MANY wonderful people have a desire to “do something for God”, but often think that they do not know how or that they do not have anything to offer. They think in terms of their ability, but God is more interested in their avail-ability.
It is not so much as what we do, but who we are and in our story of Moses, we shall see that this man was chosen to be part of God’s plan, not for his abilities, training, education, wealth or political power because he was raised in the courts of the king, but because he made himself available!
There are two parts to God’s plans. One part belongs to God and the other is the part we play.
We are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.1 Corinthians 3:9. See also 2 Corinthians 6:1 & 1 Peter 4:11.
Although Paul was talking about men working in harmony and partnership with each other, it could be equally as true to say that we are in partnership with God in His plans.
Jesus said in Mark 16:15-
Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
At the end of the chapter, we see-
So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and He sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied [it]. Amen (so be it).
The pattern that God has chosen to employ involves us. Jesus completed the assignment that the Father gave Him and is sitting down. He made His move and we now make ours. We now go out, not Jesus, but we “take Him with us”.
Your past never sees your future
A major problem is that people sometimes do not always remember that God is living inside us. They turn inwards, look more at their shortcomings and failures, hurts and disappointments than the good things.
I am not talking about willful sinning and backsliding, but about wanting “something” in God but not looking forward properly to the promise and the destination. They focus on the issues in life, especially those from the past. I can tell those who are like that because they usually talk about how bad everything is. Conversations inevitably return to the things that offended them and they live in a circular rut, never going past their issues in life. When we come to Christ, our “past” ceases and we embark on a new life. This includes lifestyle.
Some changes must happen and if there is little evidence of that fruit, I question the persons’ relationship with God.
Our theme hinges around God’s plan to raise up a deliverer. Ultimately this deliverer was Jesus, but God was setting the stage and He chose a baby boy named Moses. The enemy tried to stop it happening by killing all newborn Hebrew boys. He failed. He tried to kill Jesus but failed. He may try to prevent you from fulfilling your destiny in God, but he will fail (if you keep on course with God).
NOW [Amram] a man of the house of Levi [the priestly tribe] went and took as his wife [Jochebed] a daughter of Levi.
It seems ironic that the despised one who was to deliver Israel was raised in the palace. Pharaoh’s daughter even paid his natural mother wages to care for him and all this was right under the nose of Pharaoh! When we are in covenant with God, we can be blessed even in the midst of our enemies. They can be dropping like flies in a plague whilst we are untouched.
Something interesting happened to God’s deliverer. The bible says that when he was grown up, he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and became incensed enough to slay the Egyptian. This raises some questions. Was he aware of his Hebrew heritage and if so, did he act prematurely by killing the man? Moses the deliverer became Moses the murderer.
I wonder how many good and well-meaning Christians receive a vision or call of God and act prematurely?
There is a precise appointed time for God’s plans to take effect. We can delay them or rush in prematurely and risk blowing it as result. Please never bow to the pressure of time. Please never push issues, especially if it seems that “the promise” is never going to happen. Ishmael was born when Abraham bowed to time.
Moses the Deliverer became Moses the murderer who became Moses the fugitive when Pharaoh sought his life. I think that this was all part of God’s plan and we must also remember that up to this time, Moses had not yet had a personal encounter with God—and a personal encounter is what makes the difference. We can argue and debate issues and doctrines, but no one can argue with a personal experience when meeting with God. When he fled from Egypt, Moses took refuge in the land of Midian, married Zipporah and became a shepherd. It seems that 40 years elapsed and the Pharaoh he fled from died. Sometimes the thing that opposes you dies! My counsel is to last the distance.
Moses’ ministry took 80 years of preparation!
The Lord shared with me several years ago that The Most Significant Ministries God has ever used took place after a long, protracted time in which those people were being prepared, before being released into their ministries. As we just saw, it took three periods of 40 years in all with Moses. God started speaking with Abraham when he was 70 years of age, was silent for 13 years and was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born.
Elisha served Elijah for 21 years before he entered his own ministry. John the Baptist was hidden out of sight for 30 years before he entered into his short ministry. Jesus was 30 years of age before he embarked on his 3 year ministry. It took Paul almost two decades before he was fully flowing and received the right hand of fellowship by the foundational apostles.
We refuse to wait and want it now? It does not make sense when so-called men of faith today want things to happen immediately.
I once had a discussion with a fellow pastor who said to me, “If you had the call of God on your life, you would have made it happen by now.” Huh?
He did not ask me what God had been speaking about. He never inquired about the face-to-face encounters I had with the Lord. He was not interested in the times I have been taken to heaven or of the time the Lord took me to hell for 45 minutes to learn things and I saw pastors there! All that he was interested in was how many people were coming to my church, what programs I had and how much money was coming in. I was doing precisely what the Lord had told me to do and that is what is more important than forcing issues and playing church. There are too many people out there having churches that should not exist, because the Lord never asked those folk to start one. I know that I keep saying this, but it is of vital importance that we know God’s timing and forget our personal agendas.
