June 28 2020 New Beginnings 3 - New Beginnings often Spring from The Wilderness
28th June 2020
Lord, thank You for this time and for Your love for us. We ask You, as we move forward – for our nation and all that is going on – that You would give wisdom to those who are leading – to give honor and to please You. As a church – we want to be a living sacrifice for You. As we open Your word and look at New Beginnings and starting over – and opening our church for the first time since March –
We started this series on New Beginnings. When you look at these – fresh starts – often happen after a significant failure.
Moses was born to Hebrew parents who are slaves in Egypt. The Egyptian economy is dependent on these slaves and the Hebrews are starting to outnumber the Egyptians, so there is a mandate that if a baby born is a Hebrew boy, he is to be killed.
His mother puts him in a basket – the word is literally ark. That is the only time word is used other than for Noah’s ark.
And he is found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in Pharaoh’s household as a ‘foster child’ – so he eventually he wants to use his privilege to help his people.
Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.
Transformation takes place in the wilderness. We all need time in the figurative wilderness – and this COVID time has been a wilderness. All of us have experienced this with the lockdown and all that has taken place. There have been some positive and negative things from being alone.
In order to have this transform us, we need to understand the work the wilderness does.
First – it separates us from our normal context – it disrupts our routine. COVID has disrupted our routine. I don’t know that I’ve talked to anyone who has said there hasn’t been a difficulty having been home all this time – and that is just normal.
It also separates us from the things we tend to trust in and rely upon that are not God.
Some of these things are normal – like your job. We don’t realize how much we rely upon going to work every day.
Your workout routine – how much do you depend on it.
It separates us from the support systems of our beliefs and values. We have developed all of these support systems to hold these up. When you go into isolation that is all taken away.
It reveals if your beliefs and values are at your core – and maybe that some of them are not the best.
This also separates from our abilities to satisfy our plans and ambitions – we have all made plans that have had to be changed.
The wilderness separates out the bad and the good.
We all have a shadow side – And the wilderness reveals that. This is the flipside of the good qualities of our lives.
I am a peacemaker. I love peace! That is a good thing! Jesus said Blessed are the peacemakers – but the shadow side – I avoid necessary conflict and confrontation.
Maybe you follow the rules – and the shadow side is judgmental exclusion of those who differ.
Every good side has a shadow that needs to be dealt with.
We all find Bible verses to justify our shadow side. That is called proof-texting!
I heard this on the Bible Project.
Those who have wives should live as those who have none! Try that sometime.
The wilderness is a place to meet God because all distractions can be removed
We all need “Be still and know that I am God” moments in our lives.
3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight--why the bush does not burn up." 4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am."
God initiates this encounter with Moses – and Moses is able to respond, maybe for the first time – to what God is calling him to. And because Moses has placed himself in a position to hear – God speaks clearly into his life.
Do you have any habits or practices that create a space for God to speak into your life?
Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness – you probably won’t have that – but you can spend 4 minutes for a sacred pause – and take that moment to think – where is the presence and activity of God in my life right now? It is a great practice – a sacred pause – where is God? How am I noticing God’s presence?
At night, before bed, take a little quiet time – where was God? Where did God act, and did I miss it? How did I connect with Him?
We cannot make God speak, but we can put ourselves in a place where he is able to speak, and we are able to hear. Then He can speak as He so chooses.
5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
God straightened out Moses’ identity crisis – This is your place – in my family – like when Jesus was baptized – this is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. That is our identity – and it is the only identity we can go to.
I’m cool – I’m not so cool – I’m cool in my not-so-coolness – is that our identity? No – I am a child of God – nothing you can do to get it more or less – it is a reality because of what Jesus did on the cross.
7 The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.
God is the one who will rescue Israel. Moses, earlier in his life, tried to do it himself and failed miserably – but God is saying – it is ME! Moses was trusting in his own influence and power!
The question for us – what do you trust in other than God to do God’s work? Your intellect, talents, power of persuasion? We all have other things we are trusting in. The Bible speaks of that often.
Trust in God:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psa 20:7 NIV)
16 A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. (Psalm 33:16)
What is your chariot? What is your horse? What keeps you from trusting God?
A king is not saved by his great army - Do we believe this? How else is he saved? Humans depend so much on armies, but God says – No, you are not saved by that!
Do not trust in princes, or in human beings, who cannot deliver! (Psa 146:3 NET)
It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man. (Psa 118:8 NAU) It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in princes. (Psa 118:9 NAU)
Some trust in politicians to accomplish God’s work – my opinion – too many Christians have put way too much trust in elections to accomplish God’s work. How is that working for you? Maybe it is time for a new strategy.
10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" 12 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."
So Moses now totally sees his inadequacy. He will go and give all of these excuses – most of them were true – weaknesses, brokenness – But there were two reasons he was the one: God called him to the job, and He is going to be with him in this!
When those two things are happening – nothing else matters.
Our calling and identity are intimately connected. Moses’ calling was shaped by his identity and background. Our calling encompasses our weaknesses and failures. God created our calling in our strengths, but also in our weaknesses.
God’s calling will be based on what you are good at and what you have failed in . What you fail in, in your job, often gets you fired! But God uses both in His calling – which should be encouraging to all of us. We all have failures.
God’s calling of us – and our response to Him – will determine the success of our new beginning- our fresh start. When I say success – it is God’s view of success, not necessarily ours. God will bring about His desire when we respond to His calling. Let’s pray…