Category: Sunday Sermons

Do It Again

Sunday Sermon 1.22.22

Looking in on today’s thoughts from a chapter that we feel is prophetic for this year, 2022, our focus is on Isaiah 51:9-15.

In it we see a people who are being harrassed and oppresed by tyrannical edicts spoken by national and state rulers. These people are discouraged, in despair, and depressed, for their struggle has been unbearable. They live each day constantly worrying, and living in fear of their angry oppressor.

They see the opposition against them as the generation past saw the Red Sea – a wall of impossibilities and hoplessness. Their enemy is powerful, and fearful and they are toast. They seem to see a silent God, unmoved and inactive. Their desperate cry is to arouse Him on their behalf, surely He has forgotten them, look at their state!

It is not only from these circumstances, but from this mindset that God’s people (of Isaiah 51) call out to Yahweh/God and dare I say, even lash out against Him. Take a look.

“Awake, God, awake! Arm of Yahweh, put on your robe of strength! Awake and do the works of power as in ancient days, as in generations past! Wasn’t it you who smashed the sea monster… who pierced the dragon in generations long ago… wasn’t it you who dried up the Red Sea, and made a path through the sea to rescue the redeemed? Do it again!”

Isaiah 51:7-11a TPT

Folks, let’s be real here.

Does God sleep? Does He need to be woken up from some kind of short little power nap? Does He even need to be reminded of what was done in, through and for past generations? Does He forget? Is He some kind of elderly sage who drifts off or rambles off topic that needs our help realigning himself, getting back on track?

C’mon!

These discouraged people think that God is asleep. Notice the urgency of their double imperative, “Awake, awake”. They are doubting that God is active, they are afraid He is asleep at the wheel. I wonder who it is that is really asleep and needs to be awakened.

This all sounds eerlily familiar, or is it just me?

Following their pleas for God to wake up and reveal His power, comes God’s response.

“I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, … and have forgotten the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who set himself to destroy?”

Isaiah 51:12-13 ESV

Look how he responds. Remember how they cried out, “Awake, awake!”? He heard them, because His responce begins with, “I, I am“. THAT is powerful! A double imperitive meets a double I, I AM! Wham. He answers their repeated request with His name, repeated!

The “I am” God, reminds them that He is the God who not only brings them comfort but also created the heavens and earth. He was and still is omnipotent. They urgently cry awake, He urgently responds I Am!

Then He rebukes their fears and particularily their fear of the people, who were their oppressors. They are afraid of man but not of God. They have forgotten the Lord. Notice the question mark at the end of that passage. God is questioning them, why are you fearing man and not me?

God is giving these people a stern reminder that He is the Great I AM, He is their comforter, He is the creator of the universe and He is the one that they should fear in reverence and humility. Not the leaders, government, oppressors, or other loud and anrgy voices. HIM!

He continues speaking in the passage telling them that in fact, those suffering would soon be released and those feeling imprisonment will not die or go hungry. Isaiah 51:14 His voice reassured them that what they were seeing was indeed not going to last, and things were going to turn around for them.

These folks of Isaiah 51 had feared Babylon, but not God. Babylon wanted to make them captives, God wanted to set them free. These people had misplaced their fear and their love.

In the passage, it follows that He thunders with this:

“For I am Yahweh, your faithful God, who split the sea with its roaring waves. My name is Lord Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies! And I have put my words in your mouth, and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth and saying to Zion, “You are my people”.”

Isaiah 51:15 TPT, ESV

WOW. Drop the mic!

Our Isaiah 51 people had forgotten the Lord, their Maker (and the maker of the heavens and earth, as they were reminded) and because they had forgotten Him, they had succombed to worry, fear, accusations, and unbelief. They prayed from that mindset in an attempt to wake up God. Look at the silliness of that sentence even. But that’s what our mindset is and does.

Our mindset can filter out the truth that we are His people and He is the God of the Angel Armies, the Great I Am. The truth that He has protected us in the shadow of his hand, where we sit, as His child. The truth that He has put His word in our mouths. We have the Living Word of God to shape our mindset and not the words and power of man.

Here, in this passage, we see a picture of ourselves really, don’t we?

At this time in our nation comes the same Voice of the Lord, saying, ” You have forgotten the Lord, your Maker.” Until and unless we choose to remember Him with our words, actions and position of our heart, we will speak foolishly from a mindset of fear, worry, and unbelief.

We will be overcome by our circumstances and edicts until we humble ourselves before the Lord, and revere Him with holy fear. He is the One who still has all power and He is the One who alone will comfort, protect and rescue us. Our faith in Him and love for Him must be renewed.

What really needs to happen is that we need to wake up to the awesome Power of God and His purpose to do it agian. To awaken His people, to awaken all hearts to turn to Him, to visit the earth in powerful demonstration, to speak through His people, to have a people fully dedicated to Him.

God is awake and powerfully able to do what He says He will do. He is looking for those who will focus on Him, remember Him, trust and believe in Him. He is waiting to do it again.

Yes, Lord, do it again. (in me)

Blessings on you,

Debbie

Do Not Fear Them

Sunday Sermon 1.15.22

Fear has a tendency to control us, it freezes us, paralyzes us, and will eat us up if we let it. This issue of fear is the heart of today’s message, but the body of the message is much bigger and more powerful than fear.

As we continue to look at a chapter that I feel encapsulates the challenge for us in 2022, let’s flip to Isaiah 51:4-8 and glean from it 6 relative points to help you through this day, this month and this year.

” Listen to me, my people; pay attention to me, my nation.”

Isaiah 51:4a TPT

Point 1- My Nation

Here, we hear the voice of God calling to His nation, Israel, and because all scripture is useful for teaching and happened as examples to us, (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Cor. 10:6), we can understand that God is calling to our nation as well. Because I live in and love America, I realize that God is saying to His nation, America, “Listen to me, my people… my nation”.

The first point that we must remember and contend for is this – America was founded on a covenant with God. The Mayflower Compact, signed on 11.11.1620, aboard the ship, Mayflower by the Separatists and the Strangers (Pilgrims), stunningly stated this –

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith… a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and of one another, Covenant and combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic…”

excerpt The Mayflower Compact, 1620

The intended purpose of this journey across the Atlantic by these separatists, was to establish religious freedoms in a new nation, dedicated to the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith. May we never forget this or allow this founding intention to be stolen, rebranded, or destroyed. America began on a covenant with God, we are indeed His nation.

God is calling to His nation, America – Give Attention to Me; turn your focus, choose to listen, intentionally pay attention, harken to me. “America, give ME your eyes and your ears“.

Oh, that we heed His call.

Point 2- My Power

” For I release my teaching to the nations, and I will cause the light of justice to rest on them. My righteousness is coming closer, and my salvation has gone out. My mighty arms will govern the people. The islands will trust in me and put their hope in the unveiling of my might.”

Isaiah 51:4b-5 TPT

When we choose to pay attention to God, here’s what we are focusing on, looking to and recognizing:

  • my law will go out from me
  • my justice will be a light to the people
  • my righteousness comes near
  • my salvation has gone out
  • my arms will judge the people
  • the coasts and islands hope for me
  • and the are waiting for my arm

We are focusing on the power of God, the might of His arm, the justice of His law, His right (as opposed to wrong) that is coming close, his ability to save, and bring hope.

