Tag Archives: Moses

We Draw Strength to Serve from the Springs of Silence

No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.
Exodus 34:3

We draw strength to serve from the springs of silence.

The Hebrew Children sinned greatly. The first time Moses went up the mountain to receive the Law of the Lord, they rebelled against just about every Law God gave to Moses. Rather than being grateful for their redemption from slavery, the people indulged themselves in idolatry. You can read all about it in Exodus 32.

I can’t help but think, at this point, of Charlton Heston playing Moses in The Ten Commandments!

After God dealt with His people, he summoned Moses back up the mountain a second time. This time around the people were well behaved.

God gave Moses a specific command NOT to let anyone come with him, or even let the animals of the flocks or the herds graze on the mountain at this time.

I think this is largely due to the Holiness of God. The Lord was infinitely irritated with His people for their rebellion and was showing them reasons why they shouldn’t tread lightly on His instructions.

Perhaps there was an additional purpose for this specific command that had something to do with the quality of the time that God wanted have with Moses.

Moses needed to give God his undivided attention. It’s hard to focus on God when you’re in a crowd. God wanted Moses to focus both of his ears, and both of his eyes, and all of his heart, on what God was about to tell him. God wanted enough SILENCE in Moses’ life to drown out the distraction of the crowd and to escape the distractions of life.

Also, God didn’t want Moses’ imagination to wander. Moses had been a shepherd for many years. The bleating of lambs and the braying of donkeys would have caused his mind to return to the busyness of the world. God deserves the kind of time and space we can carve out for Him where we are fully present to what He wants, rather than what we want.

God speaks loudly in the SILENCE and in the solidite; when we escape from the hustle and bustle of life in order to gain strength from His presence.

Every servant needs to recharge their spiritual batteries.

God called Moses to the mountain alone so He could have complete access to Moses’ life. God had BIG plans for Moses, and Moses needed all of the power God would make available to him.

For the plans God has for us, where do we find time to listen, be still and quiet, and draw strength from God in silence?

If we NEVER stop to rest in the Lord, we are like a babbling brook, full of foam and froth. But still waters run DEEP. And in the depth of our relationship with God we find space to recharge our batteries for the tasks at hand.

Draw deeply today, this week, this season of your life, from the well of silence, and use what God gives you in the solitude to serve those He sends you to bless.

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Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
Psalm 42:7

To Move Forward, Look Back From Time to Time

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Last words are powerful.

We’ve been looking at Moses for the past couple of weeks.

We’ve heard some of his objections to following God’s call on his life.  We’ve started to see how God’s responses to Moses’ objections lead him to obedience.

Now, for a moment, we’ll turn our attention to Moses’ legacy.

Moses handed the keys to leadership down to Joshua Son of Nun.  Joshua led the people of God across the Jordan river and into the Promised Land.

Before Joshua died, he gave the people of God a parting word to direct them to stay faithful in following God’s plan for their lives.

He reminded them that God has proven himself to be faithful.

Sometimes, before moving forward, we must look back.  We need to look back over our lives and see how God has proved himself in his goodness to us.

We need to look back and remember that God has never abandoned us or forsaken us.

We need to review the promises God made to us that set us on the course he laid out for us.  Those promises are still as good today as they were the day we accepted the salvation God freely offered.

Our God is a promise-making and a promise keeping God.  He doesn’t fail.

 

What Kind of Name is I Am?

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I Am Who I Am.

There is no other way for God to describe himself to Moses.  He is the incomprehensible one. He is ineffable.  He is eternal and we can’t get our limited minds around this limitless God.

So when Moses goes back to the people, he is supposed to say, “I Am has sent me!”

God unpacks the depth of his name for us.

Here’s how God expresses that:

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’”
Exodus 3:15

The people remember Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. These are the fathers of the Hebrew people. It was to these men that God communicated his will, and his desires, and his promises.  God didn’t have to offer them a name, because then knew him personally.

The patriarchs gave God authority over their lives by believing him and pursuing him in obedience.  That’s what the patriarchs were known for: their faith in God!

As we’ve see, the great I Am was with the people from the beginning.  I Am’s presence with the people was seen in Egypt as God prospered them and prepared them to be a great nation!

I Am is faithful to his promises.  Because God is who he always is, his promises remain the same.

