If our passage looks a little familiar to you, it may be because we recently looked at it in the broader context of Paul’s sermon at Mars Hills (see blog post here). Sometimes I have a disquieting feeling like, “How did I end up here at this stage of my life?” Out of all the places in the world, is this where I’m supposed to be? Or maybe you will recognize this feeling – when you go on vacation somewhere and think, “Why don’t we just move here? After all, life is short and we should maximize our enjoyment before it’s too late.” Let’s take a deeper look at how God’s purposes for us (Position, Place, Preparation) can help us bloom just where He has planted us.
From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
Things to think about:
· Where sounds like a dream destination to you?
o What does that place have that your hometown doesn’t?
o What doesn’t it have that your hometown does have?
· Does this feeling of discontent ever crop up in your mind?
o How do you address it?
· We live in the richest country the world has ever known. We have been blessed materially as well as with great freedoms. In the book of Esther, a young Jewish girl Esther had risen from being a nobody to the lofty role of Queen. There develops a devious plan to kill all of the Jews and her Uncle Mordecai tells her in Esther 4:14, “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?”
o How does our relative royalty imply an obligation to those who are not in a position to adequately fend for themselves?
o Ephesians 5:13-14, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
· As we see in our verse today, God has marked out the times and places for people, including you and me. He has you uniquely situated to be of service to Him and others.
o Eph. 6:10 - Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
- Opportunity is really a function of place and time
o How has God used you in your neighborhood, place of work, or other social arenas to be His light in the darkness?
o Is there anything holding you back from being even more available?
· As believers, we are all in a state of constant refinement to become “holy as He is holy”. This is called sanctification. In Genesis, we read of Joseph being stuck in prison for years after being sold into slavery by his brothers and then unjustly accused by Potiphar’s wife. It might seem that this was a huge waste of time. But we know that Joseph was a little cocky and had some growing up to do. This was so that he could become the man God would later use to save both Egypt and his family through the great seven-year famine.
o Can you reflect on a time when you went through a season that wasn’t particularly pleasant but now you can see how His hand was shaping you for a greater work?
§ Psalm 66:10 - For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.
o Are you going through such a time now?
· Phil. 1:12-14, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
o Paul bloomed where God had planted him. Even though it was in a Roman prison, Paul was able to see the hand of God moving in his life to impact people for eternity.
o 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “ For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
· God has sent you to where He has planted you. Now let your fragrance rise to please your Father and grow His family!
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