Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ever Landed In What Feels Like “The Penalty Box”?

"..he [Pharaoh] gave orders to have Moses arrested and killed. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and escaped to the land of Midian. When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. Now it happened that the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came regularly to this well to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father's flocks… 'Go and invite him home for a meal!' Moses was happy to accept the invitation, and he settled down to live with them. In time, Reuel gave Moses one of his daughters, Zipporah, to be his wife." ~Exodus 2:15, 20-21

Interesting, the turns life can take huh.

Do you feel stuck? Have you ever been divorced, or maybe gone AWOL, or been kicked out of school, or been written up and put on probation at work, or worse yet….. fired?

Are you incarcerated behind bars and feel totally forgotten? Please know that you are not.

Do friends talk about you being on the shelf, Christian? Is your existence kinda like a bone-dry desert or more like a gushing oasis satisfying the thirst of others? Do you currently feel locked away in the penalty box of life? How can you know for sure that you really are?

If Moses was here, man, I know He could relate to you! Jesus would also understand. Weird religious leaders tried to put a halt on is activities and make Him wait it out. Christ never did any wrong, but He too had his periods of waiting in submission to the real Ref's (His Father's) plan. To some He probably appeared to be getting sidelined / benched by men wanting control. Hey, He's had his own desert experience.

His cous, John the baptizer, even lived in the desert.

Hey there, let's talk about it. So what do you remember of Moses and his special training out there on the backside of the desert? Why was he there?

It was because of manslaughter that Mo found himself in what appeared to be a major penalty box. And it appeared to be no one overnight cushy slumber party out there. God had some things for him to learn.  

But how did the Lord work in that situation?

For one thing, it sure seemed like God took His sweet time in grooming Moses to become His key man to lead the Hebrew children out of the Land of Egyptian oppression. I could never be anything like Mo.. can you even imagine how that accompanying bondage was? I'm sure it was the kind that makes a person want to earnestly cry out until the Lord would raise up a deliver of some sort (2:23).

I'm sure you've already heard how Egypt in the Bible is a type of the world? And I'm sure you also know that God wants to use you to help people in the world ..and lead people to faith in His Son and out of the darkness of this world's system? Sure, that's our calling—the duty of every blood bought child of God!  

Yup, it didn't take like one whole day, one whole week, one whole month or even one whole year to prep Mo—God did His work in his life over 40 long years.

Was it due to he feelings of shame, condemnation, and reproach? Man, I just wonder if Mo ever felt like a worthless, hopeless wooden-like vessel of dishonor that was placed upon a dusty lonely shelf in a dark corner. Did he feel like an athlete who would never get off the bench to actually go play? Perhaps you have felt like that at times as you ponder all the inequities of this life?

Do you ever feel too old or un-gifted to serve the Lord? Think about Moses' age. He spent the first 40 years of his life somehow learning that he was somebody, the next 40 years learning that he was nobody, and then the next 40 years learning what the Lord can do with a nobody, who is fully submitted to a God who delights to make a real somebody out of a nobody who is in close relationship with Himself. Was Moses like young 80 (maybe the light of eternity) when he started his POWERFUL supernatural ministry. What were some of the things that He learned in the Penalty Box? Well, he learned…

1.) Servanthood – he drew water for others who were thirsty (2:17), he was regularly tending the flock like a shepherd,
2.) Alien and parental existence – Mo learned how to be a stranger in a foreign land and even a father figure after he received a son that he named, Gershom (2:22).
3.) To hear the voice of the Lord ..which is always very important for any shepherd (3:4). Until you've heard the voice of the Lord (probably non-audible), you really have no ministry at all.
4.) The lesson of obedience. Take another look at Mo standing there on the holy ground just flappin' his gums and arguing away with God about his inability to communicate (4:10). Actually Mo was using five excuses about why he didn't want to go back there. No, no, he didn't wanna go (4:13)! You'd kinda think that after all that time, he'd be a little bit eager to return and help his kinfolk out by now huh.
5.) Vertical trust – it had been many days since that Egyptian died–yup, 40 years–but the Lord fed Moses and his family. God met all his needs even when things looked monotonous, unchanging and even hopeless. Moses learned that just a little bit of trust and obedience in faith would bring a whole lot of supernatural blessing (4:7), and that when God blessed him, God also had others in mind (4:29). 

What a great movie this would make if they could just get all the special effects right huh! I just love how God patiently reasoned with Mo saying, "'Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.' But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?' So He said, 'I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain" (Ex. 3:10-12, nkjv).

Take courage, for you will not always be in the "Penalty Box" ..if you are in there at all! God knows. Take all the things that you do not yet understand and put them in a "I don't get it Lord" container if you will.. all the tears and frustrations. Give em to Him. Just pray something like, "I trust you and one day face to face You can explain it to me, if you even want to. I surrender and that's totally Your deal Jesus." Don't give up yet! God's got a plan and you are very loved! Never doubt that! 


**The “penalty box” a.k.a. the sin bin, the bad boy locker a.k.a. the bin briefly defined. Huh? That’s the learning area in ice hockey, rugby and in a few other sports where a player sits to serve out the time of his penalty that’s not really severe enough to merit outright expulsion. Teams can not replace any player in the box, but the contest goes on.
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