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Tuesday
Oct122010

I Will Be With You

Imagine happening upon a bush that is burning, but is not being consumed. No matter how long you stand there watching, the fire does not die out, nor does the bush diminish in size or structure. A voice calls out and instructs you to remove your shoes in a sign of respect for the presence of God there. You’re going on a mission, to liberate your people from an evil oppressor, but who will believe any of it? That was the task set before Moses, perhaps the greatest mortal ever to live.

I. I AM

    A. Who Am I?

        1. Moses was understandably reluctant to sign on to God’s plan; he had the same kind of insecurities and self-doubts that prevent most of us from being everything we could be, from seizing every opportunity the moment it appears (Exodus 3:9-12)

        2. Moses would complain that no one would believe he had really has this encounter and so God gave him certain miraculous abilities as evidence, and then Moses got even more personal and reminded God that he was not an eloquent man (Exodus 4:10-12)

        3. Moses could not deny the presence of God, but he still didn’t want to go to Israel or Pharaoh any more than Jonah would want to visit Nineveh (Exodus 4:13-15)

        4. God was insistent and the force of his argument is one that we need to embrace today – God will be with us when he sends us and we go in his name, and there must be no excuses for staying home

 

    B. Who Are You?

        1. Moses had a related concern, perhaps an excuse for his timidity as much as anything else – he didn’t know what to call this nameless God (Exodus 3:13-14)

        2. God gives him a name to use – YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah, depending on the possible pronunciations of the consonant language)

            a. it represents forms of a Hebrew verb that simply means “to be,” a verb of simple existence, which in its simplicity is actually quite grand, for its ontology is absolute and uniquely divine

            b. Jehovah is Lord and is not defined by thunder or flood or fire, but by eternal existence and evidence that is at once natural and verbal

        3. God simply is

            a. he is self-existent and independent of anything else, needing no mother or meat or air

            b. he is the creator and sustainer of everything, so that nothing is independent of him

            c. he is immutable in character and never in the process of becoming something else; he is the same yesterday, today and forever (see Hebrews 13:8)

            d. he is absolutely eternal in existence, having neither beginning nor conclusion

        4. but most of all, God is with his servant, in good times and bad, when things come easy and when they don’t seem to come at all

            a. when we think of lordship, we think of authority and commandments and promises, but the foundation of divine lordship is presence

            b. God does not call anyone to go it alone, but to walk with him, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

 

    C. Moses Went

        1. and so Moses went; he went to Israel and Pharaoh and neither really accepted him with completely open arms, but he went

        2. we could say that he never regretted it, but that wouldn’t be completely true; he wondered aloud why God burdened him with such an obstinate people, sometimes pleading for them and sometimes against them, but he went

        3. he went all the way to Mt. Pisgah, overlooking the destination in the Promised Land, and he would have gone the distance except he chose to trust in himself in one fateful moment and had to settle for Heaven instead of Canaan

        4. Moses was not the only one called by God to go and serve, nor is he the only one – biblical or recent – to entertain regrets and doubts, but he is proof that God is true when he says, I will be with you

 

II. I Will Be With You

    A. Willingness

        1. when called by God, through his word and the circumstances of life today, we are just as accountable as Moses in the desert or Joshua by the river

        2. Moses was reluctant, but he went; we might also be reluctant to follow the leading of God’s will because it promises an arduous journey, freighted with danger, but we must summon the willingness to put the kingdom ahead of every other concern, trusting that God will be with us (Mark 8:34-38)

        3. willingness is not always exuberant; sometimes it is hardly more than resignation, but true faith can always fall back on its willingness to follow God wherever he leads, even through the valley of the shadow of death

        4. willingness implies choice – Moses could have just kept his shoes on after all – but willingness also implies subjection and cooperation (First John 2:1-6)

 

    B. Courage

        1. Moses does not sound terribly courageous as he makes excuses and pleads with God to find somebody else, but history knows no greater human character in retrospect

        2. courage is a function of faith, the kind of bravery that sends a David into battle against a Goliath and gives the underdog victory; “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).

        3. courage flows wherever a believer is convinced of the presence and cause of God (Second Timothy 1:7-8)

        4. courage is what allows us to take necessary risks, make valuable sacrifices and live for something beyond the next meal (Philippians 1:27-28)

 

    C. Confidence

        1. God promised the successor of Moses the same level of fellowship (Joshua 1:5-9)

        2. we are leading smaller companies than the nation of Israel – families, congregations, whatever – but we should not expect any less fellowship than Joshua enjoyed and neither should we have any less confidence that the abiding presence of God can motivate us to success; “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident” (Psalm 27:3).

        3. the apostle John explains the believer’s confidence as it touches this life and the next

            a. that our prayers will be heard (First John 3:19-24, 5:14-15)

            b. that we will enjoy eternal life with God (First John 2:28-29, 4:15-18)

        4. our confidence is not in the flesh which has failed us all, nor is it destroyed when battles are lost while the war is ongoing (Romans 8:31-34)

 

    D. Constancy

        1. Moses was seldom inconsistent from that day forward, except that he sometimes doubted the people around him and one time trusted too much in his own ability

        2. we are prone to make that mistake – heaping excessive criticism on the faith of those around us while being too thoroughly convinced of the incorruptibility of our own

        3. constancy is not about trust in self or condescension toward others, but about consistent humility before the Lord, in spite of the circumstances (Hebrews 13:5-6)

            a. “be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12)

            b. “thank God constantly” (First Thessalonians 2:13)

            c. constantly practice the distinguishing of good from evil (see Hebrews 5:14)

 

Conclusion

We sing of enjoying a constant sense of God’s abiding presence. Prayer, submissiveness, mercy, and divine fellowship in the word will provide that sense of interaction and access that we are craving. “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:23-26).

 

Questions For Review

  1. Why was Moses reluctant to enlist in the Lord’s signal corps?
  2. How did God choose to identify himself to Moses and Israel?
  3. Why didn’t Moses make it into the Promised Land?
  4. What kept some of God’s servants from being fully willing to serve the Lord?
  5. Where do we get our courage to do God’s will?
  6. In what can we have confidence as we go about our faith?
  7. In what must we be confident?

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