Drop Your Bucket
Are you trying to solve your problems with your own power? Moses tried this too…quite unsuccessfully we might add.
(Put up POLAR PICNIC slide)
Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Before we get started this morning, I want to bring you up to speed on something that’s happening here…just 2 weeks from today
As we approach the end of our 4-5 months of winter here in MN, most of us are starting to dream about Spring.
While I can’t guarantee you that Spring will come early, we can at least give you a break from Winter.
So on Sunday, February 26th, we’re going to be serving a picnic style lunch after both services with FREE Jimmy John’s sandwiches, chips, fruit, cookies, and beverages…all free!
We’re doing this because A) Winter is terrible. B) We like you and C) We want to do whatever it takes to reach more people for Christ.
The Bible tells us that when the disciple Matthew started following Jesus, he threw a huge banquet for his friends to come and meet Him.
And in a really similar vein, we want to provide a good atmosphere for your friends to meet Jesus too.
That’s the main reason we’re doing this.
We are committed to, by any means possible, to reaching as many as possible with the Good news of Jesus.
There are people all over this city…and beyond…that are looking for answers right now. Searching for God.
And they’re waiting for us to point the way.
And we want to provide you with easy opportunities to do that.
In fact, under your chair right now, there are two invite cards to this event.
Go ahead a grab them.
But don’t just take them and say, “Lord, if someone comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, are you by chance having an event on the 26th at your church?’ I’ll be ready!’”
That’s what most of us do.
Don’t do that.
Say, “Jesus, I want to change the world for you!”
We’re Renovators here.
Renovators don’t sit and wait for the work to come to them…they get out and start changing the world.
Let’s be proactive.
Who do you know that needs to be here to hear about Jesus in 2 weeks?
Ask them. Be bold. Let God use you.
I’m in a season of life where I just keep praying crazy things…things I don’t think are possible…and God keeps answering them.
My verse for this year is “You do not have…because you do not ask!”
So let me tell you what I’m praying for right now…join me in this.
I’m praying that between Polar Picnic and Easter…that we see 100 people come to Christ here at the beginning of 2017.
Would you pray that with me?
Pray, “God, may we see 100 (or more!) people come to Christ…and may I know one of them!”
Pray that…and then walk out of here like you believe it!
All right, we better get started on our passage in Exodus
If you are visiting for the first time today, or you were out of town last week, we started our Book of the Bible for 2017, Exodus.
It’s the story of how God is going to rescue his people, the Israelites, out of slavery in Egypt.
Previously on the book of Exodus…we saw that Pharaoh was trying to kill off the Hebrew baby boys, and yet baby Moses was drawn out of the Nile River by Pharaoh’s own daughter…and raised up in the Egyptian palace.
We’re going to join the story there.
However, in between verses 10 and 11 of chapter 2, 36 or so years have gone by, and Moses, is now 40 years old.
(Exodus 2:11-15) – NIV
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.
Let’s pause there for a moment.
MOSES “APPEARS” TO HAVE POWER
So Moses, at 40 years old, decides to venture out from the confines of the Egyptian aristocracy and take a closer look at that actual plight of his people.
He apparently was aware that he was an Israelite/Hebrew, and not an Egyptian, but up until this point had been satisfied with continuing to live in the palace like an Egyptian prince.
But now he decides, especially once he gets a closer look, that it’s time to do something to defend, to help, maybe even to rescue his people.
He kills an overseer that was beating one of his own people…
Then he tries to break up a dispute.
The rescue mission…in his mind…is beginning.
And by the world’s standard’s, Moses appears to be the PERFECT candidate to rescue the Israelites out of slavery!
Look at the external factors here.
He’s 40 years old.
Not 20 and too inexperienced
And not 60 and too out of touch.
He’s been educated and trained by the best of the best
And he’s a natural defender by nature.
You see it all over this chapter.
In fact, it seems later in the book that he speaks both languages.
He’s the perfect mediator between the Israelites and Pharaoh.
Clearly this should work, right?
I mean, if you work in HR for Heaven & Co., this is the guy you want to hire to rescue the Israelites, right?
Moses is even doing the right thing…sort of.
He IS trying to help his people…
He’s even doing so at the risk of the rejection of the Egyptians.
The letter of Hebrews talks about this in the NT
(Hebrews 11:24-26) – NIV
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
Listen, as soon as Moses starts walking towards the slave work areas…he’s already making his choice
When he steps in to help his people…he’s all in.
And yet, it doesn’t work!
He has all the credentials AND he’s doing the right thing…WHY doesn’t it work?
Many years later, in Acts chapter 7, an early Christian leader, Stephen, talks about Moses, and he says this:
(Acts 7:23-25) – NIV
23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites.24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
Why didn’t the people begin to follow Moses at that time? Why couldn’t Moses rescue them at that time?
