Everett Swanson - Happy, Texas - 1986

Esther 1:3-4, "In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him; When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days." 180 days, the greatest kingdom of earth naturally speaking. This king had so much to show them, and it took about six months. But at the end of that time he had no more power and wealth to show. But we have a kingdom that is eternal, and the Lord could not show us the wealth of this kingdom in a thousand years!  Ephesians 2:7, "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."  It will take forever to show us all of HIS wealth and power and riches. One older worker said, "I have only begun to scratch the surface after 60 years in this ministry.” One day on the convention grounds in Oregon, he met us and stopped us and wanted a moment of our time.  We hadn't been out in the work very long and he said, "Boys, it gets better all the time."  That kingdom, the greatest on the earth then, that king showed everything in 6 months time and then sent them home because that was the end of it.

Ahasuerus opened the door to his kingdom; reminds me of John in Revelations 1. Today is Sunday in the Orient. The Lord's day. In the spirit on the Lord's day and he saw a door opened in Heaven. A place as great as Heaven and it has a door that's either opened or closed. When John was in the spirit the door was open. When we go to pray do we find the door open? Revelations 4:1, "....a door was opened...." suggests that it had been closed and then opened. Not opened permanently. The voice said, "Come up hither...."  Higher. You are too low. Your thoughts need to be higher. "...and I will show you things that will be hereafter." He was given the privilege of looking around the corner. If our foresight was as good as our hindsight we would do well.

Genesis 11, God gave Noah a foresight beyond his day and warned him of things not seen as yet.....He could see privileges in the future. He said, "I saw....and.....I heard" - one thing John saw. He saw his own name written in Heaven while he was yet on earth because he was shown a vision of the New Jerusalem and its foundation with on it the names of the 12, and he was one of the 12. Before he died he had the encouragement of looking out and seeing his own name recorded there forever. When Jesus sent out the 70 and they returned to Him, he said, "Don't rejoice in that ye have power over evil, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven." If there is anything that would be encouraging that's it! To know that your name is written in Heaven!

When the Lord opened the kingdom to him, he looked up and saw our brethren singing, but this isn't the first time they were singing. It was songs they had learned on the earth. They knew singing on the earth. But it speaks of a new song. One new song that may be added to this list of songs we know, a song that maybe nobody else knows, is a song of a fresh surrender, a new bond, a new purpose. He fills our mouth with singing. Yes, they were singing, but not for the first time. There was a man that came to gospel meetings once. Kept coming. Sat in the back row and no one knew who he was and he didn't know what this was. He wrote a friend, "This isn't evangelism, this is the gospel."  He was the greatest bass singer in the world. He had sung before kings and queens all over the world. Then he professed. The question was asked of him, "What do you think of our singing?" He said, "It's the best in the world! The most beautiful singing I have ever heard because it's from the heart." He was used to singing professionally, where every note had to be perfect and it was sung for show - but this was singing from the heart, and it was the most beautiful he had ever heard.

Something else these did. They followed the Lamb. And this wasn't the first time they followed either. This is what they were doing on earth. Maybe the Lamb speaks to be baptized and there are some that stand; maybe to some there would be a following into the work...Have you ever tried to follow somebody? If you do, you have to cancel all your own plans. We have learned by our mistakes and following our own walk that it is best to give that up and follow the Lamb. But this wasn't the first time that they had followed. He led them to living fountains of water...that brother I mentioned. There is a difference between fountains of living water and living fountains of water. Paul was a living fountain of water. If there ever was a living fountain of water it was/is the Lamb. What we are saying is this:  All that these people were doing in Heaven is what they had done on earth. Heaven is an extension of the things that are done on earth without the human factor. The comparison to this earth. He will destroy it all; think what the New Jerusalem will be like. We will just fold up this, which is so temporal.  He had a tent like this one (that we all are in). Flimsy. We are very fragile and temporary. (If we were made of gold it would be hard to live with us, but we are just dust.) A tent (tabernacle) that will be dissolved. Have you come into a tent? Dark and cold and there's no song. When you put up this tent light had to be added and a song had to be added and fellowship - all these things were added. The presence of God. All additions. Not in the tent by nature. The tent (tabernacle) was replaced with the temple that Solomon built. This tent of ours will be folded up one day and the spirit will go to an eternal temple.

