The Journey (JP Theme for 2023, pt. 4) – February 17, 2023 (57-59/365)

I thought I’d bring myself to speed before listening to the second half of the second message Joseph Prince had for the theme of 2023 – The Kairos Year of Right Time, Right Place.

Two verses stood out as the gist of his message – Ecclesiastes 9:11, and Isaiah 65:24.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 goes as follows – “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.” The point here being, you can go with how the world suggests is the way to success: Be the fastest. Be the strongest. Be the smartest. Be the richest. But it won’t always be profitable. These things won’t guarantee that you will always be in the right time, and/or that you would have the best chances.

And the thing is as I was writing all that, two things came to mind: (1) that something that is profitable can be described as something that is timely and with the best benefit, and (2) I should get used to talking about things, not in terms of right or wrong, but in terms of profitable or not.

Anyway, Pastor Prince brings up stories in the Bible and through testimonies and experience, but the ultimate point here is that it is Christ who brings us to the right place at the right time. It is, as we always like to say, not by our power or might, but by the Spirit of the Lord that we are brought to the most profitable of times. And it’s not always going to be the case that we would be fully aware that we are in the right place at the right time (wait – most profitable place, at the most profitable time? Sorry, just testing what I said earlier) – Maybe we would realize a Christ-laced serendipitous moment, days, weeks, months, years, or even decades after they transpire. Or maybe we may not realize them at all, leaving the learning to be done by the next generations; or, it may never be realized at all; The truth of the matter is it’s Christ who makes it happen.

It gives us a new insight as to what it means when we make the claim that God is faithful to make all things work for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose – Apparently we could also say that it’s Christ who makes our times and our chances right – or, sure, most profitable. And it’s not according to our perspectives or our limited knowledge… but rather, it’s based on His infinite wisdom and power.

Personally this brings me to realizing another point of view when it comes to trusting God – When we say we trust in the Lord, as the Scriptures would have us do, we are saying two things (1) that we don’t know everything, and (2) God knows everything and can do anything. Well, three things – to add to item 2, God knows everything and can do anything, and we are at peace, and have full confidence that God will work all things for the good of those who love Him – to clarify, this doesn’t always mean you, but the body of Christ will benefit for sure.

Let’s go back to that – God knows everything, and can do anything. Swift and fast far beyond measurable speed, stronger than scalable power; wise, smart, sharp and knowledgeable beyond steady sophistication and the wildest of imaginations. And the One who made all the gold and currency we hoard for ourselves – technically owns ALL the wealth and riches.

He is beyond all finite limitations, everlasting and eternal… and as such, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for us to believe when He said what He said in Isaiah 65:24 – Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.”

Just as we can’t possibly know the precise number of hairs on our head at any given moment, so I believe that we aren’t fully focused and/or aware of all the thoughts that we have in our minds. The Scripture says that God knows about our hair – and, surely, He knows all we’re thinking about at present, the thoughts and experiences from the past that brought us to thinking what we’re thinking right now, and all the possibilities from all the possible thoughts that could be derived from them. From this stretch of the imagination, again, I wouldn’t find it too far fetched for God to know what we would call for, and what we would say before it even comes out of our mouth.

But as I’ve felt I’ve had to clarify every time, this is certainly not to say that we shouldn’t pray anymore. No, I believe that in the face of us knowing that He knows what we pray about, it ought to actually encourage us to pray even more – and we’d pray, not for things to happen, but in thanks and gratitude, knowing that He has heard us, and that He answers us… by way of making all things concerning us work for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose.

So pray we must, and pray we have been doing – on a personal note I’ve been more vocal and open with the greatest problems that I have, coming from outside and coming from the past. As I write that I remember what Andrew Farley always likes to say: The world may come at us, but Christ works within us.

With all this recalled, I suppose our recognizing this year as a Kairos Year of Right Time and Right Place… well, more than seeing it happen, I think we’re going to be placing our trust in God a whole lot more, and a whole lot deeper. Rightly so – I’m excited to see more into how Christ moves in us, and how we move in Christ.

Pastor Prince continued to expound on the name change of Abram to Abraham. It was technically an addition of the same characters representing Christ into His name. The name change of Sarai to Sarah was the removal of the characters representing the Law from her name. It was after this that they bore Isaac, their son.

As he explained this, I just had to note that he had something in his heart, and something I believe I wanted for my church as well. I mean, I’ve already established with my own congregation that this year was going to be one of us being in the right place at the right time so much more… But I agree with what he said – It’s also in my heart for the people entrusted to me to have the same hunger for, in Pastor Prince’s words, the ‘meat and the marrow’ of the Good News. That we would all go so much deeper into the Word of God, with Christ and the Holy Spirit as our guide, if only to find deeper revelations. That’s what it was. He wanted his church to be a church of revelations, and I want the Good News Aces to be the same – full of revelations from no less than the Holy Spirit – from no less than Christ, the Living Word.

It may be 2023 for us, but it’s the year 5783 for the people of Israel. The number 8 is also representative of the word meaning ‘mouth’, but the number 3 is apparently difficult to interpret – something to the lines of ‘green fig’.

This is just like the same ‘fig’ Christ mentioned in the story of the fig tree full of leaves, in Mark 11 – it was not the right time, the Kairos of the fig tree; Christ was hungry, and he found nothing but leaves. He knew that it wasn’t the season, as in the spring season when other trees are expected to bear fruit – but the fig apparently has a special sort of ‘green fig’ during the winter season. Christ was looking for these first fruits, and that tree didn’t have them – indicative of the eventuality that it wouldn’t bear fruit during Spring as well. What was mentioned instead of these green figs was leaves, and for some reason ‘leaves’ was mentioned more than usual through the recounting of this story. Just like we tried to cover our nakedness with fig leaves at the garden, so this tree only had leaves to cover itself.