Here’s why: Moses is trying to rescue his people…in his own power.
But his power, is not really power, and it’s not going to work.
Moses has a lot going for him as a leader, but he’s still missing the one thing he really needs: an understanding of where real power actually comes from.
GOD’S HUMBLE TRAINING GROUND
And in order for Moses to understand that, God is going to send Moses on what initially looks like a detour, but really, is not a detour at all.
Let’s keep reading our passage here
Where we left off, Moses had just fled to Midian,
Midian is not so much a specific country, but a band of wandering nomads that happened to be living on the East side of the Red Sea
(Exodus 2:16-22) – NIV
16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.
18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?”
19 They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.”
20 “And where is he?” Reuel asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.”
21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.”
When Moses discovers he isn’t able to rescue his people by his own power, he flees Egypt and goes to Midian.
But, it’s all part of God’s plan to grow and shape Moses into the leader he needs to eventually become
Moses has already learned so much in Egyptian court through his education and training…but he hasn’t yet learned humility.
And God will not really use you unless you learn humility.
I want you to hear something today…loud and clear:
Until you admit you’re powerless, you won’t see His power.
In fact, next Sunday, I’m going to tell you an incredible story about our church learning about God’s power.
I don’t care what you have going on next Sunday, be here at church.
We’re going to make the biggest announcement we ever have in 7 years, and it’s what you think it is.
We’re going to talk land, location, everything.
If you’re going to be in Canada…come home.
If you end up getting the bubonic plague next Sunday…come w/ a mask.
Next Sunday, is going to be, one of the best Sundays in the history of our church.
You simply can not miss it. Be there.
And I am going to tell you about God’s power.
But let’s go back to this principle.
Until you admit you’re powerless, you won’t see His power.
Moses hadn’t admitted this yet at 40.
And so God takes him to live with these nomads.
Who are actually his distant relatives.
Genesis tells us the Midianites are descendants of Abraham too, but through a different part of the family tree.
And Moses goes from being the prince of Egypt to becoming an obscure shepherd in the middle of nowhere for the next 40 years!
If you were Moses, what would you have said to God at that time?
I might have said something like, “God, you abandoned me. What are you doing?”
But God is still in control here!
Moses would not have been prepared to see God’s great power had he stayed in the palace and continued to live in great comfort
He just wouldn’t have!
God brings him to Midian for a purpose
And Moses wasn’t just waiting in the desert for 40 years.
God was shaping his character…and his relationship with Him.
God was teaching Moses dependence.
If Moses is going to help rescue his people…he first has to learn what it’s like to live in a lowly position.
He has to learn what it’s like to not live in power.
Because remember, until you admit that YOU are powerless, you won’t ask for His power.
And we need to learn this too.
We think we have way more power and control than we truly have.
Most of us are much more similar to the 40-year old Moses than we are to the 80-year old Moses who (spoiler alert) is going to be the one to go back into Egypt to help rescue his people.
We think we’ve got the skills to do it all by ourselves.
To get that promotion…to fix that relationship…you name it
But let me save you some time…and maybe some pain.
If you keep operating that way…God’s going to send you to Midian.
Think of it this way:
Let’s pretend that one of my 3-year twins is trying to lift a massive box of toys up the stairs to their room.
And let’s say the box weighs twice as much as they do.
Sadly, that’s not going to stop them from trying to lift it up the stairs themselves.
They don’t know their limits.
And sadly, most of us don’t know ours.
Partly because our culture has been telling us (since birth!) that you can do anything! There’s nothing you can’t do!
You’ve been told that probably 3,000 times in your lifetime.
And so we spend so much of our lives trying to push boxes twice our size up the stairs.
And if you can imagine a 3-year-old trying to push that box up the stairs…eventually, they’re going to get quite frustrated with the process.
Maybe even sad.
And if I am a good father, I might just let them keep trying for a little while.
And see, if they can discover for themselves (which self-discovery is often the best teacher) that they cannot do this on their own.
And God (who’s a good Father) will do the same thing.
He will let you…experience the frustration of things not working out when you use your own power
He will let you…experience the pain of dropping the box on your foot…because you’re trying to do it your own power.
Because he too knows that we’ll ever learn.
Until we admit we’re powerless, we won’t see his power.
But if my kids would just stop, and say, “Daddy, I can’t push this up, can you help me play bring this box of toys up to my room??”
“No problem…let’s do this!”
Then they’ll see things get moving.
THE RIGHT REACTION TO GOD’S ACTION
I think one of the challenges of this principle though is having the right reaction to God’s action.
Listen, SO OFTEN, when we are at our wits end from life not working… that’s actually God moving in our life.
Through the pain of that box falling right back on top of us while we tried to push it up the stairs in our power, God is actually doing us a favor.
He’s trying to show us something.
