Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ingathering Sunday at Gaylord E-Free


Tomorrow morning, November 23, will be our annual Ingathering Sunday here at Gaylord E-Free Church.  This is a special Sunday here at E-Free.  Please find below all of the details:

We will have all three worship services as usual including our 9am Classic Service in the Chapel and our 9am and 10:30am Contemporary Services in the Gospel Center Auditorium.  There will be nursery and our children's ministries for all three of our services but there will be no Adult Equip-U Classes this Sunday.

We will be welcoming new members into our church family in all three of our worship services as well as dedicating hundreds and hundreds of Operation Christmas Child Boxes.  I will be leading the worship in our Classic Service which will also include Angela Wideman providing special music and Pastor Jim leading in a pastoral prayer time.  In our 10:30 service only, we will be seeing several people following the Lord in water baptism.

Along with our regular offering, we will be taking a special Ingathering Offering in all three of our worship services.  It is our tradition that we do this on Ingathering Sunday which goes toward a major project or ministry.  This year's Ingathering Offering will go towards paying off the remainder of what is owed on our recent nursery renovation and expansion.

The message in each of the three services will be the conclusion of our "Keep Calm and Journey On" series as we wrap our this series in which we have been reminded of our purpose as followers of Jesus on this journey called life!  This Sunday's message, entitled "The Journey Continues" will focus on the influence of Joshua seen in Joshua 23-24 and the need for confidence, courage and commitment as we "Keep Calm and Journey On!"  As part of this message we will be reflecting on all that God has done in and through E-Free Church over the past year!

Following the final service of the morning, we will all move down to the gymnasium end of our facility where we will be enjoying a full Thanksgiving Dinner together as a church family.  This dinner is free and everyone is invited to stay and enjoy this time of food and fellowship as we wrap up a great Ingathering morning.

As always, all of our media ministry will also be operating Sunday.  Our 9am Contemporary Service will be aired live on The Eagle 101.5FM.  There will also be our video livestream of the 9am Contemporary Service on the web.  At 11am on Sunday we will once again be broadcasting our "Folks Listen" radio show on The Promise FM featuring part 2 of the message, "Timeless Truths for a New Generation" which I preached here at E-Free last spring.

It is going to a great Ingathering Sunday at Gaylord E-Free this Sunday!  Be sure to join us either in person, on the radio, or through our live stream!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gaylord E-Free Making a Difference in Nicargua


It was more than a privilege to be part of our team from Gaylord E-Free that went to Nicaragua last week.  In case you are not yet aware, our church is part of a “church-to-church” partnership through World Orphans with a small church in Managua, Nicaragua called “Verbo Sur.”  


This church is led by a wonderful man named Pastor Jairo.  They are located in one of the poorest communities in Managua where they also run a Child Development Center (CDC).  This CDC involves academic programs for preschoolers and a safe place for elementary aged students to come to when they are not in school as their parents are at work.  


The CDC also involves a feeding program where up to 150 children each day come to receive a hot, nutritious meal.  This is crucial as the average child in Nicaragua only gets one meal a day at best.  The CDC allows these 150 children to avoid the malnutrition and disease that runs rampant among children in this poor country. 


Our partnership involves supporting Verbo Sur’s CDC each month but the key to our partnership with Verbo Sur is relational.  That is why we send one, sometimes two, teams to Nicaragua each year.  


In the past we asked Pastor Jairo if it would be more beneficial to send the money we spend on these trips rather than taking the trips.  He insisted that our presence is what they need much more than our money.  He and his staff are starved for encouragement and soak up our love and encouragement like a dry sponge while we are there.  


This was especially seen in the life of Pastor Jairo’s wife.  She was in desperate need of encouragement and love from a godly woman which she found in my wife.  Though they could not speak the same language, they connected in a very special way.  Pastor Jairo shared how much Laura’s presence met to his wife.  I did not think Pastor Jairo’s wife was going to let go of Laura when we were saying our good-byes at the end of the trip.


 Obviously, the most enjoyable part of the trip was spending time with these precious children which included playing with the children and doing crafts with them that we had brought with us.  





I think each of us on the team was drawn to one specific child.  For me it was a boy I affectionately called "onion."  I couldn't understand what he said his name was but it sounded like "onion" so that is what I called him.  He would come over to me and point at my water bottle and say "agua."  I would then have him tilt his head and open his mouth and I would pour some water in it.  We did this for hours along with playing with paper airplanes and paper footballs!


We also participated in a two day medical clinic in which 190 people (adults and children) from the community came to get free medical treatment that included doctors from Nicaragua.  Each person that came had their height, weight, blood pressure and temperature checked.  


They also received a “d-worming” pill due to the parasites that are in the ground and the small children also received some vitamin A.  


Each person also had their blood sugar checked and met with a doctor.  They then received any prescriptions they needed and everything was free.  Our partnership paid for all of the medicine that was given out over these two days.


The most beautiful part of the medical clinic was watching a dear lady from the Verbo Sur church named Veronica.  The last station in the clinic for adults was meeting one-on-one with Veronica who talked with them about their spiritual lives.  


