you watch another Tick-Tock video, what you could do is open the one book that has been changing hearts and lives for thousands of years.

So weekly daily, let me give you one last practical tip. How many of you are? Kind of organized calendar Keepers. Like I am, maybe 25% of us. All right, for us, the simplest way to do this, because if it's in the calendar, it will happen. All right, so put in the calendar, right. Here's my calendar. Looks like every single Sunday. All rights my little box for going to church here in the little habit section. The first list I have is my devotion

I can check the box, even have a backup box checker on my app that will look at every single morning. Right? So this is here and this helps me, not to miss it. And if your structured, this is what you should do to make a box, check the box, get it done. Whoever you are not so structured. You don't have a daily calendar, the whole bunch of you. What are you like? Most of you not voting today? What's up with that? All right, so it's like half the hands wet between those two outfits, all right? If this is a struggle for you, if you're not a super like type a person, here's your next.

Up ask a friend. All right. Like don't wait until Tuesday today. I'll even let you text in the middle of this sermon. If you want to say, hey, I'm trying to get to church every Sunday for the next month. Will you make sure I do it? Will you come with me? We asked me on Monday about it. Hey, my pastor just challenge me next. Seven days. I'm going to be in the Bible every day. You make sure I get that done and what that beautiful positive Christian peer pressure. Be the thing that drives you to do the job that gets you back to the one thing that matters the most Because when all is said and done every day, and every week, and every year, I want you to learn what Esther's people did, we should be dead and gone. But, Of Christ, we are live.

We will not forget the blood, he shed. That his death brings Liberty that there's Mercy for the people of God. God is worth remembering. And your calendar can help you remember.

And that's it. Is the Book of Esther. What do you think 5 Stars? Yeah like we won more Esther where we got to the end man. I'm sorry. What do you want me to do with that? Blame the holy spirit's before I say man let me remind you what you've learned in case you forgot. We learned first of all that God puts people in place for a purpose. You might have a good time of life. Might be too hard one, but there's a reason for that. God has a purpose. We learn that by doing right? Is worth the risk. If you need to confess and embarrassing sin, if you need to confront a stubborn Center, if you need to ask a question because your ignorance about the Bible doing right is worth the risk, we learn that truth is attention. Right. Two trues won't lie to you. We learned that there are no coincidences, there's just Providence, a God who is working out all things for the good of his people. We learned about Joy fight when that was one of my favorites. And today we learned that the calendar helps us remember and all of those beautiful things.

Our intention after is of this little Book of Esther. The story that proves that God in all things works for the good. Let's pray.

God today feels like New Year's Eve. Thinking about the future, making resolutions to be different people but we all know how that works. It's easy to talk a big in the midst of the emotion. It's really hard to do it when it's just us and the action.

For your holy spirits and for your people to Rally together in this moment to help us create good, spiritual roots. To devote ourselves entirely to these spiritual disciplines have because we always have to God, but because we want to remember you. They're such beautiful things. When we remember that your present, that you're powerful, that you're patient, that you're loving, that your gracious, that you're forgiving, that you remember the sins of our youth, no more. We're so grateful for all those things God and we don't want to forget. So help us to do that, hard work of starting new habits and maintaining them. Help us not just to think of our own habits, but of the habits of our church community that we could spur one another on towards love, and Good Deeds. So that all of us here would remember your mercy and your love that we find at the cross of Jesus Christ. It probably seems God with hope because we're remembering today who you are. The God, who loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever would believe in that son, would not perish in hell, but would have eternal life in your presence. So we probably think today with joy and all God's people said Amen.