Our God is powerful, His ways are right, His law is truth and He is our focus. His ability. His power. It is in His strong arm that this nation will find law and order, justice, right living, and true judgement. His strong arm is what we hope and wait for.

Point 3- My Reign

“Lift up your eyes to the heavenly realm and look at the Earth far below. Though the heavens disappear like smoke, though the Earth wears our like a garment, and though all the people die like gnats, my salvation will endure forever and my righteousness will never end!”

Isaiah 51:6 TPT

Lift up you eyes, dear reader, to see Earth from from heaven’s realm, from God’s perspective. From there we understand that Earth and the skies will vanish and people will die. What we see will not last, it is temporary; things will dissipate like smoke and wear out like your old, comfy hoodie.

So, LIFT UP YOUR EYES. Shift where you are looking. Lift up your head, look up to God in the heavens. See things from His point of view, from heavens perspective, from the eternal. Don’t be Earth bound and driven by what you see – Look up! Earthly things are temporary.

BUT

My salvation will be forever“. The word “salvation” here means, “welfare, prosperity, & victory” God’s wellbeing, and God’s prosperity will lead to His lasting and eternal victory!

My righteousness will never be dismayed“. Although we don’t use the word dismayed anymore, here it means – “be abolished, break down by violence, confusion and fear”. Debbie’s translation – God’s right ways will never be abolished by any amount of violence, confusion or fear.

God’s kingdom will reign forever and ever, hallelujah…. (Revelation 19) Of His kingdom there will be no end. (Isa. 9:7) God will reign forever!

“He is the Head of every kingdom and authority in the universe.” Colossians 2:10

When we look up, we see things from an eternal point of view.

Point 4- My People

“So listen to me, you who care for that which is right, who treasure my teaching in your hearts…”

Isaiah 51:7a TPT

You who have the Word in your hearts, you who care about right and wrong… Listen to the whispers of your conscience, listen to the truth pounding in your heart. Listen to my voice within you, my people. I am speaking to you from your heart and through your thoughts. Listen, my people.

Most of the time the truth that we seek, is already in our hearts and mind. God has embed it there. He has set eternity in the hearts of His people. It is in our DNA.

Point 5- DO NOT FEAR

Do not fear the insults of others; do not be dismayed when they revile you. They are nothing for you to fear, for the moth will eat them up like a shirt and the worm will consume them like wool… ”

Isaiah 51:7b-8a TPT

Holy schmokes, doesn’t this fit these days? We believers, but not only believers, tend to fear the insults of leaders. Revilings too… because revilings are “criticisms, and verbal abuse”. We hate being made fun of, canceled, shut down, and disrespected. We may even fear what “they” can do to us. We fear their terrible acts and the impacts on our belief systems.

Do not be “dismayed” in this sentence actually means, “don’t be shattered, broken or scared by their reviling”. Their insults and abuses are not to be feared, or revered. Colossians 2:8, tells us, “Beware that no one distracts you or intimidates you…”

Why? Because they are also temporary! And to prove it, we are given a picture of a moth eating a shirt. In the same way that “they” are eating at us, with insults and abuses, the Lord will send a simple, little moth, who also loves dark places too, and stays away from the light, and that hungry, winged instrument of God will eat away at them! The ones hurling insults, abuses, criticisms, and judgment will themselves be consumed.

And to strengthen this point about the moths – I learned that there are 2 kinds of moths.

  1. the webbing moth
  2. the casemaking moth
webbing moth and it’s web
casemaking moth

Similiarily, there are voices who create webs of lies and voices who make cases of falsehoods! God’s moths will eat up the webs that have been spun and the cases that have been made, and His justice will prevail.

My friend, we are charged to not fear these voices, to not be shattered by them or scared of their rantings. God will send His moths to eat away at the fabric of their falsehoods and destroy the caseload of evil intentions.

Colossians 1:13 reminds us, “He has rescued us from the tyrannical rule of darkness…” God knows what’s planned in the secret places of darkness, and His powerful, kingdom reign will always bring victory and light.

God says to His people, His nation – that His power is forever, so DO NOT FEAR. (what man can do to you.) God will fight for you, if you do your part. (Exodus 14:14-15)

Point 6- My Salvation

BUT my righteousness will last forever and my salvation from generation to generation.”

Isaiah 51:8b TPT

(Or as The Message paraphrase puts it, “my salvation will last forever, my setting-things right will never be obsolete.”)

I love the BUTS of the Bible!

Criticism, insults, verbal abuses, yes.. BUT. Wham! That big “but” just turned everything around!

While all this mouthy abuse is happening, we are reminded that God’s setting-things right will never be obsolete and His salvation from knuckleheads with loud and big mouths will last forever. His answers and saving power is for us, our kids and their kids. Every generation has access to His saving power and Kingdom reign.

So, let’s wrap this up –

God’s nation, His people are being called on to focus their attention on His power, His kingdom reign, and to NOT FEAR what man can do to them, because His salvation and setting-things right is for today, this year and forever.

“Do not fear, people who care about what is right. Do not fear, my nation. Do not fear, my people”.

“This is a year of my powerful arm being displayed and My kingdom reign on Earth as it already is in heaven. So look up, change your perspective, look to me and listen to my Words, and do not fear the insults and criticisms, which are temporary.”

You see, fear is not the real issue. The coming of the powerful, Kingdom of God into this nation, through His people who have heaven’s perspective is the real issue. They will not fear the abuses of man because their allegiance is to the King of Kings, who reigns forever and whose salvation is enough for them and their kids, and their grandkids.

Wow! What a promise. Are you in?

Have a fearless day.

Debbie

The Power of One

Sunday Sermon 1.8.22

What good is one person, one voice, one idea? Can one person really make any difference in the world today? One is outnumbered in every field, demeaned among ruling class, and considered impossible odds for any victory. As the song goes, “one is the lonliest number.” (1)

But one is also uniquely powerful and necessary. Consider if you will, the number 1 in mathematics. It is:

  • the only number that is the same in binary, base 10 and Roman Numerals
  • the only positive whole number which is neither prime nor composite
  • the first odd number, the first triangular, square, pentagonal and hexagonal number
  • the first tetrahedral, cube and Fibonacci number
  • used to make up all other whole numbers (2)

The number one, shall we say, is the building block of all other numbers. Oh, the power of one!

Furthermore, where would we be without these singular men of history and their contributions?

  • Abraham
  • Moses
  • Socrates
  • Alexander the Great
  • Julius Caesar
  • Jesus Christ
  • Muhammad
  • Leonardo DaVinci
  • Martin Luther
  • William Shakespeare
  • Galileo
  • Isaac Newton
  • Albert Einstein
  • Martin Luther King

Oh, the power of one!

I can hear some of you thinking, ok, but, but I’m not a DaVinci, Socrates, Alex. Albert, or Jesus. There’s no way lil’ ole me is gonna make any meaningful impact on the world. It is to you and every reader, I would ask to continue reading, to the end of this blog, and see if, in fact YOU, really can make a difference. Oh, the power of one.