I Am Keeps His Promises.

When God tells Moses, I Am has sent you, he’s telling him that nothing has changed about the covenant and the promises I made to Abraham.

God is good and his goodness has not been abated with the passing of time.  His memory of the promises he made long ago has not deteriorated in the least bit.  All is firm and secure.

 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’”
Exodus 3:16-17

God made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that were irrevocable. Everything that has happened up to this point has been done in order to get God’s people to the promised land.

God is not working against the circumstances.  God is creating the circumstances necessary to to get his people, all of his people, out of Egypt and into the land he promised their forefathers.

If God’s people had not come into Egypt in the time of Jacob, they would have starved to death.  They came in and settled in the fertile Nile delta with it’s rich grazing pastures.  They prospered and multiplied.  If one Pharaoh after another that rose up would have left them alone, they would have stayed there for not just hundreds of years but perhaps thousands of years.  But there arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph.  Do you think this was an Accident? Or perhaps providence?  God made Egypt stink so badly that his people would want to leave.  They would be ready to “get out of Dodge” because of the forced labor and the murder of their boy babies.

Through Moses, and the plagues, God was going to make the Egyptians ready to send the Hebrews away.  Egypt would be to be so glad to see the Hebrews leave that they would send them off with their gold and silver and clothing!  God was orchestrating all of this so that God’s promises, which have not changed in the least, would be fulfilled to his people.

When I AM who I AM makes a promise, his promises never fail.

Your Future Lies with I AM.

And because God, I AM, was faithful he could assure them of the future he had planned for them.

God turns from telling Moses who he is, and of the promises he made in the past to Abraham Isaac and Jacob, to telling Moses about the future.

Attached to the great I Am, is the connotation that I AM Will ALWAYS BE I AM.  And that eternal I Am has created a future for his people.

The people of God have no future in Egypt. They are destined for destruction if they remain where they are.  But with God, with the I Am of the past, present and future, they have a reason to set out in faithful obedience to God’s instructions.

In essence, God tells Moses, “Your Future, And the Future of the Israelites, Lies With Me.”

The gods of Egypt can not help you. Pharaoh himself is against you.  The silence of God has been broken by the thunderous command of God to GO!  Now, your course is set and you must leave.  As the Israelites leave Egypt, God gives them a picture of the blessings the future holds for them:

“And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”
Exodus 3:21-22

‘You’re future LIES WITH ME,’ God tells Moses. God gives Moses a glimpse of what is to come, and the blessing God’s people are to receive, and the resources they will have, all by being obedient to follow God in this uncertain time!

Hello…Hello…Who Is This? Three Questions We Ask When God Calls Us.

Listen to Moses’ second objection to serving God by going back to Egypt:

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
Exodus 3:13

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Do You Have Authority?

Previously, we heard Moses object to the calling, the enormous calling of God, on his life, by asking “Who Am I?” But now, he turns the objections toward God.  He asks, “Who Are You?

Who are you that I should serve you?

Who are you that I should obey?

Who are you that I should believe in you?

Given the polytheistic background of his upbringing in Egypt, we can hear Moses asking God, “Do You Have Authority?”

There were lots of gods in Egypt. There were lots of gods among the people of Canaan, the place where God was taking them.  So who was this god who was speaking to Moses?  Was he as strong as the gods of Egypt?  And where did he rank on the hierarchy of divine beings?

Moses needed to make sure that there wasn’t a higher authority to appeal to.

I think we can relate to this objection.  When we consider our lives, and the lifestyle we’ve built for ourselves, who is this God who comes to us and tries to disturb what we’ve established in order to get us to serve him?

The people of Jesus’ day struggled with this issue of authority.  They esteemed their scribes and rabbis and teachers of the law.  But when Jesus came onto the scene, he taught them, not as their teachers of the law taught, but with authority!

See how the Sermon on the Mount ends:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:28-29

When people heard Jesus, they knew they were hearing for no mere man.  He was God’s Son and as God’s son was speaking the words of God to them.

And Jesus’ teaching was backed up by miracles.  He punctuated his teaching with Sings and Wonders and Miracles that proved he was God-sent and authoritative.  In his ministry he exercised authority over nature, over disease and sickness, over the demons and over the lives of those he called to follow him.

