Seeking God's Will
"Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. (Exodus 18:15)
April 22, 2018
Two deaths compelled attention this week. One was the death of Maurice Readus, Jr. who was probably better known as the Sax Man. He played Alto Sax in front of Playhouse Square and near sporting events. He wore signature colorful-red clothes. He died in his bed and was only 65-years old. What interested me the most is that there were many people in Cleveland who knew and loved his music and they were blessed by what he did.
The second death that compelled my attention was Barbara Bush. What really got my attention was this statement:
"She had "decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care."
Her statement is understood in light of her known faith in God. It was well known among her friends that she possessed a strong faith in God. What I thought I would later learn from her friends was that she discussed her ending days on earth with God. And after that discussion she may have concluded that God approved her not seeking additional medical treatment.
People in every age seek God's will for their lives and they make decisions about living their lives based on what they conclude God's will is for their lives.
In today's Scripture, we see a picture of a nation of people seeking God's will about disputes. "Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and instructions." The people stood before Moses from morning until evening seeking answers to questions they had about their disputes. We don't have any details about their disputes. Being slightly nosey, I'd love to have a few of them for us to examine.
Jethro saw this picture of the people standing in line and perceived a major problem. For Moses and the people. His view was that this intense activity was not good and that it would wear him and his people out. Instead, he advised Moses to recruit some help. Jethro's qualifications for recruiting additional people to assist Moses were their capability, trustworthiness that could be determined by their hate for dishonest gain, and their fear of God.
Moses accepted Jethro's advice and selected people with these qualifications. He appointed them to serve as judges of the people. Also, he instructed them to bring the difficult disputes to him, and he would consult God for the answers.
Moses and the new judges went to work. What was so wonderful to observe about this process is that the people's disputes were brought before God. The people heard God's will through Moses and the other judges. In all of this change, there was no thought of sending the people away without them getting their disputes heard by God. There was no consideration to limit or stop the people from coming to God to get their disputes heard.
Their disputes are different from when they departed from Egypt. Pharaoh and his chariots, thirst from lack of water, starvation from lack of food, and fear from being attacked by the Amalekites-these were their disputes with Moses and God before they arrived near the foot of Mt. Sinai where they are now. Things have changed for them, but they still have their disputes. And they are still bringing them to God for a resolution.
There is a wonderful lesson for us in this Scripture for us. The lesson is simply this. The times have changed. The people have changed. The location is different. But people still have their disputes. In America today, DACA is one of our disputes. DACA is an acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy that allows some individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit." (Wikipedia)
Should America deport these people? Now they are adults and have grown up here and know only our country and our way of life-should we deport them? That's our dispute!
Guns are another dispute for Americans. Do we need guns? Do we need AK-47's? Do we need automatic weapons? Do we need our own weapons to protect ourselves in our homes when we have a capable military to protect? Do we need the Second Amendment? That's our dispute today!
Racism is our dispute today. When some people can visit Starbucks and sit as long as they want and not be bothered, and others cannot because of the color of their skin, that's our dispute!
So, we have our disputes! They are different. They are DACA, guns, racism, and many others. But there is an observable difference. We don't go to God with our disputes and seek his decrees and instructions. No. We just don't do it. We choose to debate our disputes ad nauseum. Have we consulted God about DACA, guns, and racism? I ask that because it just seems to me that the people in today's Scripture are bringing their many disputes to Moses and the other judges to learn God's will. We too should want to know God's will about these controversial matters.
What is different for us as God's people today is that we don't have to go through a representative. We don't have to wait in line from morning until evening to learn God's will for us regarding disputes. We don't have to get a ticket for our turn to stand before Moses and the other judges; we don't have to be told to return tomorrow when the lines are not long; we don't have to go before or after work to get our disputes heard. Oh no. We can now go directly to God. God has made this possible for us through his Son, Jesus Christ. We can now pray to God. We can share our disputes with God at any time, in any place, under any conditions, and in other ways imaginable!
We can go to God with our personal disputes. I know you have some disputes. You come here Sunday after Sunday and I see you and I pray for you and I want the best for you. Yet, I know you carry your disputes well. You pretty much keep them to yourself. You try to bury them but with the best of your efforts you fail. You have disputes with some neighbors. You have disputes with some Christian friends. You have disputes with children; you have disputes with the cable company; you have disputes with some teachers and principals; you have disputes with your political leaders; you have disputes and disputes. So, we all do. But I want you to see the picture in this Scripture today. The people brought their disputes to God for his decrees and instructions. They trusted God. They talked to God about them through Moses. You too can find a better way to deal with the disputes in your life. Let's go in a whole different direction as we deal with the disputes in our lives. Amen.