As I was seeking the Lord on January 1, of this new year (2022), I was drawn to this chapter of Isaiah, chapter 51. In it, I believe lie strong words for us in this coming year. Here’s how it starts:

” Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug. Yes, ponder Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who bore you. Think of it! One solitary man when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied. Likewise, I, God, will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, a place filled with exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs.”

Isaiah 51:1-3 The Message

IF you are serious about living the right way and committed to seeking God’s way, then this word tells us to consider Abraham and his barren wife, Sarah. Think about him and reflect on his life. As believers, those who have been called to the faith, Abraham is considered our father – for scripture declares him to be the father of the faith. Genesis 17, Romans 4. (for Jews, Christians and Muslims)

Here was one man who was going about his life, tending his flocks, loving his barren wife and believing in Yahweh to meet his every need. Here was one man alone with his faith in something bigger and better than what his eyes observed. Here was “one solitary man, when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied.”

God, taking note of the faith of this one man Abram, told him that he would indeed be blessed and have a son and he would be the father of a great mutitude. Then God told him to look into the night sky and count the stars; for his offspring would be more numerous than those stars. Later he spoke again and told Abraham (his name got changed too) that his long-time barren wife would bear him a son and they would call him Isaac.

That’s a heartwarming and compassionate story – a couple will be blessed and have a baby. Yay, God. But let’s not forget, they were both vert OLD – and having a baby at their age was impossible. Geesh! Abraham was nearly 100 years old and Sarah nearly 90. That baby-making ship had sailed a loooooong time ago.

After Abraham and Sarah laughed at the impossibility before them, we are told this about their faith:

  • Abraham believed against hope- that means that even when it seemed hopeless, Abe believed Yahweh
  • He did not weaken in his faith, considering Sarah’s barren womb
  • No unbelief made him waver in God’s promises
  • He grew stronger in his faith
  • He was fully convinced God could do what He promised
  • Romans 4:18-21 ESV

(Just a side note, on the human side, imagine a 99 year old man and his 89 year old barren wife acting on this promise for a pregnancy and baby boy. THAT took some faith!!)

No wonder we are encouraged to consider, think about and remember Abraham (in 2022). Why? Because, just like our father Abraham, we face impossibilities. We face years of endless barreness and hopeless situations. We face old desires unfulfilled and we need comfort in our wasteplaces and wildernesses.

We too, when all hope seems gone, must believe in Yahweh. We too, must remember that there is no barren womb, when God plants the seed of promise, vision and dreams there. We too, will grow stronger in our faith when we lean fully on God’s promises.

Because Abraham, one man, choose to believe in God, do the right thing and seek God’s ways, God built from that 1, all other people of faith through the generations! Through Abraham, every nation on earth has been blessed. Oh, the power of one.

My friend, you are but one small voice of the 107 billion that have ever lived here, but oh the power of that one.

Noah, Abram, Joseph, Moses, Deborah, David, Rahab, Esther, Isaiah, Peter and YOU- one voice, one man or woman – yielded in unwavering faith, fully convinced that God is able to do what He says, no matter the impossible circumstances. The twelve disciples were singular individuals as well, who determined to join with others and follow one man – Jesus. Of these it was said, “They (Paul and Silas) have turned the world upside down.” Acts 17:6

Our world needs to be turned right side up, because it is awfully upside down right now. Wrong is considered right. Injustice is considered justice. Lawbreakers are considered innocent. Innocent are considered guilty. Men are considered women and vice versa. Isolation is considered freedom. Our world is upside down and it seems impossible to change.

Not, however, for the ONE who remembers Abraham and reminds him or herself that we serve a God of the impossible and we will not waver in our trust of Him.

No one else sees through your eyes, hears through your ears, feels deeply like you do, senses intuitively like you do. No one else has your vast experiences of pain, joy, victories and failures, no one else is you. You are ONE of a kind and you have influence and opportunity where no one else does.

God sees you this new year, 2022. May He see in you the unwavering confidence in Him that chooses to turn this world right side up, one conversation, one idea, one person at at time. If you see only impossibilities, remember Abraham our father and Sarah our mother…. there’s nothing impossible with God.

You can and will make a difference in 2022.

Oh, the power of one.

Go with God,

Debbie

  1. “One is the Lonliest Number”, Three Dog Night, 1969
  2. HouseofMath.co.uk

Advancing in Years

Sunday Sermon 12.31.21

As I share this blog post with you today, I feel compelled to remind you that you are not getting any younger. That’s profound, I know, (she said facetiously), but important for you and me to hear as we sit on the perch of another new year. No matter your age, you are not getting any younger and you are advancing in years.

This new years eve, as we turn another calendar month and introduce the new year of 2022, we see all too clearly it confirmed, that the years just keep on advancing. But as we keep step with our advancing calendar, are we truly making forward progress? Are we truly advancing, moving on, walking forward, and going on from where we were?

Because remember, we are not getting any younger.

Let me share with you why this is the absolutely, perfect time for you to truly advance from where you have been. First we will look at 2022 from a numerological perspective, then 5720 (2022’s Hebrew counter part) and close with a quick look at three people, who are perfect examples of advancing in years.

2022

As basic numerology teaches us, the calendar year dates have numerological signifigance. “The first two numbers set the stage for the year and the last two direct that influence in a particular direction. So, the 20 in 2022 will remain powerful through 2099. 20 carries an energy of opposition from two contending forces with the challenge to find common ground.” (1)

22 – “is the most powerful number of all, as it is a master builder. It is associated with building the base or structure.” It is a combination of 11 but aslo 4, which are both powerful building numbers. (1) And let’s point out, that the Hebrew alphabet itself, has 22 letters.

It is based on these premises that Josh Siegel, states, “The future will be challenging but better.” He beleives that the next year will be all about getting back to normalacy and rebuilding our lives, especially focusing on balance in work and relationships. 22 is about bringing balance to the opposing forces in our life and working together. (1)

So, in 2022, it is time to get off the easy chair of our life and begin to seriously advance through the opposition that may stand before us. We have a powerful future to build, and we are not getting any younger.

5782

On September 7, 2021 began the Hebrew new year of 5782, and it too contains insight for what the year ahead will hold. As you may or may not remember, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet each have 3 values. They have a phonic sound, a numerical value, and a prophetic picture or sign. This has been for me a fantastically, wonderful mystery to unfold and enjoy.

Each of the numbers (5782) has a pictoral and prophetic signifigance, but I will focus on just the 82.

We are living in the decade of the 80’s. (5780’s that is, not legwarmers, big hair, spandex or neon colors) The Hebrew letter “pey” has the numerical value of 80 and it’s picture symbolizes an open mouth. It has all to do about our mouth and language.

My friend, wasn’t that exactly what broke upon us in 5780/2020? It was all about the mouth. Cover your mouth, don’t share, speak, canceling mouths, etc. We seem to be living in a decade of this, as we can attest to what we have seen in these last two years. There may be slight changes, but it is still all about the mouth.

