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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - My Life Isn't Random

Mike Novotny - My Life Isn't Random

Mike Novotny - My Life Isn't Random
TOPICS: What's the Point?, Esther

Why are you here today? Now, as you process what that reason might be, I think there are two big categories that you can fall in. And you might realize, okay, it was a job, it was a move, it was a friend, it was a relationship. But if you're taking notes in your program, I want you to write this down. The two kind of big reasons why that might have happened in your life are this, some of you think and you believe, number one that it's just coincidence. It's just random like flipping a coin. You met this person who went to this church, and you didn't meet that person who didn't go to this church. You were flipping through the channels at home and you, for some reason, stopped on this one instead of another one. It's just coincidence.

You know, people who believe this say, "Well, this is just the hand that I was dealt". which essentially means like, "Of all the lives I could I have they were shuffled up, totally random, and here's the one that I got. That's why I'm here". Or maybe like me, some of you believe the second answer to that question, which is not coincidence but providence. So, providence is a big, fancy religious word. It was much more popular years and generations ago in American history. Providence essentially means the plan of God. Right? That God had a plan. God had a reason. God's not like the dude who made your Apple phone who just created it and sent it to you and now it's just you. No, God actually controls and uses history for the good of his people and for the glory of his name.

That it wasn't a coincidence or an accident that you lived here, or got that job, or went through this difficult thing. That was actually the plan, the providence of God. And we're not going to take a vote today, but I'm just wondering, you know, on a scale total coincidence and total providence, how do you think about life? Like, "Yeah, it's mostly coincidence but maybe sometimes God has a, you know, there's some reason for what I'm going through". Or you're kind of here. Are you in middle? Like, sometimes it feels random but sometimes there's just too many things that line up, and you think, "No, there's got to be something or someone". Are you one of those super, super, like, biblical, religious people that everything is God? You know, the light turned to green when you're trying to cruise down Main Street, it's like, "Totally God. He knew I was late". Right? Is it up to stop lights, and jobs, and people that you work with? Is that too religious? Are you way over here? I'm wondering on the spectrum of coincidence and providence, where are you?

Now, I want to play my hand really early in this message to tell you that my goal in today's message is to push you this way. Is to actually get you to believe that what you go through, the good stuff and the bad stuff is not random, it's not just bad luck, it's not just pointless pain and suffering, that there is a God who is not just love but he's also power, and sovereignty, and control. And that God, even when you don't understand him, he has reasons and purposes for all the things he does in our lives. I don't know if I'm going to get you all the way to this extreme, but I want to push you one, two, three degrees closer in this direction and here's why. Because people who believe in providence instead of coincidence have two things that the coincidence people do not. They have immense gratitude, and they have profound peace.

Alright, let me say that again. If I can convince you to believe more in providence than in coincidence, what I can offer you, what God can offer you is a bigger sense of gratitude and a more profound sense of peace. Alright, if you believe in providence then every good moment in life is like this trampoline, that like, it amps up your gratitude and it humbles you and it makes you so grateful, that God is so good to a person like you that he would give you so many good and perfect gifts. And when life is not good, when you're going through something heartbreaking, when you're, you know, sitting in a hotel room and you're looking at your phone, there's so much like hate, and criticism, and comparison, and you're feeling anxious, and you're feeling depressed, or you go through something in your home country and you're an immigrant, and you're just, life is difficult, or the relationship is just not happily ever after, and you're struggling and you're going to counseling and you're talking about the same thing again and again.

You're sitting in a jail cell. You're sitting in a nursing home. When life is bad, if you believed in coincidence, you would just say, "Sucks for me I guess. Totally random". But if you believe in providence, what do you get to say? "God's working through this. Alright, maybe I don't understand why he allowed this, maybe I don't get why he didn't stop this, but this is not pointless. This has a purpose. If it is true what the Bible says that 'In all things God works for the good' then that must apply to this thing, then the reason I'm in this valley is because God has a purpose. The reason I lost my parents when I was so young is because God has some purpose. And I'm not God, and I don't claim to know what that purpose is, but I believe it because He's a good God who gave me his one and only son".

