After listening to the first half of Joseph Prince’s first message covering God’s revelation to him regarding this year 2023, I could more or less sum it up by saying that timing is what is crucial. I loved how he started with Ecclesiastes 9:10, which emphasizes that you can be the strongest, you can be the fastest, the richest, or the smartest, but it’s no guarantee you’d win: “…time and chance happen to us all”.
I was wanting to quickly breeze through this as a summary before moving on, but there are a couple of things in mind that I want to put down.
First of all, I don’t disagree with anyone who does strive to be stronger, faster, richer and/or smarter. Hell, I want to be all of these things. But I need to be clear about one thing; We need to be aware of the fact, the Truth that being stronger, faster, richer, or smarter only increases the percentage of success according to our limited perspectives.
That one thing actually tells me two things – (1) being stronger, faster, richer, or smarter is absolutely no guarantee of success, and (2) we’d probably be dead wrong about what we think is success in the first place, because our knowledge and perspective doesn’t cover every single factor.
But that’s precisely what we’re being forced to believe in this reality, right? The strongest is sure to be the best, the fastest is sure to be the first, the richest is sure to be the most successful, and the smartest, well, is sure to be the richest? I guess what I’m trying to point out here is the same thing that Pastor Prince is saying: We need to be brought to a realization, a point of humility that has us saying that we have no control over time and chance – because it’s at this point where we appreciate and embrace the Truth: That is, that the One who DOES have perfect sovereignty over time and chance is for us, and not against us… and we have such audacity to make this claim, because of who Christ is, and what He has done for us.
We resume at the midpoint where Pastor Prince was relating a story of how his family was catching a flight, only to be stuck in traffic and to be told that they were late at check-in. The person at the counter tried to work things out and told the Pastor and his family that they could still run to the gate, but they had to manually process their check-in luggage (in other words, not only did they need to run, but they needed to run with all their baggage in haul). They made it to the plane, with everything sorted out, in time to hear an announcement from the pilot that they were delayed because the loading conveyor belt was having issues. So not only did that make it to the plane, but their luggage was checked in before everyone else’s. It’s at this time that the good Pastor felt how he was loved by God.
The right time and the right place may not necessarily be perceived by us right away… and it’s probably in these moments that we see lessons, lessons with the underlying reminder – of how we are loved, personally. And we are loved – Loved by a God who knows the number of hairs on our head at any single moment, and is fully aware of when each hair falls, or when each hair grows. This same God who knows us in this detail surely knows when the right time and the right place is for each and every one of us.
Pastor Prince says that this year, let’s not measure our success by way of our riches; And I dare say, we shouldn’t be measuring our success by way of our strength, speed, or smarts either. I’ve always said that money should be seen and treated as it is – as a tool, a creation, not to be loved and adored, but to be appreciated – by way of being spent wisely, sure, but it starts by way of being seen, again, for what it is. I suppose our strong bodies, our swift movement, and our knowledge and skill should also be seen the same way – as tools: appreciated by being spent wisely, by being seen for what they are.
We should enjoy life. We shouldn’t stress over making making another million, and ending up frustrated, losing time to your family. We shouldn’t be working for others thinking that they are the source of our happiness, but we should work even better by working unto the Lord. This is ‘enjoying the true life’ that Pastor Prince emphasized.
He then brings up the story of Ruth – a picture of the church, and Jesus Christ. And it’s more for us, really, considering a majority of us are not Israelites. Ruth was a Moabite, and though she was not under the Law, she was under the curse. Ruth and Orpah experienced tragedy outside the land of Israel, by way of their husbands and their sons dying. While Orpah went her way Ruth decided to go to Israel to join her mother-in-law Naomi. And what she said was important: “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”; She became a believer and accompanied her back to Bethlehem.
Now they weren’t actually rich, in fact they were so poor that they were reduced to glean in the fields after the workers have had their harvest. Their poverty is a picture of our own spiritual bankruptcy… and consequently, we first find our grains in the field of grace (read Ruth 2:2: “Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” / other translations say ‘in whose sight I shall find grace’) – Ruth, who just became a believer, believed in grace! And it’s pointed out here, the more we think we don’t deserve favor, the more we receive grace! The more undeserving we are, the more we qualify for grace!