The Hebrew number 2, the second letter of the alphabet is “bet” and its name means “house”, or tent, and is saying very loudly that God is the strength of the house, and wise are those who build the house. Two also represents to divide, difference or oppose. We can understand that ideally there should be two that mirror one another, (as in the 2 shall be one flesh); thus making a true pair that works together like ears, eyes, nostrils, hands and feet. When 2 isn’t reflecting the positive side of one (unity), it denotes division rather than multiplication. (2)

Here are my takeaway from all these dates and numbers.

2022/5782 is a year for what comes from our mouth to be in alignment with God’s Word. The fullness of His word (22 letters) and what comes from our mouth should be building His house, and our family. Our words should be strengthening our family tent, members and thereby lending strength to the churches, synagogues or temples that we attend. What we say, reflects what is in our heart and this is the year for it to be dominated by faith. It is time to change the words we are speaking and build up our family, community, temple and nation.

This is why I was so moved to write about the tongue- eating louse a few days ago. We have allowed parasites to steal the power of our tongue and the freedoms that our speech has been granted. (See my previous blog, “An Awful Animal Allegory”)

During these days of division, and of opposing forces contending with each other, what we speak reveals what we are aligned with. Are we speaking Covid protocols, variants and mandates? Are we speaking faith, hope and God’s Word? Are we multiplying or dividing?

In the decade of the mouth and especially this new year of the family and house of God, where do our loyalities lie? Are we really advancing through the years or just surviving. Are we building up our homes, and their relationships or have we given up?

Lastly, I am reminded of three biblical characters who have modeled – advancing through the years.

Zechariah/Elizabeth

“… both were advanced in years.”

Luke 1:7,18 ESV

These two, although probably well past 60, were no candidates for retirement. (nor for having children.) And yet, they were hanging onto every promise they had about their family and weren’t about to cave in because of opposition, division or long waits! Their family was gonna advance, by golly!

Anna

” And there was a prophetess, Anna, … she was advanced in years…”

Luke 2:36 ESV

Anna was cut out of the same fabric of faith that Zack and Liz were. She knew she wasn’t getting any younger and she still chose to contend for every promise that God put in her heart. She was definately advancing and not retreating.

Caleb

At age 40, Caleb was recruited for a spy mission, with 11 others. He reported back after the mission that they were well able to take the land that they had spied out. He immediately faced opposition with a loud and convincing report to the contrary. After another 45 years of patiently waiting, look at his statement,

“… the Lord has kept me alive these 45 years… And now, I am 85 years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength then, for war and for going and coming.”

Joshua 14:10-11 ESV

Caleb knew he wasn’t getting any younger, and he also knew that he was advancing in years and in strength and had been for 45 years! I want some of that!

To wish you a happy new year would be cordial, (and that I do), but my wish for you dear one, is that through this new year of 2022, you will truly advance in faith, and not just in years, that you will use a bold, open, faith-speaking mouth, and that you will multiply blessings in your family and not division. I pray that regardless of opposition, you will advance, grow, move forward become better and stronger.

May 2022/5780 see you strongly advancing in years. (cuz you’re not getting any younger.)

Happy advancing!

Debbie

  1. Josh Siegel, numerologist
  2. K. Gallagher, Graceintorah.net

The Right Time and Place #5

#5 in a series of 5 Sunday Sermons 12.24.21

In this series we have found reassurances (from the lives of Job, Eliju, Esther, and Daniel) that even though our circumstances may seem to the contrary, we can still find ourselves in the right place at the exact right time.

As we close this topic, we will add the young lives of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus Christ, to those who have lessons to teach us.

#5 – Mary and Joseph – Carriers of Jesus

What were you like when you were in high school? How firm was your faith and trust in Jehovah God? Looking back, would you have considered yourself to be just, or righteous? How often did you attend synagogue, temple or church? Could it have been said of you that you “found favor with God”? Were you a servant of The Most High God? Did you obey God when He spoke to you? Did you do as He told you?

Most scholars believe that Mary was 15-16 years old when she gave birth to Jesus and that Joseph was 20 or so. In our culture, that would have put Mary smack dab in the middle of high school, and Joseph barely out and finding his carreer path. Yet these two, were the chosen carriers of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Could they possibly be in the right time and right place?

Mary and Joseph – Betrothed

” Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin bethothed to a man whose name was Joseph… And the virgin’s name was Mary.”

Luke 1:26-27 ESV

What appears to be an ordinary, lowly, and young Middle Eastern couple on the surface reveals something much deeper and extraordinary.

These two were betrothed to one another. They were promised to each other, perhaps even an arranged marriage. The cultural norms of the day made it illegal to be married before 12 years of age or to live with a husband before 12.5. What ages they were isn’t specified in scripture, other than the hint given when Joseph offered 2 pigeons as an offering at Jesus’ dedication. (that suggests that Joseph was 20, as required in the Law).

What we do know is these two were extraordinarily devoted to Jehovah God and therefore we surmise to the covenant of marriage. A few paragraphs ago, I asked you about your high school descriptors, those descriptions – firm in faith to Jehovah God, trust in God, just, righteous, regular temple attendance and celebrations, “found favor with God”, obedient to what God tells you; these are all ascribed to either Mary or Joseph in the Gospel of Luke. These “kids” were in right relationship with God. They knew Him and wanted to please Him and were planning on doing that together in the covenant of marriage.

They were young people of impeccable character and moral fiber. What would have been ok for others to cheat on or lie about was not okay for Mary and Joseph.They were doing things the right way, God’s way, and they were doing it in their youth.

Mary and Joseph – Believed

Mary was just hanging out in her room when this angel appears and says,

” Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.”

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.””

Luke 1:28-38 ESV

Try as we may to understand and apply this to our lives, we will be forever baffled and amazed at this supernatural encounter. When God speaks the impossible to a lowly teenager and when she genuinely and humbly receives it and submits willfully to Holy Spirit’s overshadowing, our minds are blown!

Yet, not Mary’s. She asked how, God told her how, and she said, bring it on God, I am yours. Do what you have said, I trust you.

THIS IS WHAT FAITH IN GOD LOOKS LIKE.

Mary believed God. This high schooler was exactly where she was s’pose to be when Gabriel appeared, heard exactly what God was going to do and believed that God was able to do it in and through her. No doubt Mary was in the right place at the right time.

But how do you explain this pregnancy to your fiancee, family and friends?

Somehow, she found the words and told Joseph about the angelic encounter and the blessing of her womb with the Son of God. His response?

” And her husband, Joseph, being a just man, and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly . But as he considered these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ” Joseph, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you will call his name Jesus. Joseph woke from his sleep, and he did as the angel commanded him.”

Matthew 1:18-21, 24

No doubt overcome with questions himself, Joseph believed God. He beleived the word from the angel and he kept his commitment to Mary and their pending wedding. Joseph believed, too. Together, Mary and Joseph would become the carriers of Jesus Christ and together they believed.

When you each have an angelic visitation, you can pretty much bank on the fact that you are in the right place at the right time, can’t you?

It is interesting to note, that not only did this young couple choose to believe, but there is an elderly couple in this story too, that believed!