You see, if I can get you to believe in providence, you can get through breakups, you can get through mental health struggles, you can get through success and failure. Everything can be going well, everything can fall apart. If you stop being a person of coincidence and start becoming a person of providence, the highs are higher, and the lows are bearable, good gets better and the bad won't break your heart. And so, today, for the sake of your gratitude, for the sake of your peace, for the sake of your soul, I want to once again open the Bible to the Book of Esther, what I think is the most interesting book maybe in the whole scriptures, and try to push you in this direction to become a person that I'm trying to get to as well, to become a person who deeply, passionately, and frequently believes in the providence, the plans of God.

So, if you have a Bible with you or you just want to follow along on the screen, here's Esther 5, the moment she approaches the king. "One the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So, Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king asked, 'What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.' 'If it pleases the king,' replied Esther, 'Let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet that I have prepared for him.'" "I've prepared a banquet just for me, and you, and our friend, Haman here. I want you to come to it tomorrow".

And Xerxes opens up the e-vites and he RSVPs immediately "yes". He's super into it. He's already on her side. Everything's looking really, really good until a twist in the plot. Let's keep reading 5:9, "Haman went out that day happy and high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king's gate," That's Esther's cousin. "And observed that Mordecai neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. Calling together his friends and Zeresh's wife, Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him, and how he had elevated him above all the other nobles and officials. 'And that's not all,' 'I'm the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow.' 'But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate.' His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, 'Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits," A cubit was elbow to fingertips, about 18 inches, so 75 feet tall.

"And ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.' This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up". Did you catch the timeline? In the morning, have him murdered, and then go to the feast and enjoy yourself. What does that mean? It means that Haman, and Xerxes did everything that Haman wanted, Haman was going to murder Mordecai before Esther had any idea. Right? She was working out her plan, and at the banquet she was going to point the fingers, "Haman is trying to kill your wife, Xerxes." but before that even happens, Mordecai is going to be skewered on a 75 foot pole.

She has no idea. He has no idea. It's just between Xerxes and Haman, and neither of them have this great love for Mordecai. They don't even know who he is. The plan is falling apart until a coincidence? Until the sweetest moment of providence. It's my favorite part of the whole book. Ready? Chapter 6, "That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the kings' officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 'What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?' the king asked. 'Nothing has been done for him,' his attendants answered".

Come on now. What are the odds of that? What are the odds that the only night that Mordecai had a chance to be saved that the king could not sleep? And what are the odds that when he couldn't sleep instead of, like, counting ancient sheep or, you know, getting up early to work, what are the odds that the king would just happen to ask for the monthly meeting minutes of the kingdom to be read to him? And when the attendant brings the big scroll, what are the odds... do you know that Mordecai's saving of King Xerxes happened five years before this day? What are the odds that he just opens the scroll to the only section that mentions Mordecai? And what are the odds that as the drowsy king is listening he actually cares enough to say, "Well, wait, what reward did that man get for saving me"?

And what are the odds that five years earlier when Mordecai had done this great thing and foiled the plot, that nothing was given to him which sparked the king's heart? What are the odds? And what are the odds that in the very moment that King Xerxes is thinking, "I need to delight this man who saved my life, that someone else comes walking into the palace before the rooster crows first thing in the morning, first thing on the king's agenda? It's Haman". And this is my favorite part. I shouldn't gloat about this, but this is by far my favorite part. You know, Haman's coming in to ask for Mordecai's death but before he can ask for it, King Xerxes has a question, and the question is, "Haman, what do you think the king should do for the man that he delights to honor in"?

And because Haman is a total tool, what does he think? "Well, obviously that's me". And so, he thinks big. He says, "Oh king, I have an idea. You should get a royal robe, one that only the king himself as worn, and you should put it on that man. And then, you should find a royal horse that only the king has ridden, and you should put that man right on the horse. And then, you should get a royal servant, someone who's big in the kingdom, and have him lead the parade, walk through with the horse among all the people of the kingdom and proclaim as he points to that man, 'This is what happens to the man the king delights to honor in.'" And Xerxes says, "You're so smart, Haman. Get the robe, find the horse, you're leading the parade because I can't wait to honor Mordecai, the Jew".

