Today at the beginning of the Rock service we remembered Carla Clement who was the founder of Pebbles Pathway, which is the children's ministry at the Rock. She passed away a year ago but will continue to be remembered for the amazing impact and ministry she brought to the Rock church. Miles reminded the Rock that the children's ministry was and is not there to baby-sit the children but to minister to the children and tell them about Jesus.
Responding to Instruction
When we are young we have a million career possibilities in our minds. We believe we can do anything. Miles used the example of his son, who at one time told him that he wanted to be a navy seal. When training to be a navy seal, one of the tests is to tread water for 30 minutes with your hands and feet tied. Tasks such as these are difficult to accomplish.
When training the instructor guides the trainees each step of the way, and what determines a trainees success is how they respond to their instructions. If a navy seal in training is ready to give up, they must ring a bell signifying that they are out and have given up, otherwise they must complete the tasks that they are instructed to do, and when they respond in obedience to their instructions, they will succeed and become what they set out to be.
Last week we were introduced to Moses in the beginning of the book of Exodus. Whether Moses makes it or not was directly related to how he responded to God's instructions.
Moses Talks to Fire
Exodus 3:1-3 states, Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." What an amazing and shocking sight it must have been for Moses to see a bush in flames, yet not burning up. Later we will understand why it is the bush did not burn up.
God called to Moses from the midst of the burning bush. To any person, this may be an extremely fearful and outrageous situation to have a bush speak to you, however, Moses in faith and humility answered the bush. According to Exodus 3:4, Moses simply answered the bush saying, Here I am. And Moses listened humbly and fearfully as God spoke to him. We see in and through this that the voice of God compels us to respond to Him.
1 Samuel 3 is another instance of this. The Lord is calling Samuel, however, because Samuel did not know the Lord yet, he was unaware of the Lord's calling until Eli discerned that it was the Lord who was calling Samuel. Samuel then replied to the Lord in 1 Samuel 3:10, Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."
Sometimes we fail to recognize the voice of God. Hearing his voice doesn't necessarily mean that it will sound like James Earl Jones and be coming from the ceiling. However, His voice can sound like our consciousness. When we hear that voice inside our head telling us to read our Bibles, to pray, to turn off a TV show, or leave a particular situation, we cannot ignore it. By not responding to God, we are disrespecting Him.
Moses Responds to God
Exodus 3:5-6 states, Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
If Moses would have just kept walking he would have missed the opportunity to hear from God. However, because Moses revered God, he was invited into His presence. We see from Moses' experience that God's true presence fosters humility, and His holiness requires our respect.
God told Moses that He has heard the cries of His children, and wants to deliver them from the oppression of the Egyptians. God wanted to use Moses to do this. Exodus 3:10 states, Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt. Through this example we see that when we listen and obey God, He will speak, and He gives our lives purpose and direction. It is also essential that we get in the habit of conversating with God, and we will be ready and open to hear His voice at all times.
A Burning but not Consuming FireWhy didn't the bush burn? Fire is the light and heat that we see as a result of a chemical reaction. There is a reason God's fire did not consume that bush, and that is because when God's fire burns in you, it is not meant to destroy you, but to build you up. That bush was not destroyed as a result of God's fire. Jeremiah 20:9 states, then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not. Jeremiah speaks of the fire God placed in his heart that gave his life purpose and direction. Is God's fire burning within your heart? If not do you want to be on fire?
For I Know the Plans I Have for You
When we complain we are basically telling God He doesn't know what He is doing. But if there is anything we can take from this week's message and the miraculous sign of the burning bush, is that God knows what He is doing even when we are unsure of His plan. The intent of God is to give us hope, not to discourage or disappoint us. Jeremiah 29:11 states, for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Next week we will see what Moses said in response to God's message. Moses had his excuses not to go, but we will see God give him five reasons to go.