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HUNGER FOR GOD 6 Apr 22-The Plea

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The Plea For Spiritual Passion

Exodus 33

In Exodus 33, Moses makes 3 prayer requests to God regarding His presence.  So today, as we continue in our journey toward developing a hunger for God, I would like to look at spiritual passion in light of those 3 petitions Moses made to God. Let’s go there now please…EXODUS 33.

Request #1: vv 12-13a…So…Moses’ first request is to know God’s ways that he might know God.

And indeed, one of the ways you know you’re getting to know somebody, is that you know their ways, their habits, and their intensions. And Moses is saying: “God I am not clear about my next move.  I know You brought me to this point, but this next leg of the journey where I’m supposed to take the people to the promise land, I’m just not certain of, so let me know what You are thinking.  Let me know Your ways.”  In other words, by asking this Moses isn’t just looking for information here, he is asking for illumination.

Illumination is when the Holy Spirit takes information and lets you see how to apply it.  That is…illumination is information applied, not just heard.  It’s one of those moments when you’ve heard or read something at least a dozen times before, when all of a sudden you say, “Ah ha!!”  Suddenly what you’ve read over and over reveals itself in a different way so that now you understand how to apply it.  So illumination is when the light comes on.

Moses needs that right now, and so Moses says, “God, I’m in a place where I need some clarity.”  And I suspect that there are some of us here even today, who need to pray that prayer because life has become fuzzy. But here’s the problem: It’s not that you can’t identify the Bible verses that apply to your situation, it’s that you don’t know how the reality of God’s truth should function at this moment. IOWs, you need the light bulb to come on.  Moses makes that a matter of prayer.  He says, “I want to know Your ways.”

So on what basis does Moses make this request? Well Moses told us in verse 12. He felt free to make this request…he says…because God said he had found favor in His sight.  In other words, their relationship had grown to the place where they seemed to be sharing intimacies. And indeed to find favor is to be able to share intimacies.

It’s like our relationships with spouses leading up to marriage. Cathy found favor in my eyes.  It’s not that she did…or does every thing perfect.  It’s that a trust relationship developed. And now our relationship exist at such a high level of trust, that I am willing to share with her my deepest thoughts and feelings.  What is more, I know there is no one who could take her from me or vice versa.

Moses says, “You said You are happy with our relationship, so show me deeper things.”  So here’s the implication: don’t expect God to tell you His secrets if you don’t have the intimacy of relationship. IOWs, you don’t share your private stuff with people you don’t trust, or with whom you don’t have a deep relationship, do you? I don’t, because I don’t know what they’re going to do with it.  In fact, there are those who would even take your private stuff and try to hurt you with it.

Moses says, “I want to know Your ways.”  Now, I want you to understand something here…knowledge is not enough. Yes, while the Scriptures are sufficient and complete, simply having the Bible does not mean having illumination.  It is the work you see, of the Holy Spirit to turn the light on.

It’s like witnessing to a non-Christian.  You can tell him/her the Gospel, that God through Jesus Christ died on the cross…in your place…for your sins and if you will place faith alone in Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins, God will give you the guarantee of eternal life. But as anyone who has witnessed will tell you, it is one thing for a non-believer to hear that word, but it is quite another for the Light to come on.

You can even say to them, “Do you understand what I just said?”  And they’ll say, “Yes.”  “Well tell me what I just said to you.”  And they say, “Well, it means I have to keep the Ten Commandments.”  Which is the total opposite of what you just said about the free gift of salvation. IOWs, if God has not worked on their heart, they are not going to understand or hear.

Moses is in the midst of a crisis here.  He’s got God’s Word, but what he needs to know is what to do with it, and how to understand it.  Have you ever been there?  Like, you don’t have time to read the whole Bible right now, and the preacher preached on something that didn’t have anything to do with what you’re going through. That is it’s a time when you need a direct word from God.  Moses says, “I’m in a crisis here and I need to know what You want me to do?!”

But you say, “I prayed that and nothing happened.”  Well the question is, do you have relationship?  That’s why the verses leading up to this moment are so important. Look at verse 7.