I met with a pastor from Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) India several weeks ago and he shared in one of the most profound, excellent ways I have experienced in 50 years of ministry how they are doing things there. They have 4000 churches spread throughout India, into Tibet, Nepal and China and are reaching out in unique ways avoiding the religious things most of us get involved in. They are starting an initiative in the Information Technology areas despite having little or no money and the opposition received by a government that is very antagonistic against Christians. It challenged me.
In another service, I watched a very poor quality movie made in a little church in Spain where the singer, playing a guitar, sang about wanting to allow the Lord to captivate him and he often stopped. As he paused, angels were singing and I heard music! It sounded like an orchestra comprised of instruments with which I am not familiar, but what really impacted me was that the music I heard was the same music I heard on one of my visits to heaven!
The other people in the meeting were evidently touched—but it really hit me!
I forget how long ago it was when I had that experience. It had to be more than 20 years ago, but the Lord promised me there would be more and I am still waiting. We are bound by time. We are impatient and get locked into our time frames.
When that pastor who is now the president of a large denomination in Australia spoke so foolishly, I could have reacted in several ways. I could have allowed his words to cut me and hurt and then given up, or got angry and reacted negatively, or let it fall off me like water off a duck’s back and not bow to the pressure of time and try to “prove myself”.
We do not “have to prove ourselves” if the call of God is real. A man’s gift makes room for him. Proverbs 18:16
More recently, I met with a man who is already elected into office and might become the president of a country with approximately 80 million people. He has asked me to head up teaching programs for pastors. It took me by surprise as I had not tried to force issues but it is part of the ministry vision the Lord gave me decades ago Many people are impatient and will not wait to allow God to move in His perfect timing and so try to force issues, or just quit. We are dealing with an unchangeable God who is doing amazing things today that can boggle the imagination if we can only but let Him move His way, in His time and quit playing church the way many are now doing today in our society. God had spoken and revealed Himself and that was the important thing. He still wants to speak to us today. God spoke to Moses in a supernatural way, but the man did not immediately reach the pinnacle of success overnight. Let us see-.
NOW MOSES kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the back or west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb or Sinai, the mountain of God.
Two things happened.
The first one involved God. He revealed Himself to Moses.
The second thing that happened was that Moses responded. He could have exercised his freedom of will and ignored the event, but he made a decision to investigate. He stopped what he was doing, told himself what he intended doing and then did it. He turned and looked and that was precisely what God was waiting for.
And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses! And he said, Here am I. Exodus 3:4.
There is a sequence of events in which God makes a move and the man responds. God was watching him and when Moses had responded to the initial approach, called him by name. He does that to us you know.
When God called Moses, the man answered. It is an awesome thing when that happens and I know that from personal experience. If you are unsure if it is God talking or not, ask Him! Jesus promised that His sheep hear His voice!
When God speaks to you, please respond.
This is where Moses had his first intimate encounter with God. We must all have our own personal encounter with Him.
God explained His plan to Moses and then told him that He had chosen him to be His agent to put this plan into effect.
Please understand that this was an amazing and almost impossible thing to understand, because Moses had been schooled in the courts of the Egyptian palace for forty years, then lived in a wilderness for another forty years with a handful of people around him. His conversations would have been with a flock of sheep and those few people who may not have had any education. Little wonder he had a speech problem, but God was not going to accept that as a feeble excuse.
No matter what it is that God asks of us, rest assured that He already knows what you are capable of doing. He will not ask you to do what you cannot do—according to your own human standards—but He will give you what you will need to get the job done. Any excuse you make will be a feeble one that He can ignore. Don’t make excuses—just get on with it.
…And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them?
God is the self-existent one. He is what He is and who He is and the one who will be what He wants to be. That’s a tongue-twister, but think of it for a moment. He has many Names, all of which represent an aspect of His nature and Character.
I urge you to peruse the page I Am, the Covenant Names of God.
Moses really did not know what to do. All that he had been doing for 40 years was tending sheep and now God was changing his whole life and sending him on an assignment that would take him to the court of the most powerful man on the earth. It could be the equivalent of sending you or me to someone like the US President or the Queen of England.
How can anyone get such an audience with these people before one word was spoken? How does one get past the security guards? Let me tell you that He can do such things if it is necessary. I know a minister who has gotten in and out of places that would be impossible to do so in the natural and has done this several times. It is almost as if this person was invisible.
