Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Listening to God ... and Relying On Him!

A sermon preached by Ruth Waddington during a service led by our youth group, Hy-Tec. Ruth is one of the leaders of Hy-Tec.

In the earlier part of our service we looked at the different skills and gifts we have that we can use. We thought of Paul’s picture of the body having many parts, all of which have an important part to play in 1 Corinthians 12 and we thought of circuses where everyone has a different part to play.

We move on now to think a bit more about when God asks us to do things we aren’t so sure we have the skills for.

So, reading from Exodus 3:1-12 in the Good News Bible …

One day while Moses was taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, he led the flock across the desert and came to Sinai, the holy mountain. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him as a flame coming from the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire but that it was not burning up.3 “This is strange,” he thought. “Why isn't the bush burning up? I will go closer and see.”

4 When the Lord saw that Moses was coming closer, he called to him from the middle of the bush and said, “Moses! Moses!”

He answered, “Yes, here I am.”

5 God said, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground. 6 I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” So Moses covered his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7 Then the Lord said, “I have seen how cruelly my people are being treated in Egypt; I have heard them cry out to be rescued from their slave-drivers. I know all about their sufferings, 8 and so I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them out of Egypt to a spacious land, one which is rich and fertile and in which the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites now live. 9 I have indeed heard the cry of my people, and I see how the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 Now I am sending you to the king of Egypt so that you can lead my people out of his country.”

11 But Moses said to God, “I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 God answered, “I will be with you, and when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will worship me on this mountain. That will be the proof that I have sent you.”

If we go back a bit in time into the story of Moses – Before Moses was born the Israelites were living in slavery in Egypt and Pharaoh had gotten afraid of the growing numbers of Israelites, so he had ordered for all the male babies to be killed. When Moses was born to an Israelite woman she hid him for three months, but it got to a point where she could hide him no longer, so she put him in a basket and placed him into the Nile. Pharoah’s daughter found Moses, and thought the best thing to do was to find out who the baby’s mother was and get her to nurse him whilst he was little. Once he didn’t need nursing anymore the Israelite lady gave him back to the Pharoah’s daughter, so she would raise him as her son so that the Pharoah wouldn’t find out who he was and have him killed.

As Moses grew up in the Pharaoh’s house he got quite upset about seeing his fellow Israelites being so badly treated by the Egyptians. One day he saw an Egyptian beating up an Israelite. He felt so angry that he went and killed the Egyptian. When the Pharoah found out what Moses had done he ordered Moses to be killed, but Moses ran away and lived in the desert for 40 years.

After 40 years of hiding, and growing older God appears to Moses in the burning bush, as we heard in the reading just now. Moses said in that reading “who am I, that I should go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ – not quite the confident fighter he used to be! But as we heard, God said that he would be with him. Later in chapter 4 Moses is still nervous about what God wants him to do, and he says “what if they do not believe me or listen to me?” at this point God teaches him to throw his staff on the ground where it turns into a snake, and other miracles that he can perform to make people listen to him. But even after this Moses is still worried, and says to God that he’s always had a stutter, isn’t very good at talking to people, and really doesn’t think he’s the right man for the job. But God reassures him and says he will help him to speak. Moses then pleads that God sends someone else, in a final attempt, by this point God was getting a little annoyed, but says he will get Moses’ brother Aaron to help him. Finally Moses goes ahead, and saves the Israelites from Egypt - not quite that easily, but I’m sure you know that bit, if not get reading the rest of Exodus!

So, why did God not use Moses when he was younger? When he was living in Pharoah’s house, as the child of Pharoah’s daughter? You’d have thought he’d be in the perfect situation, an influential position there? And he was younger, and much keener to stand up for his people, as you could see from his killing of the Egyptian.

But God chose to wait, wait until Moses had been living a quieter life, hiding in the desert, getting older and weaker. Why?

When Moses was younger he fought the Egyptian out of his own strength, he was upset and angry at what was happening and took his own decision to single-handedly go out and sort it out.

Moses needed God’s help to save the Israelites, but in the enthusiastic and independent way Moses was when he was younger he wasn’t going to be relying on God’s strength for anything.

So God waited until Moses had become a bit unsure of himself, and then he asks Moses to go and save the Israelites. Granted this meant that Moses took a lot of persuading that he was the right man for the job, and that God was going to be supporting him all the way. But when he finally agreed to do it, he went and he did amazing things, through God’s strength, not his own.

This is what I think God wants us to do, he wants us to be listening to what his plans are, and to rely on him for the strength and abilities to do the tasks. He uses the strengths, gifts and talents we already have for many things, as you can see in the church here, we have some amazing people serving each other, we have people who are good at flowers and those who have talents in playing music, and he uses our skills in those ways to do some great things.

But what I want to encourage you to do, is to be praying and listening to God, and if or when God asks you to do something, don’t ignore it because you don’t think you’re able. It was ok for Moses to ask God questions, and even to plead with him to make sure he was the right person for the job, so don’t be afraid if you’re unsure – ask God, question him, plead with him if you want, but if the task is set for you then he’ll let you know for sure, and he’ll give you the strength, the skills, even the people you need to do it, and he’ll be preparing your way and supporting you throughout. We are here to be carrying out God’s work on Earth, so lets listen to God for what he wants from us, and lets support each other through these things.

Now I’m going to put on a song which I really find helpful when I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing or if I’m able to do it. The lyrics will be on the screen, just in case you want to read along.

In the next few minutes I think it would be quite cool, if you had a think about maybe something you feel you might be being asked to do, or think about a skill you have that you aren’t really using, or maybe you know someone who is doing amazing things for God like Moses did. If you feel comfortable, you could pray with a two or three people around you, for whatever they might be thinking about, and support them. If you just want to pray quietly on your own, and just listen to the music, that’s fine as well.

After a while Geoff will then start to play a song, and when you’re ready please join in, standing or sitting, whatever’s comfortable.

Voice of Truth lyrics …

Oh, what I would do to have

the kind of faith it takes

To climb out of this boat I'm in

Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone

Into the realm of the unknown

Where Jesus is,

And he's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name

and they laugh at me

Reminding me of all the times

I've tried before and failed

The waves they keep on telling me

time and time again

"Boy, you'll never win,

You will never win

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story

the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"

and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"

Out of all the voices calling out to me

I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

Oh, what I would do

to have the kind of strength it takes

To stand before a giant

with just a sling and a stone

Surrounded by the sound

of a thousand warriors

shaking in their armor

Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out

my name and he laughs at me

Reminding me of all the times

I've tried before and failed

The giant keeps on telling me

time and time again

"Boy you'll never win,

you'll never win."

But the voice of truth tells me a different story

the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"

and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"

Out of all the voices calling out to me

I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

But the stone was just the right size

to put the giant on the ground

and the waves they don't seem so high

from on top of them looking down

I will soar with the wings of eagles

when I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus

singing over me

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story

The Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"

And the Voice of truth says "this is for my glory"

Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)

I will choose to listen and believe (I will choose to listen and believe)

I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

I will listen and believe

I will listen and believe the Voice of truth

I will listen and believe

'Cause Jesus you are the Voice of truth

And I will listen to you.. oh you are the Voice of truth

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