Have you ever had one of those right place, right time moments? Those times when things just worked out in your favor, and you know if the circumstances would’ve been a little different, you would’ve missed the opportunity of a lifetime?
I may have shared this story before, but whenever I was in high school I had my first real girlfriend. And after a long courtship, she ended things. Now, why anyone would want to break up with me is beyond me… but I was devastated. A whole month of dating just gone.
Around the same time, my older sister made a friend in college who happened to have a younger sister that was about my age. And one day my sister calls me and says, “David. You have to marry my friend’s sister so that we can be sisters! Will you chat with her online?
I can’t remember why, but I had recently been dumped so I figured I might as well. So I did. and as soon as I did, I realized I hit the jackpot. I could chat online with this girl for hours. When we weren’t chatting, I wanted to be chatting. I can remember rushing home after school to chat with her. She was strong in her faith and we encouraged each other to grow closer to God.
Eventually we started talking on the phone… a lot. I just remembered the other day that I would drive to and from work talking to her, and would be so bummed when my 250 minutes per month ran out. Remember those days?
Then I met her in person. Then we started dating. Then we got married in 2009.
Looking back… I was just in the right place at the right time. I was simply presented with an opportunity..and I took it. By no work of my own, I landed an incredible deal, and if you know my wife, you know just how good of a deal it was. And if you know me, you know I married up. She got the short end of the straw… however you want to say it. I was in the right place at the right time.
Now, you may be thinking… this never happens to me. I don’t feel like I’m ever in the right place at the right time. But what if we are always in the right place at the right time for something, but we just don’t have eyes to see?
What if I told you that God sees wherever you are right now as a right place right time opportunity to do something extraordinary, but if we don’t have eyes to see, we might miss it?
We’re in the middle of a series called exponential and we’re believing that our God isn’t a God of addition, he’s a God of multiplication. When God told Abraham he was going to be a father, Abraham was super excited to have one kid, but God was talking about so. Much. More. More children than Abraham could count.
Last week Andy shared that when we do a small act of faithfulness, it isn’t small at all. Through our small acts of faithfulness God brings about something amazing. A small act might change one child, which might change one family, and then a community, and then a whole nation. Our job is to refine our vision and believe that God wants to do more through me than I could ever ask for or imagine.
In addition to God working through our small acts of faithfulness, he also has opportunities for us to be part of something BIG right where we are, because we are all in the right place at the right time. Each one of us, because of who we are… our personalities, our address, our job, our family, our interests, our gifts… have opportunities to impact the world for God’s kingdom.
But opportunities need to be seen. If you saw the e-news this week, this story may be old news for you, but in the year 2000 the founder of Netflix offered to sell to Blockbuster for $50 million. In hindsight, we all know that blockbuster was in the right place at the right time with an awesome opportunity. But Blockbuster didn’t see it, so they turned down the offer. You know how this story ends, right? I haven’t checked out a movie at a Blockbuster recently and Netflix is valued right around $150 BILLION. Did Blockbuster have an opportunity in front of them? Absolutely. But they weren’t able to see it.
We are in the right place at the right time with opportunities from God to join his work in the world to make a huge impact for his kingdom… and the first step is to See Where You Are.
The problem with the CEO of blockbuster wasn’t that he wasn’t smart enough. It wasn’t that he didn’t have enough money. It’s that he didn’t see the opportunity.
Sometimes we struggle to see God’s opportunity for us because we haven’t seen where we are as a valuable place. We just kind of got here. We went to school, we got a job. We dated. We got married. We needed to get a house near our job. We joined some groups we thought might be interesting. We developed some hobbies that we liked. We made some friends, had kids… and then one day. We’re just here. We are who we are.
And when we start talking about the idea that God has an opportunity to do something exponential through us we might initially have two responses… One is: great! Where do I need to go? Do I need to quit my job? Move to a new city? Do I need to join a new group? Should I become a missionary.The other response is: well, I’m not a missionary and I can’t get a new job, so there’s no God-sized opportunity for me.
Here’s the truth: Wherever God finds you is a place where God can use you. No matter how significant or insignificant you feel your current place is… Wherever God finds you is a place where God can use you.
In the Old Testament there’s this epic story of Esther who had an opportunity of a lifetime. Esther was a Jew who was living in exile under the Persian empire. And through a series of events she ends up becoming the queen, which is quite a surprise since she’s a Jew. But the whole time she was queen kept her ethnic heritage a secret from the King. He didn’t know she was a Jew.
Now, Esther didn’t set out to become the Queen. In fact, being Queen didn’t mean the same thing as what it means to us today, so it’s possible she would’ve preferred not to be the Queen.