V7a  The reason Moses pitched the tent outside the camp is because God wasn’t inside the camp, because inside the camp there was idolatry: V 5a  Moses had built this prayer closet outside the camp, but God said, “Even though I’m not fellowshipping with the group, everybody who wants Me is welcome to the tent.”  Now that’s good news.  It’s good news especially for us in the ELCA right now, that even when the group is in disobedience, God will still listen to the individuals.  “Thus…” verse 11: V11a.

Are you in a place in your relationship with God that you can speak face to face?  To speak face to face is to speak with openness and candor, ie…with no pretense.  So what’s the implication? It’s this: Are you praying those prayers that are so sophisticated, even God doesn’t know what you are talking about?  OR…are you still praying the prayers you prayed when you were a child, because your relationship with God hasn’t gone anywhere? OR…have you learned to be real with God.

The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man talks to a friend.  Can you imagine?  Their relationship was at a place where God spoke in total openness and candor with Moses and therefore was, in the midst of this crisis, willing to speak with Moses immediately. 

To help you understand, let me ask you something: Have you ever needed to go to the beautician or the barber because something has come up and you needed them to fit you in?  I mean you’re in a panic, you have this emergency situation and their schedule is full.  Well…if you what your barber or beautician to fit you in: Make sure you have been a regular, faithful, paying customer, BEFORE your emergency.

In other words, if sometimes you go to them and other times you go to someone else, and they know it, maybe they’ll justifiably say, “Why don’t you go to the other person and let them fit you in.”  But if you have been a loyal, faithful, “don’t go to anybody else” kind of a customer, it’s more likely they’ll fit you, why—because of the relationship.

Many of us when we’re in a crisis cry out, “God fit me in.  I need You right now.”  But God is God to us one day and not the next.  In other words, suddenly we find we have no relationship. And I’m not talking about prodigals here who have lost their way but come back to their senses. You know the attitude I’m talking about here, the attitude that uses God as a cosmic bellhop and then when He doesn’t respond fast enough they get angry with Him.

Moses says, “Because I found favor with You, illuminate me. IOWs, it is critical that we consistently build our relationship with God over time. So how does God respond: V14. Now, I will admit to you that that is not a lot of detail, but we don’t need a lot of detail, it is enough to know that the request has been heard.  That is…the Lord spoke.

So what does that mean for us today? Loved ones here me now…God still speaks today…God still illuminates today…BUT it requires a balance of Word and Spirit. IOWs…if you have the Word and no Spirit, you will not know how to apply it. Likewise…if you have the Spirit and no Word you will not know what to apply.  That’s why it’s Spirit and truth.

Request #2: V15  So Moses’ 2nd Request is for God’s presence.  Now this is a curious request.  God just said in verse 14 “My presence will be with you,” so why is Moses praying for something already done?

Well, look again - does anyone see the difference between verses 14 and 15?  In verse 14, God says, “I will go with You.”  But in verse 15, Moses responds, “But if you don’t go with US.”

You see, God is ticked off with Israel.  While He and Moses were on the mountain top, where Moses is getting the Law, the people are in the foothills making idols!  So God says, “Moses, I will go with you.”

As you go through Exodus and Numbers you’ll discover that at various moments, either God or Moses is ticked off with the people to the point of verbalizing their destruction.  Can you imagine what would have happened if ever God and Moses had been ticked off on the same day?

Today in our passage it’s God.  So Moses says, “No God…v16.”  What Moses is crying out for here, is God’s presence among the people.  “It’s not just about me God…I want this for all of us.”

And I must tell you now loved ones, that this has been my heart’s cry to God for us as well for some time.  “Oh, God, let Your presence be known in our Apostles family.  Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on us.” So why don’t we experience more of God’s presence?

Part of the problem is we have replaced programs for God’s presence.  Now…there’s nothing wrong with programs, we need programs, but programs should be the out working of God’s presence, not the replacement for His presence.  In fact let me give you the presence test: If what you’re doing for God, replaces your time with God you’ve missed His presence.  So if the only time you’re in God’s presence is on Sunday morning, then you have substituted program for presence.

So how do you know you’re living in the presence of God?  It tells us in verse 16: V16b   How do you know?  You become “distinct”…you become “different.”  IOWs, when God shows up, things will be different. In fact, if things are not different, that is, if no one can see a difference in our lives from the lives of the world around us, then we are not spending enough time with God.  That is…we have not spoken to God friend to friend and face to face. 