The greatest kingdom on earth - it didn't just happen. It had to be fought for. It humbles me to even be here; to be included though I don't deserve to be. One day, we were having a gospel meeting. After the Sunday meeting we walked across a graveyard. One monument there was different. A little marker stating:  These have paid the supreme sacrifice for their nation. We walked a little more appreciatively among those graves. These grounds too are hallowed by lives given, but most of all the Lamb of God who gave the supreme sacrifice. This kingdom needs maintenance. People have invested their lives to win it and now it's our turn to invest our best, our heart - and we will have a song. We are encouraged by children. We were getting ready for a gospel meeting once, trying to get quiet. We heard a noise and then a piece of paper slid under the door, written by an 11 year old girl:  I love gospel meetings!  Do you know what that did for us? Our children love this King! There was a lady that had been with the Salvation Army 50 years. They had conventions all her life. She talked with teenagers; all they did was complain. Then she came to one of our conventions and saw our young folks enjoying the convention, and there wasn't any entertainment at all.....Some officers came form the Salvation Army and wanted her back. She told them,  "You will never find me there again because I have found something so wonderful now, I never want anything else." We have so much to look forward to. He is able to help us.

One thing mentioned that they had in this kingdom was royal wine in abundance. Every man could drink according to his pleasure. How much would you like to drink? If we drink the wine of the kingdom, it will affect our walk and our language and our whole life, and if we don't drink very much the world may never know. If we drink quite a bit, it will change our fellowship and spirit and walk. The question was asked, "Are these men full of new wine?" (Acts 2:13) ....they were full of the spirit. A story we read often in John 2. Jesus' mother came to Him at the wedding feast and said, "They have no wine." The world has never had any wine that satisfies. They (the waterpots) were filled with water and Jesus told the servants to take those vessels and carry them to the governor of the feast. They must have wondered, "Why carry common water?" But they obeyed. That woman (Jesus' mother) gave some good counsel:  "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."  No exclusions.  Jesus' mother learned from her son that whatever He says, that's the best to do. They brought this to the governor of the feast - usually what happens, like he said, the best is drunk first - but not here; with Jesus the best is kept for last. There is nobody here that has tasted the best wine yet. That's for the last. The Lord is saving the best for the other side of life. These are the best days, getting better all the time, but none have tasted the BEST yet. Vashti. The king wanted her to show her beauty. The Lord our King wants His people to show their beauty and the beauty of peace and love. There were a couple of liars left at the grave of Jesus. They said, "You say that His disciples have stolen Him away, and you would know because you were there," and they told it for money. People saying, "See, I knew there was not resurrection." But then those people came out of their graves and appeared to their relatives. The message that there was no resurrection was over. Those people had the privilege of carrying in their body the message of the resurrection. "Once we were dead and now we are alive." This message shown to the world.

One time a girl in school (I didn't know you could discuss this in school), her teacher asked about her student's churches. This girl got up and talked about how her mother had gone to some meetings and came home changed. Then about others in the family. A story of changed lives. A song and peace. For the whole next period and the next day they asked questions - why? She was the only one who had LIFE, and her teacher came to meetings, too. Poor Vashti. She wouldn't come. The king wanted her to come and show her beauty to others and she wouldn't come. She lost a lot because of it and paid a price...the pain of restraint is nothing compared with the pain of regret. There was a girl who was dating someone outside the family of God. We encouraged her to not get deeply involved, but she married him. Then he said, "There is something I should tell you; I was married once before...." Her pain of restraint would have been nothing compared with her pain of regret.  We can be grateful that in these meetings there has been some chafing and restraint. It will keep us from a lot of sorrow.

There were some sailors that were tired of swabbing the deck; as the ship moved through the ocean, they threw the life raft out and they got in it and the ship went on. Now they were free of all the rules and restraint of duties, etc. They woke up expecting to be on an island, but there was no land. No food or drink. NOW, everything the captain would have asked they would have done; when they ran out of food and water on the high seas and there was no land. A day went by and one died. Just before the other died he was picked up. What regret! The Lord is anxious to keep us from sorrow and regret so we can have a song. Vashti. Her refusal opened the door for Esther. Esther seemed unconscious of her beauty. The Lord's people are like this, unconscious of their beauty, but their beauty is transparent. Jesus said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father...." (through Him...) He wants a transparent ministry and a transparent church. Like some fish I saw in a fishbowl one time - except for their skeleton you could look right through them to the other side. Jesus didn't speak His own words and His own self could do nothing - i.e., transparent. As soon as you saw Jesus, you saw the Father. There was a funeral service for a faithful saint; it was said of her, "I have been in this field for a year and never really known this woman, but I know the Christ that I saw in her."

