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Women World Leaders' Podcast

Nov 29, 2023

Jesus is always in our midst. If you feel as if you are waiting on Him, look around and realize that He is with you. Perhaps HE is waiting for YOU to recognize His presence. (Luke 17:20-37)


Welcome to Walking in the Word, the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders podcast. My name is Julie Jenkins, and I am so happy you have joined us as we spend some time in God’s Word together.

If you are new to the podcast, welcome! We have three weekly offerings for you. On Mondays, Kimberly Hobbs hosts Empowering Lives with Purpose – a 30-minute interview with a woman of faith whose story will encourage you to walk in your God-given purpose. On Fridays, we have a team of leaders who host Celebrating God’s Grace. I love our Friday eclectic offerings – as each host shares from her own experience and in her own voice. And today, Wednesdays, we open the Bible together and ask God to show us what He wants us each to learn. And do you know what – He never disappoints us!

We are currently walking through the gospels together, and our study today comes from the book of Luke, chapter 17, verses 20-37.

Before we begin, let’s pray…

Dear Most Holy God, we offer you ourselves as we open your Word today. Our days are full as the world calls us in so many different directions, but we commit to pause for the next few minutes as we intentionally listen for your voice. Father, I ask you to keep out any distractions that may threaten our time with you. Please drown out the cares of the world with the magnificent sound of your voice. Immerse us in your presence. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

As Jesus continues to make his way to Jerusalem, He continues to teach and guide both those who are traveling with Him as well as those He encounters. I’m so glad so many of these teachings were written down for us to study, aren’t you?

There is no doubt that as Luke recalled and wrote these words, He was following the call of the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite verses…and maybe yours, too… is Romans 8:28…And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. That verse has a kaleidoscope of meaning that is so deep and expansive. Regarding THIS topic, I am just amazed that Jesus taught the words we are about to study, Luke wrote them down through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and then they were preserved and protected and translated through God’s power and provision until they ended up here, today, in our hands and in our minds to study in reference to SOMETHING that is happening in your life today…something I am NOT EVEN AWARE OF as I speak. God does indeed work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him. Is that not the most miraculous things ever??

God loves YOU THAT much!

Well…if He went to ALL that trouble, you’d better believe we ought to give Him our focus as we read His Word! Let’s begin in Luke 17:20 from the New Living Translation

20 One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”

Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs.[a] 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.[b]

Notice that this topic is initiated by a question from the Pharisees. The Jewish people had been priming themselves for a huge, dramatic event that would change the world. As a people, they had served God for a long time, and they had seen and heard stories of fire brought down from heaven, seas splitting, walls falling, and even a cloud and a pillar of fire that went ahead of the Israelites leading them through the desert to the Promised Land. And following suit, they expected the Kingdom of God to be ushered in a spectacular display, freeing them from the tyranny of earthly government and the shackles of humanity. Jesus had preached about the kingdom of God, so the Pharisees, unashamedly and perhaps even backhandedly, asked…Ok…when is this all going to go down?

And because they didn’t believe that Jesus was who He said He was…the Son of the Living God…they likely scoffed at Jesus’ answer…The Kingdom of God is already among you.

How often do we ask for a sign FROM God when what we really need to do is stand in God’s presence?

This is something I have grown in, but am still guilty of. And while it’s not wrong to ask God to reveal Himself to you… the fact of the matter is, God is all around you at all times. If you don’t see Him, in the words of my pastor, that’s a you-problem.

Jesus had been born into the world, ushering in a new era – offering the most astounding change the world had ever seen and WILL ever see until we all witness His second coming. Jesus brought God’s presence to earth to live continually. He was about to die for the sins of humanity, presenting a way for each of us to live with God for eternity. The Kingdom of God HAD arrived. And yet, because it didn’t look as the Pharisees expected, they strummed their fingers and looked at Jesus and said…We’re waiting…

How often do you and I call out to God in distress, wondering why He isn’t answering when, in fact, He IS answering, but His answer doesn’t look like WE want it to?