But regardless, Esther was just living her life and one day she was the Queen. She wasn’t aspiring to be Queen, she wasn’t trying to climb the royal ladder. She made decisions in her life and other people made decisions for her in her life and she ended up being the Queen.
Kinda like us. She just was where she was. Didn’t think much about it. Nothing extraordinary. She was probably very happy in some ways, and she was probably discontent in some ways… wanting more… Kinda like us.
Now, you may not be the queen, but where are you?
This is the first step to seeing our opportunity: See Where You Are. Where do you work? Where do you live? Who are your friends? What skills has God given you? What influence do you have? What do you do for fun? What classes do you take?
Because Wherever God finds you is a place where God can use you. It doesn’t matter how ordinary or insignificant you think your life is. You’re there, and there’s an opportunity waiting for you, you just need eyes to see.
So as Esther continued living her life this guy named Haman was promoted by the King over all the other officials in the kingdom. Haman ends up getting in a spat with Esther’s uncle who raised her, Mordecai. And because of their spat, Haman sets in motion a plot to destroy all the Jewish people by an edict of the king. And the king agrees to it. So the king writes an edict that commanded people in every province of Persia “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth of the twelfth month.”
Mordecai hears about this and tells Esther what’s happening and guess what Esther thought to herself? If you think her response was… oh my gosh! I’m in such a great opportunity to join God’s exponential work in the world! I could really make an impact here! God wants to use me! I’m sorry to tell you, you’re wrong. She was like blockbuster.
Here’s Esther’s response (Esther 4:11 NIV 2011) – “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
In other words, it’s too risky! I could die! I can’t do it! It just wouldn’t work! I’m not sure what I’d say to the king! I’m just the Queen! I don’t know if I could even make a difference.
In all those questions, in that concern, Esther was blind to the opportunity to do something extraordinary that seems so painfully obvious to us.
Now, you may be saying to yourself… well, yeah… but Esther was the Queen and she actually had an opportunity. I don’t. I’m just a fill in the blank with whatever you are.
Esther felt the same way, but God had an opportunity for her. And no matter where you are in life, God has an opportunity for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a part time employee, retired, a student, permanently disabled, own your own business, run someone’s business, or just wish people would mind their own business… God has an opportunity for you to make a big impact for his kingdom in the world.
There’s a guy named Mike Arnoult. That name probably isn’t familiar to you,but he’s a business leader at Walgreen’s pharmacy. He saw his position at Walgreens, and like many of us, he probably wondered how God could possibly have an opportunity for him to make a big impact on the world. I mean, it’s a pharmacy. They buy stuff for a price and sell it for a higher price. They’re running a business. What opportunity did he have?
But at the Global Leadership Summit in 2014 Mikesaw that God had an opportunity for him to do something extraordinary, and Mike pitched his idea to the higher ups.
Like Esther, he probably was afraid. It was potentially a risky move. But by seeing his opportunity and understanding he was at the right place at the right time, he has made a huge impact on the world.Watch this video.SHOW VIDEO
To date, Walgreens has given out millions of vaccines to kids around the world who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford it. All because Mike took advantage of the opportunity he had.
What’s opportunity are you in the right place at the right time to take advantage of?
What happens at your job? If you develop some kind of product or technology systems, could it be given away to help local nonprofits do a better job serving folks in our community?
What have you been through? Could you gather others who have been through something similar and start a group for mutual support and community?
What’s your hobby? Do you grow vegetables? Could you reach out to the Bellefonte Lunch Program that serves folks downtown and see if they need any of the produce you grow?
Do you find yourself in conversations about spirituality with people in your life? Could you gather people you work with and do a study together?
Do you work in construction? What if you suggested to your boss that you pick up one pro-bono job per month for a local charity that serves the under-resourced in our community?
Are you a student athlete? What if you recommended to your coach that for a team building activity you do a service project together?
I don’t know what the opportunity is for you, but after you see where you are, you can find out when you Listen to God’s Voice.The next step to see the opportunity God has for us is to be connected to him. You’re all here, so you’re already connecting with him through the worship gathering. God speaks to us in worship. If I were to ask each one of you if you’ve ever felt encouraged or called or convicted or ledin worship, my guess is each one of you would have a story. God speaks here. We can listen to God’s voice by makingworship a top priority in our lives.
We can listen to God’s voice by reading his Word. Hebrews 4:12 (2011 NIV) says: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The 66 books that are bound together into what we call the Holy Bible aren’t just stories of what happened a long time ago… they are words inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they are alive. When we say that the Word of God is alive we mean we believe that God speaks to us today when we read his word.