And how does God respond to this second request? – V17  God says, “Yes,” because Moses has: 1) Found Favor  &  2) Become known by name.

Request #3V18   Request #3 is show me Your Glory.  Of the three request, this is the most profound.  God’s glory is the sum total of God’s perfection.  To see God’s glory is to see God’s attributes.

Now, I want you to think about this question for a moment.  Moses has seen some wild stuff.  He’s seen a bush that wouldn’t burn; he’s seen the fire and thunder on Mt. Sinai, he saw his shepherds crook be turned into a snake and back again.  He saw the opening of the Red Sea – why after seeing all that, would you ask to see God’s glory?  Because Moses knew he hadn’t even scratched the surface, and so he wants to get to the core of Who God is. This   man is after something, he knows there is a lot more to God than he has seen.

So let ask you…how much of God’s glory do you desire to see?  Are you satisfied with yesterday’s bread or are you going after the whole bakery? That is…Are you willing to be satisfied with how you have experienced God in the past? OR…do you want all you can get today?  Moses is saying, “I’ve seen what that bakery is producing, now I want inside.”  Unfortunately, a lot of us are satisfied not only with an occasional loaf of bread…but we’re even willing to live off day old bread when God is willing to give us so much more.

Look at God’s response to Request #3: God says:  V19a – goodness means splendor or beauty. This is the sufficiency of God. IOWs, you cannot add anything to God. Then…V19b. So God says I will show My Goodness, My Grace, and My Mercy.

But there is a limit to this look: VV20-23.  In other words, I will only let you see my splendor passing by.  So God says, “I will show you My Goodness, that is…I will show you My sufficiency as revealed in My Name, and I will show you My Grace.”  IOWs, things Moses had never seen before, and so when you seek after God…when you thirst for God, God will show you things you have never seen before, don’t ever be satisfied with day old bread.

“But Pastor John, how do I do that?”  Like Moses, you need to know God face to face just as one who speaks to a friend.  “But it says to see God’s face is to die.”

That’s right, the qualification for seeing God’s face is death, maybe that’s why Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:31, “I die daily…” why don’t we see more of God’s face?  Maybe we’re too alive to ourselves; maybe we’re too full of ourselves.  When we die to ourselves, we get to see the face of God, because the face of God is resonate in the person of Christ. So, if I want to know God face to face, #1, I must die to myself and #2 I must seek the person of Christ.    JEREMIAH 29:12-14a (sermon notes)

Loved ones, God wants so much more for you, God wants to know you by name.  God wants to transform you from glory to glory.  But if you are not seeking God’s face, if you are satisfied with knowing God from a distance…as just another face in the crowd, then when you are in need, it will be like arriving at an airport and having no one to meet you.

When I have to travel and it’s been a long and wearisome week, in which I’ve had to carry my luggage from this place to that, I can’t tell you how good it is to see my family waiting for me at the airport when I arrive home.

And it doesn’t matter how many people are in that crowd when I arrive, I can look out even into that sea of strangers and immediately connect with my family.  Why – because we know each other face to face.  And because we know each other face to face the moment we connect my burden begins to lift because I know they are going to help me carry my load, I know the burden of carrying my luggage myself is over.

And dear ones, too many of us know God from a distance, and so we carry the luggage of our lives ourselves. Some believers live with this attitude… it’s all up to me…and so they continue to carry their luggage all the way from baggage claim to their car.  Others connect with the Son, but only superficially, so there’s no warm embrace and no offer to help.  And far too many of us look into a sea of strangers and fail to connect face to face with the Son.  And so we’re carrying the burden of our lives ourselves, the pain of our lives ourselves, when God wants to have His Son meet you at the gate of your burdens so you won’t have to carry your load by yourselves.  He wants to help you carry your burden loved ones!

Oh I can’t begin to tell you how good it is to hear the Lord of the universe say, “John, how good to see you, I was expecting you, here let Me help you”.  When we’re like Moses and God knows our name, things change because He delights in helping us, He delights in being with us even as a man who delights in his friend.

Let’s go before the Lord.

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