Veronica prayed for each one of them individually and over the two days she personally led 11 adults to Christ.  When I saw her Bible I knew exactly why she was so effective.  Her Bible was literally falling apart due to her excessive reading of it.


We also were part of a food distribution day.  Our partnership provided rice, beans and sugar for 50 of the poorest families in the community around Verbo Sur at the invitation of the church.  These families came to a program put on by the church which included a message from pastor Jairo before they were each given a bag of much needed food.  Though we provided the food, everything we provide is given through the church and the staff at Verbo Sur so the people make the connection with them and not with us.


We also were part of the Sunday morning service at Verbo Sur.  What a joy it was to be part of their lively worship.  I could not understand one word they said with my ears but I understood every word with my heart.  It was truly beautiful to watch these very poor people who are dedicated to the Lord singing praises in Spanish to the Lord.  


Pastor Jairo was also able to present 7 of the 11 people who prayed to receive Christ at the Medical Center that were at church that morning.  There were also several who had come to the food distribution that were there as well.  


I had the privilege of preaching that morning through an interpreter.  Our team got a real kick out of Dennis (the interpreter) as he did not just repeat my words in Spanish, he mimicked every move and motion I made as well as all of the up and down inflections of my voice.  Both of our interpreters as well as our bus driver was a very fun and valuable part of our trip.


On Sunday in front of his church I also presented Pastor Jairo a plaque I had made that included a stone I picked up in a creek at the Valley of Elah in Israel where David most likely picked up his stone to kill Goliath.  On the plaque I had the verses in Spanish were David picks up the stone and uses it to kill Goliath.  I told Pastor Jairo that my hope was that it would always remind him that there is no giant that can come into his life or ministry that is bigger than our God.



Our team gelled real well on this trip and Brent Holmes, who is the Team Lead of our Mission Team and who led the trip did an outstanding job.  


It was a joy to surround Pastor Jairo and the special staff at Verbo Sur and pray for them before we left them.  They will remain in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers!


I came home with great joy in knowing that E-Free Church is making a significant difference in this poor community in Managua, Nicaragua!  


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sexuality: Honest Questions; Honest Answers


We live in a culture today that has lost its moral compass.  Unfortunately, this truth about our culture has also very much influenced the church in America.  Many today that are regular church-goers lack a definitive understanding of where “true north” is when it comes to Biblical morality and human sexuality.  Beginning this Sunday, July 20, at Gaylord E-Free Church we will be starting a new 7-week series that we are entitling, “Sexuality: Honest Questions; Honest Answers.”  The goal of this series is to give a clear overview of what the Bible teaches about human sexuality. 

We will begin this series by looking at human sexuality as God intended it.  Remember, God is the one who created sexuality.  If we are going to be able to identify the counterfeits to God’s intention, we must first have a solid understanding of God’s original pattern and purpose for human sexuality.  From there we will answer the question, “What does moral purity look like?”  Has God's original pattern and purpose for human sexuality changed?  Are there lines that should not be crossed when it comes to human sexuality?  If so, where are those lines?  We will also be taking two weeks during this series to examine closely what the Bible really teaches about homosexuality.  And just as important, we will be answering the question, “How should the church respond to homosexuals?”

On the final two weeks of this series, I will be doing something I have never done before in 28 years of being a pastor.  Over the first five weeks, you can submit questions you have about the Bible and human sexuality.  For the message portion of our services on the last two Sundays of our series, I will be giving honest answers from the Bible to your honest questions.  You can turn in those questions in one of several ways.  You can email me at sdistler@gaylordefree.org. Or you can write down your question and put it in the box located at the Welcome Center outside our church auditorium or place it in a sealed envelope with my name on it and drop it in the offering.  It is fine to submit questions anonymously. 

I would like to invite you to join us for this culturally relevant series, “Sexuality: Honest Questions; Honest Answers.”  Along with attending one of our three Sunday morning services here at the Gaylord E-Free Church in Gaylord, Michigan, there are also many others ways that you can be part of this series no matter where you live:

You can listen live to the audio of our 9am service on The Eagle (101.5 FM) in Northern Michigan or via the radio station’s live stream at www.radioeaglesports.com

You can watch the video of our 9am service through our church website’s live video stream at www.gaylordefree.org

At any time after Sunday you can watch the archived video of the service also through our church website at www.gaylordefree.org


Thursday, June 26, 2014

An Open Letter to the Leadership of Gaylord E-Free Church


If anything, I tend to over-communicate with the leadership of our church but I can’t help but share with them what God is doing in our church here at Gaylord E-Free!  During our MINION WEEK Vacation Bible School this week, I have been sending them an update email each night to share with them what God is doing.  Today’s update was so amazing, I can’t help put post my letter to our Elders, Staff and Leadership Team publicly for everyone to see!  To God be the glory!

Dear Elders, Staff and Leadership Team:

I have been part of leading or teaching Vacation Bible Schools for 29 years but I have never seen God working in a VBS like He is this week here at E-Free.  The

stories are too numerous to tell but I can tell you that 10 more kids made salvation decisions today which means that through 4 days of VBS we have seen 91 kids make decisions to receive Jesus as the personal Savior! Way to go, God!!!