Luke 1:7 describes Elizabeth and Zechariah as “both were advanced in years.” That for sure means not young. Hidden away in Mary and Joseph’s young life of being in the right place at the right time, is an elderly couple, also being in the right place at the right time. This elderly couple also believed God’s voice and promise. (Well, Zechariah believed after he didn’t believe. ha!)

Young Mary and Joseph believed. The advanced in years Elizabeth and Zechariah also believed.

Mary and Joseph – Became

Because of their faith, trust, and obedience, Mary and Joseph became the guardians of God. They were to steward if you will, (cuz that’s what all parents are called to do) their child who was really God in the flesh. They became the parents of Jesus. They became the family for Jesus. They became the tutors of God, the man.

This extraordinary, young couple, of impeccable moral fiber and godly character, fervent for temple, Jewish tradition, and Jehovah God were called to become the carriers of Jesus. They have become the cornerstone of Jesus’ earthly family, because they were in the right place at the right time, doing the right things! Therefore, the favor of God rested on them.

I believe that Mary, Joseph and even Zechariah and Elizabeth speak to us clearly of what God is looking for in these days, our days.

  1. He is looking for those who will be carriers of Jesus to a lost and broken world
  2. He is looking for those who will believe what He says
  3. He is looking for young, old and everyone inbetween to believe his word and act on it
  4. He is looking for those who will become like Him and become the family replacement to the dysfunctional family template of this world
  5. He is looking for those who are committed to Him, as in betrothed to live and love only him

Now, and into 2022 is the right time to be carriers of Jesus. Now and through 2022, wherever you are is the right place.

Will you be a carrier of Jesus? Now is the time, where you are is the place.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Debbie

The Right Time & Place #4

#4 of 5 in a series of Sunday Sermons 12.17.21

#4 – Daniel – a wiseman

At one time or another, we all wonder if we are in the right place at the right time. Because this is such a universal experience, this series seeks to illuminate for us, people who’s situations sure didn’t appear that they were in the right place, and yet, they were in the exact right place at the exact right time and were used in some pretty astounding ways.

In review, you will remember:

  • Job, a target, who in spite of his success, suffered greatly and was rewarded with great surprises.
  • Elihu, a spokesman, a tender young man, who waited patiently to speak and become a truth-teller.
  • Esther – a queen, and beautiful orphan, who lived as an exile but became queen with a brazen voice who blessed her people

Today, we will look at:

Daniel, a wise man. Purposed. Prophetic. Powerful.

As I write this, Christmas is next week, so it is not uncommon to consider wisemen this time of the year. I’m sure you remember those guys who came from the East, bringing gifts to baby Jesus. They were considered learned astronomers and wise in academia and spiritual understanding. The East at the time offered the best of learning of everykind, and these men came to Jesus, based on what they knew and understood about when the Messiah would be born. They had traveled a great distance, fueled by their learning, to present their gifts to this child wonder.

But long before these wise men sought to find Jesus there was another wise man. This wise man tho’, was different.

Daniel – a wise man

This wise man, Daniel, wasn’t even really a man yet. He is described (in the book that bears his name, Daniel 1) as a youth, or young man. Scholars believe he was actually an extrordinarily gifted prince in Israel. King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon had come to Jerusalem, overtaken it and taken captives back to Babylon, he took the cream of the crop.

Those that he deported were,

“… of the royal family and nobility… youths without blemish, of good appearance, skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding, learning, competent to stand before the king…”

Daniel 1:3-4 ESV

These adolescence were the AP (advance placement) kids at school, who were also eagle scouts or gold award recipients. They attended the finest of private schools, were involved in community service projects, were tutored in etiquette, manners and public speaking. Daniel and his three friends were the “Creme de la Creme”. They were going places! Watch out world.

And here they were being deported to Babylon! What??? This could not possibly be right. This is not who they were training to become, or where they were expecting to live. Talk about hopes dashed and expectations shattered! Their education was not intended to be used in Babylon. How could they be in the right place and this the right time?

It was precisely because Daniel was a wise man that he was taken captive. It was precicely because he was appealing to the enemy king that he was being deported. His training and qualifications were actually all leading him to this very moment. Crazy, right?

Daniel – Purposed

When Daniel arrived in Babylon, he and his three friends were placed in a three year study program. During that time they would be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Then they would be called before the king to see if he approved of them, their training and their expertise.

During this time, their food was to be the same food and drink that the king ate. They would be offered the best foods and wines, along with the best education, but, this is where the young and wise Daniel spoke up.

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the kings food, but rather he would eat what foods were kosher to the Jews. After negotiating a plan with chief of staff, Daniel and his friends were proven to be better and fatter than all the others. In fact, we are told that there was none found like Daniel in all of the kings palace. God was with Daniel and gave him understanding, skill and wisdom, he also understood visions and dreams. His purpose had paid off and he was now beginning to realize that just maybe, he was in the right place.

Daniel – Prophetic

In the old teatament times there were men and women who were prophetic, meaning they heard from God and delivered God’s message to people for God. Prophets were recognized in every region and nation. Jehovah God had prophets and even the idols, like Baal had prophets.

A prophet seeks to do what God tells him to do, or say what God tells him to say, go where, etc., you get the point. This was the focus of Daniel’s heart. Here he was in Babylon, not his choice, but it seemed to be God’s. Daniel maintained his devotion to Jehovah God, his prayer, and his dependence upon God for insight, understanding, knowledge and wisdom.

Although the king’s servant had changed Daniel and his friends names to Chaldean names, thus attempting to contradict the truth of those names, none of them turned away from their prophetic destiny. Bred into their names was purpose, destiny, focus and strength and noting in the Babylonian reeducation system could break their resolve to serve Jehovah God.

Let’s peek at those names and their changes:

  • Daniel means God is judge. Changed to Belteshazzar – Bel will protect.
  • Hananiah means God is gracious. Changed to Shadrach – inspired of Aku
  • Azariah means God is my help. Changed to Abendnego – servant of Negro
  • Mishael means who is like God. Changed to belonging to Aku

Bel, Aku and Negro were all Chaldean gods. Herein lies the contradiction and opposition against them. Would they succomb to this change to their identity, values, practices and devotion?

Nebuchadnezzar and his systemic three year program to reeducate these wise men was all about tearing down their God given purpose, name, resolve and polluting it (reshaping it) for his kingdom.

Daniel cotinued to walk in the confidence of who he was before God. He continued to listen to God’s voice and he continued to speak what God showed him. Nothing was going to change his prophetic calling. No land, no king, no edict, no mandate and no name change.

For the next four chapters in Daniel, we find him interpreting the king’s dream. Being thrown into a firey furnace and surviving. Interpreting another dream. Translating a some grafitti written on a wall by a ghostly hand, during one of the kings banquets. Violating the kings mandate to not pray to god for 30 days. Being thrown into a hungry lions den, AND SURVIVING (again!).

This man was moving in the prophetic and God was all over him! Was he in the right place at the right time? (Duh!?)

Daniel – Powerful

Those experiences would have been more than enough for me to be satisfied that God was using me and I was in the right place and time. But Daniel continued to move in this purposed and prophetic lifestyle until he was 80 years old!

