Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 24 February 2022:
Exodus 3:1 – “Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian.”
Moses was born a Levite and married the daughter of the priest of Midian. God was raising up a future spiritual leader. Jethro was the priest of Midian, but being a priest was not his livelihood. Jethro was a shepherd by trade and priest by calling. Likewise, the Bible says you are a priest, but you still need to work in order to care for yourself and for others.
Exodus 3:9, 10 – “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
“The Christian community needs leaders — the right kind of leaders. The Christian community must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of leaders of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made. God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt, and He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way. And when the deliverers come—reformers, revivalists, prophets—they will be followers of God and people of courage. They will have God on their side because they are careful to stay on God’s side. They will be coworkers with Christ and instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Such men will be baptized with the Spirit indeed and through their labors He will baptize others and send the long-delayed revival.” (A.W. Tozer)
Exodus 3:11 — “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
God doesn’t give you a task you can do; he gives you a task He can do through you. The successes of God’s plan did not depend on Moses but rather the power of God. Most churches will tell you to “discover your gifts” and use them for ministry. That is a good general principle if you don’t lose sight of the fact that God often calls people to do what they are NOT good at so that the world can see His power and not your talents. Also, it doesn’t take faith to do what you know you can do.
Exodus 3:12 – “But I will be with you.”
We do great things when we do what God wants, not what we want to do ‘for Him,’ and when we rely on His strength and not ours. Notice the pattern between Moses’ calling and that of the disciples. Moses, like the disciples, was called to do the seemingly impossible; he was called to proclaim a truth that would not be accepted by many; he would have to leave his old life behind, including his occupation, his personal goals, etc – his life would never be the same; God told Moses that God would be with him, just like Jesus said when He gave us the Great Commission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Do you have the faith to fulfill the Great Commission?
Exodus 3:11-12 — “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’”
To this point, from a human perspective, Moses’ life seems so tragic: a Hebrew enfant stripped from his mother’s arms to escape death; miraculously saved and raised in the home of the richest and most powerful family in Egypt only to become a fugitive forced to flee in the desert for forty years. He went from slavery to luxury to poverty and now as an eighty-year-old man tending sheep in the desert (Exodus 7:7), I can imagine he must have often felt defeated in life. He could not see that, all along, God was preparing in him to be the perfect leader to bring His people out of Egypt: a Hebrew (who would be accepted by Hebrews) who grew up in Pharaoh’s house, who went to Pharaoh’s schools, who knew how to speak Pharaoh’s language, and who knew the family personally; a man who had not only been humbled by God in the desert (how desperately we need humble leaders) but who knew how to survive in the desert for, you guessed it, forty years. What appeared to be a great tragedy for men was God building the character and competence of the man who would lead the Hebrews on a forty-year journey to the Promised Land. Knowing God’s perspective changes the meaning of every event in Moses’ life, and from that perspective you can see the reality of Romans 8:28. God is ALWAYS in control of every circumstance building your character and competence for His purposes. Do you interpret your life from your perspective or from your faith? Do you have your eyes wide open, with a Kingdom perspective, to see what God is doing so that you will faithfully respond to opportunities presented to you to glorify Him? Looking back on your life and from where God has brought you, what might He be preparing you to do? Can you connect your experiences, talents, and passions to others’ needs? Has God been calling you for a particular mission?
- Ephesians 2:10 — For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Exodus 3:14 – “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
God is God! Everyone should know who God is; He needs no introduction, and the proof of His character is self-evident. Our Founding Fathers proclaimed, “We hold these truths self-evident, that all men were created…. endowed by the Creator….” God is the Truth that is “self-evident,” plainly apparent to anyone who desires to see.
Exodus 3:18-20 – And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.
When God sent Moses to be His messenger, God already knew who would accept His message and who wouldn’t; nonetheless, God commanded Moses to proclaim His message to all. God also knew that Moses would be persecuted for proclaiming God’s message, but God called Him to proclaim it anyway. The New Testament says that we are Christ’s Ambassadors, called to proclaim the Gospel to all Creation, regardless the response to the Gospel. We are responsible for the message; what people do with the message is out of our control. We should not let fear of rejection or persecution quiet us; remember, God told us to proclaim His message under the authority of Jesus Christ and through His power, not ours.
Exodus 3:21-22 – “I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
1) God can control the hearts of people.
2) God will work in miraculous ways to give you the provisions you need to accomplish His work (not your work).
3) God often uses unbelievers and their resources to accomplish His purposes – Herod unknowingly financed Jesus’ ministry (Luke 2:8); Paul spread the Gospel on a ship dedicated to two foreign gods (Acts 28:11), etc.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God doesn’t work all things together for everyone but for those who truly love Him and are called to His purpose rather than self-centered purposes. Paul had learned to be content in all situations because he knew that he was fulfilling the will of the Father who was in complete controlled and loved Him perfectly. God’s intent is not to help you build your own kingdom and bring glory to yourself. God’s intent is for you to serve His Kingdom and bring glory to Him. When you are intent on fulfilling His purposes, everything that happens to you will ultimately be good (regardless how difficult), and power that works far beyond your power will enable you beyond your capabilities.
Acts 11:26 – “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”
The plot thickens as we see how God puts disparate (not desperate) people and circumstances together to build His church and spread the Gospel to all nations. Antioch was an important, cosmopolitan city of influence, full of Jews and Gentiles. Antioch is first mentioned in Acts 6 when, during a time of dispute between the Hebrews and Hellenists, seven devout and reputable men were selected (as deacons) to equitably care for the needs of the people. One of those seven was Nicolaus, a proselyte (convert to Judaism, and subsequent believer in Christ) of Antioch.
Today, we read that during the persecution and scattering of the church after Stephen’s execution, some believers went to Antioch, “speaking the word to no one except Jews.” However, some others also went to Antioch “preaching the Lord Jesus” to the Hellenists as well, “and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:21) When the church in Jerusalem heard of the work God was doing in Antioch, they sent Barnabas, “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” (Acts 11:24) Then, Barnabas went to Tarsus to get Saul and bring him to Antioch. Why? Likely Barnabas recalled what God had proclaimed of Saul, “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles.” (Acts 9:15) For a whole year, Barnabas and Saul taught the church in Antioch, transforming new believers into real disciples. They weren’t just preaching (kerygma), they were teaching (didache), moving from the basics to deeper understanding and application.
As a result of Barnabas’ and Saul’s teaching and discipling in Antioch, “the disciples were first called Christians,” separate and distinct from the Jews or any other religious group or faction, an identifier that is used only two other times in the Bible (Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16). The evidence of Barnabas’ and Saul’s leadership in Antioch is perhaps best revealed by Antioch’s eagerness to send relief to their brothers in Judea during a world-wide famine. (Acts 11:27-30)
- Matthew 28:18-20 — And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
God’s people are called to make disciples, disciplined, trained believers who are fully equipped to obey God and multiply the faith. Those who have been reached by preaching must be subsequently discipled – this is the Great Commission. Discipling requires consistent effort over time. A discipled church is an effective church, ready to subsequently fulfill the Great Commandment of love and the Great Commission. Is your church known most for its preaching or its disciple-making? Who is discipling you, and who are you discipling in Christ? What is the fruit of these discipling relationships?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 Feb 22: Today, get a piece of paper and draw out your discipleship tree – who is discipling you and who you are discipling. If your tree looks more like a small sprout, pray that God will grow it and fill it out – “But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)