Today was one little boy's first day at MINION WEEK Vacation Bible School.  As he left, my wife heard him say to his grandma who picked him up at the end of the morning, "Grandma, now I know everything there is to know about God!"

Tomorrow is the last day of MINION WEEK but tomorrow night at 7pm is our family celebration. We have invited all of the parents to join us and all of the drawings for prizes, including the grand price of 4 tickets to Avalanche Bay, will take place then! Best of all, I will have the opportunity to share the Gospel with the parents much in the same way I have with the children every day this week! Even if you have not been able to join us for VBS this week, I encourage you to join us this Friday Night!

Now let me switch gears and show you another way God is working among our children and our young people.  I AM LITERALLY BLOWN AWAY!!!  I told you earlier in the week of the little boy who brought me 15 pennies out of his piggy bank that he wanted to give toward our nursery expansion.  Something else happened in this same arena today!

This morning, two brothers (age 6 and age 7) came up to me at VBS and gave me envelopes with money in it from their own savings that they wanted to give to our nursery expansion project. Their mother told me that they have been talking about this as a family and that it was totally these two boys idea to take a large portion of their savings money and give it to the church to help pay for our new nursery. 

I asked them if they were sure they wanted to give this money for our new nursery! They smiled and said, "YES!" I asked them why they wanted to give it. They smiled and said, "SO MORE PEOPLE CAN LEARN ABOUT JESUS!" I looked at their mother and said, "This is amazing!" Now it was her turn to smile as she replied, "They're amazing boys!" 

I went downstairs and counted the money. One envelope contained $191.00! The other envelope contained $182.00! Between these two brothers (ages 6 & 7) they sacrificed (I mean really sacrificed) and gave $373.00 toward our new nursery! 

If all of our adults would catch the vision for our church that these two boys have, nothing would stop us! Though young, these boys are examples of faith for all of us here at E-Free Church to follow! By the way, these two boys are also planning to do a lemonade stand later this summer so they can give more money to our nursery project.

That’s not it!  I saw on Facebook tonight that 2 of our teenagers are having a bake sale and garage sale tomorrow!  There will be coffee, cookies, lemonade, rice Krispie treats and much more! All proceeds from the bake sale benefit our nursery expansion. Here is what they wrote on Facebook, “This is just our way to do something big for someone little!”

Our kids and teens have caught the vision of our church! I could not be more proud as a pastor! If our kids and teens have caught the vision to the point that they are sacrificing, I think it is appropriate that I ask each of you in leadership, have you caught the vision?  Seriously, what will you sacrifice so that you can give BIG for someone LITTLE?

Blessings!
Scott


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Gaylord E-Free Broadcasting Ministry to begin March 23


Our purpose as a church is to MEET as many people as possible right where they are (spiritually, geographically and culturally) and help MOVE them to where God wants them to be.  As a result, we have made the focus of our vision to saturate Otsego County with the Gospel and let it bleed over into all of northern Michigan.  A major part of this vision is technology as we seek to reach every available person by every available means with the Good News.  Our technology upgrade is now complete and we are ready to begin our broadcasting ministry.  Praise the Lord!   

We have tentatively picked Sunday, March 23, as our first broadcast Sunday with our new camera system.  On that Sunday we will look to begin broadcasting live the sermon part of our Contemporary Services down to the Classic Service in the chapel.

Why are we broadcasting the sermon down to the Classic Service?  It is our desire to see our Classic Service grow in both numbers and effectiveness.  Currently the worship portion of the Classic Service is abbreviated each Sunday so that there is time for the attendees to walk from the Chapel down to the Gospel Center in time for the message.  Broadcasting the message down to the chapel will allow more time for worship in the Classic Service and it will allow for the Classic Service to flow uninterrupted.  All of this together will enhance the worship experience in the Classic Service.

What if people still want to be part of the Classic Service worship but watch the sermon in person in the Gospel Center?  There is certainly no problem if there are some who would still want to attend the worship portion of the Classic Service and then walk down to the Gospel Center in time for the message.  The only difference will be that there will not be a set time in the Classic Service when those who would like to walk down to the Gospel Center will be dismissed.
Will this broadcast be quality?  The main reason we have not yet started the broadcast is to ensure the quality.  We wanted to be sure that the quality was set before launching this phase of our vision.  Not only will the picture be high definition in quality, you will find the quality increased in that you will be watching the speaker up close rather than from a distance.

What else will this broadcast technology allow for?  Along with broadcasting down to the Chapel we will also be able in the very near future to begin doing a quality video live stream of our worship service on-line as well as having video archive of services and messages available on our church website.  Down the road we will also be able to consider expanding our broadcast ministry to television as well as satellite campuses. 

