In Esther 5 we see a stark contrast of two powerful people. One wields her power humbly for the good of others. The other grasps onto his power for his own sake at all costs. In this text we'll observe the enslaving trap of pride in Haman and the courageous glory of humility in Esther so that we might guard against pride and grow in humility together.
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In chapter 4, Esther undergoes a transformation from subservient daughter and spiritual compromiser to courageous leader prepared to risk her life to save her people. This Sunday, we'll see not only what changes in Esther but also how we can prepare ourselves to stand for the Lord in the defining moments of our own lives.
Our passage this Sunday concludes with the whole city "bewildered." Has life ever left you lost and confused? Perhaps you've been overlooked, mistreated, or even oppressed? Esther 3 is for you. We'll see how to trust the hidden hand of God in the midst of even the darkest difficulties of our lives.
This week is the once-a-year time in our church when we focus on our finances. We call it Stewardship Sunday. No, this isn't about raising money for the church. It's about prioritizing what God's word prioritizes: More than 2000 verses, including nearly a third of Jesus' parables talk about money! So this week we'll see why God cares so much about our finances and how we can respond.
In Esther, God's people are in exile. They're a religious minority living in a society with spiritual and moral values in great contrast to theirs--not unlike our own reality in Boston. In this environment, circumstances arise that will tempt us to hide or even deny our faith. Will Esther and Mordecai show courage or compromise? Will we?
The 2,500 year old story of Esther is actually incredibly relevant to us in our day. God's people found themselves as a religious minority living in a society that was dominated by spiritual and moral values in great contrast to theirs: ostentatious displays of wealth, sexual promiscuity, and unjust rule. How do we as God's people shine as lights in a dark culture like this? How do we trust the Lord when it is difficult to see him at work? We'll explore these themes and more as we dive into the book of Esther this fall.
This weekend is Vision Sunday, when we mark 149 years of faithful gospel ministry as Ruggles Baptist Church. It is fitting that on this day we come to the conclusion of James' letter, where he paints a beautiful picture of God's supernatural, life-saving power working through the church. In these two little verses we see God's heart expressed through the loving, pursuing, and saving activity of God's people for one another. We'll see how the Lord works through his people to save, and how we can all get in on this.
When you do pray, do you really expect an answer? In our passage on Sunday, James shows us how to pray with confidence--no matter how seemingly minor the matter, or how difficult the dilemma, or how convoluted the context and conditions. We'll see that practical faith is prayerful faith.
Are you a patient person? In our passage this Sunday, James urges us over and over again (three times!) to be patient. But if you're anything like me, this is easier said than done--especially in the midst of challenging circumstances. Fortunately, James gives us both the secret of Christian patience and examples of Christian patience to follow. This week we'll strive to grow in patience, since "we count as blessed those who have persevered" (v. 11).
In this week's passage, James encourages the churches by writing a harsh condemnation of their wealthy oppressors. Yet in his blunt judgment of non-Christians there is a warning for Christians then and now. Because how we steward our wealth reveals our spiritual health. Do we see ourselves in his description of the wicked wealthy? How should our faith change our view of our money?
In our passage this Sunday, James says it's possible to be a Christian atheist--to claim belief in Christ but to live like God doesn't exist. We make plans and decisions about our relationships, study, and work without acknowledging the Lord. This is isn't just unwise, James says. It is sinful! We'll see this week why this is so serious and how we can remember the Lord in our words, plans, and lives.
The local church is supposed to be a caring community that reflects the love of Christ. Yet sometimes this dream is far from the reality, even in our own church. Why is strife and fighting so common among believers--and what can we do about it? That's what our passage is about this week as we continue to strive to put our faith into action.
How do you spot a wise person? Is it someone with lots of education, or success in their field? Maybe they just have to be older than you? In this week's passage, James defines wisdom in a way that perhaps we hadn't thought about it before: he tells us there needs to be evidence of our wisdom in the life that we live.
This week we have a special guest preaching the word to us. Ronald Wagogo is a member and deacon at Tremont Temple Baptist Church. He was born in Uganda and raised in New York City. Ron currently works as a computer engineer and has preached and taught Bible studies for many years. He will continue our sermon series on James this Sunday on the power of the tongue.
As we've seen over the last few weeks, the book of James challenges us to honestly examine our lives and our faith. This week's passage is no different. We may claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, but if that faith is not accompanied by good works motivated by Christ's love, then according to James, our faith is "useless" or "dead." This Sunday we'll look at the difference between faith that is dead and faith that is alive.
When someone walks through the door, it's human nature for us to size them up, to make assumptions. Are they rich or poor? Attractive or unattractive? Educated or uneducated? These assumptions lead to judgments and judgments lead to actions. In this week's text, James is warning us about this seriously sinful tendency we all have to show favoritism. In fact, he says, it contradicts the very gospel we claim to believe.
It doesn't take much reflection to become overwhelmed with the depth of our sin--in our desires and thoughts and speech and actions. And this comes out most readily in times of trial and distress. How does James command us to fight against our sinful tendencies? Listen up!
Trial often leads to temptation. When we're disillusioned and disoriented by difficult circumstances surrounding us, it becomes easy to doubt the goodness of God and be tempted to abandon his will. How can we battle this temptation in our trials?
If you truly believe it, James says, you’ll live it. A faith that works is what his letter is all about. In this week's text, James applies this to our money--or more specifically, our perspective on wealth. In this punchy passage, he gives an encouragement for the poor and a warning for the wealthy.
We begin our summer sermon series this week in the book of James. Instead of complex theological discourse, this letter is full of practical wisdom--nearly every other verse is a command. So what is James' purpose? To show us that true faith in Christ works itself out practically in every area of our lives. James dives right into his letter from the start, addressing faith that works in trials.