“For such a time as this”: Lessons from 3 Bible characters who heeded God’s call where they were placed
Gareth Thomas // March 13, 2023, 7:25 pm
Many people may be physically impressive or have big job titles. But in God's economy, that does not give you authority, says relationship counsellor Gareth Thomas. Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash.
Whether we are teachers, homemakers, CEOs or labourers, we are likely to have a sphere of influence among our friends, family or colleagues.
What does the Bible tell us about answering God’s call on our lives when and where we are placed?
In his sermon, Know Your Worth, lay preacher Gareth Thomas from Community of Praise Baptist Church draws lessons from three characters in the Bible:
1. Esther: Prioritising love for God’s people
Queen Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, had learnt that every Jewish person in Persia was at serious risk of being killed. This was due to a plan by the King’s advisor, Haman (Esther 3:5-14).
Out of love for her community, Queen Esther chose to approach the King, even though she could lose her life (Esther 4:13-14).
Esther’s story reminds us that it is not your status, work, or size of your house that people remember; it is how you show your love for them.
Haman cast lots to select the date to kill the Jews, but God intervened to affect the outcome of the lots and create time for Mordecai, Esther and the King to protect God’s people.
God’s word in Proverbs 16:33 tells us: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (The Jewish festival of Purim – which means “lots” – celebrates this event.)
Through controlling the outcome of the lots and working through Esther, God intervened to block Haman’s intentions.
God may create an opportunity for you to serve your community. You may not have to give up your life. But you may have to give up your status and reveal who you really are inside – just as Esther revealed her identity as a Jew at risk of her life.
Esther’s story reminds us that it is not your status that people remember; it is how you show your love for them. On your deathbed, it’s not about your work or the size of your house, but how much you loved and were loved.
Today, God’s Word and His values are under sustained attack by God’s enemies, both human and demonic (Ephesians 6:12). Christians are at risk of being silenced, slandered, excluded and imprisoned. We must stand and work together in faith, hope and love to defeat God’s enemies through His power.
God has empowered you, like Esther, to release His Presence into the environment He placed you in. God has made you “for a time such as this” (Esther 4:14).
You are where you are for a purpose, not by accident.
2. David: Overcoming fear by believing in God’s call
The Philistines challenged the Israelites to war for 40 days (1 Samuel 17:1-16). The Israelites fled in dismay and terror when the 3-metre tall Philistine champion, Goliath, emerged.
Not one Israelite responded to the challenge; they had forgotten their identity and whose they were. This included King Saul who had been called by God to do so (1 Samuel 9).
Many people, like King Saul, are physically impressive and claim to have big titles, but are insecure.
Many people avoid walking in their God-given authority and responsibilities. So God raises up somebody else to do it – like the teenage shepherd boy, David, who had already been anointed king by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 17:45-50).
a) Rising above rejection and criticism
David’s father took him off sheep duty to deliver some food. David saw the Israelite army flee from Goliath in great fear. He was shocked that Goliath was allowed to defy the armies of the living God.
David’s eldest brother, Eliab, assumed and accused him of putting his family assets – the sheep – at risk.
He accused David of being conceited and wicked and being present just to watch the battle. He was doing what he accused David of doing. He may have been jealous that God had chosen his youngest brother to be King of Israel.
Psalm 27:10 implies that David was rejected by his father and mother. This is one of the most painful rejections to rise above.
When someone judges you and tries to undermine your self-esteem and self-worth, it does not define you. It reveals your accuser’s true nature.
Critical words can come from the accuser’s own pain and insecurity.
Psalm 27:10 implies that David was rejected by his father and mother. This is one of the most painful rejections to rise above. Whether real or perceived, parental rejection can make anyone feel like an unwanted orphan – that nobody really loves you, that you don’t belong in the family. That goes to the core of self-worth.
David rose above the criticism and rejection. He ignored what his brother and others said since it was neither true nor important.
He acted like the king he was anointed to be. David overcame fear by believing in God’s call on his life.
b) Your power does not lie in someone else’s “armour”
David persuaded King Saul that he was prepared for the fight against Goliath. King Saul was happy that someone wanted to take over his responsibility. He offered David his armour and earthly rewards (1 Samuel 17:38).
David put on the armour, but it prevented the freedom of movement that he needed in battle. He took the armour off, picked up five stones, put them in his pouch and prepared his trusty sling.
David knew that his safety did not lie in Saul’s armour. His life, and the battle before him, was in God’s hands.
Some people want us to believe that their “armour” – that is, their credentials or basis of self-esteem – guarantees our success. They may say: “Do it my way, and you will be successful” – but that doesn’t work in God’s kingdom. Their belief may be based on their experiences and they may be doing things based on their own fears, because that is how they survive.
Be careful of who you listen to or align yourself with. Do not prioritise what you can gain from your friendship above what God desires for the situation.
David knew who he was and whose he was. God had prepared him physically, mentally and spiritually. David knew that his safety, and the achievement of his objective, was not in someone else’s armour. His life, and the battle before him, was in God’s hands.
David said to Goliath: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.” (1 Samuel 17:45)
Your faith in God gives you the power to overcome the enemy. God’s strength in and through us is what gives us authority.
David believed in and answered God’s call. God brought him the victory.
God declared that David was a man after His own heart. (Acts 13:22)
When you talk about yourself, do you describe who you want to be in others’ eyes? Or God’s eyes?
3. John: Knowing your identity as “beloved”
John’s identity changed from “son of thunder” to “beloved”.
In Mark 10:35-45, the apostle John appeared to ask Jesus for positional power in His coming kingdom. Jesus then told the disciples about having a servant’s heart. That is: Don’t look at power; look at having a servant’s heart and the rest will come.
Six times in John’s Gospel, the apostle John is referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”.
Did this change John from being a thunderous, confrontational, self-focused person, to one who wanted to know the heart of Jesus? By the last supper, John was likely close enough to Jesus to hear His heart beating (John 13:23).
Six times in John’s Gospel, the apostle John is referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. At the cross, Jesus trusted him to take care of His mother, Mary. Jesus effectively said that John was His brother.
Think about the responsibility that goes with that, but also the love and trust Jesus must have had for John.
God eventually gave John the responsibility of recording what is to happen in the Last Days, including the second coming of Christ.
John trusted in his identity as God’s beloved, and wrote the book of Revelation through Christ His Lord.
Do you believe in God’s love and plan for you as His beloved? (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Questions for life groups
1) How did God create the opportunity for Esther to find her identity?
2) How did God prepare David for his encounters with King Saul and with Goliath?
3) What is a servant’s heart? In what ways can seeking more of Jesus in your life change your priorities from seeking positional power to living with a servant’s heart?
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