Studying Esther

In 2019 we were honored to have Dr. Tremper Longman III with us for a day of studying Esther and Old Testament controversies. Thanks to Justin Hugus and the team at Doxa Church we have video recordings from the day.

For all of you who love God’s word we pray these resources are a blessing to you and offer them to you free of charge.

Remember Your Creator

Have you ever forgotten your keys? Just today my wife called me because she had locked herself out of the house. She had left to go pick up our kindergartener from school, and when she came back, she realized she had forgotten to take her house keys with her.

I had compassion for her of course because I forget things all the time too. It is easy to do that, especially when you have 5 kids like we do.

Our house keys are important. And yet we forget them.

The same is true of God. Our relationship with him is so important, and yet we forget him.

In fact, sometimes it seems like the world has been contorted to make us forget him.

There is always something new to learn, something new to buy. These things are enjoyable but they are fleeting. Ecclesiastes explores this dilemma. The author calls himself the Teacher, and he tells us “I observed everything going on UNDER THE SUN, and really, it is all meaningless – like chasing after the wind.” (1:14).

He repeats this phrase 27 times.

  • Under the sun, “history merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing …is truly new” (1:9).
  • Under the sun, “There was nothing really worthwhile” (2:11)
  • Under the sun “there is evil in the courtroom” (3:16).
  • Under the sun, “the oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless” (4:1).

This leads him to despair.

He writes, “So I came to hate life because everything done here UNDER THE SUN is so troubling. Everything is meaningless – like chasing after the wind.” (2:17).

Can you relate to this?

 I can.

Driving the same commute, day after day, feels monotonous. Paying the same bills, month after month, feels monotonous. Making the same New Year’s Resolutions, year after year, feels monotonous. Especially when you see the same imperfections and blindspots persisting year after year, you begin to believe that there is no hope.

And yet the teacher does not leave us in the pit. He finishes his poetic book with a solution.

He tells us in chapter 12 verse 1. “REMEMBER YOUR CREATOR” This is how you escape from being locked UNDER THE SUN.

When you are in the valley of boredom or despair, and you need to rise above the battle- “Remember your Creator” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

If we continue to look at reality in a mono-dimensional way and only take into account our life from a strictly humanistic, naturalistic perspective, then we truly will despair.

BUT, if we will expand our view of reality to encompass he who is above and beyond the sun – namely the Creator of the Sun –  we will discover a new perspective that can give us hope.

“Remember your Creator” says the teacher. Remember that

  • “with God all things are possible”(Luke 18:27).
  • “If anyone is in Jesus that person is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In addition to having 5 kids I also have the advantage of having come of age during the 90’s. And one of the defining features of the 90’s was of course the blockbuster Matrix trilogy. Believe it or not, the Matrix movies had multiple Biblical themes (see-

Anyway, in the final battle scene, the hero is fighting against the forces of evil and they are about to overwhelm him. He is in a plane being flown by Trinity (see I told you it had biblical themes). Just when they are about to crash and burn, they pull up on the throttle and they soar up up up above the smoke of the battle. They climb so high that they go above the clouds. And for one brief second, they see the sun shining in all its brilliance. This breather allows them to continue fighting.

This is what it is like to remember your Creator. Go up above the turmoil, and the smoke, and the monotony, and the pain of this life locked under the sun, and look at God’s brilliant face.

I encourage you to take a minute today to tune everything else out. Read those verses above from Luke and 2 Corinthians and pray.


As Charles Spurgeon has said, “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”


Pray until you begin to Remember Your Creator because forgetting him is even worse that forgetting your keys.

If you track this idea into the New Testament you see that Jesus becomes the one we are to remember. He tells his disciples before they take the last supper “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

And Paul’s charge to Timothy holds true for us as well…

“Remember Jesus Christ, Risen from the dead!” (2 Timothy 2:8).

Remember him in your preaching, remember him in your resting, remember him in the everyday.

