Julie and I were away last week, returning to town on Sunday night, and so Chris Thayer delivered the second sermon in the Unhappy Campers series.
Chris is our Zoar Campus pastor and so on Sunday instead of hosting live at Zoar while I preached at Moss and was projected at Zoar, he preached live at Moss and was projected at Zoar. Got that?
In any event, I have loved watching his growth not only as a pastor but as a proclaimer of the word. Here’s the message which has this as its bottom line: Your response becomes your responsibility.
· Good morning! My name is Chris Thayer and I’m our Zoar Campus Pastor. Normally I’d be with our Zoar Campus family as Talbot’s sermon is broadcast to Zoar, but today we decided to mix things up a bit. We do all of this because we like showing in a tangible way that we are one church, two locations. So whether you’re at our Moss Campus or our Zoar Campus, it’s great to be here with you today.
· I’m excited to share with you one of my favorite stories from the Old Testament and how it’s picked up in the New Testament. We’re in the middle of a sermon series titled Unhappy Campers – a sermon series all about what happened with the Israelite people after they walked through the parted Red Sea and before they entered the promised Land. A sermon series that is to help us stop wandering, start marching, and find freedom.
· Today we’re going to start off in the Old Testament book of Numbers, but before we start – let’s pray. PRAY.
· Before we get too far in – can I celebrate something with y’all? This past month my wife and I celebrated our anniversary! We’ve been married for 12 years. And in these last twelve years I’ve learned so much about myself and really how much room I have to grow. I actually told a friend of mine about 5 or 6 years ago: “Before I got married I used to think ‘I’m a pretty good guy. I’m not really prideful. I’m not really selfish.’ But then I got married and realized: ‘I’m a little bit selfish. I’m a little bit prideful.’ And then we had kids and I realized: ‘I’m really selfish. I’m really prideful!’
· And as I reflect back on the last twelve years – I realize how true that is. You get it. It makes sense. The more we have to interact with people. The more we let people closer to us – the more it reveals what’s really inside us. It’s not that I wasn’t prideful or selfish before I got married or had kids. It’s simply that I didn’t have as much of an opportunity to show it.
· Well not only have I discovered that I’m prideful and selfish – I’ve also found out that I have a lot of pet-peeves. Things that bother me if they aren’t done in just the right way.
· For me – it’s that everything has to be put away. If there’s a spot for something and that thing isn’t in its spot – UGH. Stop the bus. That’s it. Let me off. I mean, even when I preach I liked to have things just in the right place. I’ve actually been here on this very stage practicing. And every time I practice I make sure that this table is in just the right place. That I know right where my Bible’s going to be. It’s okay. I have issues. I know it.
· But sometimes these issues get me into trouble at home. You see we have this drying mat for our dishes by the sink. And for some reason – any time dishes are on that drying mat instead of in the cupboards it drives me nuts. Bonkers. Bananas. Well, my wife loves to cook. And she cooks GREAT food. Like I would rather eat at home than out at a restaurant. And in all of this great cooking she uses dishes. So, sometimes when I get home from work or running an errand I’ll find dishes on the drying mat.
· Now every guy in here who’s married and has a quirk knows exactly what I’m thinking. And every wife in here who likes to cook or does a lot for the family knows exactly what I’d better not say when I see those dishes sitting there and that battle starts to well up inside of me. Do I say something? Do I make sure that Katie (my wife) knows that this is one of my quirks and that everything should be in its place? Or do I swallow my pride and simply put the dishes away because, after all, the only reason I’m eating is because my wife was kind enough to make our dinner? Man this sounds terrible and I don’t know why I would EVER say something to my wife about the dishes being left out on the drying mat….
· …but sometimes I lack all common sense and do exactly that. I know it’s going to lead to an argument. But I do it anyway. I pick a fight. And you know what my wife says to my response? Now it’s your responsibility. Do the dishes. Haha.
· And I KNOW I’m not the only one in this place who does things like that. You know what I mean. You get the same sense of selfishness or entitlement – whether it’s over little things or big things – and rather than swallowing your pride – sometimes you pick a fight. Your response is anything but Godly and you deal with the ensuing consequences – with your spouse, your children, your co-workers, or even strangers on these amazing Charlotte Roads.
· Well today we’re going to read a story about the Old testament hero Moses. Moses is perhaps most well-known for how God used him to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. How God used him to part the red sea and perform many miracles before the Israelites and their captors. But today we’re going to read a story about how he picked a fight. And how it cost him dearly.
· We’re going to be in Numbers chapter 20. And if you have your Bibles with you, you can go ahead and turn there now if you’d like. If not, that’s okay – the words are in your worship program and will be up on the screens. We do all of this to make sure that you have an interaction with the library because we believe a few things about it here at Good Shepherd. You may not believe this yet, and that’s okay we just want you to know where we stand. We believe that the Bible is inspired, eternal, and true. So whenever we read it together we lift it up. Not because we worship the Bible, we don’t. But because we worship the God who inspired the Bible and want to show in a visible way that we stand under His authority.
· But before we jump into Numbers 20, let’s set the stage a little bit.