He’s trying to show us that we are powerless to create any real change in our lives and in the lives of the people around us.
But when God chooses to take that action in your life, do you have the right reaction to it?
Because just as there are far too many people still trying to push the box up the stairs, there are far too many people who’ve given up.
They’ve just thrown in the towel…and said, “It’s no use”
I’ll never fix this.
I’ll never be able to forgive her
I’ll never be in a relationship
I’ll never get past this depression
And they completely lose hope for the situation.
And it’s actually a half-right answer.
If that’s where you are right now, you’re actually further along than most Americans who are still trying to push the box up the stairs, “I can do anything”
If you feel like you can’t do it anymore…
Take heart, God has at least already enlightened you to HALF of his truth.
Yes, you can’t…you can’t…you can’t.
But HE CAN!
If God has brought you to the place where you just feel powerless…GOOD!
He’s brought you to Midian for a reason!
The temptation though, when you’re there, is to say, “Well, I guess I’m just stuck here in Midian”
My situation is never going to change…
But see, God wants to get you to the point where you feel powerless, but not to the point where you think there is no power!
He just wants to teach you that you can’t not get out slavery (or whatever you may be facing) by yourself.
You need Him!
And boy does He have power!
WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH A NOBODY
So if God’s got you in a tough spot right now, and you don’t feel as confident in yourself as you once did as a younger person…thank Him for it.
And then look, not to despair, but to Him.
When Moses was 40 and still in Pharaoh’s court, he didn’t ask God for help.
He just began to try and rescue his people on his own.
And God wasn’t going to have that.
And He’s “not going have that” in your life.
Moses isn’t going to get credit for rescuing God’s people here.
And so God is going to use broken, humbled, old 80 year old Moses to get this done.
He still has the education, the training, he’s bilingual, he has the leadership experience…but NOW…he knows where the power comes from!
See, this Midian experience had to happen in Moses’ life
If it doesn’t, think about what would have happened, even if Moses would have gotten, hypothetically further down the line with his own leadership skills.
What would have happened if Moses would have led the Israelites out of Egypt, but then Pharaoh and his entire army chases them out and traps them in front of the huge sea?
If God would have never taken Moses to Midian, Moses would have been left to figure out that situation in his own power.
And in his own pathetic little “power of the self”…what could he have done besides walked to the sea and started scooping out water…with a bucket?!
“C’mon everybody, we can do anything!”
And too many of us, are bringing buckets to our problems.
And what you need to be doing is bringing God to your problems.
Drop your bucket.
Too many of us, as smart American, suburban people, think we’re going to solve our own problems with our smarts, our age, our advancements, our knowhow, or whatever…
Pharaoh’s army is chasing you on one side…and the sea has trapped you in on the other.
And we’ve brought a bucket.
Drop your bucket.
Let God handle this one.
And every one.
In his time in Midian…as a commoner…as a nobody in the middle of nowhere…Moses lets God humble him and shape Him to a place where he learned that God has the power!
The great evangelist D.L. Moody once said this about Moses’ life:
“Moses spent his first forty years thinking he was somebody. He spent his second forty years learning he was a nobody. He spent his third forty years discovering what God can do with a nobody.” – D.L. Moody
And so when Moses was trapped in by the Egyptian army on one side and the sea on the other side all those years later…
He wasn’t looking for a bucket.
He had learned to look up to God.
He simply lifts up his staff…and God miraculously parts the sea
And God is asking you to reach out to Him today…
To admit that you’re powerless over your situation…and ask Him for his power.
He may have you in Midian for a reason right now.
He may be teaching you something about WHO has the power.
But once you realize what He’s doing...call out.
That’s what Moses and even his people are going to eventually do.
When Moses is still in the desert of Midian, and his people are still in slavery, our chapter today ends this way:
(Exodus 2:23-25) – NIV
23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
The story of Exodus is now going to turn.
God’s movements are going to begin to be visible to the Israelites.
The slaves back in Egypt, just like Moses, have stopped trying to rely on their own power
And they begin to cry out to God.
And God…is going to move.
Will you do the same?
Will you drop your bucket?
Can you admit that there’s someone greater than you, more powerful than you?
Will you ask Him for help…and for His power?
In EVERY part of your life?
And isn’t this how you came to Christ in the first place?
We admitted, “I can’t do this on my own. I’m a mess. I need you in my life!”
Many of you stood up and did that right in this room.
And God moved…BIG TIME… in your life!
But too many of us, after those first few months, went back to picking up our buckets…and trying to live life in our own strength again.
And so God walks us back over to Midian…showing us…AGAIN…the futility of our “power”
Drop your bucket again.
There’s no part of your life where you can say, “I don’t really need God on this one…me and my bucket…we’ve got this one!”
Admit your powerless, and let Him show you His power!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.