Sunday School Preview: February 14, 2016

God presents us with redemptive opportunities, and we need to be ready to seize them.

Let me ask you a question.  How do you respond when the Lord gives you an opportunity? That’s an important question we need to focus on as we study the book of Esther this week in our Sunday school classes.

It’s really a shame that we only get to spend one week on this incredible book of Scripture, because there are so many marvelous aspects of this story. There’s one big theme that we need to especially focus on as we disciple our kids–it’s the theme of opportunity. There’s a sense in which the book of Esther is really a story about God’s faithfulness to his people. Even though the name of God doesn’t appear anywhere within the book, the fingerprints of his sovereignty are all over it.

In this book, God fulfills His promises to His people in some amazing ways. Think about some of the promises that he had made to them. When he made his covenant on Mount Sinai, he told them he was going to make them his treasured possession. They would be a Royal priesthood and a holy nation. He said he would preserve them.

And in the book of Esther, we see God act on behalf of His people against their enemy; that enemy’s name was Haman. Haman hated the Jews; he was intent on destroying them, and he made a plan to accomplish their destruction. Because of that, the Jews were very afraid.

But there was a faithful Jewish man named Mordecai, who believed something needed to be done about Haman and His plan. Mordecai went to his cousin Esther, a Jewish woman who had been placed in an incredible position of influence–Queen over the kingdom of Persia. Mordecai urged Esther to go before the King to intercede on behalf of God’s people.

Such was a big request–if anyone approached the king without being summoned, that person could be putting their life in jeopardy. If Esther were to approach the king, she could be killed.

Esther expressed her concern to Mordecai, and Mordecai said something very interesting. In Esther chapter 4, verse 14, he said, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place.” He told Esther that God was going to rescue his people (Mordecai believed that God would be faithful to his promises), but his concern was for Esther.

He said, “You and your father’s house will perish, but Esther, who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” He highlighted for her the opportunity to be used by God in an incredible way for the sake of his people, and Esther chose to act on that challenge.

God presents us with redemptive opportunities, and we need to be ready to seize them.

So, what are the lessons for the kids we’re discipling, whether the kids are in our homes or in our Sunday School classes? God presented Esther with an amazing opportunity as He does in our lives all the time. The question is: will we take advantage of those opportunities? How will we respond to them? Do we really believe God is on the move? Is he is carrying out his plan and program? Does he want to use us in that endeavor?

Or, do we respond to the opportunities He presents to us with a spirit of fear? We may recognize that there’s a need, but we’re afraid of what will happen to us. We’re afraid of the consequences of our choices. We may think, “Well, hopefully, somebody else will address that problem…I just don’t want that somebody to be me.”

God wants us to respond with a spirit of boldness. Of course, the Lord wants us to be wise (and we see a lot of wisdom in the way that Esther seized this opportunity), but God wants us to respond without fear. He wants us to look for the ways that He may want to use us. We need to help our kids think about the opportunities that God may place before them.

So let’s just talk for a moment about the most basic of opportunities: the opportunity our kids have to trust Jesus as Savior. If God is working in the heart of an individual, He isn’t obligated to work in that person’s heart to the same degree tomorrow that he may be working in it today.

So, parents, teachers, as you talk to kids about their need for Christ–and I’d encourage you to do that on a regular basis–I think we need to be honest with them about the fact that this opportunity may not last forever. They need to take advantage of the opportunity while it exists.

Now, we’re not trying to scare anybody. We’re just trying to relate the truth to them. Help them to understand what he is able to do for them, not only in terms of securing their future salvation, but also in terms of helping them to achieve victory over sin in this life.

What about those that have already trusted Christ? What are the opportunities for them? God may want to use them in the life of someone that God has placed around them. One of the important things we need to teach our kids is how to be friendly. Our kids need to learn to step out of their comfort zones, to look for ways to build relationships with other kids as well as adults.

And I think they would be greatly helped if we would lead them to think through some questions to ask:

  • What’s your name?
  • Where are you from?
  • Where do you go to school?
  • Do you have any brothers or sisters?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • Do you play any sports?
  • What kinds of things do you like to do?

Questions like that can get a dialogue going. We need help our kids learn to invest in the lives of other people, to seize those opportunities.

We understand that if God is intent on doing a work in the heart of another person, he’s going to accomplish that work. Often, he gives us the privilege of being part of that work. The question is: are we willing to take advantage of that opportunity?

And what about the opportunities that God gives us to grow, to become more like Jesus? Temptations are all around us. The things that tempt me may not be the same things that tempt you or your kids. We need to help our kids think about the times when they’re especially tempted to sin. Maybe it’s when they’ve done something wrong and they’re tempted to lie about it. Right there, they’ve got an opportunity to become more like Christ. Are they going to choose to honor the Lord in that moment? Are they going to please God in that moment? Or are they going to choose to please themselves?

God presents us with all kinds of other growth opportunities on a daily basis. I would encourage you to help your kids to think about the opportunities that the Lord may provide them, and urge them to act in ways that will help them to carry out his plan and program in their lives as well as the lives of others.

Well, those are some of my thoughts about our upcoming Sunday school lesson from the book of Esther. I hope it’s a great Sunday for you!

Trey Garner
Trey Garner is the Pastor of Children's Ministries at Faith Church. He has been married to his wife Deb since 2001. They have two children named Noah and Lauren. Originally from Texas, Trey appreciates barnwood, armadillos, and Blue Bell Ice Cream.