September 23, 2007
How would you like to learn how to hear when God is speaking to you, know where He is working, join Him in His work, and experience God doing through you what only He can do? That’s where we’re headed this morning. I’d like to introduce you to a study written by Henry Blackaby entitled "Experiencing God” by highlighting a number of the foundational truths it imparts. For those who have taken the study already morning this will serve as a review. For those who haven't taken it yet, I hope it will give you an appetite for more.
Marcy and I have been involved in leading small groups for the past twenty years or so and have led the "Experiencing God" small group study five times now. It has greatly blessed me as I've watched it change many lives, including my own. My prayer is that we can do this study together in the near future and see all of our lives change.
Would you turn with me to Amos 3:7. It reads: "Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets."
When God gets ready to do something, He reveals to a person or His people what He is going to do. This is how God works, He works through us - His people. The Bible is designed to help us understand the ways of God. Then, when God starts to act in your life, you will be able to recognize that it is God working.
In studying the way God involved the men and women of the Bible in His work, we can see three similarities they shared:
1. When God spoke they knew it was God.
2. They knew what God was saying.
3. They knew what they were to do in response.
Blackaby says that there are seven realities of experiencing God. They are:
1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
5. God's invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.
Moses' call and ministry are good examples of how God worked with Bible characters. His early life and call to ministry are described in chapters 2, 3, and 4 of Exodus. Please turn to Exodus 3 now, we will see how Moses came to know and follow God's will. In Chapter 3: 2-6 we read: Suddenly, the angel of the LORD appeared to him as a blazing fire in a bush. Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it didn't burn up.
"Amazing!" Moses said to himself. "Why isn't that bush burning up? I must go over to see this." When the LORD saw that he had caught Moses' attention, God called to him from the bush, "Moses! Moses!" "Here I am!" Moses replied.
The experience of Moses at the burning bush seems to illustrate these realities. I will use his experience to illustrate the way I see God working in the Scriptures to accomplish His purposes through people.
We will now take a closer look at each of the seven realities and see how Moses experienced them;
Reality 1 - God is always at work around you.
God did not create the world and leave it to function on its own. He has been actively involved throughout history. In fact, He is orchestrating history. Because of sin, humanity has been separated from a right relationship with God. God Himself is working in His world to bring about redemption of those who are lost and dying without Him. The Father is working through Christ to reconcile the world to Himself. For some reason, God has chosen to His work through His people. As He works to carry out His mission to save the lost, He seeks to move all people - both the lost and the saved - into the mainstream of His activity.
God was already at work around Moses when He came to him for his burning bush experience. God had a purpose that He was working out in Moses’ time. Even though Moses was an exile in the desert, he was right on God’s schedule, right in the fullness of God’s timing, right in the middle of God’s will. And so are we! We are right on God’s schedule, right on His timetable where He wants us to be. We are His plan for Cut Knife. God has no Plan B!
Years earlier, God told Abraham that his descendants would be in bondage; but He would deliver them and give to them the Promised Land. God was watching and waiting for the right time to carry out His purpose for Israel. The time came when: "The children of Israel groaned because of the bondage and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them" (Exodus 2:23-25).
At the time God was about to deliver the children of Israel, the important factor was not what the will of God was for Moses. The important factor was what the will of God was for Israel. God's was at work with Israel, and He was preparing to bring Moses into His plan. We, too, should not be asking what is God’s will for me; rather we should ask what is God’s plan for Cut Knife.
Reality 2 - God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
God created humanity for a love relationship with Himself. Isaiah 43:10 says: "But you are my witnesses, O Israel!" says the LORD. "And you are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God; there never has been and never will be.” More than anything else, He wants us to love Him with our whole being. He is the One who initiates this love relationship, a relationship that began with the coming of His Son Jesus. He clearly demonstrated the importance of this relationship with us by allowing Jesus to die on the cross to make this love relationship possible.
Our intimate relationship with God is both real and personal. It is probably the most important aspect of knowing and doing the will of God. If your love relationship with God is not right, nothing else will be right. It all starts with love.
God took the initiative to come to Moses and initiate a love relationship with him that was both real and personal. Moses had led the sheep he was tending to Horeb, the mountain of God (Exodus 3:1). Very likely Moses had come to the mountain for a time of worship, but God interrupted Moses' plan by revealing Himself at the burning bush. God told Moses that He would go with Moses into Egypt. Many texts throughout Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy illustrate how God pursued a continuing love relationship with Moses. Here is one example from Exodus 24:12, 15-16, 18 Please turn there and follow along as I read.
Then the Lord said to Moses, " Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, and the law and
commandments which I have written that you may teach them" Moses went up into the mountain and a cloud covered the mountain. Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai ...... Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Time and time again God invited Moses to talk with Him and to be with Him. God initiated and maintained a continuing relationship with Moses. This relationship was based on love, and daily God fulfilled His purposes through His "friend: Moses. The relationship with God was very practical as it guided and provided for His people under Moses' leadership. And our love relationship with God is also practical as it will guide us in His ways and provide us with all we need to be His servants. We need to purify ourselves daily by praying Psalm 139:23-24. Is this your prayer? Let’s pray it now together. Turn to Psalm 139. We’ll begin with verse 23. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Now we are ready to join Him. Let’s look at Reality 3 now.
