Exodus 3:4 | God Changes Outcomes

The family and the community we are raised in makes an impact on our world view and our outlook on life. Yet we could be raised in the most wonderful family and still grow to become a horrible person. Or we could be raised in a dysfunctional family and grow to become a wonderful person. Our past is not the final decider of our future. We are each unique individuals to God and when he speaks the real decider of our future is our willingness to listen and respond.

Moses was raised in the household of the king of Egypt and had every privilege in the world. But he knew and most likely everyone he was raised with knew he was not Egyptian. So, on one hand he was raised with the shrewd evil as a prince of Egypt and on the other hand he was also raised as an outsider which eventually lead to his desire to murder an Egyptian in order to help one of his own people. Because of this family dynamic it seems inevitable that his life would follow this path of murder against his own adopted family. And because of his arrogance he was found out and forced to flee Egypt.  

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Proverbs 16:2 ESV

Our actions are an overflow of what is in our hearts. Our actions are a reflection of our spiritual condition. If you constantly lie to get what you want then in your spirit you are an evil liar. If like Moses you harbor hate in your heart and it spills out into murder then you are an evil murder. Even if my hate has never spilled out into an action of murder that does not mean I am not a murder in my spirit. God knows the state of our spirit. Moses murdered for what was a noble reason in his own mind but it was out of hate and it was wrong.

After a lifetime on the run Moses who once had ambitions to rule like a king of Egypt has lived his life humbly in the wilderness tending flocks and raising a family. He is no longer the murder he once was. It is at this point that God weighs his spirit again. God makes the move to introduce himself to Moses completing the transformation from shrewd prince of Egypt to child and servant of the one true king.

4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:4 ESV

Moses was not ready early in life for what God planned for him. Moses would not have listened to any council from God. Murders never listen they charge forward in a pseudo-righteous anger living as they see fit. But now a life time removed from Egypt Moses is ready to not only hear from God but to recognize the authority of God.

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. Proverbs 16:6 ESV

We do not control how we are raised and how we are raised is not the final decider of how we live. Moses had to leave the privilege life of his youth and to live humbly in the wilderness. He had three options in this new life. First, he could have planned and plotted his return to power in Egypt. Murder would have only been the beginning of evil if he had lived this life. Second, he could have despaired all that he lost when he left Egypt. He could have become depressed to the point of uselessness. This too would have been an evil because being created in the image of God he has made us for so much more than despair. God made us to live and enjoy him. Finally, the path forward that Moses embraced was a quite life content with anonymity away from the riches and evil of Egypt. It is was from this place that God was able to speak to Moses and he was able to respond “Here I am”.

The worst evil of all would have been if Moses had stayed in Egypt living a worldly life of riches and evil. That is the most fearful place I could imagine. Could anyone hear God speak in such a circumstance? Moses by God’s grace has been prepared for this moment to hear God clearly. And God clearly introduces himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What an amazing moment a lifetime in the making.

5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:5-6 ESV

Dear reader where is your life standing at this moment? Is God calling your name and would you dare turn aside from your current course to pause and hear what he has to say? When I was young God called my name and I was compelled to listen. I am so thankful for being in a place and in a moment where a response to God’s calling turned me away from a life of evil. Jesus is calling would you like Moses respond “Here I am”?

Acts 2: Repent and be Baptized!

acts 2

When I think about Acts Chapter 2 I am immediately drawn to verse 38 where Peter responds to the crowd’s question and concludes his first Holy Spirit directed sermon.

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 ESV

The crowd was cut to their heart by his message, they realized the weight of their sin against their Creator, and they asked Peter what could be done. He responded with two actions that would result in a solution to the problem. Repent and be baptized. Repentance is first and it is a key to the heart being humbled and ready for God to work. Second is Baptism the first act of public obedience to celebrate what has happened in the heart already. Both work together and the model was established by John the Baptist when he was clearing the way for Jesus.

4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Mark 1:4 ESV

So what is repentance and how does one get to that state? Repent the word Peter used in the Greek simply means to “change one’s mind”. It is an attitude and a fundamental reversal or 180 degree direction change in what one believes is acceptable or permissible for that individual. Peter is saying repent of your sins. Flee from them, turn from them, renounce them, and confess them before the Creator. The concept of repentance is woven all through the Old Testament and God has always looked for this change of heart in his people.

30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:30-31 ESV

Paul warns that there are two types of grief in regard to sin. There is the type of grief that the world creates and leads to ruined lives and then there is a grief that comes from God himself and leads to repentance. What the Israelites did not have that Peter and the Apostles gained in Acts chapter 2 is the power of the Holy Spirit creating in God’s children a new heart and a new spirit.

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV

Judas after betraying Jesus felt guilty about what he had done. However his grief was not based on godly grief as Paul describes but Judas took his grief in a direction that produced death namely that he committed suicide (Matthew 27:5). The grief that Paul talks about is a gift from God that leads to repentance. The crowd listening to Peter preach was “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). The Holy Spirit was working on their hearts and they were ready to repent from their sins. Repentance then is possible because of God’s mercy and grace to us in this present time. Take advantage while you may.

4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? 5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:4-5 NLT

The second part of Peter’s answer to the question “what must we do” is to be baptized. Baptism is a mark of obedience that recognizes in public in the physical what has already occurred in the heart and in the spiritual.

21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21 ESV

There are few elements that make up this act of obedience as it recognizes that repentance the old self the unrepentant self is dead going under the water. The new self the saved Holy Spirit directed self has come alive. Just as Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be “born again” (John 3:3) so baptism is symbolic of the new life gained through repentance and salvation through faith in Jesus.

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:3-5 ESV

What had been done in the past prior to Acts Chapter 2 was all leading up to this moment when the promised Holy Spirit is unleashed creating this church age that we currently live in. This church age is directed by the Holy Spirit, is empowered by the Holy Spirit, and is possible because of the Holy Spirit living in God’s children. Have you repented? Have you been baptized? Now is the time to accept the Holy Spirit from Jesus and be baptized to proclaim what has happened in your heart.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11 ESV