Necessary Adjustments Exodus 4:18-5:9
Necessary Adjustments Exodus 4:18-5:9 November 17, 2019
Introduction Last week we considered the crisis of faith Moses experienced, as he encountered the presence and the calling of God. The crisis of faith came when he was faced with the decision, whether he would follow God’s leading to do something that Moses could not do on his own.
We mentioned several biblical figures who went through a similar experience. The one thing we often find is God will invite us to be a part of something that we cannot handle by our own power or resources.
Illustration: Marlene and I took in a foster-child and we did it knowing we had to lean on God to make it work.
Those moments will challenge us to see whether we will depend on God or not. We said last week no one gets a pass on this crisis of faith experience. Keep in mind, the crisis isn’t that we can’t experience God; but that we have, and we are faced with a decision whether we will trust God or not.
Necessary Adjustments Just as no believer gets a pass from facing a crisis of faith, no believer gets a pass on making the necessary adjustments or changes so that we can obey God and following His leading. Dr. Henry Blackaby says it like this, “To get from where you are to where God is requires significant adjustments in your life.” Let’s climb back into the story of Moses and so we can see what it means to make adjustments in order to be where God is at work.
We left off last Sunday where God had revealed to Moses how he would be with Moses. God showed Moses the various signs of power He would give him to carry out his mission. Moses vented his questions
and reasons why he still didn’t think he was the best man for the job. Nevertheless, God instructed Moses to go back to Egypt.
Now we pick up on the story as Moses makes the necessary adjustments or decision in his life to be faithfully obedient to God. Let’s walk through the scripture and see what type of adjustments and changes Moses needed to make to be faithful.
Read -Exodus 4:18 “Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him. Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living, and Jethro said to Moses go in peace.”
Look what Moses did, he went to his father-in-law, Jethro and asked for his blessing to leave. But think about what was at stake. Moses was helping with the family their income. Moses was manpower and maturity for the family business, and now he was walking away.
Not only that, but Moses would be taking his wife, Jethro’s daughter, and the grandkids with him. It was a significant change. It sounds almost too simple to bother with but Dr. Blackaby says it well. “You can’t stay where you are and go with God at the same time.” We cannot have it both ways.
Yet, sometimes the reason we might not be experiencing God is that we refuse to make necessary adjustments that are needed. We are comfortable as we are Comfortable with who we are doing what we do believing what we believe, giving what we give, serving how we serve and the comfort makes us think there is no need for change. We stay just where we are spiritually.
I am sure it was uncomfortable for Moses to uproot his family.
Not always, but sometimes the necessary adjustments that bring discomfort can be an indicator we are allowing ourselves to be stretched, challenged to depend on God and grow in our relationship with Him. These adjustments may relate to your thinking, circumstances, relationships, commitments, actions and beliefs.
Dr. Blackaby states, “These adjustments may relate to your thinking, circumstances, relationships, commitments, actions and beliefs.”
There is no area where God will never call us to not make any changes, any alterations. The reason why I believe such is because He is Lord/incharge over everything about us if we are following him. So, any aspect of our lives might need adjusting so we follow him.
If God has revealed what he is calling us to do to join him then the change or adjustment is required, it must be made.
Illustration: There might be a need you can fill and the group or organization where God wants to use you might mean a change your weekly calendar – so be it.
The temptation might be for us to decline to serve, get involve or give because it doesn’t fit our schedule, or doesn’t fit comfortably in some other way. I would say be careful, God may be calling you to something that will be difficult, an inconvenience for now, even uncomfortable.
I know this is old news in some sense but isn’t the success of Chic-fila a great example about a commitment to make an adjustment in order to honor God. Truett Cathy, the founding owner of Chic-fila as a Christian was committed to not working on Sundays so he and his employees could have a day of rest and attend worship. Wasn’t it that last year in
the Superbowl Chic-fil-a passed on being open on Super-Bowl Sunday? They stayed committed to that principle even though they knew it meant a loss of profits, but things have worked out well for them.
Maybe today you have an assumption there are some categories of your life where the ways of Jesus don’t apply. Or there are some assumptions where you think God would never ask you to make some change? From O.T. to N.T. the Bible teaches God could call us to be involved in such a way that it could affect and change any aspect of our lives and those close to us.
Adjust for new friendships I believe one of the keys for Christians to demonstrate adaptability to God’s leading is when we are willing to reach out and build new relationships. One principle I believe we need to keep our eyes on as church as we desire to grow, we need to answer these questions. Is it too late for you to make new friends? Are you ready to add new people to your circle of friends who you hang out with and who you play with and who you do lunch? Are we open to new relationships, so we share Jesus as we share life?
The mistake that we as church and Christians can make is a desire for growth in numbers; a desire to see more people show up for worship, maybe a Sunday school class; but not in relationships where the very essence of our purpose is to take place – discipleship.
Our calling is to live in such away so we can spread the gospel or good news about Jesus and make disciples. Disciples, learners of the ways of Jesus are made in trusting relationships where people talk, admit mistakes, and ask for help = friendships. New friendships like that require the adjustment to bring more people into our circle of friendships.
For Moses to make the required adjustments to orient his life to God, he had to become convinced that God could do everything he said He’d do. 4:19-23
The adjustments we make require faiths, especially if they are changes that contain some discomfort, some “I don’t like it, but I’ll do it” type of a feel require trust in God. Listens to verses 19-21A – Read tx. “The Lord said to Moses in Midian. Go back to Egypt; for all those who were seeking your life are dead. So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses carried the staff of God in his hand. And the Lord said to Moses, When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power…”
Moses demonstrated trust that he leaves for Egypt with his wife and sons. He trusted God enough to leave the land where he was safe so that he would return to a land of bondage. Moses also took the staff God gave him that would change into a serpent. v.20 He trusted the tools God provided for the mission.