When Jesus walked on the water, his disciples call out to him, and asked if it’s really him. Jesus called back to them and said, “I Am.”  In the Greek, it was Ego Eimi.  It was him, but through his use of words, he was showing who he was in his association with the God who revealed himself to Moses and spoke to Moses from the burning bush!

God Says, I Am, and I have authority to command and to send and to empower and to protect and all of the above.

Can I Trust You?

Besides asking if God is authoritative, we hear Moses asking in this objection, “Can I Trust You?”

Do you trust God?  Responding to the calling of God, or entering into service with God, can be a dangerous thing.

We don’t know where the path will lead us.

We don’t know what we will face along the way.

We have to ask God, like Moses did, can I trust you?

Who are You that I can trust you?

The people of Israel knew what they were getting in their bargain with Pharaoh.  They provided slave labor, and Pharaoh gave them a little sustenance.

They were slaves but they were safe.

Moses remained in Egypt as long as it was safe and comfortable.  When it became unsafe to remain in Egypt he fled for the desert.

I think Moses is asking this question of God for himself and for the people.  His objection to obeying God is going to be the people’s objection for not following God.  They wanted to know if this God they were going to obey was trustworthy.

We ask the same question of God.  Can I trust you?  Can I trust you with my heart?  Can I trust you with my family?  Can I trust you with my safety?  Can I trust you with my life?

Listen to what God says through Peter about trusting him:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

God is trustworthy enough that he can carry the weight of our concerns. He’s trustworthy enough that we can place our anxieties on him and he will bear their weight. He’s trustworthy enough that he knows what we need exactly when we need it!

God Cares for us. We don’t have to rely on an earthly Pharaoh any longer.  The safety of Egypt seems pitiful in comparison to God’s abundant goodness toward us!

Where Have You Been?

But I think there is still another concern that Moses expresses that  will be an obstacle to the people of Israel in being able to follow God: Where Have You Been?

The people will have been in Egypt for generations by the time Moses leads them out.  Enough time has passed that they have become unfamiliar with the God who brought them into Egypt in order to rescue them.   Moses is saying,

“We are a little rusty at this religion thing.  We’ve been immersed in polytheism far too long.  We’ve been out of touch with you.  We don’t even know your name right now.  How can we follow you if we don’t know you?”

During all of this time, what has God been doing?  For all these years, why have you not come to our rescue?

It helps to step back and see the history being created here.

  • God brought them into Egypt to rescue them from famine during the time of Jacob, through Jacob’s son Joseph.
  • When the Hebrews arrived in Egypt, they were allowed to make their home in the best grazing land of all of Egypt. God moved them to a home where they could expand and flourish.  God promised them through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that they would be a great nation, but so far, at them time when they entered Egypt, there were only 70 people in all. That’s not much of a nation.  God was going to have to do some work to get them to be a nation strong enough to enter the Promised Land.
  • In all the years they were there, God prospered them. Even in times of difficulty, or maybe it’s better to say, through or because of times of difficulty!  Exodus 1:12 says that they more the Egyptian oppressed the Hebrews, the more they grew in number!
  • Even when Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill the sons of all the Hebrews, and they disobeyed, God was there to bless the midwives and the people grew numerically.

God was with them, preparing them to be a great nation.  He was growing them numerically and socially.  It takes a while to grow up a nation.

Sometimes we get so busy in our lives and in our tasks that we forget about God.  Perhaps Moses had been spiritually inattentive.  But he was going to come to see God’s great purpose in history being worked out even through the struggles and trials he and the rest of the Hebrews had to endure!

God works on his time, not ours.  We don’t have the plans of God in mind, so God’s work might seem slow to us.

Peter reminds us:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9

And the Psalmist tells us:

A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
Psalm 90:4

God brings his good plans to fruition in his good timing!

Which God is the Right God?

You probably don’t think we have a problem with Polytheism.

 

Undecided

Most people have settled on one version of Monotheism or another.

It wasn’t that way in the ancient world.

When the Lord God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, God could have been one of many gods people worshipped in the Ancient Near East.  Moses was raised in Egypt, a Polytheistic culture.  There were many gods in Egypt who spoke to people, controled  the environment, provided blessings and dispensed curses.