Leaders need community too


Practically, it will often look like layers of DNA (Discipleship, Nurture, Accountability). DNA is our short-hand way of saying that we all need to be engaged in the work of the Great Commission: communicating gospel truth in the context of relationships. We need people who have access to our lives, people we encourage to ask us hard questions, probe our motivations, and keep us remembering the freedom we’ve been given in Jesus. While this happens naturally in many spheres of life, there are a few places that require a more intentional approach.

 First, practice DNA with your spouse. The whole purpose of having a weekly date night (which can be as simple as a walk in the neighborhood!) is to shepherd one another to Jesus. Talk about the ways you’ve seen your need for Jesus this week, and how you’ve seen grace at work in your spouse. A few simple questions to regularly return to can be a great asset for your marriage:

  • Where are you experiencing Jesus’ pursuit? What is he showing you about your sin and need of him?
  • Have you experienced grace or judgement through me this week? In what ways?
  • How is our communication? Our sexual intimacy? Our parenting? Our missional community?

 Second, practice DNA with your kids. This can happen in a variety of ways depending on the ages of your kids. Mostly your job is to point them to Jesus who can save them, and mostly you’ll do this by confessing your need for Jesus to save you. Do it regularly and specifically, both when your sin affects them directly and when it doesn’t. Read the Bible with them, and take advantage of times to foster gospel conversation, especially the bedtime routine. And when you pray for them or with them, pray the riches of the gospel into their hearts and minds. Find what works for the ages of your kids and the rhythms of your life, and live in the freedom of not having to do it the way others (in books, blogs, or elsewhere) do it.

Third, practice DNA with a few brothers or sisters. You need this more than you might think, and you should invite others to do it with you weekly because you need it, not because you think they need it! Because missional community is a way of life and not a meeting, setting aside regular time with a few others from your missional community to talk about your sin and your Savior is a must. This regular meeting will help to ensure that all of your other “life together” activities have a solid foundation of gospel intentionality. A few simple practices to include when you meet together:

  • Discipleship: Read something together, especially the Bible, and discuss what you’re seeing about Jesus.
  • Nurture: Confess sin to one another, and help each other remember the truth about God and his grace.
  • Accountability: Discuss what the Spirit is leading you to, set targets, and walk them out together in grace.


Steve Hart pastors Soma Spokane and this post originally appeared at

Giving It All Away

John 12 – Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was from, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him) , said “Why was the ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor? He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Are you a giver or a taker? A worshiper like Mary, or a thief like Judas?

Worship is about recognizing the worth of someone else. She had valuable perfume. It was worth a year’s pay. How much would that be for you? Do the math. Imagine giving something that expensive over to Jesus.

Mary could see that “in him was life and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4)

Can we see it?

Our world is full of people places and things that promise to give us life. But at the end of the day they are really only a temporary fix. They may make you happy for a moment, but it does not last. Eventually they will disappoint and you will start looking around for something else.

Jesus is different and Mary gets it. Jesus alone gives life abundant (John 10:10). Judas cannot see it, even though it is staring him in the face. He was looking to money, possessions, and physical comforts to give him life and it turned him into a stingy thief. Mary on the other hand was filled with selfless gratitude.

In Jesus is life and this is what drew people to him. It caused Mary to spend a year’s pay on him.

She did not know at the time what Jesus would have to spend in order to give her abundant life. But we know.

His life was poured out for us just like Mary’s perfume was poured out for him.

Can you see it?

When you see how much he loved you, it changes your heart from stinginess to selflessness.  The question changes from Judas’ question-“Why would you spend so much on Jesus?” To Mary’s question, “Jesus, why would you spend so much on me?”

What will your response be to him today?

What if you gave him your reputation and began sharing your faith more freely? What if you gave him your money and surrendered a year’s pay? What if you gave him your home and began inviting neighbors and co-workers over for meals?

Whatever we give to him, we will never surpass what he has already given for us, he is more than worth it.