We also continue to be excited about how we see the Lord working in regards to our Radio Ministry.  Currently, along with the three services that we have here at the church each Sunday, there is also the possibility for us to share the Word of God with thousands of others each week through the following avenues:

Pastor Scott has a weekly live radio show on The Eagle 101.5FM each Wednesday morning at around 8:20 where he talks about real life from a Biblical perspective

Our 9am Contemporary Worship Service is broadcast live each Sunday morning on The Eagle 101.5FM as well as streamed live on The Eagle’s website at www.radioeaglesports.com

Every Sunday morning at 11am our FOLKS LISTEN show is aired on The Promise FM (90.5).  This is a 30-minuted taped and edited broadcast of Pastor Scott’s past sermons.  FOLKS LISTEN can also be heard on-line at www.thepromisefm.com


PLEASE BE PRAYING THAT GOD WILL USE ALL OF THESE EFFORTS FOR HIS GLORY!

Monday, March 03, 2014

What Does Forgiveness Look Like?

I received a Facebook message this weekend from an old friend of mind who asked me my thoughts on this question, 

"How do you know if you have truly forgiven someone?  I've prayed with a sincere heart to forgive someone for a hurt they have done but thoughts of the hurt still come to my mind from time to time."

I think we were all taught a very unbiblical concept as kids when we were told that forgiveness means you “forgive and forget.”  As a result, whenever we “remember” a past hurt we struggle with the question, “Have I really forgiven that person?”

The truth is that the concept of “forgive and forget” is nowhere to be found in Scripture nor, in my opinion, is it even possible.  I can remember my past hurts – especially the big ones.  So if forgiveness isn’t forgetting, what is it?  

In 1 Corinthians 13 we learn two things about love.  First we learn that love is patient.  The word “patient” describes being wronged, having the power to retaliate, but choosing not to do so.  I think this is a great definition of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not forgetting.  Forgiveness means that when I remember the hurt, and I am tempted to bring that hurt back up in order to use it as a weapon to get back at the person who hurt me, I choose not to do so.  That is forgiveness.
  
1 Corinthians 13 goes on to say that love "keeps no record of wrongs."  I think it is a similar concept.  I may remember past hurts, but I don’t intentionally keep that memory tucked away in my mind and heart with the motive to use it against the person at some point in the future.  Forgiveness says, “Even though I remember how you hurt me, and even though I am tempted when that memory comes to use it as a weapon against you, I choose through the power and grace of God not to do so.”  That to me is Biblical forgiveness and as well as a quality of Biblical love. 

A book that really helped my wife and I when we went through a time in our ministry when people hurt us deeply was R.T. Kendall’s book, “Total Forgiveness.”  It’s a good read for anyone who wants to know more about what forgiveness looks like!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

March Gaylord E-Free Preview



God is doing some amazing things here at Gaylord E-Free and the month of March is set to be quite a month for our ministry.  Below is an update of just a few of the highlights that will happen in the coming month as we continue to strive to MEET as many people as possible right where they are and help MOVE them to where God wants them to be:


THE TRIAL OF THE AGES

Over the first 3 Sundays of March we will be completing our character study in the life of Moses.  Beginning March 23 we will start a new 4-week series that we are calling “The Trial of the Ages.”  Over the 12 hours in between Jesus’ arrest and His crucifixion He endured six grueling and illegal trials.  We will be digging into the Gospels and studying what the Bible says in detail about these trials.  Over the 3 Sundays leading up to this series, Pastor Joe will be teaching a Parallel Points Class on Sunday nights which will follow Jesus from His triumphal Entry through his arrest.  This series will help to prepare us for the Easter season. 




RADIO MINISTRY EXPANSION BEGINS

It has been absolutely amazing to see and hear the daily feedback we are receiving from people who are listening to our 9am service broadcast on The Eagle (101.5).  Beginning this Sunday we will expand our radio ministry to thousands more with our new “Folks Listen” broadcast on The Promise FM (90.5) which can also be heard on line at www.therpomisefm.com.  This will be a 30-minute taped and edited broadcast of past sermons I have preached here at E-Free.  “Folks Listen” will air every Sunday morning at 11am.  The broadcast schedule for the first 13 weeks is as follows:

·        Mar 2 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Adam & Eve)
·        Mar 9 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Esther)
·        Mar 16 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Ruth)
·        Mar 23 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Water into Wine)
·        Mar 30 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Revelation’s Wedding)
·        April 6 – Essentials: From God, Through Me, To You (Draw Near)
·        April 13 – Essentials: From God, Through Me, To You (Hold Fast)
·        April 20 – Essentials: From God, Through Me, To You (Consider How)
·        April 27 – Finding Your Style (The Straight Approach)
·        May 4 – Finding Your Style (The Story Approach)
·        May 11 – Finding Your Style (The Seeing Approach)
·        May 18 – Finding Your Style (The Serving Approach)
·        May 25 – Finding Your Style (The Social Approach)


MARCH MADNESS E-FREE STYLE:

·        March 5 – Concert of Worship
·        March 8 – Splash N Skate
·        March 15 – Men’s Conference
·        March/April – Sr High Florida Trip
·        March/April – Israel Trip




NURSERY EXPANSION MONIES

God is doing some great things in regards to the funding of our nursery expansion.  As of now we have over $227,000.00 in cash and pledges which may allow us to break ground this Spring as we look to raise the remaining monies for this needed project during construction. 