THE EQUIPPING & THE ANOINTING COMES WITH THE CALLING
God may be asking you to do something and you doubt your ability, or wonder why, “oh why would God pick me?” Listen closely now. You do not have to obtain degrees, diplomas, certificates or credentials to get the job done—if God has sent you. Self-appointed people are always trying something out, changing names or logos without changing themselves and not following God’s instructions. The equipping & the anointing comes with the calling.
All things are possible if you believe in the possibilities of the impossible.
The Lord asked him, “What is in your hand?”
Let me ask you a similar question, “What have you got that God can use”
All that Moses had was a dead stick!
God directed Moses’ attention to the simplest thing imaginable—it was all that Moses had.
Let me ask you again, “What have you got that God can use”
Moses had a shepherd’s staff that represented his life and destiny. It probably had his name carved into it. It might have had some symbols or images carved into it. As often happens it could have had his life story carved into it and so this staff represented the man. The only problem with that was that the man was a sinner!
Before we met Jesus, our lives could have been carved into a similar staff. The New Testament likens this to a handwriting of ordinances. It is like a record of our offenses that could be used against us in a court of law. The devil tries to accuse us. He tries to dig up the past and flaunt it in our faces That is why he is called the accuser of the brethren.
Without Jesus, we are guilty as charged, but the day we stand under the cross and repent, asking Jesus to save us, the slate is wiped clean.
Paul explained it like this-
When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.
Paul also said--
If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?
The answers to those questions is that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from the love of Christ and there is nothing in existence that can possibly bring accusation against us… providing we are washed in the blood of the Lamb! Hallelujah!
Moses did not have this privilege yet. He did not yet know about such matters and God had to deal with the sin issue in the man.
Use what you have
What then of Moses’ rod? Let us look at rods or staffs.
Moses was a shepherd and shepherds carried a staff for different reasons. It enabled him to negotiate rough terrain when used as a walking stick. It could be used as a weapon. When night fell and the shepherd put the sheep into the sheepfold, he held his staff horizontally and counted them as they walked beneath it. If the end of the rod was dipped in dye, it could be used to mark the sheep. According to Leviticus 27:31-33, every tenth sheep was given to God as the tithe and this method was employed to set the tithe apart. A staff could also be used to measure distances or act as a threshing stick.
A shepherd could use his staff as a kind of tent peg and this enabled him to provide temporary shelter.
As you can see, there are many uses for a staff and I have left a very important one to the last.
A staff or rod represented authority, leadership or rulership. With regard to authority, a staff could be regarded as a scepter. See Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Psalm 45:6 and Hebrews 1:8.
That dead stick was destined to become a rod of authority and a mighty tool that would release the awesome power of God and set men free.
The problem, as I have stated, is that the man was not ready to use it, so God had to change the status quo and this is how He did it.
The LORD asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” He threw it on the ground, and it became a snake. Moses ran from it, but the LORD told him,
If you recall, when sin first came, Adam also fled. He hid from God who asked him, “Adam. Where are you?”
It was a matter of identification. God could be still asking that question today, “Where are You?”
If you do not realize that you need help you will reject that help when it arrives. Sometimes the answer we seek comes in a way we did not expect and we reject it. This reminds me of the story of the man who had died and was entering Heaven. He had drowned in a flood and was asked what happened. The man explained that he prayed for protection and was convinced that God would rescue him.
Some people arrived in a 4WD vehicle to take him to safety but he would not get in saying that God would rescue him.
The water got higher and a small boat arrived. The rescuers asked him to get in so they could take him to safety.
The man rejected that offer also saying that God would rescue him.
The water kept rising higher and the man climbed onto the roof of his house. A helicopter came and the crew wanted to winch him to safety but he refused their help saying that God was going to rescue him.
The man drowned and when he got to heaven, he was puzzled asking, “Why didn’t God save me?”
The answer was, “God tried to save you—three times. He sent the rescue truck and you refused that help.
He sent the boat and you rejected that help. God then sent a helicopter to you and you would not allow Him to save you. That’s why you drowned.”
God could be offering you some assistance right now, asking you, “What have you got that I can use?”
He asked Moses that and all that Moses had was a dead stick.
He identified himself. He told God what he had. God already knew it, but as He does with us, He wanted the person to admit the need, the situation, the pros and cons and that he needed God’s help.
What Moses had was his old nature. It carried the good parts of his life as well as the taint, education, training, experience and status of Egypt with it and God told him to throw it away. It carried his very identity.
Sometimes we have to cast all of that stuff from us, including the “good things” we have done and experienced.
When God told him to throw his rod on the ground that thing turned into a snake and it was a snake that came to Eve in the garden! When it did, Moses fled from it. There is an object lesson in this and it is simply, flee from sin.
Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). The meaning is simple. It means just what it says, It means to run away from danger; to walk away from the traps that the enemy lays for us; it means to stop going to places we should not go to and to avoid having ungodly associations with those who would drag you down. Well-meaning believers think that they can rescue or help others, but it is often the reverse. Instead of lifting them up to their level, the would-be rescuer is dragged down to the level of the sinner. The remedy is simple. Flee from it! This is why God often tells us not to touch, not to go there, not to associate with people of the world. Such commands are not to spoil our fun but to preserve us.
Moses fled from the things that had contaminated him. God then told him to do something very unusual.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: Exodus 4:4.
No one in his right mind picks up a snake by the tail. The thing can turn around and bite you. What happened?
God had taken the sting out of it!
He had turned Moses’ life around.
What was once the head was now the tail. The thing that had its venom in it was now rendered impotent.
This is like the change that happens when we are born again. It makes everything fresh and new and different.
…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18.
Cut off the past
IF YOU CUT OFF A PERSONS’ PAST—YOU SHAPE HIS FUTURE
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
We have been called to liberate the captives. Moses was called to liberate the captives.
Our authority is now vested not in a wooden stick (the natural things), but in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When Moses stretched or extended his arm that held the rod, signs, wonders and miracles happened, because he was representing God and doing what God had told him to do. The rod itself had no inherent power, but it represented the one who did have the power. When we extend ourselves in the Holy Ghost in the way Jesus said we should and do what he tells us to do at a particular time, accompanying signs, wonders and miracles bear witness that God has sent us.
There is much more to share, but I will bring this to a close with these thoughts.
When Moses came to God, it was with his rod in his hand. Everything that he did was in his own strength and ability and self effort because he wanted to do it, but God commanded him to discard it and it turned into a snake.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
In today’s vernacular, it is like saying, “Lord, Lord, we built this church, ran that orphanage, built this hospital” and they may all be good and the need is there, but the issue is simple—did God ask it? If not, then Jesus’ words apply. This is not trying to be legalistic as that also is abhorrent to God. Jesus broke the curse of the law and perhaps this is a study we should consider another time. I know that I say such things often, but it is necessary and there is a principle whereby God teaches us. It is by repetition, or what is called the law of much mention.
God commanded Moses to pick it up again by the tail and it again turned into a rod. Once God had dealt with the sin issue, the man’s talents and attributes were no longer his. They changed to become God’s. A reversal happened. Thinking of reversals, this sound akin to repentance and that is something rarely preached in most of the churches I know of today.
The story started with the rod of Moses and I shall start winding up with it and with this passage of scripture that spoke of the time Moses embarked on his mission and returned to fulfill his calling.
… Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. Exodus 4:20
The rod of Moses became the rod of God
When God calls us to a task of some kind, we should not be concerned if we are able or not able to do what He wants. As I said earlier, the call is accompanied with the equipping. We find in the church today that people seem to prefer “credentials” or letters of office more than on the equipping that the Holy Spirit gives.
I answered a feeble, “Yes” and He asked the question again...and again ...and again until I wondered what was happening until I asked Him, “Why me?” His reply is so simple yet so powerful. It was, “Because you listen.”
When I discarded my diplomas, certificates, badges of self achievement, self dependence and started relying on the Holy Spirit, He started speaking and teaching!
God was looking at Moses to see how he responded and when he did—He started to move and speak—and Moses listened!
Ive talked with many people who say that they do not hear from God as I do and I always reply, “Are you listening?”
There is an element or an attitude in man that seems to elevate someone if they hold some kind of credential, or certain official position, but it all depends both on who is doing the teaching and what the subject matter is.
Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not!
Moses put aside his own identity that could have carried his past, his present and his future and everything that he could have held onto and boasted about to cast it aside when God told him to do so. When that dry stick hit the ground, the sin principle that drives us all was manifest. Ego and pride was there. Self centredness was there. Ambition was there.
This is all the stuff we are all involved in and God told him to throw it down and cast it away from him.
The thing turned into a snake and God told Moses to pick it up again by the tail and nobody picks up a snake by the tail.
There should be a good object lesson to Christian workers here and it is not to try doing things that God never asked you to do. You may not be qualified otherwise and I am not speaking of man’s credentials, but God’s! You may change the name of your church, or install new equipment thinking you will be more effective, or reach your local community for Jesus but inside nothing has changed. If you are not doing it now, you will not do it then and are fooling yourself.
When Moses did as God told him, it was no longer Moses that lived and controlled his own destiny, but God.
It was God who qualified him. If you want to do your own thing, God will stand back and allow it and what happens then could be “anything goes”. This issue is who is in charge?
When Moses grabbed the snake by the tail, it was still wriggling, slimy and dangerous, but God turned it around so that it was no longer something natural but supernatural. It was now the Rod of God.
The thing that you have might not be anything special in your eyes, but if you allow God to use it, anything can happen...