Faith is not just believing IN God, but it is believing God. It is believing that He is working for our good ALL – THE – TIME! It is responding to Him right where we are, doing exactly as the Holy Spirit instructs us, despite what we feel or the answers we think we want.

The Pharisees had the answer to their own question standing right in front of them, but they refused to see it—to see HIM. So Jesus answered them shortly and succinctly, and then He turned and spoke to those who DID see Him and appreciated Him for who He was – His disciples. Jesus explained to them on a deeper level, saying that although He was there in their presence at that moment, things were about to change. They, by faith, accepted the basic elementary truth of Jesus’ identity, and now, they were ready for the more profound teaching of what was to come.

Verse 22…

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns,[c] but you won’t see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘Look, there is the Son of Man,’ or ‘Here he is,’ but don’t go out and follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day[d] when the Son of Man comes.

Jesus doesn’t ever hold back information that we NEED to know. If you are a Christ-follower, you can trust that when you listen to Him intently and follow His call, you WILL be prepared, with His strength, to face anything that comes at you.

Jesus told His disciples they WOULD be waiting for His return one day. And He also told them, and us, that when He does come, we won’t miss it. Nobody will miss it. You will NEVER have to take someone else’s word that Jesus has returned – you WILL know.

Jesus offers an interlude to prepare the disciples for the events in their near future…verse 25…

 25 But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly[e] and be rejected by this generation.

And then He resumes His teaching about His return…

26 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building— 29 until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Each time I read Scripture, I ask God to show me with new eyes what He wants me to know, and as I read this today, I saw a broken-hearted Jesus.

We hear the story of Noah and tend to think about those who were saved—Noah and his family and the animals – and that is glorious. But what about the thousands upon thousands who were destroyed by the deluge of rain that overtook their homes and their land? Water is so powerful and can be so scary – you know if you’ve ever spent time on or near the sea during a storm. I can’t imagine the cries and screams and devastation of those who were NOT on the boat with Noah. I think we protect our minds from those thoughts because they are so gruesome.

And think about the destruction of Sodom…with fire and sulphur flying out of the sky burning everything down to nothing. The stench must have been suffocating, the heat excruciating, the screams deafening, and the pain tortuous.

These are NOT fun scenes to think of, yet they pale in comparison to what will happen in the end days. Alongside the glory of Jesus’ return will be devastation, destruction, and death. These thoughts must have torn Jesus’ heart in two even as He said these words.

To bring urgency, Jesus stressed that at the moment of separation and destruction, it will be too late for anyone to turn to Him for mercy and salvation. It will be too late for anyone to recognize that He was in the midst all along. Jesus continues as recorded in Luke 17:31…

 31 On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. 32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! 33 If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. 34 That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.[f]

The disciples, listening, wanted to be further prepared, and asked…

37 “Where will this happen, Lord?”…

Jesus replied, “Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.”

In other words, we won’t know until we know. But when it happens, we will undoubtedly know, just as we can be assured there is a dead carcass nearby when we see vultures circling.

How gracious God is NOT to give us a date for the end times. Can you even begin to imagine the stress if we knew it was tomorrow? We would all have heart attacks and be completely incapacitated.

We can ALWAYS trust that when we follow God, He will give us ALL the information we need, even as He protects us from what He knows would be too much for us.

Our job is recognize that Jesus IS in our midst, every moment of every day. And our job is to respond to Him in faith—because He IS in full control. We NEVER have to wait on God; in fact, He is waiting patiently for so many of US to acknowledge who He is and respond in obedience to Him. When we do, we can be assured that He will tell us what we need to know, show us where we need to go, and work all things together for our good.

Let’s pray…

Dear Most Holy God, we say yes to you. We acknowledge and appreciate your presence as we praise you. We trust everything you say. We wholeheartedly agree to act in response to your voice. Father, forgive us for the times we’ve looked for you and claimed we couldn’t find you. Thank you for your mercy when we don’t respond in obedience. Hold us accountable even as you hold us by your side. For all eternity. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.