Right Place Right Time
I don't know if you've ever been in one of those places where you just found yourself in a place that you never expected to be. I have that happen to me several different times in my life and there's a time that I remember several years ago. We had a trip where we had driven down to Disney. We had an awesome week and we were starting to head back and we get just outside of Orlando and Lisa says to me… “Hey let’s get off at this exit up here… there is a great place to get a look at Manatees in a park. If have to admit to you at this point… I totally rolled my eyes because I didn’t really want to see Manatees. I had 20 hours of driving ahead of me and I just wanted to get going. However, she insisted that we go. Sometimes I will admit to you that I do these things only because my wife is so sweet and wonderful, because anyone else who had asked me I would have definitely kept on driving. I mean… Manatees… they call them sea cows… really? Why are we stopping to look at sea cows?
So we pull into the parking lot and then we notice that there are tons of people here. It was odd honestly. Why were there so many people randomly at this park to look at Manatees? So we started to walk out onto the pier and we were able to see some clearly in the water. It was cool, but… it wasn’t cool enough for all these people to show up. Then we heard someone ask us… “Are you here for the release?” The release? I didn’t even know what to think. They said, “Yes, Sea World is coming with a Manatee that they had saved and then brought back to health. They are going to release it back into the wild today.” All the sudden I became very interested… I’ve never seen a wild animal returned into its natural habitat after being rescued. I wanted to see this. So we waited for a few minutes and sure enough a Sea World truck pulls in and there are news cameras EVERYWHERE. It was quite a process moving this creature back to the water, but let me tell you when that Manatee entered the water what happened next was extraordinary. As soon as it submerged it was like a signal went out into the water. From the pier where we were standing we could see probably 25 Manatees turn and head toward their family member. I wasn’t sure if they were heading to harm him or greet him, but as they all came up to him, they helped him move farther out into the water and they greeted him with such love and happiness. It was a crazy experience and we just happened to be there at the right time in the right place.
Now this phenomenon is actually addressed in scripture. If you look at Ecclesiastes 9:11, it reads, I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm pretty encouraged by that verse because I'm not the fastest, definitely not the strongest, not the wisest, not the most educated, but you tell me there's a chance. That's right, I need that. I need a chance. And when it comes to eternal things and spiritual things, I think we have even much more than just a chance, because God is the Author of time and space and He's the One that places us in those right place, right time moments.
Now you might think that never happens to me. You might think, I don't find myself in those right place, right time moments and I would challenge you because I would say, I think you probably do, but what if you just aren't looking for them. What if you didn't have the eyes to see them?
See, one of the key ways we can find those right place, right time moments is by actually looking for where God's already working and what God is already doing. If you turn to John 5:17, Jesus is talking to the Jewish leaders who are harassing Him for working on the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”
You see, God is always working. He's working all around us. In a couple verses later, Jesus continues, He says, 19 I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself. He only does what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does also.
Do you see what the Father is doing? Do you see where God is working? He's working, He's always working. He's working all around us but when we can see where God is working, when we can see where God is moving and what God is blessing, that's where you need to be. That's the right place at the right time. And when we join what God is doing by sowing our resources at the right place and the right time, guess what? God multiplies it. He does the exponential.
We've seen Him do this at Good Shepherd Church. Do you realize we're part of an exponential church? I mean, do you really realize it? Do you see it? Let me give you some examples.
Do you realize that in the past 2 years we have confirmed 20 youth in this congregation. 20 youth! That’s huge… so the question is… do we leave it there or do we double down on our investment in youth ministry? Right now we have a very limited budget for youth ministry, but what if we could provide a half time person? Can you imagine the connections we could make?
Have you noticed the strength of our music program for the size of our church… maybe you think this is normal. It's not… many other churches our size fight to keep a music ministry functioning. But what if we invested in our music ministry and youth ministry together? What if we made space for a youth choir that connected with youth who don’t currently go to our church and created a youth choir that would tour, singing in other churches, in nursing homes, in public places not just locally, but nationally and internationally. What if we really dreamed! Can you imagine if those youth took the message of Christ with them and offered the light of Christ in a world of darkness? What if we did that here? Can you dream with me?
