The Books of Ruth & Esther

Debunking Four Myths of the Church

July 18, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

Esther Narrative

July 4, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

This week we seek to capture the larger message of Esther in a single message. Pastor Pete wants to convey to you that while the sermon followed the general contours of the Biblical account, some details from this week’s message have been added to help the story move along. (For instance, Harbona is mentioned a couple times in the text, but we don’t know what his job was or if he was present for all the events presented in the message.) The goal of this week’s message is to help the story of Esther come to life.

Esther - Chapters 7-8

June 13, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

This text records for us the second banquet that Esther hosted for King Xerxes and Haman. At this banquet, Esther reveals her identity as a Jew and the plot of Haman is foiled. The lesson we draw from this text is that God watches over the righteous. We find three evidences of this in the text: 1. God positions the righteous according to his will to accomplish his purpose. 2. God brings the evil that the wicked intended for the righteous squarely upon them. 3. God answers the prayer of the righteous and protects them from harm.

Esther - Chapters 5-6

June 13, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

Esther chapters 5 and 6 record the part of the story where the queen takes her big leap of faith, risks her own life, and goes before the king. As a result of her faithful act, God begins to reverse the situation and carefully orchestrates circumstances to humble Haman. Our Big Idea is that steps of faith lead us to places of blessing.

Esther - Chapter 4

May 30, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

Esther 4 records for us the big moment when Esther decides to step out in faith and go before the king. The fate of the nation was at stake and Esther stepped up. As we work through the chapter, we can identify three directives for desperate times: 1. Desperate times call for prayer and fasting. (vv.1-3) 2. Desperate times call for shared encouragement and exhortation. (vv. 4-14) 3. Desperate times call for bold faith. (vv. 15-17) The Big Idea of the text is as follows: When faced with difficulties, God’s people place themselves in the hands of the only One who has the power to save them.

Esther - Chapter 3

May 9, 2021

Although we are not having our regular Life Groups this week (due to Mother’s Day), we encourage you to use these questions for personal study and reflection. More than that, we desire to see you discuss these questions with another person or group at some point during the week. Please prayerfully consider this fellowship opportunity! Introduction: Esther chapter 3 records the incident that led to a horrific proclamation of the king to kill all the Jews. The effort to create and execute this plan was led by the evil Haman. This story teaches us two principles about facing persecution for our faith: 1. It should not surprise us when opposition rises against us for doing right. 2. When the forces of evil rise against us, the Lord is still in control. The Big Idea of this text, coupled with 1 Peter 4, is that Christians suffer well when they trust God’s sovereign control and continue to do what is right.

Esther - Chapter 2

May 2, 2021

Esther - Chapter 1

April 25, 2021

This week, we examine the first chapter of Esther. In this chapter, the narrator sets the stage for the entire book by introducing us to the kingdom of Xerxes. The king is a sovereign ruler with wealth and power beyond imagination. However, along the way, the narrator offers us three clues as to the real message of the first chapter: 1. The king’s displays of material wealth and power do not represent ultimate control (1-9) 2. The queen’s failure to comply with his command signals that the king’s actual authority is not as extensive as it first appeared (10-12a) 3. The king’s failure to control his anger leads him to make rash decisions, deposing his queen and making a laughable decree (12b-22) In light of the book as a whole, this chapter functions to show the cracks in the king’s authority. He can’t control his house or even his own anger. Yet God uses even a rash decision made by the king to pave the way for Esther’s arrival and to position her within the royal house to accomplish His purpose. So while the first chapter doesn’t come out and say it, the narrator seems to be telling us that God is sovereign in the affairs of men.

Introduction to Esther

April 18, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

In this week’s message, we take our first look at the book of Esther. In our brief devotional at the end of the service, we discuss how God wants believers to embrace their identity and proclaim God’s goodness to the world. Esther is a poignant illustration of this important truth.

Ruth 4:1-22

March 28, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

In chapter 4, we trace the concluding events of Ruth’s incredible journey. She starts the story as a childless Moabite widow and by the end; she is a married mother of King David’s grandfather. The story marks a remarkable rise. This leads to the Big Idea of the text: God uses ordinary, faithful people in His providence to accomplish His extraordinary plan. We draw two principles from the story to help us apply this truth: 1. Our starting point has little to do with our ending point when by faith God is involved. 2. God chooses to use ordinary people so that He receives the greatest glory.

Ruth 3:1-18

March 21, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

In chapter 3, Naomi directs Ruth to take a huge leap of faith. She sends Ruth, a Moabite widow, to the threshing floor to propose marriage to a wealthy landowner. What could go wrong?  That is part of the message from this text. So much could have gone wrong with this leap of faith: • Ruth’s leap was risky because it pushed against social norms. • Ruth’s leap was risky because her request may have been rejected. • Ruth’s leap was risky because it could have been misinterpreted. But it all went so right…by chance, right? No, God’s fingerprints are all over this chapter. The lesson that is being driven home is that confidence in God’s Sovereignty leads to bold steps of faith.

Ruth 2:1-23

March 14, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

In chapter 2 of Ruth, God is on the move, but not in the way we might think. He does not part seas or send fire from heaven. Instead, He sovereignly works behind the scenes in Ruth’s life to bring about circumstances for her good and for His glory. This text teaches us important lessons about God’s sovereignty: 1. There are no mistakes for the child of God. (1-3) 2. True believers can never be in a place outside of the provision and protection of God. (4-17) 3. God uses believers confident in God’s sovereignty to remind others of God’s kind providence. (18-23) In the end, the Big Idea of the passage is that the sovereign God works behind the scenes to orchestrate your circumstances for your good and for God’s glory.

Ruth 1:1-22

March 7, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

This week’s message explores Naomi’s life and circumstances as recorded in the first chapter of Ruth. Reeling from the difficult circumstances of her life, Naomi becomes bitter. The message presents an anatomy of bitterness based on Naomi’s actions and statements: 1. Bitterness is often sourced in great personal tragedy. (1-5) 2. Bitterness comes when we see our circumstances solely through the lens of our ability to change them. (6-14) 3. Bitterness comes when we overlook the small blessings that God sends. (15-20) 4. Bitterness can come when we remember the past through rose-colored glasses. (21) In the end, Naomi is not just bitter at life, but is bitter at God. The Big Idea we draw from our passage is that the source of bitterness is when we believe the lie that God is against us.

Introduction to Ruth & Esther

February 28, 2021 • Dr. Peter Radford

This week we begin a new series on the books of Ruth and Esther. In our abbreviated study, we are discussing how God accomplishes his purpose for the world through his children of faith who chose to obey and believe in all circumstances. Ruth and Esther are poignant illustrations of this important truth.