And here’s the biggest hindrance we have to the Gospel – our attempts to try covering ourselves in leaves and works. Technically this was what Christ cursed, and we ought to curse and repent from it – self-righteousness.

When you experience the love of God, you are at the right place at the right time. And this, being in the right place at the right time, has a lot to do with relationships. Ruth was in the right place at the right time. Abraham’s servant was at the right place at the right time. And experiencing the love of God is to see ourselves as the bride of Christ, who is made beautiful in His eyes – there is no spot on you.

Now, ‘green fig’ appears only once in the Old Testament:

My beloved speaks and says to me:

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away,

for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom;

they give forth fragrance.

Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.

Song of Songs 2:10-13

The figs shall ripen at the right time. For some of us, we would emerge from the rain, and emerge from the winter, and things that were green would now come to ripen. Some of us are called to a higher place, and to come away – could this be a sign of the rapture coming soon, or merely a sign of being brought to the higher place?

Christ cursed the leaves, but here we read that the figs that were once green would ripen. Just as our self-righteousness would be cursed, but as righteousness that comes from Christ, righteousness that endures the winter, would eventually be ripened, and enjoyed.

Genesis 22 is the first mention of love, and the first mention of love was one of a father to a son. Genesis 24 is the second mention of love. It’s a picture of the Holy Spirit seeking out a bride for His master. In the last verse, it mentions the Son’s love for His bride: Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Genesis 24:67

The Father loves His Son, and His Son loves His bride – much so that He gave Himself up for the church – the Body, beyond the buildings, but the community, many-gifted, brought together in Christ. We first need to know love from the context of God loving us, as a Father loves His son; and then, from here, we would come to understanding the love a Son has for His bride.

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. 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.”Genesis 24:10-14

Earlier in chapter 24, it was mentioned that the Servant took 10 camels and ‘all sorts of choice gifts’ – the prosperity of his master, Abraham; 10 is representative of the entirety, or it just represents all. And with everything in tow, and in his travels, he was praying to God, for ‘kara’, or a favorable happening – a divinely orchestrated happening.; but not only did he ask for ‘kara’, but ‘chesed’, or to show grace, to His master. We are reminded here, that as mentioned before, grace does not come without us being in the right place at the right time, nor does our being in the right place at the right time come without the grace of God substantially involved. 

And sure, He may have been praying, but the answer was already being orchestrated at the time. Check out how it eventually resolved in the next verses:

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 24:15-16

And when the servant realized that his prayer had been answered, and his request had been addressed before he was finished praying, he had this to exclaim:

…“Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”Genesis 24:27

He asked for success, and the grace that follows it… but in his being amazed at how things unfolded beyond his expectations, and before he even finished praying, he praised God for His steadfast love and His faithfulness… but the kicker is when we take a look at what he said, according to other translations: “Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth” Pastor Prince brings this up to point out that grace, mercy and truth always come together – and, to be precise, grace comes with truth. How so?

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

John 1:17

You cannot find yourself at the right place at the right time without grace. You cannot have grace without mercy and truth, or just truth – You can’t have grace without truth. And you can’t see grace and truth apart from Jesus Christ. And I’d usually stop there but Pastor Prince keeps going. His point is, Christ is not without His body.

You may enjoy the grace and truth of God on your own. You may realize and celebrate the fact of your being brought to the right place at the right time during your times of meditation, or when you’re alone. You’d realize and appreciate God’s immense and everlasting love for you, as a Father loves His son. But don’t be surprised if, in these moments, you come to realize exactly how explosive and overflowing His love is for you, that you are able to love the body of Christ, just as Christ loves the church.

The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the LORD had prospered his journey or not.

Genesis 24:21

Pastor Prince went back to this verse in Genesis 24 to point something else out – that the word used for prosper in this verse has never been used before this verse, and is therefore important. We see a deeper truth in the word as we see it used, say, in Joshua 1:8 KJV (“thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success”) as well as in Psalm 1:3 KJV (And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.)

The word for ‘prosper’ in the Septuagint or the Greek version of the Old Testament (or maybe the first books, I’m not sure), is the same ‘prosper’ used in 3 John 1:2 KJV: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. ; The Greek word for ‘prosper’ here means, “to grant a prosperous and expeditious journey; to prosper, and to be successful”

It’s no accident that a journey was mentioned at the first mention of prospering, in the entire Bible. It’s no accident that the Greek word used for ‘prosper’ in that same verse also involves a journey. The point here is that you shouldn’t be waiting for an event to happen before you say that you are prosperous. Goals and events are not the destination, nor the definition of success to us – it is the journey; or, at least, part of the journey. To God, if you learn to enjoy where you are, while you are going to your destination, that is success.

And here’s the thing. For lack of time, and because that darn Pastor had so many insights to add along the way, I decided to close the audio sermon, with at least 15 minutes left on the clip. I think I heard enough when he mentioned that success was the journey.

Putting it all together from here… well, all I could say is that there’s no possible way for us to be in the right place at the right time apart from Jesus. And I dare say, Jesus is with us in our journey; He IS the Way, after all. Just as He is the Truth, and as He is the Life… He IS the Way – with us as we walk, just as much as we walk along His path, because He IS the Path. We therefore say we are successful in our journey because Christ IS our journey.

Christ is our Kairos. He is our Right Place, and He is our Right Time.

I may finish those last 15 minutes and share a post on it, but I’m happy with this for now. Tomorrow, I listen to Pastor Joedy again, and I’m sure to be posting a whole lot more. Maybe I need to listen to Pastor Joedy before I wrap up what Pastor Prince had to say.

Either way, until the next post, God bless you.

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