When I arrived we had only a couple kids in our preschool age classes. Did you know we began this year with 25 kids on the roll of that class? Now they are not all there at the same time, but a lot of them are coming. That’s amazing… What if we invested in kids? What if we created a cafe playspace here at the church where mom’s and dad’s could come and hang out, have a cup of coffee, maybe share in a small group, while their kids are playing in an indoor playground? Can you see it? Can you imagine how many people would jump on this and how many lives could be changed because we choose to invest in young families?
In the past 2 years we have averaged between 4000 and 5000 total attendance through all our outreach events. That’s pretty amazing considering before that it had been closer to 300-400. That is a 1000% increase in reach. We are hitting a need in the community when we provide free opportunities for families to connect together and have fun. What if we capitalize on this and continue to invest in these events and continue to invite people to join us through these events?
God is doing amazing things here at GSC… Exponential things! Right place… Right time things!
Can you see that we're in the right place at the right time? I mean, can you see it? YOU DON'T HAVE TO START A MOVEMENT TO BE PART OF A MOVEMENT. You know that? You don't have to start a movement to be part of a movement. Just have to see where God's working and join Him.
But what's more important or something that's even missing that I haven't said yet that is in all of these stories. It's not just recognizing when we're in the right place at the right time, but it's also having the right response, right? Sowing our resources, our time, our talent, our treasure, that's the right response, because...
WHEN YOU'RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME WITH THE RIGHT RESPONSE, THAT'S WHEN GOD CAN DO THE EXPONENTIAL.
Now here’s the thing… When I was driving back from Disney, I didn’t need to stop the car and go to that park to look at Manatees. I could have just kept on driving. It may not have been the most comfortable car ride after saying no to my wife… But I would have missed out on that beautiful scene. I would have missed out on seeing this amazing community and how they connect and love each other.
- Some of you here today, you're cheering, you're excited about what God's doing and that's because this is your church.
- Right? It's because you've sowed your time and your talent and your treasure. You've been serving in our kids ministry, you've been volunteering, you've been tithing and you're already celebrating what God's doing. But there's others of you that you're spectators. You're just watching it. You don't feel like you're a part. And maybe even before today, you didn't even have eyes to even see what God is doing. But, regardless, I've got really good news because each of you have an invitation to join God and to join what He's doing.
Now, that you know that you have that opportunity, are you going to join what God is doing and sow your resources into where He is working? There may be some of you here today, maybe many of you here today that your right next step, your right response is to actually invest your time by serving in Kids Ministry or the First Impressions Team or perhaps to help with youth ministry. And God's calling you to sow your unique gifts and talents that He's given you into where He's working. You may have been waiting for an audible voice. Here it is. You've got a chance.
There's others of you, and you've been looking for places to invest your financial resources that have the greatest return and now you can see it, right? You're not just gonna honor God with a tithe but you're gonna go well beyond a tithe with an offering because you want to be a part of the exponential blessings of what God is already doing here.
It might be that several of you don't even realize this, but we all have the opportunity to invite people to be a part. We don't have to keep this to ourselves. It's not a secret. We have a choice. You have a choice. You can go your own way or you can join God in what He's doing and invest your time, your talent and your treasure.
I have no question that we're in the right place. I have absolutely no question that it's the right time. The only question I have is what is your response? Because if we position ourselves in the right place, at the right time, and we make the right response that I believe that God is gonna do immeasurably more than we could ever ask, than we could ever imagine and He's gonna do it through His people, through you, His power at work within us, not so that we could receive glory but so that He could receive the glory, so we give God all the glory in Jesus' name, amen?
- Can you see it? We're going somewhere. God is moving in a big way. Let’s Pray!