God is Always at Work

God is Always at Work Exodus 1 & 2 October 13, 2019
INTRODUCTION: I heard an update about Carson King.  King is the man who held up a sign at football rally televised by ESPN.  King’s sign read “need beer money” and had a number where people could text their donations.  When his donations far exceeded the amount to pay for a case of beer, and his story went public, he pledged he would donate the rest of the money he was given to Iowa Children’s Hospital.  King has even received some matching gifts.  His donations now total three million dollars which he has donated to Iowa Children’s Hospital.    
If a three-million dollar donation can wind up going to a children’s hospital because a college kid holds up a sign for beer money, THEN, if God is who we claim God is imagine what God can do through the church, through the followers of Jesus as we live faithfully obedient lives for God?
Recently I have been reading a book by the late A.W. Tozer.  Tozer was a pastor and scholar.  He pastored and wrote in the 40’s and 50’s and he died in 1963.  Some of what he wrote over 50 years ago seems spot on for today.  One statement from his book, The Pursuit of God caught my attention. Tozer wrote the following.  
“How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers.  Everything is made to center on the initial act of accepting Christ (a term incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls.” (The Pursuit of God, Tozer, p.25)
Tozer’s concern was that the average Christian doesn’t seek God because they depend too much to find truth based on what their pastor, Sunday school teacher or their favorite television preacher tells them is
the truth.  His concern is that Christians lack firsthand experience of God for why they believe and live what they believe and live.  
ITS ABOUT FOLLOWING JESUS; NOT ACCPETING Also, his concern is that we encourage people to “accept Jesus.”  Jesus never gave the invitation for people to accept him. Just think, we don’t have Bible stories of Jesus at the end of his talking with the crowds, giving an invitation for people to come forward and “accept” him as their personal savior.  Instead; Jesus called people to follow him.  
Consider a couple examples from the gospel of Matthew.   
Matthew 4:19 “Follow me and I will make you fisher of men.” Matthew 9:9 “Follow me. And he (Matthew) rose and followed him.” Matthew 10:38 “And whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 12:15 “And many followed him, and he healed them all.” Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”   
FOLLOWING LEADS TO EXPERIENCING Now here is something else that is important about using these passages from Matthew.  As people followed Jesus, they experienced Jesus.  • Matthew 12:15 told us that as some followed him then they were healed by him.   His disciples followed him the most and they experience him in a variety of ways.   • They followed and saw him teaching the crowds.   • They saw him healing people who had diseases.   • They were witnesses to his miraculous power in the storm at sea.   • They watched as he handled moments of challenge and conflict with the religious leaders of his time.
People didn’t just show up for a weekly worship service – they followed him. They followed him by faith which led to their experience of seeing God working in Jesus.  
Today were starting a new sermon series to help us gain some insight so that as we seek to follow Jesus personally and collectively as church, we have a greater understanding how we can experience God.  
The focus of worship over the next seven weeks is that our following of Jesus leads to experience of God; not just more information about God.
PRINCIPLES TO EXPEREINCE GOD’S ACTIVITY I want to give credit to the resource that I am using for this sermon series. I am utilizing the work and writing of Henry and Richard Blackaby.  Dr. Henry Blackaby now suffers from Alzheimer’s, but years ago he began to offer very helpful writings for Christians based on scriptural principles so that we could experience God and not just have more information about God.  The adult Sunday school class that Theresa Utley leads is using Dr. Blackaby’s latest work entitled, Seven Realities for Experiencing God.  If you like what you hear, you might want to talk further with Theresa or someone in that class. I want to take his key seven principles and use them for a seven-week sermon series. 
The first principle or reality about experiencing God is this to believe that “God is always at work around you/us.”
On one hand that is an understatement; but depending on what is going on in our lives or what we hear in the news, it might be difficult to believe.  The other six principles won’t matter if we don’t believe God is involved in our world and in our lives.
One of the best Bible stories that illustrates this point is the story of Moses. Moses winds up being used by God in a very special way but consider how the Moses story begins.
 Let me read some select passages from Exodus 1.  
Read 1:8-10, 13-16 
The Egyptians were fearful of the increasing number of Hebrew/Jewish people in their country.  They were afraid the Hebrews would turn on them. The Egyptians made life miserable for the Hebrews. The King of Egypt even ordered all male born Hebrew babies to be murdered by the Hebrew midwives.  How cruel was that to order the Hebrew people to kill their own.
