Girls, I have to start out by telling you the subject matter of this week’s lesson is, in my friend Iris’ words, Stinging My Heart. You see, yesterday, I had this lesson all typed out with everything completed but the Discussion Questions. I worked on it for six hours. With an exploding brain and a great sense of relief for having it done early (which in and of itself is a miracle for me) I clicked the “Save As Draft” button, saw the material appear in my Dashboard and went to bed.
This morning I woke up, turned on the computer and guess what was no longer in my Dashboard? You guessed it, honey! Lesson Four was no more! And can I be honest with you? I’m still mad about it! I have whined and moaned and felt sorry for myself ever since. Today was one When Things Did Not Work Out Like I Had Planned. The only way I can feel better is to believe that God must have wanted to give me a visual – a sermon illustration if you will. I get it, Father. Thanks for that. (It’s okay to talk to Him that way ….. He knows I love Him.)
Which leads to our topic today. When circumstances do not fall in line with our preconceived notions of what is best for us, how do we react? Do you, in my Southern slang, pitch a hissy fit? Do you become angry, bitter, or lash out? Or do you mope, pout, and withdraw? If I am truthful, and I must be because it is in the Preacher’s Wife Handbook, then I have to confess I have probably acted like many of these depending on the circumstance. Today was a combo day of hissy fit and moping. Today we are going to continue our study of Moses in the context of learning how to react when all of our best laid plans come to naught.
In our last lesson we established that a “forty year old time was fulfilled” for Moses at which point God stirred a longing in the “lower deeps of his nature” to go see about His brethren. Godly stirrings will always cause a desire for action or else a sense of misery for the thing not being done. My husband pokes fun at me because I have so many grand plans and intentions. I am an energetic beginner but fizzled finisher. There is a personality test here in which I found out I was a squiggle and a circle. (Go take it, it is really accurate!) Basically what that means is that in a project, I am your big idea girl but don’t count on me for details or seeing a thing to completion. However, in matters of spiritual calling, I can only describe my desires as a fire in my bones that would cause me to spontaneously combust were I to hold them in. To help you understand what I mean, I will tell you I could not have gone to bed tonight without getting this study re-typed. Oh sure, it would have been fine with you if I called it off until Thursday or postponed a week, but I LOVE doing this. It is a godly desire and I would be miserable if I didn’t complete it. On the contrary, I can still live with myself if I don’t get around to sewing new cushions for my porch swing or getting my scrapbooking done. Do you get the picture?
Let’s have a little fun and use our imagination for a moment. In your mind’s eye, picture Moses a mighty, powerful prince of Egypt being pulled throughout the kingdom in his chariot. He would have been wearing traditional Egyptian dress, elaborate make-up, a headdress. Now picture him on the balcony of his palace overlooking the splendor of Egypt. Anything he desired was but a wish away, yet he was unable to enjoy all this privilege because something, or Someone, deep within him was whispering to him, “It is time.”
The Exodus, Acts, and Hebrews passages noted above all describe Moses’ meeting with his brethren. It happened that when he arrived, an Egyptian was beating a Hebrew. Moses reacted by killing the Egyptian and hiding him in the sand. The following day Moses happened into a fight between two Hebrews. When he tried to intervene, the stinging accusation came, “Who made you a prince and judge over us?? Are you intending to kill me as you did the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “Surely the matter has become known.” Exodus 2:13-14 To give further detail to this scene, consider the words of Acts 7:25. “And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.” In effect, the Israelites were saying, “Who died and made you boss?” And in the words of my boys when they perfectly execute a basketball smackdown, Moses was RE-jected.
Moses supposed they knew! He supposed God made him the Prince of Egypt for a reason. He supposed all his power and his might and his position would be the perfect combination for negotiating a release for his people. He supposed this was the once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver his brethren. He supposed.
What a dangerous word, supposed. It assumes we can plan our own steps, design our own destinies, create our own fulfillment. It presumes others will understand how they fit into our delicately laid plans. It expects there will be no one who would dare throw a cog in the machine. What do you do when the gears grind to a halt and you find it is God holding the monkey wrench? We have faith. We’ll get to that more in a moment.
I would like for you to consider a few Hebrew and Greek word definitions used in our focal passages to further understand the implications of the encounter between Moses and his people. This is going to get very interesting!