The furnace, lions den and handwriting on the wall were all just tastes of the power that Daniel was about to move into. Daniel’s true power came as he himself had visions and dreams.

His powerful prophetic messages are found in Daniel chapters 7-12, and they are not for the faint of heart. In these chapters he speaks of the end of times and the anti-christ. He sees beasts, The Ancient of Days, a ram and a goat, and he prays for his people. He talks in some veiled way about 70 weeks, a burning face that talked to him, falling down in fear, and kings of the north and south. He talks about the abomination that makes desolate, those who are against God, and the time of the end.

Daniel’s visions have been studied by all the great scholars through the years and many interpretations have been offered. Daniel’s descriptions are duplicated in the book of Revelation, by the Apostle John, who lived some 600 years after Daniel lived! That is powerfully prophetic!

So you tell me, my friend, was Daniel in the right time and place?

Job and Daniel share certain characteristics. They were both successful, educated, leaders, and they both had reason to question God’s timing. Yet, their preparation was exactly what put them when and where they needed to be.

Daniel and Esther start out pretty much as opposites. How could their lives have anything in common? Could they share the notion of being in the right place? Both Esther and Daniel ended up in the king’s palace by the mighty hand of God. Both exactly in the time they needed to be there.

Daniel and Elihu were opposites too, yet both were wise spokesmen at just the right time and the right place.

Dear one, it is my firm belief, that we need more Daniel’s. Those trained in wisdom, insight, and educated in the ways of God (and even academia). Those whose purpose is the prophetic and in the fulness of its intended power. Ones who hear what God is saying and share it. Ones who understand what’s happening, and can give strategic, prophetic direction. Ones who will not bow to the mandates of the king but purpose to obey God alone, no matter the lions den or firey furnace.

God is wanting to equip Daniel’s to speak His wisdom and interpret the signs. God is looking for wise men and women who are purposed, prophetic and powerful.

If that’s you, now is the right time and place.

Next week is our final lesson in this series and we will look at Mary and Joseph – carriers of Jesus. Betrothed. Believed. Became.

See you then

Go with God,

Debbie

The Right Time and Place #3

#3 of 5, In a series of Sunday Sermons. 12.11.21

#3 Esther – a Queen

She lived as an outsider, outcast, and in exile. She lived as an orhpan, her parents having been killed in one of the many battles for Jerusalem. Here she was without family or freedoms. How could she be in the right place and how could this be the right time?

Esther beautiful, brazen abd blessed

Lovingly adopted by her cousin, he did his best to raise this beautiful, young lady as his very own daughter. But even then, she was taken captive by the kings servants who were seizing beautiful, young ladies for the king as he sought to find a new queen.

Esther -was beautiful

She, a young vigrin was seized, and taken along with hundreds of other young ladies, to the palace. Once again, she was alone, without family or freedom. Certainly there was nothing right about this time or place, she must have thought.

Without even her own approval, she was forced into a year long preparation period, so that she would be ready to be seen by the king. It was during this time that she found favor with her trainers. She found favor with her handlers. She found favor with the other ladies. Because she pleased them and won their favor, they advanced her and placed her in the “best place of the harem.”

Her beauty had made room for her and her graciousness had gained her favor. Could she be in the right palce at the right time?

Then her time came to come before the king and spend the night with him. Esther was fully aware what she was entering into, she had over a year to memtally, emotionally and spiritually prepare for her encounter with the king. But how could this sexual encounter be right? She was a young virgin, he an older man of means. Was she in the right place at the right time? How could anything about her rape be right?

We are told that the king “loved Esther more than all the other women.” Esther 2:17 So, did that now make it right? From that moment on, she won the grace and favor of the king, more than all the others, so he set the royal crown on her head and made her Queen.

There is much to question about the workings of God through unfortunate and abusive situations, and in many areas of Esther’s life, I find myself with such questions. But through it all, it remains abundantly clear that Esther always believed she was in the right place at the right time. As she wandered in exile, under the arm and care of her uncle, an orphan, captured by the kings men to be part of his harem. We never read of her fighting, kicking or rejecting what circumstances brought her way. And in fact, her uncle sought to teach her of Yahweh’s sovereignty, provision and blessing upon his people – the Jews.

She was goverened by a greater law than what was forced upon her. She was internally goverened by an absolute rest in God’s goodness and soverignity.

She knew she was in the palace, with the king right now, and right on time. Although, as of yet, she doesn’t know why.

Esther was brazen

As Queen, she now had the attention of everyone in the palace, most especially the King.

As events play out, an evil plan is hatched to have all the Jews in the empire killed, all the way from India to Ethiopia. As her uncle shares this with her, Esther is deeply distressed, for she is a Jew and no one in the palace knows it. How could this happen to her people? How could this be the right time?

At the bidding of her uncle she calls the Jews to a fast, to seek what ought to be done. The answer comes, and it involves her. Her uncle tells her,

” For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

The risk before Esther was approaching the King without being invited. For this was against the law and a possible death sentence should she be rejected and the golden scepter not be extended toward her. Her response to this risk,

…if I perish, I perish.”

Esther 4:16

Esther was brazen. She was bold and without shame. She knew that she was in the right place at the right time. It was her time to speak up. Her time had come. THIS was the place.

Her faith and trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty paid off, for as she stood at the doorway of the court of the King, she won favor in his sight and he extended his scepter to allow her entrance.

As all wise women, she had a plan. She cunningly planned a series of banquets and invited the king and the one who plotted to kill the Jews to attend. Then at just the right time and in the right place, she reveals the plot to kill her people. She fell at the Kings feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan.

Esther was blessed

The King gave she and her uncle authority to write whatever legislation they needed and gave his signet ring to her uncle. It would then be published in all 127 provinces of the empire. She had his blessing in whatever they wrote and all that they needed.

It was then that the order was given that the Jews would be able to defend themselves when the death order was executed. Throughout the land, on the very day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to destroy them, the reverse occurred! The Jews gained mastery over those who hated them!

As they fought back a great victory and deliverance was won for the Jews.

To this day, the Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim, the feast that commemorates Esther’s request and the Jews mighty deliverance. It is a yearly celebration with much joy, eating, drinking and costumes.

Esther was blessed with courage, favor and a strategy to save her people, and she is blessed today by the Jews.

But who could have imagined an orphan, living in exile, being raised by her uncle, and then captured by the government for the kings harem would be in the right place at the right time? Who could have imagined that this young Esther would become Queen of a powerful nation? Who could have imagined that she would thwart the death penalty unleashed on her people?

The journey that has brought you to where you are today may or may not be a pretty one. You may have experienced loss of family and freedoms. There may be other facets that you share with Esther too. But know this my friend, you too can begin to see and recognize the favor and grace of God on your life. You too can experience trust and confidence in God’s soverignity and rest in his goodness.

No matter your past, God sees you as His chosen one, his beloved, his Queen (or King). He has a plan for you, a time and a place for you to speak up. Stand up. Risk it all. He has groomed you for such a time. He is preparing you for such a time. He is arranging for you to be in just the right place to speak what is needed at just the right time.