Yet the Bible claims the only way the Hebrew people ultimately made it out of that circumstance and out of Egypt was by the action of God in that situation.
The story of Moses offers the first principle about the reality of experiencing God.  God is always at work around us.  The Hebrews were being badly mistreated.  Some babies were murdered.  Yet the biblical claim is God was at work.
God was at work when v.17 tells us the midwives lied to the king and refused to kill the male infants, because the midwives feared God more than Pharaoh. God was at work in a mother’s love when the mother of Moses held onto her son for three months before she launched him on the Nile River. God was at work in the compassion of the daughter of the king, who took the baby Moses in to raise even though she would have known of her father’s orders.
BIG QUESTION So, what is needed from us to experience God at work around you, especially during the difficult and heartbreaking times? 
It is not enough to say God can do anything if He wants to in the world.  The biblical claim is that God is always at work in the world.  The qualifying word in that statement is “always.”  Always is a big claim.  When things aren’t going right in the world, either on a global scale or just in our personal world, “always” means God is still somehow involved, active and engaging us and our situations.  Even when the outward circumstance doesn’t look favorable; a story like Moses’ reminds us God’s goodness is on the move.
Here are a few suggestions from the work of Dr. Blackaby to help us follow by faith and see how God is at work around us.
First, God is at work to reveal his plan; not learn about yours.  Dr. Blackaby writes, “Our Lord doesn’t come to us to discover what we’d like to accomplish for Him.  He encounters us in order to reveal His activity and invite us to become involved in his work.”                                                                          (7 Realities…, p.19)
There is always the bigger picture that God would have us see and not have us to be limited to just what concerns us.  Isn’t that part of the reason, Jesus at times had to reprimand his inner circle of disciples because they became focused on what they wanted instead of what God wanted and was doing?   Matthew 16, Peter tried to discouraged Jesus that Jesus would have to suffer and die. Mark 9 when John and James requested special privilege to sit next to Jesus when he received his kingdom. Or the disciples arguing over whose is the greatest among the 12. Mark 6 when the disciples want to send people home hungry instead of serving them.
God is at work attempting to reveal his plan to us.
The second is watch for the good work taking place around us because that good it might be God’s work.  
Jesus once said, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.  I tell you the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing: for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” John 5:17
I think Jesus might have been trying to say the good we see going on around us can be God’s invitation to get involved with Him.  We’ll talk more about this in a couple of weeks but for now, take time to consider whether the good you see going on around you could be God’s invitation for you to see God is active and discover his will.  
One way to think about this more concretely is just think about whether announcements in the bulletin are just announcements or are they invitations to join God at work? We have fundraisers like Compassion Clinic, Family Promise and Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Boxes for Christmas.  But are those just fund raisers or are they more than that?  Are they ways to be a part of the good God is seeking to do?  If we participate, then as we do God speaks to us even more.
There is volunteering at our local schools, there is going to be opportunities to go door to door in our neighborhood.  These good opportunities are more than just activities, God may use them to reveal himself to us as we do his work.
We don’t really know until we plug in.
Third, Beware of Blinders to God’s Activity Blinders to God’s activity are our perspectives that will not see the possibility of God at work around us.
Suffering means God is absent.
The obvious is the outlook that because something bad is happening God is nowhere to be found.  The story of Moses is such a radical claim because God moved when such horrific pain was taking place. Exodus 1:10-15.
No time for the good that is happening “Could be something going on here, but I don’t have time to be involved.” Doesn’t the story of the good Samaritan warn us about this one.  We miss what God is doing because we fail to give to something good which could be a part of the activity of God.  We miss experiencing God because we don’t have time for the good. 
Dr. Blackaby writes, “Too often we acknowledge our belief that God can do whatever he wants; then we add a safety clause: But I don’t think God will do that with me.  We become practical atheist, believing God can perform miracles but never expecting a miracle in our own lives.” (7 Realities…p.19) 
I fall for this so much. For instance, I rush from playing racquetball to get here to the office.  However, part of my motivation for playing racquetball is to get to know some men in Bartlett that otherwise I might not ever know.
Don’t force your will.   We can take matters too much into our hands.  We can try and move before we are well planned and prepared.  The story of Moses killing an Egyptian and then having to flee the country can be interpreted that Moses God ahead of God.  Moses lost his place of possible influence in Pharaoh’s court where Moses might have had some influence to bring about change.  But Moses acted in anger.

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