I guess I should have called this “The Best of God Speaks Today” series. I’m running some of my favorite posts this week from the early days of God Speaks Today. Enjoy!
I just love when scripture is practical and easy to understand. Perhaps it’s because I’m a simple-minded woman. Perhaps it’s because I sometimes just need God to spell it out for me.
D-O I-T T-H-I-S W-A-Y
That’s why I love our passage today (Exodus 18:13-27 The Message) so much. It’s one of those times God just spelled it out for His child. And thankfully, it is just as practical for us today. Let’s break it down and apply it to what we learned last week about hearing God’s voice through “experts.
“The next day Moses took his place to judge the people. People were standing before him all day long, from morning to night. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What’s going on here? Why are you doing all this, and all by yourself, letting everybody line up before you from morning to night?” Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me with questions about God. When something comes up, they come to me. I judge between a man and his neighbor and teach them God’s laws and instructions.”
Lesson One: Even when we think we are in the center of God’s will, we could be missing something.
We begin our passage today with Moses, doing what he thought to be God’s will and purpose for his life. He was basically running himself into the ground, and didn’t even recognize it. Sounds like a lot of Christians I know. Sounds a lot like me at one time in the not-so-distant past. I don’t know about you, but I find it somewhat comforting that even Moses (the most humble man on the face of the earth…the one to whom God spoke clearly and not in riddles) got off track now and again.
Lesson Two: It’s not wise to continually go to the same person, over and over, to hear God for you.
The people knew Moses was a man of God who heard God’s voice clearly. How very tempting it would be to take every single matter to a guy like that. I think we do that sometimes, too. At least I know I have. We find that “expert” who seems so wise, so competent, so God-like. And before we know it, we’ve stopped going to God all together. If we do that, it seems to me that God will put a stop to it one way or another.
Lesson Three: Remember the characteristics of an “expert” we talked about last week.
Enter Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law. Earlier in Exodus 18, it tells us that Jethro was in for a family visit, during which he spent time listening to Moses tell about all God was doing for the Israelites. We also see him praising God, bringing burnt offerings to God and spending time in God’s presence. Jethro loved Moses and he loved God.I won’t repeat everything we talked about previously regarding the character traits of an “expert,” but I will simply underscore the importance of listening only to those who are completely and whole-heartedly sold-out to God. Period.
Moses’ father-in-law said, “This is no way to go about it. You’ll burn out, and the people right along with you. This is way too much for you—you can’t do this alone. Now listen to me. Let me tell you how to do this so that God will be in this with you.
Lesson Four: A true “expert” will have a heart-felt concern for you, your physical and emotional well-being, for your relationship with the Lord and for the good of the Church as a whole.
This is so counter-cultural in some churches, I don’t even know where to begin or how to reduce this to a single point. Maybe I won’t…maybe I’ll just let that simmer right there, and we’ll talk about this in greater detail in another post. So stick around!
Be there for the people before God, but let the matters of concern be presented to God. Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do.
Lesson Five: An “expert” should encourage you to rely on God for everything, and will be helpful in identifying and defining your purpose and role in the Body of Christ.
One of the ways I can tell if someone is sensitive to God’s voice for me, is when they articulate “themes” in my life that God has repeated through many other sources. For example, God has used many people to encourage me in my writing…even people who never read a word I had written! God has also used many people to reinforce my primary role as wife and mother, especially during times when I’m seeking direction or confirmation. Sometimes we, like Moses, may understand our gifts and talents, but may be at a loss for how to apply them in our current season. “Experts” can be a valuable resource for helping us focus on what God has for us to do to best serve the Body of Christ right now.
And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They’ll be responsible for the everyday work of judging among the people. They’ll bring the hard cases to you, but in the routine cases they’ll be the judges. They will share your load and that will make it easier for you.
Lesson Six: God places different people in our lives at various levels of authority to speak at different times and for different purposes.
Obviously, this is a lesson in the advantages of delegation. But I think it is also a beautiful illustration of how God uses different people to serve different roles in our lives. Look around. God has certainly placed many “experts” around you for specific purposes. Here’s a small sample of some of mine:I have the world’s best Best Friend. Her name is Shannon, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much God uses her to speak to me. She’s my “every day” voice. She’s the one who can set me straight with a phrase or a scripture. She’s the one who plays the roll of sounding board to all my crazy and not so crazy ideas. She’s the one who daily encourages me to love Jon and my kids, to keep going when I’m tired. To pursue my dreams and goals, in the often mundane life of raising kids. She’s like the “judge who hears routine cases” in my life.
But I also have a fabulous pastor. This man hears God, I have no doubt. Every time he preaches, I’m completely blown away. He’s really that good. However, I don’t bother him with issues of my every day life. I don’t e-mail him if my kids are throwing a fit or I’m in a cranky mood. Can you imagine if everyone in my church did that? If I talk to Pastor Tim about something, it is usually of a deep, theological nature or something involving big life or ministry decisions. He’s my Moses.
I also have a brother and sister-in-law…James and Carol…who are tremendously gifted in business and finance. The wisdom and favor of God radiates from their lives. When Jon or I have important business or money questions, (should we take this job or buy this house) where we really need to hear God’s voice, guess who we call?
Then there is my worship leader and super-cool friend, Mavis. She is an incredible wife, mother and woman of God who is just a few years ahead of me in life. Her marriage is strong, her children are incredible…She’s pretty much the kind of woman I hope to be someday. She’s a great person to call when I need some extra prayer support or some guidance over something big, but not so big I need to make an appointment with “Moses.”
See my point? When you are looking for “experts” to speak into your life, you don’t need one person who can be all and hear all for you. In fact, that’s not God’s way.
If you handle the work this way, you’ll have the strength to carry out whatever God commands you, and the people in their settings will flourish also.
Lesson Seven: Everyone benefits when we obey the voice of God.
Has it crossed your mind, “What’s the point?” Have you wondered if it really matters if you hear God’s voice at all? Well, here’s your answer: When you listen to and obey God’s voice, you will have the strength to carry out God’s will for your life and all the people you impact will flourish also. That’s huge!
Moses listened to the counsel of his father-in-law and did everything he said. Moses picked competent men from all Israel and set them as leaders over the people who were organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They took over the everyday work of judging among the people. They brought the hard cases to Moses, but in the routine cases they were the judges.
Lesson Eight: If God uses someone to speak into your life, obey.
This is a sermon in and of itself, but simply put, obedience is a key to future hearing-ability. If you are having a difficult time hearing God, I would suggest you go back to the very last thing you know for certain He said, and start there. For the longest time (years!) God was nudging me to get up before my kids and have early morning prayer time. Often when I’d become desperate to hear God, I would pray and inquire why He wasn’t speaking to me. The answer I’d get would be, “I told you to get up early and seek me. You haven’t done that yet.” When I finally submitted to that, the floodgates opened, and I began hearing God with such clarity, it shocked me. What is it God is asking you to do? Have you obeyed?
Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law who went home to his own country.
Lesson Nine: A real “expert” will know when it’s time to say good-bye.
God places people in our lives to play certain roles for specific seasons. Look for the ones He has planted all around you. They are there. And when it’s time for them or for you to move on, it’s okay! God won’t ever leave you. And when you need other “experts,” He will be certain to guide them onto your path.
I hear God telling me I need some rest. I’m going to obey. And I know whent it’s time to say good-bye.
Do you have people in your life God uses to speak to you? Tell me about them!!