Reality 3 - God invites you to become involved with Him in His work
God is a sovereign Ruler of the universe. He is the One who is at work, and He alone has the right to take the initiative to begin a work. He does not ask us to dream our dreams for Him and then ask Him to bless our plans. He is already at work when He comes to us. His desire is to get us from where we are to where He is working. When God reveals His work to you, that is His timing for you to respond to Him.
God's purpose was to deliver the children of Israel and establish them as a nation. Moses was the one through whom God. wanted to work to accomplish that. God invited Moses to become involved with Him in His work. Turn now to Exodus 3. In verses 8 - 10, God said: "I have come down to deliver them (the Israelites) out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring theup from that land to a good and large land …. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of E g y p t . " God invited Moses to join Him. Do you feel drawn to join God in His work in Cut Knife? He has you here, doesn’t He? Whether you want to be or not, you are part of His plan for Cut Knife.
Reality 4 - God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
The testimony of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is that God speaks to His people. In our day, God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.. He uses the Bible, prayer circumstances, and the church (other believers). Generally, no one of these methods of God's speaking is, by itself, a clear indicator of God's direction. But when God says the same thing through these ways, you can have confidence to proceed.
I guarantee you, God is going to be revealing Himself so you can trust Him and have faith in Him. He is going to reveal His purposes so you will be involved in His work. He reveals His ways so you can accomplish His purposes in a way that will glorify Him. God’s ways are not our ways. You cannot discover these truths about God on your own. Truth is revealed by God
God spoke to Moses through a unique experience at a burning bush to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways. Let’s look together again at this amazing, never to be repeated assurance in Exodus 3:2 – 8. “ Suddenly, the angel of the LORD appeared to him as a blazing fire in a bush. Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it didn't burn up. "Amazing!" Moses said to himself. "Why isn't that bush burning up? I must go over to see this." When the LORD saw that he had caught Moses' attention, God called to him from the bush, "Moses! Moses!" "Here I am!" Moses replied.
"Do not come any closer," God told him. "Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground."
Then he said, "I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." When Moses heard this, he hid his face in his hands because he was afraid to look at God. 7 Then the LORD told him, "You can be sure I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries for deliverance from their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. 8 So I have come to rescue them from the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own good and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites live.
And in Numbers 12:6-8: (You don’t have to turn there. Just listen to this verification of Moses call) "And the Lord said to them, "Now listen to me! Even with prophets, I the Lord communicate by visions and dreams. But that is not how I communicate with my servant Moses. He is entrusted with my entire house. I speak to him face to face, directly and not in riddles! He sees the Lord as he is. Should you not be afraid to criticize him?"
God came and talked to Moses about His will. God wanted Moses to go to Egypt so He could deliver the Israelites through him. God revealed to Moses His holiness, His mercy, His power, His name, His purpose to keep His promise to Abraham and give Israel the promised Land, and many other things not described in the Scripture passage just read. When God spoke through this burning bush, Moses knew it was God. He knew what God said, and he knew what he had to do to respond to the Lord. When God speaks to you in His wee small voice, you will know it. It will be verified by Biblical truth, by your circumstances, by your church, and most of all, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. When God speaks to us today, it won’t be face to face or in an audible voice. There won’t be a booming revelation or a burning bush. But there will be a gentle prodding or prompting. He will draw you inexorably toward His work You may become passionate for His cause. He creates that desire in us. Or, maybe the “light” will suddenly come on and you will clearly see a need. Often others will affirm your vision. They may even come aboard. Or they may confirm in your heart your call to join God in a work for Him. No matter how God leads you, it will never contradict His Word or His character. God will never contradict His nature.
Reality 5 - God's invitation for you to work with Him always leads you a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
God is wanting to reveal Himself to a watching world. He does not call you to get involved just so people can see what you can do. He calls you to an assignment that you cannot do without Him. The assignment will have God-sized dimensions. It will be beyond your abilities.
When God asks you to do something that you cannot do, you will face a crisis of belief. You will have to decide what you really believe about God. Can He and will He do what He has said He wants to do through you? What you do in response to His invitation reveals what you believe about God regardless of what you say. In other words, do you believe God can use you? If God calls you to reach souls in Cut Knife, can He use you to do it?
This major turning point is where many people miss out on experiencing God's mighty power working through them. If they cannot see exactly how everything can be done, they will not proceed. They want to walk with God by sight. To follow God, you will have to walk by faith, and faith always requires action.
God's invitation for Moses to work with Him led to a crisis of belief that required faith and action. Moses expressed this crisis of belief when he made the following statements to God: Please turn to Exodus chapter 3:11
"But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?" Moses asked God. "How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"
and in verse 15
God also said, "Tell them, 'The Lord, the God of your ancestors — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you.' This will be my name forever; it has always been my name, and it will be used throughout all generations.