If you don’t have a Bible reading plan, there’s no better time to start than now. In the next steps there’s an outline for one way to read the Bible. It’s called the HEAR Journal. You start by asking God to speak to you through his Word, you read a section or a chapter, and then you start writing. You highlight the verse that stuck out to you as you read. You explain what the verse means. You ask how the message of the verse applies to your life. And then you write down how you’re going to respond by changing an attitude or action or perspective because of the verse. Listen to God by reading his Word.
God also speaks to us through Christian community. After Mordecai told Esther what Haman’s plan was and Esther said, “I’m not sure I can do it,” Mordecai wrote back to her: Esther 4:13-14 (NIV 2011) – “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Now this is a pretty harsh word, but it’s what Esther needed to hear. And when we invest in other people in intentional Christian community, God will speak to us, too.
Here at Faith Church we want everyone to be part of a small group or Sunday school class. Being part of a small group means you’re investing in a group of people who discuss God’s Word, encourage one another, and pray for one another. We don’t want everyone in a small group so we can feel good about ourselves or write a big number on a piece of paper, we believe in the power of small groups because as you walk in life and faith together and meet on a regular basis, you hear people’s stories and you can help one another see opportunities that are right in front of them that they might have missed without you.
And small groups are awesome because when we take a step in faith to take advantage of an opportunity that God put before us, our small group is the one who prays for us, encourages us, and cheers us on.
To see our opportunity, we’ve got to know where we are and listen to the ways God’s speaking to us.
Can we pause here for just a moment? Too often in my life I heard people say, “read your Bible… pray… spend time with God.” And I always heardthat and I thought, yeah yeahyeah. I should totally read my Bible, you’re right. I know I should. But I have too much going on! I’m too busy. I don’t know where to start. When I have more time, I will. When I finish high school, I’ll have more time. When I finish college, I’ll have more time. When I get settled into my job, I’ll have more time. When I get the promotion, then I’ll have time. When I get adjusted to having a kid, I’ll have more time. When I retire, I’ll have more time.
But you know what, I always had time for video games! I always had time to veg on the couch and watch Netflix! I always had time for the hobbies I wanted to spend time on! I had 250 minutes to talk to my girlfriend on the phone!
It wasn’t until long after I heard all those people tell me that I should read my Bible that I realized how foolish I was to not spend time with God by reading His Word. God transforms us when we spend time with him in his word. He leads us. He convicts is. Why wouldn’t I spend time listening to God by reading His Word that he gave me for my benefit?
And that’s what Godwants to do with you if you discipline yourself to spend 10 minutes a day with Him. Do a HEAR journal. 5 days a week. Sit down, find some quiet, and spend time with God.
Today can be the day that you start listening to God if you’re not already.
Cause when listen to his voice after seeing where we are, the opportunities he’s placed before us are going to become obvious. And then all we have to do is say yes.
Esther eventually did say yes. Even though doing so meant that she was risking her life. She saw the opportunity, did it, and through her act God saved the Jewish people.
What do you think? Is it possible that you have come to the place you are in life for such a time as this? Is it possible? Is it possible God wants to do immeasurable more through you than you could ever ask for or imagine? Is that possible?
I hope you think that’s possible, and if you do… see where God has placed you, listen to his voice, and say yes. Then watch him change the world.
- Saying yes to the opportunities God is giving to have an exponential impact for his kingdom starts when we see where he placed us. Write down all the “places” you are in your life. Where do you live, work, have fun, spend time, volunteer, etc.?
- Connecting to God in worship and by reading his Word helps us know opportunities God might have for us. How high of a priority is worship and spending time in his Word in this season of your life? What would it take to make it a slightly higher priority?
- It’s tempting to think we’re not “strong enough in our faith” for to take advantage of opportunities. If Jesus was living your life, what opportunity might he take advantage of?
- Is it possible God wants you to say yes to that opportunity?
- Consider starting a HEAR journal and do it 5 times a week. Read the book of Mark. Start by asking God to open up your heart and your mind to hear his voice. Then:
- Highlight one or two verses will likely stand out to you from the text. Write them down.
- Explain – How does that verse fit into the chapter? Why did the author include it? What does God intend to communicate through this verse?
- Apply – How does this verse apply to life today? What does this verse teach you about God? Does this verse identify an attitude or action to embrace or avoid?
- Respond – What is one thing you will do because of that verse?
Pray: Father, I believe that you want to do more through me than I could ever ask for or imagine. Give me eyes to see the opportunities you’ve placed before me and the courage to take advantage of them.