Mordecai encouraged Esther for the sake of the kingdom to qualify as a bride. Mordecai was of the tribe of Benjamin. Genesis 49:27, "Benjamin shall ravening as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil." A wolf, ravenous appetite. Will run for 20 miles after food. If we have a ravenous appetite in the morning, we will have something to share (divide the  spoil) during the day. He told Esther to go in and she went. She offered herself with the others and the king chose her. She could have changed when she became queen; been proud - but she remained unaffected by her beauty. Things became more serious and she was asked to go before the king. Maybe this was the reason she was chosen queen. Maybe this is for now. The Greeks had a 'god' named Opportunity and the back of her head was bald. When she came by, you had to grab the locks of her hair while she passed or there would be nothing left to grasp. Finally she put on her apparel. Royal apparel. Royal house. Royal commandment. We are in the presence of royalty here. We don't deserve to be, but we are included. Esther said, "If I perish, I perish." The king asked, "Who is out there...." She almost didn't go but Mordecai encouraged her. Have you ever thought, "O, I'll just skip prayer today..." If Esther had 'skipped' this day she would have missed up to half the kingdom.

A woman came to me saying she didn't have any peace, that she was in turmoil. Maybe I stepped out of line, but I asked her, "How long do you pray?" She said, "I don't want to answer that. I know that's my problem. I spend maybe two minutes in prayer and that's it." I said, "Will you try something for 30 days? Would you just bow your knees in the presence of God for 30 minutes every morning? Just get down on your knees." We have time if we want to use it. We could adjust our schedule and make the changes. I think Jesus was one of the busiest men on earth, but He made time for what was important. At the end of those 30 days, that woman came back to me and she no longer had any doubts and turmoil and distress, but she had peace. Esther was granted anything she wanted, up to half the kingdom.... Haman came on the scene. Causing problems for the Jews. Mordecai held to his convictions. Don't you think there were those that went to him and said he was causing problems? "Your convictions are causing all of us problems, Mordecai; Can't you just do it outwardly and not in your heart?" But no.....Esther 8. I don't know why he had neglected this.... If there's a picture of Esther's greatness I think it's here in this chapter. She could have felt that all was well, Haman was taken care of, and she was in position to enjoy everything in the palace....but no, she couldn't endure the threat to the kingdom. She went before the king again, told him what he meant to her.  That's our privilege too, to bring someone else into the presence of the king. She bowed before the king, down on her knees, weeping. She said, "How can I endure...." How can I stand it. Everything is well with me, but not with my people. This woman was real quality. No wonder she was useful behind the scenes. The quality of her is outstanding.

I like to watch service on these grounds. Even the pouring water or ice is serving. A newspaper reporter came to one of the conventions. He asked, "What do you get paid for serving here?" "Oh we don't get anything for serving!"  Then he thought he'd get a different answer from a little boy, "How much do they pay you?" "How much do they PAY me? I'm lucky to have a job!" That's one thing that makes this work, everybody doing their part, just as long as we have a part. Esther was doing her part. And the balance turned in favor of the Jews so that others wanted to become Jews. One of these days the whole world will want a part in what you have. They despise the sowing now, but they won't despise the harvest. We are lucky. It won't be long and we will have a part in the harvest. Any farmer lives for the harvest. Their language and their meditation is the harvest. In a crowd this size, one will be taken - at a convention in California, someone said that it was likely that someone would be taken in 30 days.  In 30 days, a brother got up and spoke about this and said, "I am enjoying health and am glad to be here." The very next day his life was gone. Like this tent, so fragile and temporary. We were visiting a friend in a coma, ready to die. The doctor said, "You'd better hurry and baptize her right now; she's dying!" She took care of it 40 years ago, leaving nothing to chance. I would like to mention in closing - we have heard about a three fold enemy, but I would like to cheer your heart with the thought that although we have a threefold enemy we have a sevenfold power on our side available to us. We know what is against us, but we have so much more that is for us:

 1) Exodus 36:9, "For, behold, I am for you, and will turn you, and ye shall be tilled and sown." "If God is for us, who can be against us?" I am on your side. For you. I will encourage and stand by you. God is on our side..