In chapter 4:1
But Moses protested again, "Look, they won't believe me! They won't do what I tell them. They'll just say, 'The Lord never appeared to you.' "
And verse 10
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, "0 Lord, I'm just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I'm not now, even after you have spoken to me. I'm clumsy with words."
And verse 13
But Moses again pleaded, "Lord, please! Send someone else."
Moses offered many objections. He questioned whether God could do it through him (Exodus 3:11), whether the Israelites would believe God had appeared to him (Exodus 4:1), and whether he was capable of speaking eloquently enough to get the job done (Exodus 4:10)
In each case Moses was really doubting God more than himself. He faced the crisis of belief - is God really able to do what He says? God finally convinced Moses that he was to be involved in God's deliverance of Israel. Moses' faith is described in Hebrews, however, as a model of self-sacrifice and trust in an Almighty God. Once God let Moses know what He was about to do, that revelation became Moses invitation to join Him. Hebrews 11:24-29 describes Moses faith and action: " It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.  He chose to share the oppression of God's people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of the Messiah than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him.  It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt. He was not afraid of the king. Moses kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.  It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons. It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians followed, they were all drowned.
Are you like Moses at the burning bush pleading with God to find someone else because of your inadequacies? Be assured – you are not adequate; God is. God will even give you the faith you need to get through your crisis of belief.
Reality 6 - You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
This is a second major turning point at which many miss out on experiencing God. To get from where you are to where God is will require major adjustments. These adjustments may relate to your thinking, circumstances, relationships, commitments, actions, and/or beliefs. Some people think that these adjustments are not major. However, anytime you go from where you are to where God is you will have to make major adjustments. To move from your, way of thinking or acting to God's way of thinking or acting will require a change in you. You cannot stay where you are and go with God at the same time.
Moses had to make major adjustments in his life to join God in what He was doing. Moses couldn't stay in the desert and stand before Pharaoh at the same time. God said in Exodus 4:19-20 "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to\ Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.” In verse 10, Moses was still ladling out excuses. By verse 20 he was on the road to Egypt – lock, stock, and barrel. What happened in those 10 verses?
Moses made the necessary adjustments to orient his life to God. Moses had come to the place where he believed God could do everything He said He would do. Then he had to leave his job and in-laws and move to Egypt. After making these adjustments, he was in a position where he could obey God. That did not mean he was going to do something all by himself for God. It meant he was going to be where God was working so God could do what He had purposed to do in the first place. Moses was a servant who was moldable, and he remained at God's disposal to be used as God chose. God accomplished His purposes through Moses.
Are you moldable? Are you at God’s disposal? God is not looking for able people; He is looking for available people.
Reality 7 - You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.
Once you have put away all your excuses and determined to follow God by faith and you have made the required adjustments to God, you must obey Him. When you do what He tells you, no matter how insensible it may seem, God accomplishes what He purposed through you. Not only do you experience God's power and presence, but so do those who observe what you are doing. Even then it won’t be easy, as you won’t see the end product, and their may be 2 steps backward for every 3 forward (as Chuck Swindoll’s book implies. I know, I’ve been there, done that)
Moses came to know God by experience as he obeyed God and God accomplished His work through Moses or through Aaron as his mouthpiece. Many texts throughout Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy illustrate how God revealed Himself to Moses. As Moses obeyed God, God accomplished through Moses what Moses could not do on his own Here is one example where Moses and the people came to know God as their Deliverer. The people were on their way out of Egypt when they came to the Red Sea. They couldn't go forward, and the Egyptian army was coming from behind them. The people could see no way out, but then God spoke.
Please turn to Exodus chapter 14. In verse 15 God said: to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”
And in verses 21–23, “ Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea”.
And in verses 26–27, “Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen. " Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea.”
And in verses 29-31, “But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. "
Moses must have felt humble and unworthy to be used in such a significant way. It wasn’t easy. There was resistance, but Moses obeyed and did everything God told him to do. Then God accomplished through Moses all He intended. Every step of obedience brought Moses (and Israel) to a greater knowledge of God (see. Exodus 6:1-8 for the rest of the story – as Paul Harvey says)
God is at work reconciling a lost world to Himself. Because He loves you, He wants to involve you in His work. He begins by pursuing a love relationship that is both real and personal. He then invites you to be involved with Him. He reveals Himself, His purposes, and His ways. If you want to experience God's mighty power at work in and through you, you must walk by faith, make major adjustments, and obey whatever God tells you to do. Easy? No! Possible? Yes!
And don't get discouraged when progress seems slow or non-existent. This transformation will take place over the rest of your life. Do you want to be an obedient & faithful servant or one who seeks their own way? God’s way or your own way – that is the choice each of you must make.
Please consider what we’ve covered this morning and think of ways you might be able to apply that to your life. When we get into the actual Bible study, God will make it clear to you just how you need to respond to His will for your life.