There was an old lumberjack who went to a lumberjack company looking for a job. He sought out the foreman and said, “I want to work as a lumberjack. I want to chop down some trees.” The foreman said, “Man, I’m sorry, but you are too old to chop down trees.” The old man looked stunned and said, “No, I’m not.” The foreman, a bit irritated, said, “Look, I’ve worked with a lot of lumberjacks and I’m telling you, you are too old, too weak, and too feeble to chop down trees.” The old man decided to prove the foreman wrong. He took the supervisor out to a tree, grabbed an axe, and chopped down a tree in record time. The foreman said, “Where did you learn to chop like that? You are pretty fast with that heavy axe!” “Well, have you ever heard of the SaharaForest?” “Uh, the SaharaForest? Do you mean the SaharaDesert?” “Yea, I guess that’s what they call it these days.”
God has called His people to be lumberjacks, regardless of our age or any other excuse – we must use our spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences to chop down some trees. We must pick up our axe, prepare and sharpen it and then get to work.
Indeed, we have an urgent call for Christians to move from spectators to participants and crowd to contributors (meaningful membership). But there are also times in our lives when the urgency of the need should not take priority over the specific calling God has placed upon your life. God does not call every Mike or Mary to become a Moses.
At SPBC, we say every believer has the command to love God, love others and lead generations but exactly how that is applied individually is unique to each person. In today’s message I would like to examine 3 principles for encountering God’s will for our lives.
Human plans are not always God’s purposes.
Exodus 2:11-15 One day, when Moses had grown up [Acts 7:23 “when he was forty years old”], he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.”
Moses saw the Israelite slaves building, brick-making, carrying, chopping, hauling, helping, sweeping, shoveling, and enslaved to whatever the Egyptian’s wanted them to do. And perhaps He was pondering & praying how God might deliver these people. Acts 7:25 says Moses “supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.” In other words, Moses saw an urgent need and jumped in to solve it with his own solution – and without consulting God. Moses looked every which way but up to seek the Lord’s wisdom.
Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
Proverbs 15:22 “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
There are many times in our life when we have an idea, a desire or hope and we act first without thinking, or praying. We believe that we know better than God and when He does not operate in the timing or manner to our liking we fume with frustration. This is both impatient and impulsive. God is never too slow; He is on time, all the time. We must learn the all important lesson of who is God and who is not.
Illus: It’s like a person walking an untrained puppy on a leash. The pup has an eager heart and energetic legs, and with bulging eyes, tongue hanging out, he jerks & tugs his owner for a ride. Is it the master’s fault that he is getting his arm pulled out of socket or does the dog need to learn a some new disciplines? It is the master’s role, when he feels the tension pull away, to pull back tightly and provide counsel; and if needed stern discipline.
Have Patience, Have Patience
Don’t be in such a hurry
When you get impatient, you only start to worry
Remember, Remember, that God is patient too
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you
ð Patience stems from perspective of a proper identity of God and self.
Dwight L. Moody noted, “Moses spent his first forty years thinking he was somebody. He spent his second forty years learning he was a nobody. He spent his third forty years discovering what God can do with a nobody.”
ð Forced plans are failed plans.
- What are you trying to force apart from God?
(A relationship? Financial/Job status? Parenting? Serving Ministry?…)
Knowing God’s will starts with knowing God (3:1-10)
The Pharaoh wanted to kill Moses and so he fled Egypt in fear. Moses settled in Midian, married the daughter of a priest named Jethro and became a shepherd. 40 years passed (Acts 7) and Moses sits in silence from God. Moses had the Egyptian education to be a leader but not the practical sense that was gained as a shepherd. Even more, Moses lacked a personal knowledge and relationship with God Almighty.
You cannot know God’s will apart from knowing God. God reveals Himself to Moses and will continue doing so in powerful ways throughout this book.