And Haman's face goes... You know, actually, this is such a great moment that many of the greatest, like, artistic masters in history have tried to capture this. Rembrandt tried. Michelangelo tried. Let me show you one picture from history. I love it. There's Mordecai. He's in the royal robes, and a fancy dressed up horse. I just love the look in Haman's eyes. He's boiling with embarrassment inside and he's just trying to get through it, and he literally has to parade through the kingdom and say about his worst, worst enemy, "This is what happens to the one the king delights to honor". As soon as the parade is over, the Bible says, He covers his face. He runs home. He gathers all his terrible friends and his terrible wife together. He gushes about what's happened, what the king said Mordecai, and even his wife knows, "Uh oh, this is bad".

And just when they're wondering what's going to happen to all of them... Last verse of chapter 6, "While they were still talking with Haman, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried him away to the banquet that Esther had prepared". So, what happens next? Come back next week as we continue our thrilling ride through the Book of Esther. I really want to keep reading. It's so good. Someone's going to die in the next chapter, so just in case you're not an every Sunday church person, you have to come back for that. But I do want to pause here on the story because I want to talk about you. Here's what I take away from this story that just is corroborated by a 1000 passages in the Bible.

Write this down. That because God is powerful and God is in control, and God is sovereign, he wants us to believe that there is no coincidence, just providence. That the king not sleeping, the meeting minutes of the kingdom just happening to be on that entry, that was not coincidence, that was God quietly working like a ninja to carry out his grand plan for the good of his people. I hope that you can start to believe that simple phrase, "There is no coincidence, just providence". That's the Bible's answer to that question. Why are you here at this time in this land in this place? Well, Paul said, "The God who made the world marked that out for you so that you would seek him," not everyone does it, "Perhaps, you'd reach out for him and you would find him".

So, let me teach you, before I say "Amen", how to put that into practice. Alright. I want to teach you to think about providence during the good times, during the bad times, and especially during the gospel times. Alright, let me wrap up with the good, the bad, and the gospel. The next time something good happens to you, and I would bet it will happen within the hour, I want you to think, "God". Every good and perfect gift is from above. Like, the people at my work, they don't all know me, the people on my block, half of them don't even know my name, but the God who should be busy running the universe actually cared so much about me, he gave me this.

My family and I, my girls are sitting in the front row over there, we love to think about this when a great song comes on the radio, right, and you think, "Well, what are the odds"? Right? Like our jam came on, like, for us. For Kim and me, it's like 90s Hip hop. My girls got their own thing. And that comes on and you think, "Oh, like, God", sorry, I just said God loves 90s Hip hop. I'm not sure if that's theologically correct. Right? But like these good moments and you could just think, "Well, that was just some random DJ putting a random song on the radio". But what if there is a father in Heaven who loves our whole family more than I love those girls? And just like I love to bring happiness into their life, what if it's possible that God is even a better dad than I am and he's working out history and everything to show his love, to shower it upon us?

What if every good thing you go through is God trying to say, "I love you. I see you. I haven't forgotten about you"? I mean, come on. How many good meals do you have? How many funny friends do you have? How many good songs are there on the radio? How many opportunities is God giving you to like cement this relationship and believe he is not just here but he is so infinitely good? The next time something good happens say, "This is God. This is not coincidence, this is providence". God marked out the time and place so that I would experience his glory and love him even more. But number two, not every moment of life is like that. Sometimes, your song doesn't come on the radio.

There's nothing on the radio. And sometimes, you're not laughing with friends. Sometimes, you have a falling out with friends. Sometimes, you're riding high but it feels like more often life is ehh if not uhh. In those moments, maybe more than any moments, I hope that you believe in providence. And really quickly, here's what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that God wants people to hurt you or sin against you. Alright? God hates sin. And so, if someone abused you, that wasn't like God pulling the levers because he wanted you to get hurt. If someone betrayed you, or bailed on your marriage, or your mom and dad didn't work out, that's not God doing that, that's sinful human choice. But here, I do want you to know that even through the mess that we humans create, God is at work. Right? He does not, like, he does not bail because things are getting too messy.