BROADCASTING DATE SET

We have tentatively picked Sunday, March 23, as our first broadcast Sunday with our new camera system.  On that Sunday we will look to broadcast the sermon part of our services down to the Classic Service in the chapel.  Below are some questions and answers regarding this possibility:

Why are we broadcasting the sermon down to the Classic Service?  It is our desire to see our Classic Service grow in both numbers and effectiveness.  Currently the worship portion of the Classic Service is abbreviated each Sunday so that there is time for the attendees to walk from the Chapel down to the Gospel Center in time for the message.  Broadcasting the message down to the chapel will allow more time for worship in the Classic Service and it will allow for the service to flow uninterrupted.  All of this together will enhance the worship experience in the Classic Service.

What if people still want to be part of the Classic Service worship but watch the sermon in person in the Gospel Center?  There is certainly no problem if there are some who would still want to walk down to the Gospel Center for the message.  The only difference is that there will not be a set time in which those who would like to do this are dismissed.  They will have to do this on their own.

Will this broadcast be quality?  The main reason we have not yet started the broadcast is to ensure the quality.  Not only will the picture be high definition in quality, you will actually find the quality increased in that you will be watching the speaker up close rather than from a distance.

What else will this broadcast technology allow for?  Along with broadcasting down to the Chapel we will also be able in the very near future to begin doing a quality video live stream of our worship service on line as well as having video archive of services and messages available on our church website.  All of this will allow us to make even greater strides in our vision which is to saturate Otsego County with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and having it bleed over into all of northern Michigan.


EASTER PREVIEW

Easter this year is April 20.  Due to it being later than usual and in no way associated with Spring Break, we are anticipating the largest Sunday morning in the history of our church.  Our theme will be CSI: JERUSALEM as we set up the empty tomb as a modern day crime scene and use Easter as the first of 3 Sundays in which we follow the evidence to see exactly what happened that resulted in the tomb being found empty.


GREEN TURNING RED

Our Vision Tree in the back foyer outside the Gospel Center is continuing to see the green apples (indicating the specific aspects of our 3-year vision plan and the cost associated with each element) turn to red (indicating that those items have been paid for by someone in our church).  As God lays it on your heart to give a financial gift to see a specific element(s) of our vision take place, you can simply remove the green apple.  You can then place a check in the box that is at the tree or you may give the gift through the church offering or by contacting the church office.  Either way you give – please be sure to indicate what specific aspect of the vision plan you are giving the gift towards.  Because we don’t want to sacrifice present ministry, we do ask that all gifts toward our vision plan be above your regular giving. 


DON’T FORGET YOUR TARGET THREE

Don’t forget to follow through on these three commitments regarding your TARGET THREE.  This is MEETING & MOVING at its best!

·        Pray for each of them by name daily that they would come to know Jesus and that God would use you in the process!

·        Build bridges to them regularly!

·        Partner with E-Free to get them under the sound of the Gospel!



Friday, February 21, 2014

FOLKS LISTEN Radio Broadcast Schedule Announced

The Promise FM (90.5) has officially released the schedule for the first 13 programs of the new FOLKS LISTEN radio broadcast which will debut on Sunday, March 2, @ 11am.  FOLKS LISTEN is a professionally taped and edited 30-minute broadcast of sermons I have preached here at the Gaylord E-Free Church in Gaylord, Michigan.  The first 13 shows will feature the following three message series:

"History's Greatest Weddings" - a study of 5 great weddings in the Bible including the very first wedding of Adam & Eve; the redeeming wedding of Ruth & Boaz; the royal wedding of Queen Esther; the revealing wedding in Cana where Jesus turned the water into wine; and Revelation's wedding, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

"Essentials: From God, Through Me, To You" - a study of Hebrews 10:22-25 as we seen the need for we as followers of Jesus to draw near to God, hold fast to our hope, and consider how to stimulate other  believers to greater love and good deeds.

"Finding Your Style" - a study of 5 different styles of sharing our faith with others including Peter's straight approach, the blind man's story approach, the woman at the well's seeing approach, Dorcas' serving approach, and Matthew's social approach.

The schedule for the first 13 weeks of FOLKS LISTEN is seen below.  FOLKS LISTEN can be listened in northern Michigan on 90.5 FM or anywhere in the world at www.thepromisefm.com.

Mar 2 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Adam & Eve)

Mar 9 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Esther)

Mar 16 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Ruth)

Mar 23 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Water into Wine)

Mar 30 – History’s Greatest Weddings (Revelation’s Wedding)

April 6 – Essentials: From God, Through Me, To You (Draw Near)

April 13 – Essentials: From God, Through Me, To You (Hold Fast)

April 20 – Essentials: From God, Through Me, To You (Consider How)

April 27 – Finding Your Style (The Straight Approach)

May 4 – Finding Your Style (The Story Approach)

May 11 – Finding Your Style (The Seeing Approach)

May 18 – Finding Your Style (The Serving Approach)


May 25 – Finding Your Style (The Social Approach)

Moses (part 2) - Welcome Baby Moe

We began our Moses series by looking at the time in which Moses was born, 350 years after the death of Joseph.  All of the Jewish people had been put in to hard labor and slavery because the new Pharaoh feared their numbers.  In order to try to emasculate them, he puts them into slavery but it doesn't work.  They continue to multiply.  They continue to grow so he issues a proclamation that every baby boy born to a Hebrew woman was to be thrown into the Nile River.  That's the setting when Moses comes in to the world. 