And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.Ruth 2:3 KJV
We look at the King James Version to point out that phrase there – ‘her hap was to light’; The word ‘hap’ there is where we get the word ‘happening’, and also ‘happy’; We’re happy to happen to be wherever we happen to be, even when what we expect to happen doesn’t happen. And the words ‘hap’ and ‘light’ consist of the Hebrew וָפֶ֖גַע (or ‘karah’, as mentioned in the first transcript) – Ruth was at a right happening. We all know that soon after this she met Boaz, and they got married – the poor widow had her circumstances reversed, now she was married to one of the richest in the land… and she was also established as a contributor to the bloodline where David, and eventually Jesus, would come from.
It all started with Ruth being in the right place at the right time. She was not the richest, the strongest, the fastest, or the smartest, but again – she was at the right place at the right time… and only God can give us right happenings.
Pastor Prince now brings up the story of Abraham’s servant – a representation of the Holy Spirit with us in this reality, in this world. Abraham’s servant was sent out to find a bride for Isaac, a representation of Jesus. The Holy Spirit seeks the Bride of Christ in this age. And it’s no accident that Abraham’s servant was not named – because just as the Holy Spirit points to Christ, so the servant does not draw attention to himself, but to Isaac. How, then, would we know if a ministry is Spirit-filled? When it points to Jesus.
You know, I’ve been spending too much time on listening and literally transcribing everything I think is valuable. Pastor Prince’s message is so jam-packed with insight… so I’m just going to listen a little bit more from here, and maybe pause whenever absolutely necessary.
Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.Genesis 24:10-12
The word ‘success’ in this passage is – you guessed it – ‘karah’… and every time you see right happening, God’s steadfast love (‘hesed’, or grace) is not far away.
Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.Genesis 24:13-16
It’s pointed out that Rebekah was the only one came out – and it’s the same thing, when we ask for the right happening; the other ‘daughters’ were nowhere in sight, implying that other happenings are held back for the right happening to come. And she came out before the servant finished speaking. It’s in line with what the Lord tells Isaiah – “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.”Isaiah 65:24; Meaning, in our pursuit of the right happening, the Lord has already heard and responded to us. Let’s continue to pray and be surprised by how the Lord brings us to the right happening – it doesn’t have to make sense to us; God will orchestrate everything.
And apparently this will happen more this year – when we pray for things, the Lord will surprise us before we even finish praying. Personally, I’m going to keep praying for so much; In fact, I suppose it’s not accident that we are praying more (myself personally and my ministry).
‘very attractive’ is ‘me-od’ in Hebrew, or implying, the best. So it’s not just the right happening, but it’s the best happening. We’re being encouraged that we will be meeting with more and more people who need Jesus this year (And personally, I’m already seeing this happening). And the right happening, in relation with ‘kairos’, is pertaining to blessing – not just blessing for us as individuals, but blessing for the entire body, that we would give thanks and praise the Lord.
Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”Genesis 24:17-19
Take note, the servant had TEN camels with him. And she carried all that water, until everyone was finished drinking. She exceeded the servant’s expectations – a very fit and strong girl (some girls are pretty but not strong, Pastor Prince points out).
The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the LORD had prospered his journey or not.Genesis 24:21
The word ‘prospered’ is ‘saliach’ (?), the same word mentioned in Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1. It has something to do with right happening… which, by the way, the world calls ‘serendipity’: Good fortune or luck, not necessarily orchestrated by God – a chance happening. The story of the discovery of penicillin was a serendipitous event – But Alexander Fleming, a Presbyterian, knew to acknowledge God in this happening. The glue of the Post-It note was serendipitous. Colombus, a Catholic who read his Bible a lot, set out and made the serendipitous discovery of the land eventually known as America. Coca-Cola was discovered by way of a serendipitous event.
We know better – It may be serendipity behind these events, but it’s God and His grace behind the serendipity.
This marks the end of the first sermon. I’m not sure if I should go to the next audio recording… pretty sure I will.
Until the next post, God bless you.
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