The story gets better or worse depending on your perspective. God said, “…but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.” Then you shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord: Israel is my firstborn son. I said to you, Let my son go that he may worship me. But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.” vs.22-23
Wait a minute, God aren’t you working against the reason you’re sending me? You want me to tell Pharaoh to let the people go, but you’re going to make sure he doesn’t change is mind. Why am I leaving the family business uprooting my kids to a new school system?
Moses had to trust what God was telling him. Heads up Moses, resistance is coming, but I will use it for my purposes. Vs. 21-23
This is like someone telling you go down to the beehive and collect the honey but oh by the way, I have gotten the bees stirred-up so lookout. Thanks
So, if you have a sense of God leading you into something where you’re not thrilled, just because you’re not thrilled doesn’t mean, God isn’t in the midst of that purpose.
Position/Availability: After moving forward, Moses was in a position to obey God. 4:24-31
This brings us into a very weird part of the story which takes place next. It’s tempting to pass over this and leave it out. It’s like some of the relatives who might come for the holidays that keep you on your toes because you worry what they might say. It’s a portion of the story that I don’t recall hearing preachers like Andy Stanley, Tony Evans or Max Lucado cover and understand why. Here we go – listen verses 24-26 “On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him (Moses) and tried to kill him. But Zipporah (his wife) took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched the bottom of Moses’ feet with it, and said, truly you are a bridegroom to me. So, he let him alone. It was then she said, a bridegroom of blood by circumcision.” Wow, that is weird to me. It appears so close to the popular story of the burning bush that we love to hear and was depicted in the Ten Commandments with Charleston Heston.
I always wonder what if the unchurched, the new Christian keeps reading in Exodus after they have read about the burning bush and they’re reading about all the self-doubts Moses had and they think, wow Moses is like me I have self-doubt he had self-doubt. They keep reading
and then they come to this? What will new Christian or the skeptic think? What kind of a God is ready to wipe you out and the story doesn’t even clearly explain why? We can only assume that since Zipporah quickly circumcised their son, Moses had made the mistake not having his son circumcised as was already a part of Jewish tradition.
Isn’t God trying to kill Moses kind of harsh for one mistake?
And just as important, how would we as long-time believers answer them? Are you ready to explain a story like this?
I would tell them this is an ancient story. • It’s ancient story trying to describe the holiness of God that is not to be watered down. • There is grace and a second chance in the sense that Moses wife was given time to take action to correct the wrong. • There was the shedding of blood to bring about peace which is a preview of what Jesus would do. • The biggest thing I would say is all scripture, especially from the O.T. needs to be interpreted through the teachings and life of Jesus. • Whatever you take away from this story, see it through the eyes of Jesus.
The bigger picture is that Moses was on his way to do what God had called him to do. He was moving toward his destination and getting himself in place to be available to serve God.
Listen to verses 27-31 The Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. So, he went; and he and he met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him, and all the signs with which he had charged him. Then Aaron and Moses went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and
performed the signs in the sight of the people. The people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery. They bowed and worshiped. vs.27-31
A major point that Dr. Blackaby uses is this “Moses was in a position to obey God.”
Another way of saying this is that Moses repeatedly made himself available to be used by God.
And a great way to assess whether we are living and growing as disciples is whether we can see ways we stay available to serve and be used? The trust we have in God will lead us to be available to be used by God so we can be a part of what God is doing. I came across a great quote by Bob Peirce, one of the organizers of the Christian ministry World Vision. Peirce once said, “Lord break my heart for what breaks yours.”
If our hearts are moved with compassion, we’ll be available and ready to be used in various ways.
If we are constantly checking off the box why we need to stay just as we are – I would encourage you to make sure you’re not limiting God by taking yourself out of position, out of availability, out accessibility for God to use you for His purposes.
“Moses was a servant who remained moldable.” 5:1-9 For the sake of time, I am only going to hit the highlights of this last section of scripture that it is found in 5:1-9. It is the first showdown between Moses and Pharaoh. It ends with Pharaoh one, Moses zero. Moses tells Pharaoh the Lord wants Pharaoh to let the people go into the wilderness to celebrate to God. Pharaoh isn’t buying any of it. Pharaoh interprets the request as a way the Israelites are being lazy.
Pharaoh lets Moses know he has not even heard of Moses’ God. Then on top of that, Pharaoh says for now on the slaves can take the time to gather their own straw to mix in with the mud to make bricks; but the same amount of bricks needs to be produced.
If you keep reading the story you find out that when the Israelites find out about how this first contest played out, they weren’t happy with Moses and Aaron.
But we know how the story ends. We know there were other ups and downs that Moses went through before Pharaoh was defeated and the people led to freedom.
The way Moses remained faithful, trusted God even though there was the resistance and the complaining, revealed something about Moses and why God could use him.
Blackaby states, “Moses was a servant who remained moldable.”
Moses continued to listen to God even though if you keep reading you find he struggled with the setbacks and disappointments. Moses was flexible in his faith to bend; but not break under the discouragement and setbacks.
Change and adjustments in various aspects of our lives are necessary to be used by God. Adjustments are being made if you’re being challenged to do something you know you cannot handle on your own. God does some of his best work when we are willing to make those necessary adjustments. Next week we’ll cover how those necessary adjustments lead to faithful obedience.