Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not Gonna Do It?

With the sun illuminating the sanctuary, Pastor Brad welcomed us in his usual warm fashion. Today, he said, the theme would be about saying "yes" to God's call. His message would address five objections that we often raise, but this was the main point he planned to make: The ultimate reality of who we are is no longer defined by our limitations. Instead of focusing on what we can't do, our focus needs to be on God and what He can do in us and through us.

1. Be sure to sign up for the Valentine Sweetheart Banquet if you plan to come. (Editor's note: if you are not planning to come, you should.)
2. Susie stood and pointed out the new wall hanging that the children created in Adventure Club, noting that every picture tells a story. Be sure to ask the children of our church family what their stories are about.
3. Building committee meeting Thursday evening.
4. The Christmas ornaments were fun to make and Paula said they will be doing them again on February 21st here at the church.

Chuck then read a moving passage from Matthew that closes with the statement, "All who touched Him were healed." It was a special lead in to the quartet singing "He Touched Me" followed by a very nice worship time.

Pastor Brad read from Exodus 3 and 4 to prepare us for the message.

Not Gonna Do It?

Brad began by sharing what he considered one of the most profound statements about the human condition by someone he admired from the first time he saw him. Most of us know him. He loves to sail, is in tremendous physical condition and eats unbelievably healthy food. His name is Popeye the sailor man. Not sophisticated or educated, just a pipe smoking, tattooed sea faring sailor.

When he was sad, or when he made a mistake, or when he felt inadequate... or when he was called on to do something he didn't feel capable of doing, he always said the same thing. "I yam what I yam, and that's all that I yam." It's the sad lament of the human race. In other words, don't get your hopes up.

After sharing his own shortcomings, Brad said it would be easy to excuse one's inadequacy by saying, "I yam what I yam." But God doesn't let it rest there. He has a purpose for our lives. This becomes Brad segue into the story of Moses.

Moses had fled Egypt and was living on the backside of the desert when one day he noticed a burning bush. The bush caught Moses' eye whereupon he turned aside to check it out. Moses could have walked past and missed it. But as a result of this turning aside, history was changed.

How about you? How are you at turning aside? That is, how do you do when it comes to turning aside to listen to God? Whether at home at the office, we can "turn aside" to appreciate moments of listening to God during the day.

In Exodus 3 God shows Moses His heart. God says he has heard Israel's weeping and seen the suffering of His people. And he lays out a plan with Moses at the center of it.

Moses objects. Who am I? I am not adequate. And I am a fugitive, and a murderer... I am not the guy.

God stays with it and says, "I know who you are. I created you, and I know everything about you. Your shortcomings are not the ultimate truth about you. I will be with you."

Brad noted that many of us are in the same spot as Moses. God has a purpose for us, but we have objections. One of our shortcomings is that we do not understand God's grace. Often we're still beating ourselves up for past failings. God says, "I know who you are and it doesn't matter."

After Moses encountered God in the bush his next question was "Who are you?" God replied, "I am who I am." There are no layers of bureaucracy with God. God desires to be known and invites us to know him.

Next, God turns Moses' staff into a serpent, then tells Moses to grab it by the tail. Despite Moses' natural inclination to run from a snake, at God's command he takes hold of it and it turns back into a staff. There are two Hebrew words that could be used that mean grab or take hold of. The first describes a somewhat calm action. This is the verb God used. The second means to snatch it with force. Exodus records that Moses grabbed it in this latter manner, not exactly what God intended.

Then Moses was instructed to put his hand underneath his cloak, which when pulled out was leprous. God restores the hand, and seems to be saying, "I will do amazing things with these simple things."

Pastor Brad showed how this has always been God's way. A few loaves and fishes feed five thousand. Five talents are multiplied extravagantly. A mustard seed fills the whole earth.

So, what's in your hand?

Moses still was not ready, however. "Whoa, I have never been eloquent," Moses told God. But God replied, "Who made mouths, Moses? I made your mouth. I can fill it with amazing words."
Brad said this exchange seemed to foreshadow the spiritual gifts of the New Testament. Are you using your gifts?

Moses still balked. "Please pick someone else," Moses said. God showed mercy by bringing in his brother Aaron to go along. This is a picture of the value of community. We do God's work together.

Who's your Aaron?

An interesting thing about the story here is that while Moses goes on to liberate his people, you never find out what happened to the burning bush. You find out what happens to Moses and Israel, to Pharaoh and his soldiers, but what happened to the burning bush. Pastor said, "I believe it's still burning... and God is waiting for people who will turn aside. I think God is waiting for that right now.

The celebration of the sacrament of Communion followed.

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