What would you do if you felt God asking you to go to a foreign country to tell people about Him? Would you go? Abraham and Sarah did. What if God asked you to marry a heathen king in order to save His people? Esther did. What if God asked you to marry someone who would be unfaithful to you to show the kind of love He has for us, would you marry that person? Hosea did.
God asked people in the Bible to do things that seemed rather foolish. Sometimes we may feel God canno t work with us the way He did with people in Bible times. Maybe we feel this way because we lack faith. How strong is our spiritual commitment to the Lord? Do we take the time in our busy lives to read our Bibles and pray? Or do we say a quick prayer on the run and hope God will understand our hectic lives and help us make it through the day?
How can we withstand the temptations the Devil sends our way if we have no spiritual reserve to call upon? When I quit my job, I thought I would have plenty of time to spend with the Lord so I wouldn't really have to schedule Him in. Was I ever wrong! If I do not schedule the Lord into my day, He does not get any quality time from me! I can get so caught up taking care of my baby, doing housework, exercising, doing crafts and helping Dan with his work that the day is gone before I know it!
Let us look at Moses to see how he maintained a good relationship with God. God had a special plan for his life from the very start. A plan was made to hide Moses from the king's soldiers and to appeal to the king's daughter's heart so she would desire to have Moses for her son. It could have been very easy for Moses to forget about God's plan for him as he loved the plush life in the palace. In fact Exodus 2:1114 tells us that Moses decided to take things into his own hands to deliver his people.
Could it be that Moses became a bit proud of his royal position and his leadership abilities? (Do we sometimes race ahead of the Lord in our desire to do what we think is His will?) Moses had plenty of time to think about God's plan for him as he cared for the sheep in the wilderness. Imagine what a cultural shock it was to leave the beautiful palace and the challenging educational and intellectual stimulation it offered! Moses could have been downright boied in the fields! With no one to talk to, he was forced to talk to God. (Do we have to come to the place in our lives where God is the only person around so we will talk to Him?)
It took Moses many years of caring for the sheep before he was ,humbled enough for God to use him. He was so humbled that when God asked him to tell the king to let his people go, Moses said he couldn't speak correctly! God had to send his brother Aaron to give him moral support! I can relate to Moses!
I believe God wants the work of Shepherdess clubs to go forward. We need to encourage one another in our walks with the Lord and the struggles we face daily! God has promised us He will always be with us as He was with Moses, so we should press on!
Moses started his journey to Egypt accompanied by his wife and sons. Along the way the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. Why? Because Moses forgot to circumcise his son as the Israelites were instructed to do to show their allegiance to God. Zipporah, Moses' wife, stepped in and saved her husband's life by circumcising their son. God expects us to follow His commands concerning our families while we do His work.
God does not expect us to ignore our families while we follow His plans for our lives. Too many times the children of a pastor grow to hate the church because it takes their father away from them so much. Perhaps there are times when we need to step in like Zipporah and let our husbands know they must spend time with their children.
Moses and Aaron assembled all the elders of the Israelites together to show them the signs God had given for their deliverance and make sure the people believed God had sent them. It could have been very easy for Moses and Aaron to go directly to Pharaoh without consulting the Israelites about their deliverance, but God told Moses and Aaron to go to the Israelites first as an act of courtesy, respect and friendship. The Israelites had not seen Moses for a very long time. They may have thought he was dead. They needed to be shown that God had not forgotten His promises to them; they needed to be reminded to have the faith to believe God would use Moses and Aaron to help them.
The pastor and his wife can forget to consult with the church members about their plans for the church to move forward. After all, doesn't everyone want to see the church grow? It is important to make sure the laity are willing to make the sacrifices needed to help the church grow, whether it be with their funds, time or prayers.
When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh they did no,t jump right in and say, "All right king, it is time to let the Israelites go—our God has said so!"
It is easy to jump in and try to make changes right away in a kingdom or a new church, but God wants us to be a bit more diplomatic and soft spoken about it.
Moses and Aaron approached the Pharaoh first about letting the Israelites have a mini-vacation to celebrate in a festival to God in the wilderness. Vacations for slaves were unheard of so Pharaoh refused the request. He made the Israelites work harder and provided less materials for their labors. Naturally the elders of the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron about the trouble they had caused them in their work. How quick they were to forget that God was going to deliver them through these men!
We are like those Israelite elders! We want to grumble and complain about all the problems in our churches. We forget that God has promised to help us deal with these problems. Also Satan creates problems in every church in which there is potential for spiritual growth. Satan wants to snuff out the work of God in our lives. If Satan can sidetrack us from our relationship with God, he can win the battle. When we grumble and complain about problems in our churches, does it really solve them?
Moses was a bit discouraged about what was happening to the Israelites. In Exodu /5:22, Moses asks the Lord why He sent him since the people were mistreated. God reassured Moses that He had everything under control (see the following chapters of Exodus). God even allows trials and disappointments to come to us. No one likes to have bad things happen to them. It is important to remember when we are in the midst of these trials and disappointments that God has a reason for such experiences. We need to cry out to the Lord, "Save me, for I cannot survive alone."
When Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go, God did not lead them through the Philistine's territory because they were not able to face war with the Philistines. God could have easily fought a war for them, but their faith was so weak He had another plan. God led them toward the Red Sea with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God gave the Israelites a visible sign He was with them. They were not used to making, decisions for themselves. A slave does not have to think when he is a slave; he does what his master tells him to do.
