I’m continuing to reflect upon God’s purpose in these uncertain times. It’s difficult for us to live with uncertainty. Our whole society has been altered. No one remains unaffected. I’m thinking that most of us long for things to return to “normal.” Many of us are probably obsessed with this desire to return to normalcy. 

The Old Testament book of Esther is about a young Jewish woman who lived in Persia about 100 years after their Exile to Babylon. She became the Queen of Xerxes 1 (Ahasuerus in the English Bible). Because of her position as queen, at that particular place and time, she was in a position to influence Xerxes in her people’s favor. One of the king’s officials, named Haman, had set the political and military machinery in motion to commit a mass genocide of the Jewish people. Esther’s parents had died, so she had been raised by her uncle, Mordecai, who was also one of the king’s officials. When Esther was reluctant to use her influence to try to save her people, her uncle spoke these words to her:

Esther 4:14: For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

As God’s people, we must be careful that we are not so overcome with the obsession for normalcy that we miss the era of time in which God has placed us. After all, there were plenty of aspects of normalcy that were bent and broken. But even more than this, we must be careful that we don’t become so obsessed with returning to normal that we miss what God is doing in us, among us, and through us. 

As a community, we at Encounter must be asking God why He has put us in this place at such a time as this. We might want things to return to the way they were—preferably tomorrow, or next week at the latest. That’s not going to happen. But God says, “I will be with you through the middle of this.” He will draw us close to Himself if we let Him. As God works within us and among us, don’t forget that he also wants to work through us. Make no mistake: God has placed us in this strategic place and time to be empowered by Him to use our influence for Him by His power and His glory.

God wants to show you His Power and Faithfulness in these uncertain times. In my blog I wrote in 2020 during the pandemic, I wrote about the Israelites in exile in Babylon. We could certainly say that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world was in exile. Many of us are confined to our homes except for essential needs. But in that exile, God had Encounter, and each one of us, in exactly the right place for such a time as this. 

Now, we are facing a crippling economy and inflation that is likely to lead us into a recession. We have a country and a government that is divided and divisive in almost every way. As of July, there have been over 300 mass shootings. And it seems like the constantly mutating COVID virus is here to stay. The question is, can we trust God has Encounter Church, and each one of us, in exactly the right place for such a time as this? The whole world is watching. God wants us to represent Jesus in our neighborhoods, among our coworkers, among our classmates, and anyone else who might be in our circle of relationships. Remember that none of these current events caught God by surprise. He has a purpose for His people both individually and collectively, and the world is watching.

The world is watching; this is an opportune time to serve and strengthen our neighbors and to share the love of Jesus with those who don’t know Him.

Encounter Church’s vision will not change. If anything, the problems in our lives, our country and our world should strengthen our resolve to live into our vision. Remember, Encounter Church exists to glorify God by growing and multiplying disciples who are: immersed in the gospel, living in community, and unleashing compassion in our city and beyond. Our Big Holy Audacious Goal is in the next ten years our dream is that everyone in the greater Bellflower area will know they are welcome at Encounter Church and that we are all about sharing the love and truth of Jesus. The Big Holy Audacious Goal is a crazy goal that is impossible to achieve but the idea is to get us focusing outward on our community. At the heart of this goal is to reach as many people as possible by sharing the love, compassion, and truth of Jesus. 

I have written Practical Evangelism. CLICK HERE to access it for free. It’s a small 16-page book that will help and equip you to unleash compassion and share Gospel with those who don’t know Jesus. The book is designed to show you that unleashing compassion and sharing your faith is not as difficult as you might think. God has us where we are at such a time as this to share the most important message that people will ever hear. Some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples were these:

Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Grace and Peace, 

Pastor Mike