Do you know the famous Psalm, one of the most famous songs in human history. Psalm 23, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because you are with me". King David, who went through all kinds of drama believed, "Even if I'm in the valley, even if I'm struggling with my own mental headspace, I just wish God would rid me of this, even if I've been through a war, even if I have struggled in life, like, God is going to turn that mess into a ministry. God is going to turn this brokenness into a blessing. God takes what the enemy meant for evil and flips it. He turns it for good".

I'll tell you what, there are people who got through the Holocaust because they had hope. There are people who come out stronger and better people after tragedy because they believed this wasn't just random. There are people sitting here today who have been through more than any of you can understand, and yet they praise God because they believe there was a purpose, there was a reason. So, if you want your suffering to be pointless, have fun with coincidence, but I'm going to stand with King David and say, "No, no, no, this is providence". This is a God who promised in Romans 8:8, "In all things, God works for the good". And so, the next time good things come you say, "This was God". And the next time bad things come, you say, "But still God. God's got this. He's got me, and one day I'll see it".

Finally, number three, the gospel. I think that's actually Paul's point in Acts 17. The God who marked out the times and boundaries. God did this so that people would seek him. Did you know that the most important thing about God is not the music, it's not the food, it's not the friends, the most important thing about God is the forgiveness he offers through Jesus. It's like the bread and butter most important thing you need to know about the Christian faith is that we don't believe in karma, we don't believe in balancing the scales.

You know, "I did some bad stuff so I'm going to give to charity and I'm going to be a good person". No. We actually believe that the only way to make it to a better place and to be with the best person you can even imagine is not through our efforts, our works, our character, our improvement, it is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Some of you have a little experience with religion, some of you have a lot. And maybe that religion was all, like, "Do. Don't. Rules. Earn it. Be good and God will love you. If you're bad, he won't". I'm going to tell you today and maybe you're here for the single sentence, "That ain't God". Two thousand years ago when Jesus Christ came to this Earth, he didn't bring a ladder and hand it to humans and say, "Good luck. Love your neighbor. Forgive people. Don't lust. You better not steal. Give to the poor. Hope it goes well for you. Be perfect. God's perfect".

No, what Jesus did is he talked about that ladder and he said, "You're not going to get there are you? Let me give you another way". And he took the wood of that ladder, and he refashioned it and he turned it into that. A place where there would be forgiveness every single time. A place where you and I could have a relationship that we wouldn't blow up with own mistakes. A place when we feel criticized or forgotten or unloved, there is just God pouring out grace on top of grace on top of grace on top of grace. There is a God who actually loves people unconditionally, and when we open our hands and let go of control of our lives, the Bible calls this repentance, and we use those empty hands to just grab onto to Jesus, we get everything that our souls crave and desire. We get God now, tomorrow, and forever. So, I don't know your story. It might seem like a coincidence that you're here, or maybe God marked out this time and this place so that you would seek him perhaps reach out for him and find him, because he is not far from anyone of us. Let's pray:

Alright God, we live in a world that forgets you. Sometimes, it hates you and rejects you, but most of the times it just forgets you. But if we forget you God, we don't have you to make those good moments even better, to make the worst moments bearable. So, today, we're trying to remember you. We're trying to remember that you are a God who controls and knows all things. You are a God who holds the universe and our lives in the palms of your hands. God, help us to believe that. Help us to cling with everything in our souls to that ancient verse that the apostle Paul wrote, "In all things you work for the good". Heavenly Father, we want to know that you're not just a God who cares about us but can't do anything, neither are you a God who can do everything but doesn't care about us. You are the prefect combination of power and love, and you proved it through the death of your Son. Heavenly Father, I'm grateful we're here today. There's a lot of us who needed to hear this. We need to remember just how intimately involved you are day to day, moment to moment, second by second because you are a good, good Father. So, today, we lift up your name. We try to find gratitude for the good. We try to find peace in the midst of the bad. And we know that one day, we will understand the grand plan you have for us. Until then, help us to seek Jesus with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Help us to make your word the center of our life, the sun around which everything revolves. And God, at the end of all things, help us to one day see what we believe in this moment that you are good and your love endures forever. We pray all these things in beautiful name of Jesus, (and all God's people said) amen.

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