Good morning and welcome to Friday’s podcast. We have made it to the end of the week together. One last podcast and then I hand over to Liam, our fantastic youth team leader, who will continue with the story of Acts. Today’s reading, Acts 7:17-34, is the next section of Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin where he is on trial for his life. In this section he moves on from the story of Abraham to the story of Moses. V25 says this…
Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
I will start today with a personal question: how old are you? I’ll give you a moment, as I am at an age where I have to work it out. Now, take the age you are and halve it. For me that’s 22. Now think back to your aspirations and dreams you had when you were half your age. Are there hopes and dreams that have been fulfilled? Are there hopes and dreams that you had then that you no longer carry, that you gave up on years ago? Or even words or prophecies that were spoken over you that have been long forgotten? If once, you wrote that sort of thing down… go find your note book, blow off the dust and take a read.
Moses saw the oppression, the slavery that his people were living under and he had a deep desire to do something about it. So, aged 40 he took matters into his own hands…
Moses thought that his own people would realise that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
And as events unfolded, Moses feared for his life and fled. He ran to the desert where he settled down and had a family. For 40 years he did the family thing… and then one day God spoke!
‘Moses, half your life ago you believed that I would use you to rescue your fellow Israelites… Well today I am sending you to do that very thing!’
In those 40 long years did Moses wake every day and cry out to God to rescue the Israelites? Did he, after 40 long years, still believe that he was the one to rescue them? Did he still believe that God could use him? Or, over the years had his passion dimmed, had his hope been extinguished? Had his faith melted away?
I have heard it said that first God gives us vision, then we rush off and try to make that vision happen, we fail, give up, lose hope – all before God can use us to fulfil the vision that he gave us in the first place!
We have to die to the vision in our hearts so that God can get us out of the way. When we first hear the call; realise what God wants from us, we think that it’s all down to us. We effectively say, “OK God, stand aside, I’ve got this!” It’s only when we figure out that we cannot, that God shows up and shows us that he can.
You see, God has not forgotten our hopes and dreams, he has not forgotten the heart and passions that he dropped into the mould as you and I were being formed. But unchecked, that passion; those dreams all revolve around us.
It’s said of my generation that when we were 20somethings that we thought we could change the world. 20+ years on, some of my peers have dropped out of church; some have settled into family life; others have lost their way, just going through the motions, turning up at church not expecting anything in particular. Very few still believe that they can change the world… We find ourselves wandering in the desert with Moses, some with families, some working for others – a shadow of their former, passionate selves. Maybe that’s you. Maybe that’s your husband. Maybe that’s a friend you see down the pub from time to time, maybe that’s your mum or dad.
My prayer is that for all of us we have our moment on holy ground, before the burning bush and God speaks clearly to us… “Now is the time that you have been waiting for. I haven’t forgotten you. I have a job for you to do.”
God has not forgotten. God remembers who he made us to be. He planted the hopes and dreams into our lives. Let now be the time Father, let now be the time we realise that in our own strength we can do nothing. Let it be today that you wake us from our slumber, let it be today that you demonstrate your awesome power and you put us to work, doing the very thing that you have made us for.
Father, thank you that you made each one of us, thank you for placing dreams and passions in our hearts. Awaken those dreams in us today. Those desires that we have numbed ourselves to, those that we have forgotten, neglected, died to… where we have lost hope… Come Father, come and show us your awesome power, come and reveal what it has all been for. Amen.
READING: Acts 7:17-34
‘As the time drew near for God to fulfil his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased. Then “a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt”. He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.
‘At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for by his family. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
‘When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. He saw one of them being ill-treated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defence and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realise that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, “Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?”
‘But the man who was ill-treating the other pushed Moses aside and said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?” When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.
‘After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say: “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.
‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.”