 2) The Son of God is on our side. Luke 22:31-32, "And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; But I HAVE PRAYED FOR THEE, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.'" Judas was sifted out. Satan wants to sift out our peace and our song and our purpose - Satan desires to sift you.  But Jesus has prayed (is praying) for us. Today Christ is sitting on the right hand of God interceding on our part.

 3) The help of others. Individuals. We appreciate so much your prayers for us. We were in an area where there were no friends for miles around and no bus service. But at the end of the year a lady came up and said, "I prayed for you," and she walked off. Those in Heaven carry the golden vials of the prayers of the saints. Those prayers last forever in Heaven. You will have victory when you can say you have prayed for others. Help others. You will be more kind when you do. More useful.

  4) The help of the Holy Spirit. John 16:13, "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will shew you things to come." Four things the Holy Spirit does:  Guide, Hear, Speak, Show. The Comforter. They waited for it in Acts 1. Jesus could only be in one place at a time, but the Comforter (Holy Spirit) that He promised them would come, can be everywhere at once: it would go out with every single one of them. There was a family sitting right in the front row of convention once; they had some children. Someone came and needed for the father to come outside during a meeting, then one by one the rest of the family went out. The message was that their house had burned. They missed one meeting. The next meeting the mother stood up to give her testimony and didn't even mention the house; all she wanted to say was how glad they all were, to be there. They had such a great loss naturally, but the Comforter had already visited. 

5) The Word of God. John 15:3, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken to you." As soon as the Lord spoke people got cleansed. Have you ever finished praying and you didn't get anything new or any revelation but you feel glad for just having been there; you feel clean. Maybe we don't get all we want but we get all we need. The power of the Word of God: Psalms 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalms 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path" - a lamp to the feet, not the head. Light for the next step. A light that shines more and more unto the perfect day. Two people came to a door trying to peddle their literature. Our friend asked them, "You used to believe one way and now you don't; then you believed something else and now you don't, now you believe this...." "Oh," they answered, "We have more light now." Well, suppose you had a bowl of fruit on a table in a dark room. With a candle maybe you would see the bowl of fruit, then a lamp would enable you to see a little more...but additional light will never change what you are looking at.  We have a foundation set in Christ, and additional light just enables us to see it more clearly. 

 6) The help of angels. Hebrews 1:14, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" God's people are heirs of salvation. Hezekiah had a problem once. He got word that a king was coming to destroy. They didn't think his God could save him.  He took the matter into the temple, before the Lord. That night the most mighty army on earth was destroyed, 185,000, with ONE ANGEL. They didn't need more than one; although the Lord has LEGIONS of angels. Psalms 34:7, "The angel of the Lord encampeth around about them that fear Him, and delivereth them."  In Revelations 20, how many angels will be sent to deal with SATAN? One angel to bind him and shut him up for a 1,000 years. What Jesus faced in the garden - one angel was sent. What did He use it for? To pray for more strength. It was angels that carried Lazarus to Abraham's bosom... I have noticed - ask people, "Would you like to go to Heaven?" "Oh, Yes!" But would they like to come to gospel meeting? or convention? or...or....or....? No. Well, if such people got to Heaven they certainly wouldn't enjoy it, because they want nothing to do with the little 'tastes of Heaven' down here. Luke 16 - that rich man arrived on the wrong side and wanted water but couldn't get it. He said if one would come back from the dead, his brethren would believe. No, no wonder he wasn't in Heaven! His will was never conquered. Even on the other side he was still trying to argue and convince Abraham that he was right and Abraham was wrong! In John 12, there was one that came back from the dead (Lazarus) and with this proof they didn't believe; some just wanted to kill Lazarus. 

7) II Corinthians 1:24, "Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand," This ministry was planned like this. Helpers. Acts 28:15, "And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum, and the Three Taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage." Paul was chained and on the way to Rome and prison and the saints came all the way down there; Paul met them and thanked God and took courage.

What is a threefold enemy compared to this
sevenfold power!! Wonderful opportunity. I hope we will be true.