Moses saw the plight of his people, enslaved in harsh conditions in Egypt. His first attempt to deliver them was an abject failure (Exodus 2:11-15). He ran from Egypt, and his dream of delivering his people died. But God was not finished with Moses. For 40 years without knowing it, God was preparing him for something greater.
If you have hopes and dreams, there is a pattern in Exodus that applies to your life:
1. Birth of a dream: You have a picture of something you want to accomplish—something that will challenge you and use all your talents. Moses’ dream was to help his people. Surely HE had the skills and HE had the power.
2. Death of a dream: But life gets in the way. Think of some of your abandoned dreams. Moses stood up for his people, but tragically, he killed an abuser. And gratitude from the people he was helping? Hardly. "Who made you ruler and judge over us?” So he fled far away from his people and HIS dream. He stayed there 40 years.
3. Rebirth of a dream: God came to Moses with a rebirth of the dream. This time it is GOD’S dream for Moses’ life, not Moses’ dream for his life. God prepared Moses for 40 years in the wilderness to fulfill God’s dream. God’s dream comes with God’s power and God’s presence.
Have you embraced God’s plan for your life, or are you still hanging in there trying to work out your plan for a fulfilling life? As Proverbs 14:12 reminds us: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” God is not in the business of making your dreams come true. He is all about accomplishing his will. So if your dreams have come crashing down, that’s where God can begin his work in you.
You have to go to church...you have to pray...you have to read the Bible...you have to give your money...you have to tell others about Jesus...you have to be kind to everyone...etc.
NO, YOU DON’T. You do not have to do anything for God or anybody else. You can choose to do nothing. In fact, Jesus recognized that in this life there are people who only take care of themselves and their stuff. But Jesus also said there are consequences with that decision.
Jesus compared people to sheep and goats (Matthew 25). To the goats he said, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” What did the goat-people do that got them condemned to hell? Murder? Theft? Lying? Adultery? No, none of the above. What did they do then? Nothing.
They used their time, their money, their talents for themselves. Church? Too much of a hassle. Poor people? God helps those who help themselves. Goat-people do nothing to further the Kingdom of God.
Goat-people are shocked at Jesus’ verdict. They like Jesus. They would help Jesus, but they never saw him. All they saw were people with problems of their own making and churches whole of hypocrites.
Sheep-people see God all around them. They see Jesus in the face of their brother or sister in the church. The church is the place for people in need. Goat-people don’t need the church. They have everything they need. They see themselves as good people. Jesus’ sees them for who they are.
We love goat-people. We want to turn them into sheep-people.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Most of us have had the experience of a flat tire. We open the trunk, pull out the spare, and change it. Or we call roadside service and they do it. The key is having the spare tire.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
God created you unique and different from other people. Through Christ, he is working in you to reveal himself in a way different than he reveals himself in others. For example, the way God revealed himself through Matthew was different than the way he revealed himself through John.
But what happens when you do not submit to his work in your life? Can he pop open the trunk of the universe and pull out a spare you?
There is no spare you. There is no spare you that God can use to reveal himself to your family and your friends. If you do not work out your salvation by letting God work through you, his story through your life ends right there. That impacts your family and your friends. God cannot use you to take them further down the road spiritually. So remember - if you let the air out of your spiritual life, there is no spare.
Most people know something about the story of Samson. He is usually depicted as muscle-bound, but the Bible says nothing of his appearance, except his hair. It wasn’t good genetics, weightlifting, and high protein diet that made him strong. God gave him incredible strength for the purpose of delivering his people from the oppression of the Philistines. And most people know the name “Delilah” in connection with Samson. She tempted him and he gave in. Captured and blinded, he became a trophy for his enemies.
At the very end, Samson cried out to God to die in one final blow to his enemies. Samson is a story of what might have been, of potential wasted. Samson is in the Bible as a warning. Heed the warning.
Over the past few years there have several movies about werewolves. When I was a kid I remember watching “The Wolf Man.” Question: What does the Wolf Man and a Christian have in common?
The answer is found in 1 Samuel 10:6-7:
Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
In the movies a wolf bites someone and they turn into something else. The prophet Samuel told Saul that when the Holy Spirit came upon him, he would “be turned into another man.” Christians don’t just have the Holy Spirit come upon them; the Holy Spirit dwells in them. If you are a Christian, have you turned into another person?
Samuel said outwardly Saul would “prophesy,” which means share the Word of God, and inwardly know that God is with him. Jesus, who gives his Spirit to his disciple, said to go and make disciples and remember he is with you always (Matt. 28:19-20).
How do you know if you are a werewolf? You change into one. How do you know if you are a Christian? Because someone sprinkled water on you when you were a baby? Because you said some “sinner’s prayer” when you were 10? Because you were dunked in water?
You know you are a Christian because you have changed into someone who shares the Gospel, makes disciples, and has confidence Jesus is with you. So, have you turned into that person?