MOSES AND HIS PARENTS

Exodus 2 doesn't give us the names of Moses’ parents but if you jump ahead to Exodus 6 you see the name of Moses' family. 

“Amram married his father's sister Jochebed and she bore him Aaron and Moses.” (Exodus 6:20)

Moses is born to a Jewish family living in Egypt at the time of slavery.  The husband's name is Amram.  We do know based on scripture that Amram was from the tribe of Levi.  He ends up falling in love with a woman named Jochebed.  According to Exodus 6:20, Jochebed is also Amram's aunt. 

Moses is not their first child.  He's actually their third.  Their middle child is a son named Aaron who would have been about 3 years older than Moses.  Aaron would have been born prior to the king's edict to kill all the baby boys.  The oldest child of Amram and Jochebed is a daughter by the name of Miriam.  At the time that Moses is born she's a pre-teenager.  She's somewhere between age 7 and 12 and she's going to play a very vital role in the story.  

When Moses is born it is during the time of a horrible Egyptian proclamation.  Let me remind you of that proclamation seen back in Exodus 1:22.  In this verse, the king makes it very clear what is to take place. 

“Then Pharaoh commanded all his people saying, every son who is born, you are to cast into the Nile.  Every daughter you are to keep.”

When Amram and Jochebed conceive and she realizes she's pregnant, this proclamation is in effect in Egypt.  I have to believe that every single day for nine months this couple prayed one simple prayer, “God, please let it be a girl.”  They knew that if it was a boy they were in big trouble.  If it was a boy, it was going to have to be killed. 

When Moses is born we see the nature of these parents.  According to Exodus 2:1-2, they have a son.  Jochebed hides the baby for three months.  Here's the question – “Why does she hide him?”  The verse gives us the answer. 

“The woman conceived and bore a son and when she saw that he was beautiful she decides to hide him for three months.”

What makes this woman come to the conclusion at the risk of her own life and the life of her family, to hide this baby boy?  It says that she saw the baby was “beautiful.”  Don't just wax over that because it's easy to read that and go, “Yeah, yeah, every mother thinks their baby is beautiful….Big deal.”  Are all babies beautiful?  No!  Are all babies precious?  Yes.  Are all babies beautiful?  No.  Some look like aliens. 

There is more to this description.  When it says that she saw that he was beautiful, it's saying that God has put into her heart the fact that this baby had a special purpose.  That's what made him beautiful.  If you jump ahead into the New Testament, you get to Acts 7 where Stephen is preaching a sermon.  At the end of the sermon he will be stoned to death and will become the first martyr in the New Testament church.  In part of his sermon he's going through the history of Israel and he gets to this part about Moses.  Notice what he says about Moses' beauty in Acts 7:20:

“It was at this time that Moses was born.  And he was lovely in the sight of God.”

When it says she noticed he was beautiful, I don't think it's simply talking about physical beauty.  The Spirit of God put in Jochebed's heart that this baby had a special purpose.  He was lovely in the sight of God and so for three months this family, in an amazing act of courage, hide the existence of this baby. 

Do you realize how hard that would have been?  Everybody knew she was pregnant and now everybody knows she's not pregnant.  How do you hide the existence of a baby in a land with thousands upon thousands of Hebrew people living in small huts right next to each other?  What do babies do all the time when they're not sleeping?  Among other things they cry and they cry and they cry.  Can you imagine what a task this was for this family for three months to hide the existence of that baby boy? 

It took such courage that it lands them right smack dab in the middle of Hebrew's chapter eleven’s great hall of faith - the chapter where God lists for us all the great men and women who have shown faith in the Bible.  In Hebrews 11:23 it includes the parents of Moses. 

“By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents because they saw he was a beautiful child and they were not afraid of the king's edict.”

We already have seen the Hebrew midwives who were ordered to kill all the baby boys and chose not to because the Bible says they feared God more than they feared Pharaoh.  You and I will never reach our full potential as followers of Jesus Christ until we fear God more than we fear any human on the face of the earth.  That's where Jochebed is.  That's where Amram is.  As a result, they hide this baby for three months. 

During those three months we have no idea what they called this baby.  The name Moses is given to him around the age of 4 by the princess of Egypt.  That wasn't the name given to him by his parents.  The Bible doesn't tell us the name given to him by his parents.  I like to think it was “Scott” but I'm not real sure about that.  We're not sure what it was.

They concealed the baby boy for three long months and now they realize they can't keep it up any longer.  They're going to put together a plan to save the baby that I believe was put in their heart by God and it's going to involve a basket. 

“When she could hide Moses no longer, she got him a wicker basket.” (Exodus 2:3)

The word “basket” is the same word used in the book of Genesis to describe another floating device that was much bigger in size.  It's a word that literally means “ark.” and was used to describe Noah's ark - different size but same concept.  She takes this basket, covers it with tar and pitch so it is water resistant, and then she put the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile River. 