When God called to Moses and told him to return to Egypt, Moses was a little reluctant because he wasnt sure WHO was sending him back to Egypt.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
Exodus 3:13

This was a point that Moses wanted to be absolutely clear on.  Knowing the God who calls us is a matter of giving him the authority to send us!  By asking God, in a sense, “Who are you,”  Moses is asking if God has the authority to send and the power to provide.

It would have been tragic to have returned to Egypt and without the certainty that God was in control and greater than the other gods worshiped in Egypt.

I don’t know the names of the gods worshipped in Egypt, but I’m fairly certain that some of the gods we have to battle  in our day, were there the day Moses heard from the Lord God.

When we hear from God, when we are prompted by him to pursue a certain path or undertake a particular ministry, we have to settle in our own heart the matter of God’s authority over us.  If God is God, then he has the authority to command our attention and our obedience.

But……

But the god of complacency speaks to us and reminds us that we are satisfied with the status quo.  Complacency tries to convince us that things could be much worse, so why not settle for the way things are?

And….

The god of procrastination cools the fires of our urgency.  He tells us that anything worth doing is worth doing perfectly and if we can’t be perfect, we shouldn’t even start.  Procrastination makes every tomorrow more favorable than any today for our service to start.

On top of that.

The god of apathy reminds us that there is nothing really in it for me.  Why should I be excited about enlarging God’s glory, reaching hurting people and making the community stronger.  Obviously there are other people who can go in my place.  If God were wiser he would find them and send them.  There is no use in getting worked up over something someone else can do just as well or better than I can.

In Conclusion

When we get to the bottom of it, the god we make the god of our heart is the god we obey.  Moses heard from the God of Heaven, the God of Creation, the God of the Covenant, and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Rather than staying in Midian with complacency, procrastination or apathy, he returned to Egypt in the company of the King of Glory…..and the rest is history.

 

Competing or Cooperating With God? 4 Keys To Greater Obedience To God.

Moving from Objections to Obedience

How do we move from our objections to God, to obeying God?  What can a Christian do to foster greater faithfulness to their calling?  Here are 4 personal keys to find ourselves in greater cooperation with God.

Unknown.jpeg1.  Move Beyond My Past

Just as in the story of Moses, we have to Move Beyond our Past.

Our mantra for moving forward is found in Paul’s words:

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13

To move forward with God in obedience is to move beyond our past with all of its limitations.

2.  Practice Dying To Myself

To move forward with God in obedience requires that I must Practice Dying To Myself.  The practice of dying to myself involves giving greater and greater authority over to God.

Jesus tells us that the task of being a disciple involves some of this self-dying.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Luke 9:23

Taking up the cross daily is how we follow Christ in faith and obedience. We pursue him by seeking to be less Us, and more Him.  We mortify the flesh so that the life we live will Glorify our savior!

3.  Cooperate With God, Instead Of Competing Against Him

The more we live for him, the more we live in cooperation with Him. Moving forward in obedience is always about moving forward in Cooperation with God.

Think about it this way, when we present our objections to God, we are entering into conflict with the God who created us, who has authority over us, and who has a divine design on our lives.

Our objections put us in Competition with God.

God is jealous for our heart and for our obedience.  He doesn’t want you to give your allegiance to another. He doesn’t want you do give your life, or your worship, or your affections, to anything or anyone less than himself.  When we object to God, we are competing for that space, or that control over our lives, that God desires.

God doesn’t want competition.

What God wants is cooperation.  When we obey God, we cooperate with him.  Obedience puts us in cooperation with God.  God works with us and through us.  His blessings are made known to us as we experience him in faithful service.

It’s always better to be in cooperation with God than to be in competition with him.

What areas of your life are you competing with God for control over?

4.  Embrace God’s Calling

Finally, to move from Objections to Obedience, each and every one of us has to embrace God’s calling on our lives.  We have to take ownership of what God desire to do through us.

It’s not just our calling, it’s our salvation!

It’s our rescue.

It’s our purpose.

It’s the thing we were created for.

By surrendering to God, we show ourselves to be citizens of another world.

God has a calling on each and every one of us.  God has a plan for us to pursue.  God wants to employ us in his work.  God wants to bless us as we cooperate with him.

Will you let him use you?  Will you give yourself to the tasks at hand?