You are beautiful in God’s eyes, and He has made you too, to be brazen, because He wants to bless you and those around you.

It is your time and place.

Check back next week at we study Daniel- a wiseman, who was Purposed, Prophetic and Powerful.

Go with God.

Debbie

The Right Place and Time #2

#2 of 5- In a series of Sunday Sermons 12.4.21

#2 Elihu – a spokesman

Last week we introduced this series by exposing our driving desire to be in the right place at the right time. As an example, and for insight, we looked at Job, who was targeted by God for tremendous surprises in his life as he suffered through his many losses.

What surprises have you seen this week in your life? Your families life?

As you may remember, after Job lost his family, wealth, health and the support of his wife, he was visited by some friends, who came to show him sympathy and comfort. Job 2:11

Elihu and Job

These men were elders, men of high standing, just like Job. “These three were from the East, an area known for the wisdom of man. They relied solely on their reasoning and presuppositions to explain Job’s suffering” (1) Yet, for the next 30 chapters, what we observe is their endless reasoning and arguing with Job that he has sinned and must repent. while Job insists on his own righteousness.

Elihu – a spokesman

Elihu – the tender, truth-teller

Then, out of nowhere, appears a fourth voice. Elihu. It is thought that Eliju was an observer of these four men’s interactions and reasonings. For days he sat, observed, listened, mused, fumed and stewed as he listened to their empty arguements and baseless assertions. Until, he had had enough. They had finished their exchanges in a dead heat and now Elihu was heated enough to explode.

” So these men ceased to answer Job… Then Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job… he burned with anger also at Job’s three friends…. Now Elihu had waited to speak because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.”

Job 32:1-5 ESV

Was Elihu in the right place?

Geesh, here was an elder who had been beset with horrible boils running with pus, blood and infection. He was actually unidentifiable, his friends didn’t even recognize him. Job 2:12 He’d lost all he valued and was sitting in the junkyard. Surrounding him were his “friends” attempting to comfort and console him. Yet, nothing he’d heard from their “wise” mouths brought either. Elihu was aghast! These are wise men from the east? These men are renoun for their understanding and insight?

“It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” Job 32:9 Elihu concluded.

He knew now, that he was in the right place at just the right time. He was full of words, had respectfully waited his turn, attentively listened to all points of view and was now ready to speak. NOW was the right time. Job 32:18

Four times this text states: “he burned with anger“.

This phrase when translated more fully from the Hebrew would really read, (2)

Elihu’s heart began to race and his breathing intensified. His face began to imitate the rage of his heart, because as a seer-prophet he saw and understood what God was saying and knew that he must speak on God’s behalf. He must open his lips and answer. Job 32:7-8, 18-22; 36:2

He was in the right place and the right time had finally come!

You see, Elihu, although younger than the other wise friends, was a prophetic voice. His name means, “He is my God”. He is a prophetic descendent of Abraham. The city he was from (Ram” short for Aram, Abraham) was known for its prophets. The other three friends came to Job from the East, with man’s wisdom, but Elihu came to Job with a prophetic voice, Godly insight and perspective.

Eliju had been groomed and prepped his whole life for this exact place and this exact time.

As a new wineskin bursting with fermented, new wine he exploded on the scene. Job 32:19

For the next six chapters of Job (32-37), Elihu speaks for God. He brings four charges from God to these men and this case:

  • Chapter 32 – Elihu rebukes the three friends
  • Chapter 33 – Elihu tells Job that he is not right, because God is always just
  • Chapter 34 – Elihu emphasizes that God is just
  • Chapter 35 – Elihu confronts Job’s misspeech. Saying that Job is not suffering becasue of sin, but is sinning in his suffering.
  • Chapter 36 & 37 – Elihu tells of God’s greatness, majesty, might and power

The Encyclopedia Britannica says this of Elihu,

” Elihu is a superhuman intermediary who will help restore Job to God.”

When a tender, truth-teller shows up on the scene, in the midst of hopelessness, pain and suffering, that one could surely be considered super human.

Elihu’s perspective was that God is always just. Powerful. Merciful. God is always seeking to teach us and uses every situation in our life to teach us. Elihu identified God a the teacher in Job’s sufferings and Job would do well to learn the lessons that God was teaching him, rather than accuse and misspeak. God is always good and will never do wickedly. Why contend with God?

Elihu, the son of “God has blessed”, the father of the “prophet”, of the family of “high or exalted ancestor of David”, was in the right place at the right time with his heart full of words, his belly like wine without a vent. There he was called to speak the word of the Lord that was burning within him, just like Jeremiah in Jeremiah 19: 9 The burning truth of the Lord was shut up in his bones and he could not hold it in any longer.

These are the days that we are living in, oh mighty ones. Days of being in the right place at the right time and speaking what God has burned into our heart. Days of Elihu’s arising. Watching for times to speak. Listen, observe, wait, respect, honor and then speak boldly the truth into the situation.

Understand the times and seasons, and be that one who, out of nowhere, speaks the powerful Word of God into a hopeless situation. Let his Word ferment within you and be released into your family, workplace, neighborhood, church, synagogue, temple, classroom, and your sphere of influence.

We need more tender, truth-tellers. We need more spokesmen like Elihu.

Next week, we will study Esther – a princess who was beautiful, brazen and blessed. Hope to see you back.

Go with God.

Debbie

1. Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., Keyword Study Bible

2. Hebrew lexicon H2374; H639;

The Right Place and Time #1

#1 of 5- In a series of Sunday Sermons 11.27.21

#1 – Job – a target

Have you ever wondered if you are in the right place doing the right thing? Or had the opposite occur, when things synced up so perfectly and everything felt just as it should, with that, “WOW, this is amazing!” moment? Then again, how ’bout that heavy sense that “things just blew up”, and something is not right?

We all want to be in the right place at the right time, don’t we? We want it all to line up, sync up and to feel that “WOW!” moment.

That is what we will be addressing for the next five weeks (in our Sunday Sermons) – “The right place and time“. We will take a look a five different characters and see what insights we can gain from them on this topic. Our focus will be on Job, Elihu, Esther, Daniel and Mary and Joseph; we will let them teach us from their experiences. I hope you will follow along and check back each week.

Today, our first example is Job.

Job a target.

Job – success, suffering, & surprises

Was Job in the right place at the right time? Let’s see.

We find Job in the oldest book in the Bible, the one that bears his name – Job. He lived in Uz, which is in the Middle East between Damascus and the Euphrates River. He probably lived the same time as Genesis chapters 12-50 are happening, about the the time of the Patriarchs.

He is a noteworthy man of character. The biblical description says of him,

” … that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

Job 1:1 ESV

It then goes on to ennumerate his family and wealth. He had seven sons, three daughters, and thousands of sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. Plus shifts of workers to care for them all. He is described as the greatest man of all the people of the East. Job 1:2-3

He dearly loved his family and was 100% devoted to them. He even made sacrifices for them.

In spite of all this SUCCESS that he had, his name, the name Job means, ” the hated or persecuted one; (object of enmity).”

Was he in the right time and right place? His name sure didn’t match up with his fame. Things were good for him, but they sure weren’t adding up.

Job was a target.