· Israel is getting real close to when they’re about to stop wandering through the desert and start entering the promised land – the land that God had promised to bring them into when they left Egypt as slaves. They had been wandering around the desert for almost 40 years. Not because they were terrible at navigating, but because 40 years ago they made a grave mistake. They failed to trust that God would actually get them into the land. When they scouted out the land they found they were going to have resistance and that the inhabitants of the lands were giants compared to them. So they all flipped out and said that they should have never left Egypt to begin with. So God said fine. If you don’t want to go in – you won’t. You’ve failed to trust me and because you don’t trust me you won’t enter into the Promised Land. This whole generation is going to die. But your children will inherit the land. God forgave them, but they had to take responsibility for their actions.
· Well, when we get to Numbers 20, Moses has seen this generation slowly die and the next generation come up. So it’s almost time. Almost time to enter the Promised Land. And this time it’s a fresh group of people who didn’t fail to have faith in God like their parents did. And when we pick up our story today – this new generation is coming back to a place where their parents failed to trust God and complained because they didn’t have any water. And almost 40 years ago, God told Moses to take his staff and strike the rock and water came out.
· So now, Israel circles back to what is probably the same spot and we wonder what’s going to happen this time? But right when we start, tragedy hits.
· Numbers 20:1 READ
· Moses and Aaron’s sister dies. His sister who had saved his life when he was a baby died. So right off the bat – Moses is grieving.
· And then Numbers 20:2-5 READ [intersperse with comment]
· There’s no water to drink – and what do they do? They start arguing with Moses just like they did 40 years ago.
· You know those people who couldn’t enter the land because they didn’t trust God and they died? Yeah – we wish we were like them. IOW – PLEASE KILL US NOW.
· Wow. Melodrama much?
· Now at this point in the story – for most of us are probably expecting God to smite the Israelites. We’re waiting for a big storm, plague, or some sort of an earthquake to cause a big split in the earth and for a whole bunch of people to die. But this is that’s not what happens at all! Instead – we see something that most of us consider a New Testament concept (hint: it’s not just the NT) displayed in the Old Testament –
· Numbers 20:6-8 READ [Some interspersed Comment – tent of meeting, staff, and speak to rock not hit it]
· Grace! God wants to show them grace. He wants to show them who He is. He wants to provide for them and do it in a miraculous way. A way that both affirms the authority that He had given to Moses and Aaron but at the same time shows the people that He loves them and cares for them. THIS is why I Love the Old Testament! We see consistent real life parables of the character and heart of God. We see that God isn’t somehow different in the Old Testament than He is the new. He’s the same God!
· So Moses and Aaron take the staff like God said and get everybody together in front of the rock and Moses says:
· Numbers 20:10b-11. [interspersed comment – raising hand = oath]
· Moses disobeys God. He’s told to speak to the rock. Instead he speaks to the people and strikes the rock. God wants to provide for their needs, Moses calls them rebels. God shows grace and Moses took the authority of God and used it as a chance to vent his own anger.
· This story takes the exact opposite turn we expected. Instead of the people being rejected by God, Moses rejects Gods direction. And he deals with the consequences:
· Numbers 20:12-13. READ.
· For 120 years Moses faithfully served the Lord. And after this one. He’s out. Moses’ response was his to own no matter what the additional stress in his life was. It’s not for nothing that James says that those who are leaders are held to a higher standard. Moses’ job was to represent God to the people. And instead He misrepresented Him.
· And here’s where this lands us today, Good Shepherd: Your Response Becomes Your Responsibility.
· Moses was called by God to respond one way – he disobeyed, and he dealt with the consequences.
· And we know this to be true in our own lives, don’t we? Our response becomes our responsibility. When I choose to pick a fight over dishes instead of loving my wife and caring for her. When I choose to focus on something that bothers me instead of looking to see what I can change that bothers her – that fight or that frustration or that hurt is my responsibility.
· Maybe for you its with your children. Maybe you’re realizing that the reason they talk back to you is because that’s how you speak to them. Your response becomes your responsibility.
· Or maybe it’s your response to stress – maybe you turn to alcohol or food. And your broken relationships, and the wake of destruction left in your path is now your responsibility.
· And perhaps most of all, what I want you to see today is that everybody who calls Jesus Lord, everybody who has a living relationship with Jesus Christ has a role to represent God to this world no matter what situations we find ourselves in. And God does hold us responsible for how we represent Him. So what’s your response been like lately? Where do you need to change?
Now – before we leave today I want you to see that there’s hope. That wherever God is his healing and restoration are always available to us. Because my favorite part of this story of Moses in a fit of rage and no longer being allowed in the Promised Land actually comes from Matthew chapter 17. You see – Matthew describes this incredible moment when Jesus is revealed in His glory before his three closest followers. He’s on a mountain in the Promised Land. And here’s what Matthew says:
Matthew 17:2-3 READ.
I honestly believe this is one way that God brought restoration and healing to Moses – by allowing Him ultimately to be in the promised Land with Jesus.
And I want you to know that in Jesus there’s hope. Perhaps you’ve never given Jesus your life and you have been dealing with the responsibility of your responses for too long. There’s grace and hope and restoration in Jesus. Turn to Him and put your faith and your trust in Him. You won’t regret it.
Or maybe you’ve called yourself a Christian but you realize that your responses haven’t been in line with who He’s called you to be. Know that His grace is here for you too.