There are some people today who would like to have God show them visible signs of where He is leading them. In some ways this could be good because there would be no doubt. However, in other ways, a visible sign could be bad because it shows that we are not putting as much faith and trust in God as we should. It may also prevent us from making the best out of a bad situation. I do not believe God has a plan A, B, C for our lives. God has not made us to be robots. He has given us an amazing ability to learn and choose what we want to do in our lives. I have heard women say they did not choose the right person to marry so they should just leave their spouses and find new ones. God does not tell us to do this. He wants us to stay committed to our mates and press forward. God did allow for divorce in Moses' day, but He only did it because of the hardness of the Israelites' hearts. We can look all around us and see what a horrible thing divorce is. So many people in our churches are hurting from divorce. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin. We need to love these people and reach out to help and encourage them. We also need to guard our own hearts so we do not fall into the "what if" trap that leads to divorce.
When Pharaoh realized his slaves were really gone, he decided to chase and capture them; he quickly forgot all the signs God had shown him. The Israelites saw the Egyptians coming after them and began to mistrust God; they grumbled and complained about their situation. Moses reassured the people that God would deliver them and encouraged them not to be afraid.
As pastoral wives we need to have such a strong relationship with the Lord so that no matter what happens in our lives and our churches we can say to our church members, "Stand firm and see what the Lord will do!" This is not an easy thing! The longer I am involved in the ministry, the more I realize that I must not give in to feelings of despair and negativism. I must constantly place my trust in the Lord and say, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!" People like to be around those who seem to be happy with themselves and their lot in life. The saying, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" applies to the leadership in our churches. Church members tend to follow their leaders in attitude and actions. If the pastor and his wife are negative about things, you can b e sure the church members will be too!
God performed a wonderful miracle for the Israelites when He parted the Red Sea and allowed the sea to destroy their enemies. God wants to perform wonderful miracles for us in the ministry. I have known of people on their death beds, who upon being anointed were healed and able to be a blessing to their families because of it. God will perform miracles for us, but He is waiting for us to ask for them. We need to take the step of faith and ask God for miracles! God loves the word "impossible" for with God all things are possible!
Moses and the Israelites sang a song of praise to the Lord when He delivered them from the Egyptians at the Red Sea.
We need to remember to praise God in song when good things happen in our churches. There is nothing like singing to lift our spirits and enhance our worship to the Lord. Many churches are afraid of allowing praise-filled music in their services for fear it will turn into a celebration-type of church. Most of the churches I have been to do not even come close to celebration with their extra slow hymns and sad faces! In music, as in anything else, there is a happy middle of the road.
God continued to prove His love for the Israelites by providing food and water for them. He wanted to take care of the spiritual needs of their lives as well as their physical needs when He gave them the Ten Commandments. The tabernacle was to be made in a specific way with specially made items inside it. God is a God of order and discipline.
God expects us to give Him our best. It saddens me to see how often people are not prepared for the Sabbath. Being too busy can be a sin if it takes us away from God's work and the things that really matter! For example, Sabbath School superintendents need to prepare everything ahead of time so Sabbath School can run smoothly. (In one of our churches, we have five Sabbath School superintendents. It helps if each superintendent b a s plenty of time to prepare for Sabbath School; it lessens the likelihood of burn out); deacons should be well organized when they take up the offering and not rush around trying to find another deacon; and elders on the platform also need to be organized! Some people naturally tend to be organized. (I am one of those organizers, but I can easily go to an extreme and that isn't good either.)
I believe we should plan ahead by setting goals and objectives for our churches. It is a good idea to have a church-planning meeting in January with your church members. This gives them an opportunity to tell the pastor and his wife the things they would like to see happen in the church. You may be surprised at some of the ideas that come up in these meetings! (At one church, the people wanted to have more church socials and activities for young people and non-church member spouses. When we put this idea to practice, our church changed from being a church of mostly old people to a church of young adults!) God will bless our efforts in these planning meetings and we will accomplish more with less of the hassles!
There is a saying that when God closes a door, He always opens a window. This is true. When I look back at my life I see how God has given me those windows when I was determined to break down the door!
God worked very hard to show the Israelites the windows He left open for them. It is unfortunate that very few of them learned from their mistakes and failed to repent and return to the Lord. Every time I read about the Israelites, I am amazed at how Moses trusted in God to see him through his many problems with that grumbling group of children. (If I had been leading the Israelites and God decided to kill them for their wickedness, I would not have begged the Lord to spare them and take my life instead! No siree—I would have said, "Take them—they're yours anyway—good riddance to them!" It just goes to show you that God isn't finished working with me yet!)
How do you feel when church members approach you to tell you something they don't like about what your husband said or did? Moses had to deal with his own brother and sister complaining to others about him! God took care of that problem by striking Miriam with leprosy. God will take care of the people complaining about our husbands too.
God has a wonderful plan for our lives. He loves to give good gifts to His children. As we study, pray and share with others, let us take advantage of the promises God has made in leading us. I like the thoughts expressed in the poem by Ray Lessin:
In His Time
I wait on God to bring to pass all He has promised me,
And as I wait, I rest in faith, for what I cannot see.
For in His way He will provide at just the perfect time,
Everything that's good and right to bless this life of mine.
God had a better plan for Moses instead of letting him go to the promised land. He could not bear to be separated from him through death, so He took Moses to heaven. He gave Moses a much better reward than the promised land.
Let us strive to have that kind of relationship with God as we let Him lead in our lives!