I’ve been to the Nile River.  On one of our trips to Israel we visited Egypt.  I remember when we first arrived eating at a cafe right on the Nile River.  As I was eating and watching the Nile River, in my mind I was trying to envision this basket floating down the river with the current with baby Moses inside of it.  I was really enjoying this picture in my mind until it all got popped when I looked down and there was something floating down the Nile River but it wasn't a basket.  It was a big, dead, fat, bloated cow. 

They didn't put the basket in the main part of the Nile River so the current would just take the basket downstream.  That's not what they did.  There would have been a tributary coming off the Nile River with large reeds and they would have put the basket in the tributary so it would sit among the reeds.  The basket wasn't going to go anywhere.  There was no current.  It was just going to bob there.  Interestingly enough, in doing this, they really obeyed Pharaoh's command. Pharaoh said that every Hebrew baby boy was to be put into the Nile River.  They did.  They put him into the Nile River. 

Think about how difficult this was.  When Jochebed and Amram put that baby in the tributary and they walk away, Jochebed had to be thinking, “Will I ever see my baby again?  Will I ever hold my baby again?”  Remember the day that you dropped your child off at college for the very first time?  What a tough day that is for a parent.  Can you imagine leaving your baby in that basket?  At this point they were trusting God completely with that baby's future.  When Amram and Jochebed first married, this wasn't what they envisioned happening to their child.  Moms and dads, we must get to the point where we are willing to trust God with our children's future even if it doesn't measure up to what we thought was going to take place. 

According to verse 4, Miriam doesn't go with them back home.  Instead she stood at a distance to find out what would happen.  She's not just hiding in the distance out of curiosity.  There's a plan that she's going to play a part of and she knows the plan.  They have rehearsed it. 

MOSES AND THE PRINCESS

I believe that Jochebed and Amram scoped this whole thing out.  They realized that for their baby son to live someone had to find the baby who had the power to say, “This baby lives.”  In all of Egypt who's the only person who could disobey Pharaoh's command?  Who's the only person who could say, “I found a baby.  I'd like to keep it.”  It was Pharaoh’s daughter, the princess herself.  Some things transcend generations and transcend cultures and one of them is that daughters really do have their daddies wrapped around their little finger. 

Moses’ parents are banking on that when it comes to the princess.  They know that the princess has a routine.  They know that about the same time she would come down to the Nile River to bathe.  This is what we would call a “Divine appointment.”  A divine appointment is when God puts the right person in the right place at the right time for the right purpose.  That's what He's doing.  He's putting the right person (the princess) in the right place (the Nile River) at the right time (when the basket's there) for the right purpose (to find Moses). 

Divine appointments don’t just happen in the case of Moses.  They happen in your life.  Just about every single day of your life God is orchestrating the events of your life to get you at the right place at the right time for the right purpose.  At this very moment God is orchestrating the events of other people's lives, some of whom you've never even met, to get them at the right place at the right time so they can rub shoulders with you.  God is always working behind the scenes.

“Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile with her maidens, walking alongside the Nile.  And she saw the basket among the reeds.”  (Exodus 2:5)

The princess sees something strange.  She is down at the river all the time and that basket's usually not there.  Her curiosity now takes over and she sends her maid into the water to get the basket.  All the while Miriam is watching the plan unfold.  The maid takes the basket and brings it back out.  God has accomplished the divine appointment.  He has the princess at the right place at the right time for the right purpose. 

“When she opened the basket she saw the child and behold, the boy was crying.”

Why is that important?  Why is that even in the text?  Remember, she is the daughter of Pharaoh.  She knows Pharaoh's edict.  She's been told that Hebrew people are dangerous and that if they keep multiplying, they're going to overtake the Egyptians and their dynasty would fall.  Her family would lose the palace.  When this woman sees that it's a Hebrew baby boy in the basket she should have ordered the maid to take the baby by the ankles and drown him in the Nile River.  She is not a lover of Hebrew people.  She's been taught to hate Hebrew people. 

But something happens when she opens that basket that connects to her heart.  At that exact moment God causes the baby to cry.  I don't know if an angel pricked his foot or what but God causes him to cry.  There are no coincidences with God.  There are no accidents with God.  He knows what He's doing right down to the finite details.  Men cave in when women cry.  Women cave in when babies cry.  And when this baby cries, he connects right to this princess's heart.  God uses even the cry of a baby in this whole process to rescue Moses for the special purpose that he has. 

There's a verse in the Bible in the book of Proverbs that says that the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord and like rivers of water He turns it any direction he wants it to go.  It doesn't matter how powerful a man or woman is; it doesn't matter what degree of royalty they attain; if God wants to change their heart, God will change their heart.  And He does just that with the princess.  She is now connected to this baby. 

“Then his sister Miriam said to Pharaoh's daughter, shall I go call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?” (Exodus 2:7)

This baby needs fed.  The Gerber baby food company has not come on the scene yet.  The princess has not given birth so her body can't produce milk at this point.  So, Miriam, just like I'm sure her mom had her rehearse a million times, comes over and says, “Would you like me to go get a Hebrew woman who's recently given birth who can nurse the baby?”  It's all part of the plan that God put in their heart.  Pharaoh's daughter thinks it's a wonderful idea and so she sends Miriam off to find such a woman. 