We see that God speaks through simplicity. He makes Himself known in the mundane. It may be on a school bus or in bumper traffic. God speaks to people at the gym running on a treadmill or swimming in a pool. Sometimes God speaks in the middle of the night and other times in the middle of your children placing cheerios in their ears. God even speaks to us when we are doing something that we should not be doing. God speaks.
What is your burning bush? Today God is speaking to you, not vocally from heaven but through power of the gospel and preaching of His word. He is calling you to look and linger in His presence. Pay attention…
In Exodus 3, we see several characteristics for us to know God
à v.5 God is holy. God sets a bush on fire without consuming to show God is wholly other. Further, God tells Moses to not come near and take off his sandals bc it is holy ground. God’s holiness (wholly otherness) is the essence of His character.
à v.6 God is relational. God reveals Himself, appearing to Moses and called him by name (Moses, Moses! God knows your name!) God describes himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. God is relational and can be known.
à v.6 God is covenant-keeper. God is known across generations, not just a single person. He is faithful as a promise-maker and a promise-keeper. He “shows steadfast love to thousands of generations who love Him and keep His commandments” (Exodus 20:6).
à v. 7-9 God is compassionate. God hears us in hardship, pain does not remove His promises and suffering does not remove His salvation. He sees and knows (understands) our circumstances.
- o Illus: How many times do you see someone experience hardship but not know what to say or do? All you know to do is weep and ‘be there” for the person. This is the right thing to do, however, God not only sees but He saves! God’s compassion has the power to change circumstances.
à v.8-9 God is sovereign. God led Israel to Egypt and now He is leading them out of Egypt. God will continue to lead Israel into new lands among many other nations and it will only be by His outstretched hand that they will be sustained. They must rely upon God’s sovereignty.
à v.10 God is a Sender. God sent Moses to Pharaoh to lead Israel out of Egypt.
- God sent His only Son to bring people out of the slavery of sin.
- Today, God sends His people to lead others to have faith in His Sent Son.
ð Do you know God, not just about Him but truly know and love Him?
ð Stop running the rat race of trying to do God’s will apart from knowing God.
God supplies what He demands (3:11 – 4:21)
As God sent Moses to Pharaoh to lead the Israelites out of slaver, we see Moses’ lack of confidence. Moses lacked confidence in himself but his questioning also showed his lack of faith in God.
Moses Excuses (“but…”) with God’s Response
– 3:11 Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?
- I will be with you.
– 3:13 If they ask what is God’s name what shall I say?
- I am Who I Am
- The God of previous generations sent me
– 4:1 But they will not believe you sent me
○ Give you a staff and turn it into a snake
○ Turn hand leprous and then heal it
○ Turn water from Nile into blood
– 4:10 But I am not a good communicator
○ I will speak thru you
– 4:13 But, please send someone else
○ Sent Moses & Aaron
In every excuse that Moses gave the response was God will supply what He demands. God’s resources are not limited, His word is sure and His plans are trustworthy.
When God calls us and demands us to obey then we can/should walk in confidence that He will provide the necessary means for it to be accomplished.
ð God demands holiness and it is supplied in Jesus Christ for salvation and through His Spirit in sanctification.
2Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Galatians 5:16 “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”
ð God demands our faith witness and it is supplied through obedience to the Holy Spirit
Matthew 10:20 “For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
ð God is worthy of our giving and when we do He blesses in return
Luke 6:38 “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Malachi 3:10 “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
ð God’s grace supplies our strength in every circumstance
2Corinthians 12:9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Philippians 4:12-13 “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
In this message, the prayer is that you have encountered God’s will.
Moses needed to encounter God and experience salvation and so do you.
Harriet Tubman said, “I have freed a thousand slaves, but I could have freed a thousand more if they knew they were slaves.”
µ Have you recognized your identity apart from Christ? Do you understand your slavery to sin apart from salvation by grace through faith in Jesus?
Moses was not a hero. Your name might be Mike or Mary but God still wants to use you. He supplies what He demands.
µ Do you trust Him to obey? Take that first step – whatever that is – and see how you will find God already paved the way and is waiting for you there to lead you onward.