Sunday, August 25, 2013

Leaving the wilderness.

Exodus 3

King James Version (KJV)
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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.
And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The world loves "rags to riches" stories. Stories of folks pulling themselves up "by their boot straps" are very popular. They help to give people hope that they can change their circumstances. But, Moses' story is the opposite. His story is "riches to rags."

Moses had lost it all. The power and prestige of being a prince in the most powerful nation on the earth was a distant memory. At one time in his life, anything he wanted was at his beckon call. Any whim that entered his head was there for his command. But, one choice changed it all.

One choice to defend a slave left him destitute. One murder to defend the defenseless, made him lose his favored status and on the run for his very life.
When we stand up against the world's system, we lose out with the world.

Moses winds up in the wilderness. He finds the clan of Jethro and finds a wife.

The once mighty prince, instead of having slaves, servants, and attendants, now has to watch sheep. In the dirt. In rags. He has to fight off wolves and snakes to defend sheep. He no longer has the mighty weapons of Egypt to fight with. All he has is a shepherd's staff. Talk about a "fall from grace."

Moses gave up his riches and traded them for a life that taught him to care for others. He learned how to work, and not be pampered. He learned how to fight, but not for himself. He learned to provide for the needs of others. In so doing, he saw his own needs met.

Amazing, how that works, isn't it? The world says "make your own way." Jesus tells us to "give, and it shall be given unto you." The world says for us to seek others to serve us. Jesus says for us to follow his example by serving others. The world tells us to "save up until you can." Jesus tells us to obey his command and THEN he will provide the resources to accomplish what he told us to do.

Why did Moses find himself on the back side of the desert, living in harsh circumstances? Because it took those circumstances to make him usable by God to accomplish his purposes in his life.

With all the knowledge he had before he left Egypt, the world would've said Moses was ready to lead Israel. God left Moses in the wilderness for 40 years and THEN said, "Now, I can use him."

God allows circumstances in our lives in order to shape us into the vessels of service he needs us to be. Indeed, 2 Corinthians 1 says, "4 (God)Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

Our experiences prepare us to minister to others.

When we are in the wilderness, we feel utterly alone and abandoned. We cry, we complain, we feel dejected. Finally, our attitude begins to change. We begin to discover ways to be productive in our lousy circumstances. We learn how to find water in dry places. We figure out how to find food in places where food doesn't grow.

Later, after God brought Moses out, he sends Moses back to Egypt to stand against the most powerful nation in the world. He is used to free Israel. Then, because Moses knew the wilderness so well, he is used to lead them through it.

When God brings us out of the wilderness experience, he is ready to use us to help others.

We need to be like Moses. Learn from our experiences. Learn how to find nourishment from God even in our wilderness. When we do, for God will always provide for our needs, then we will be able to help others through their wilderness.

So, as one wilderness goer to another, let's praise him for our wilderness. Why? He's changing us to be used for his kingdom work.