As Miriam races back to the land of Goshen, can you imagine how her heart is about to explode?  She's got to be running back going, “It worked!  She bought it!  This is amazing!”  She runs back and she gets her mother, Jochebed, the mother of the baby.  The princess doesn't know it's the mother of the baby.  Jochebed has to put on a pretty good act here.  She has to pretend she doesn't know this baby.  She has to pretend she has no real interest in the baby, even though it's hers, as she comes before Pharaoh's daughter. 

Pharaoh's daughter asks Jochebed to take this child away and nurse him for her and offers to pay her to do so.  Jochebed left the Nile earlier that morning wondering if she would ever see her baby again, wondering if she would ever hold this baby again.  Now, not only does she see the baby, not only does she hold the baby, she gets to take the baby back home with her because she's going to nurse the baby until the baby is old enough to go to the palace. 

Do you remember the old Ginsu knife commercials?  It slices, it dices, it does everything.  And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, the announcer would go, “But wait, there's more!”  That's what is happening here.  Jochebed comes out and the princess gives her the baby.  How awesome!  But wait… There's more!  She gets to take the baby home.  But wait…There's more!  She gets to nurse the baby and continue that bond only a mother can have with their child.  But wait…There's more!  If you order right now, here's what else happens.  She gets paid to do it!  And every mother reading this is going, “That's how it should be!” 

We serve an awesome God!  Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him -- God -- who's able to do immeasurably more than anything you could ever ask and anything you could ever imagine.”  If there was ever a woman in all of history that understood that fact, it's a Jewish woman named Jochebed who not only got to hold her baby again, she got to take that baby home, she got to nurse that baby and she got paid to do it.  What an amazing story. 

That leads us to the adoption of Moses.  Moses would have stayed in that Jewish home until he grew.  The Bible says in verse 10, “the child grew.”  He's not just weaned, he grew.  He would stay in that Jewish home until it was time to be adopted by the princess.  In Egyptian culture of that day, that would happen around the age of 4.  Moses would have stayed in his own Jewish home for the first four years or so of his life.  Look at verse 10. 

“The child grew and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son and she named him Moses and said, because I drew him out of the water.”
 
For the first four years of Moses' life he doesn't live in the palace.  The first four years of his life he's in that Jewish home with his Jewish mom and dad who taught him Jewish songs, fed him Jewish food, and told him the story of a Jewish God.  Then, at age 4, they would have brought Moses to the palace where the princess would have adopted him.  It's at that point in the text that she gives him the name Moses because the word Moses means “to draw out.”  She drew him out of the water.  We don't know what his name was before age 4 but at this point his name becomes Moses. 

The first four years of his life, he's a Jew.  The next 36 years of his life, until age 40, he lives in the palace.  Notice what the book of Acts says regarding his Egyptian years.  In Acts 7:22, Stephen's preaching still.  He says,

“Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians and he was a man of power in words and in deeds.”

For 36 years, from age 4 to 40, he's living in the palace.  He is getting trained with the best Egyptian education possible, hieroglyphics and the whole nine yards.  He's learning it all.  He has the best clothes.  He has the best textbooks.  He has the best teachers.  He has the best tools.  According to the text, he becomes powerful in words and in deeds.  In fact some historians that he was being groomed to be the next Pharaoh.  This guy has a future as an Egyptian and it’s a future of power and wealth and prestige. 

At the age of 40, however, he's going to have to make a decision.  He's going to reach a fork in the road.  He's going to have to decide at the age of 40 if he is going to fully continue and immerse himself in the Egyptian culture, which might even land him the job as Pharaoh, or if he is going to go back and immerse himself in his Jewish roots.  Not much of a choice, is it?  What's amazing is what the Bible says in Hebrews 11 he decided to do.  In Hebrews 11:24-25 it says this,

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, he's 40 years old, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.”

At the age of 40, he makes the decision to turn his back on his Egyptian connection and to fully immerse himself in his Hebrew connection.  What in the world would have led Moses to make such a decision?  I'll tell you what did it.  It was those four years from birth to age 4 that Moses spent in the land of Goshen with his Jewish parents learning about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  And when age 40 came, we realize that those four years behind that door marked Joseph for life. 

I think we have made a mistake in our culture today.  I think we have made a big mistake in the church today.  We have undervalued the importance of those formative years.  We have undervalued how critical birth through age 4 really is.  It was what happened during those four years that far surpassed in Moses' heart what happened in the 36 years that he lived in the palace.  What happens to you before the age of 5 will mark your life forever. 


In the church today it is easy to say, “Ah, that's just the nursery.  All they do there is rock babies.”  Tell that to Jochebed.  Tell that to Amram.  Those four years marked Moses' life forever.   It is not just the nursery.  They are not just parents of preschoolers.  You are not just a children's worker.  The story of Moses would have been completely different had it not been for those four years in that Jewish home.