He was successful. He was God-fearing. His family was his priority. He was the greatest in the East. Does that sound like you? (Well, three out of four, maybe?) And he was a target. (you?)

Satan was roaming and looking through the Earth. Job 1:7; 2:2

God targeted Job. Job 1:8; 2:36

Job was in the right place at the right time.

Job was successful.

He was prosperous in land, herds, wealth and family. Spiritually, he was God-fearing, blameless and sacrificed for his children as a priest. He was respected in the surrounding region as an influencial leader.

What parrallels can we draw? You’re doing ok with possessions, family. Maybe even involved in community affairs of civic leadership. You’re maybe also God-fearing. Perhaps your portfolio, stocks or investment properties are flourishing. You, too are successful.

Or perhaps you have found happiness and success in a less “wealthy” lifestyle, because you have wealth of another kind. You see yourself however by these measures as successful.

Job, in his success, was a target. God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” God was about to help Job get in sync with his name. Job was about to understand the impact of his name.

Job suffered.

In one day, Job lost his family and fortune. Oxen, donkeys, workers, sheep, workers, camels, workers, sons and daughters. Within hours it was all gone! He was a target. AND, he was in the right place at the right time.

His response to his excruciating losses – he tore his clothes. shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshipped God, as he said,

” Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.”

Job 1:21 ESV

On another day, he lost his health and the support of his wife. Job 2:1-9

His response,

” Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?”

Job 2:10 ESV

Somewhere deep in Job was the deepest of resolves that God is good, no matter what it looks like. God is good, all the time! And in all of this, Job didn’t sin with hip lips, by bad talking God and His ways.

Was he in the right place at the right time? You betcha! He was right on target.

Are there parrallels to your life? You tell me…

Truth is, bad things happen to good people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. (Matther 5:45)

Suffering is not meant to punish us, but to correct us, restore us and keep us on the right path. Suffering is helpful when we turn to God for understanding and even ask important questions. Suffering is harmful if we harden our heart and reject God, or refuse to ask Him questions and miss His lessons.

Satan does nothing without God’s authorization. So when God authroizes Satan to unleash suffering on us it is to:

” …humble us and test what’s in our hearts.”

Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV

This isn’t because God doesn’t know what is in our hearts, but so that we will see what really lies in our heart.

Satan comes only to destroy everything about you. John 10:10 God’s plan is to purify our heart, by turning up the heat of suffering in our life, and to produce precious gold. 1 Peter 1:7; Job 23:10

Peter even understood this, he wrote,

“Don’t be surprised at suffering that comes on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you…” 1 Peter 4:12

God knew that suffering would produce steadfastness in Job. (James 1:2) Just like it will in you and me. James also goes on to say, “That he who remains steadfast will receive a crown of life.” James 1:12 Then James repeats what Job has just stated,

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”

James 1:16

God is good. He only gives good gifts. Whether or not it looks like my definition of good, God is good and this gift is good.

Jesus told us that God, as our Father knows how to give good gifts to his kids. Matthew 7:9-12

Job was a target for the gift of God’s refinning.

Job was in the exact right place at the exact right time to be targeted by God for success and suffering. Job, God and Satan were all on target. But the best was yet to come.

Next week we will address Job’s friends and the part they play. In fact, for the next 35 chapters in his book, the friends’ dialogue with Job is the focus. But that’s for next week.

Job was a target and in the right place at the right time! Through his success and suffering he had remained steadfast and now he was ready for surprises.

Job received surprises!

God actually shows up and talks to Job (that makes it pretty clear Job was in the right place at the right time). God revealed himself to Job in chapters 38-42 and 42:5. (I personally think that THIS is the greatest surprise – to receive God’s presence and hear His voice.) God tells Job to pray for his three friends. And when he does, God restores Job’s fortune. All of it, and his wealth was doubled.

No kidding!

Job winds up getthing double the sheep, camels, oxen, and female donkeys. PLUS, another seven sons and three daughters. And this time, his daughters are included in the family inheritance and ancestry! His daughters are inheritors alongside of their brothers. Everyone in Job’s family was targeted by God’s surprises!

Job was on target, in the right place at the right time. Through his success, and suffering he received the surprises of a loving Heavenly Father, because God is a good God.

Whether you are in success or suffering right now, remain steadfast and see the good and surprising gifts from your Father in heaven. God is good, all the time!

You are in the right place at the right time. Please rest assured. Please be encouraged that God IS at work on your behalf and that a surprise is just around the corner.

Up next week, Elihu – a spokesman. The tender truth-teller.

God with God,

Debbie

Giving Thanks or Showing Gratitude?

Sunday Sermon 11.20.21

Giving thanks and being grateful are both positive and helpful attitudes, and both are generally a result of an event, so what’s the difference?

You may be one who uses grateful and thankful interchangeably, but they are not really the same. Here’s the big difference:

“The difference between grateful and thankful is that by definition grateful is directed out of the person who is feeling it, while thankful is generated inside the person.

Smart Leadership Hut

Put another way, we are grateful for external circumstances. (Often by comparison, too.) This means we need something outside ourself to help us generate gratefulness. Gratefulness needs someone or something else to motivate expression.

Thankfulness on the other hand, can be generated on it’s own, from the inside without external triggers. With thankfulness, we can experience happiness because it comes from within, from an attitude that is full of thanks regardless of circumstances, from a heart not dependent on externals.

When we express thankfulness, we can be in any situation in life and realize that it is what is within us that brings our happiness and satisfaction, not what is outside of us. Our happiness and fulfillment is not dependant on our circumstances, people or places. And for this, we are truly thankful.

But should those circumstances, people and places line up favorably, we can certainly be grateful too.

In their absence, we can choose to be thankful.

Let me illustrate this by sharing two stories.

“The Masai tribe of West Africa have an unusual way of saying thank-you. Translators tell us that when the Masai express thanks, they bow, put their foreheads on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.”

When members of another African tribe want to express their thanks, they sit for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and literally say, “I sit on the ground before you.”

These Africans understand well what thanksgiving is and why it’s difficult for us: at its core, thanksgiving is an act of humility.” (Story as told by Joel Gregory, in “Fresh Illustrations for Teaching and Preaching”)

Another story is told in the Gospel of Luke:

” Jesus was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance, and lifted their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When Jesus saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus feet, giving him thanks. ” Luke 17:11-17 ESV

This one leper was not content with just his external circumstances being changed when Jesus healed him. Although that seems to have been the case for the other nine. That one leper, was prompted by not only gratitude, but thankfulness. He turned back toward Jesus, and began shouting out loud his praise and thanks to Jesus. He then fell on his face, right at Jesus’ feet, and like the Masai, pretty much said to Jesus, “My head is in the dirt.” Generated not only by gratitude but by a deep and overwhelming heart of thanks, this leper humbled himself, at Jesus feet and expressed his thanks to Him.

Nine I believe were grateful for their healing. They never returned to Jesus or expressed their thanks, though.

One was both grateful and thankful. He was healed, and commended by Jesus for returning with thanks.

We can be like the nine, be like the one or still be carrying around our leprosy.

I trust you will join with the throng in giving thanks during this season.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Debbie