We have already determined that Moses thought his flesh and blood would understand that he was the one who would bring about their deliverance. The word used for “rejected” or “refused” means, “the idea of falsehood or of a contradiction not only with reference to the object, but on the part of the subject against himself.” So in essence, when the Israelites rejected Moses, he then rejected his own self and calling. Is this resonating with anyone but me?
The words, “who made you ruler and judge over us”, actually prophesied the role God would give Moses over the Hebrews. Acts 7:35 says, “This Moses whom they disowned saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush.” The word the Hebrews used for ‘judge’ was a person who “was elected or nominated to become part of a tribunal and arrive at a conclusion.” The Israelites did not trust this prince of Egypt and they sure did not elect him to act on their behalf. Praise the Lord, man’s rejection will never trump God’s acceptance! A naysayer in your midst will not thwart God’s good intentions in your life to act on His behalf.
I love this next part! In the verse above, the word ‘sent’ is the Greek word, ‘apostello’. Do you see something familiar? Moses was not only a prophet, but a God-ordained apostle. How cool is that? The word means, “to send forth on a certain mission”. A certain mission indeed! Can I encourage you in the fact if God can accomplish the cross-country relocation of 2 million people by the obedience of one man, then He is SO ABLE to work out the details of your calling to a good end! The most important thing to remember is even if it is Not Like We Planned, there is never to be a doubt that our outcomes are exactly Like He Planned. We can rest knowing that our God has it covered. This knowledge is where faith lives which brings us to our close.
Hebrews 11 is perhaps the most inspiring chapter of the Bible. It beautifully recounts the stories of many men and women to whom God made promises yet they never saw them realized on earth. However, their faith did not waver because they knew “God would provide something better”. (Hebrews 11:39) We are told in Acts 7:35 that Moses was not only a judge for the people, but that God gave him a double-blessing and made him a ‘deliverer’ as well. This word in Greek means, “to bring forward a ransom”. There are so many parallels to be drawn here between Moses and Jesus Christ, but again I must exercise restraint because of the confines of this blog study. However, let it sink in deeply that, just like Christ Jesus, Moses’ ransom was the sacrifice of his very life. Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and instead chose to be identified with the people of God. He did not have to step down from his exalted position to aid the oppressed; however, there was an undeniable, God stirred Spirit at work within him that would not let him rest until his people were free. And though things did not go according to Moses’ plan and he would soon find himself fleeing to Midian, he did so in faith. “God, I don’t understand why not today. But I will trust You for someday.”
By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months.
By faith Moses refused to be called a Prince of Egypt.
By faith Moses denied the passing pleasures of sin.
By faith Moses considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
By faith Moses recognized a greater reward.
By faith Moses endured because he saw Him who is Unseen.
Sisters, when things do not work out like we planned, when the diagnosis is not what we wanted, when the child is in trouble, when the bills are not paid, when the job is just too stressful, when the loved one continues to reject the Lord, the only way we can endure is following hard after the One who is Unseen. Trust in the One who is refining and preparing you to either be delivered or to be a deliverer. On any given day, you will always fall on one side of that line or the other. No matter which it is on this day, the only way to endure is by Faith.
1. I am going to present to you a little acrostic to begin our discussion today. What is your latest NLIP? (Not Like I Planned?)
2. How did you react to your NLIP? Are you still upset about it? Happy about it? Baffled by it? Explain.
3. Have you ever attempted to step into an area of ministry and found your desire rejected? Did this cause you to question God and yourself? Perhaps distrust what you perceived to be your calling?
4. Do you harbor any bitterness towards any individual or situation which you believe waylaid your best laid plans?
5. Have you had a life experience or trial that left you with a shaken faith because it ended in an NLIP? Please share if you feel free.
5. Based on Moses’ response of faith to his own rejection, how will you re-evaluate your own experiences or look at future ones differently if a NLIP presents itself?
I realize these questions are kind of ‘ouchy’ today. Share as much as you feel comfortable. Please remember that others read your blog so be gentle if you think something you may confide might ‘stir up stink’ as my mamaw would say.
Have a blessed week! And THANK YOU for taking to the time to study with me! It is an honor you can not fathom.
Lisa McKay – 2011