Learning from the OT Leaders : Joshua – Strong and Courageous

Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Joshua – Strong and Courageous | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 28, 2018

Joshua – Strong and Courageous

Another great leader from the Old Testament is Joshua.  The Bible talks about Joshua, who is an interesting character to study.

Joshua 1:1  After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead.  Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.  Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you;  do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Here we read a great promise that was given by God Almighty to Joshua as he was about to take on the leadership role.  As we study about this great man of God, he stands as a great example and a role model.  Every generation has its own need of leadership, at times it takes so much to be a leader to rule a nation – especially in times of struggle and of great turmoil.  It is very challenging to rule the nation or even to be a leader in the kingdom of God.  We tend to look at great leaders who prove their lives to be a great leaders and act as role models.  What about the leaders of today?

When we read the books of Joshua, Exodus and Deuteronomy, much of Joshua’s achievements came from the way God used him in a supernatural way.  God used Joshua to divide the river Jordan and God used Joshua to bring down the wall of Jericho. During the time of Joshua, the sun and the moon stood still.  A mighty man of God, a great miracle worker, as he was leading the people of God through the wilderness.  After the death of Moses, Joshua took the mantle upon himself and he continued to lead the children of Israel.  Moses led the children of God out of Egypt and he pushed them into the wilderness.  Joshua has been given a mandate to lead them into the promised land.

Who is Joshua?

  • From the scripture, we can see that Joshua was the son of Nun, he was from the tribe of Benjamin.  (Exodus 33:11, Numbers 11:28).  He was born in Egypt like Moses did.
  • Joshua’s name was originally Hoshea, as mentioned in Numbers 13:16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land.  And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
  • The very name Joshua means Savior – the person by whom God is going to deliver.  God is going to save his people – is what Joshua means.  The Greek equivalent of Joshua is Jesus.  Jesus means the savior of mankind.
  • Joshua lived approximately for 40 years in Egypt under the bondage of Egyptians along with the children of Israel.  He was in the wilderness for 40 years, working along with Moses as a leader.  Until the age of 110, Joshua lived in the promised land of Canaan for 30 years.  (Joshua 24:29)

First Introduction:

Moses was forbidden entry into Canaan – a simple reason – Moses disobeyed God.  As Moses died, the leadership mantle fell upon the life of Joshua.  Joshua gets introduced in the Word of God for the first time in Exodus Chapter 17.  There Moses is asking Joshua to lead an army as children of Israel were going to fight against Amalekites.  The Bible says God used Joshua in a mighty way.  That was not just an ordinary way, but God told them very clearly – when you capture the nation, you are going to annihilate them and kill every man, woman and child along with their animals.  It was not as easy as capturing a city.  But Joshua as a mighty warrior executed the order that Moses gave him.  We find Joshua successfully leading this army and executing God’s command with perfection.  Joshua then gained the confidence of Moses.

When Moses was sitting at the mount, as long as his hands were lifted up by Aaron and Hur, the army was moving forward under the leadership of Joshua.  We can imagine the kind of influence that Joshua would have made among the children of Israel.  At times it was not an easy task to lead God’s people, when we think about Moses or Joshua or any leader for that matter, they need to listen from God, take care of their children and lead them in the right way.  They also need to get them engaged in these kinds of wars and missions that God wanted them to take.  It was not an ordinary task.  When we read/ learn about the Old Testament leaders, we are really learning about leadership, not the one that we see today, but the one which was filled with so much responsibility and commitment as they were leading the children of God in the wilderness.

Joshua gained great confidence among the people.  The most important characteristic of any Jewish leader was to have faith in God and obey His command without questioning, no matter what it takes.  They were willing to obey God, the moment He commanded them without thinking about the consequences.  Such were the leaders of the Old Testament.  Joshua was one among the twelve spies who went to Canaan.  Two brought back good report and the ten brought back a bad report.  The two who brought back the good report were Caleb and Joshua.  They said this according to Numbers 14:7 – “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.  If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey. ’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us.  Do not fear them. ”

That was the report Joshua brought, and no doubt he was a great leader.

  • A man of great vision, the moment he saw the country he got the vision.
  • He had a pair of eyes that looks for opportunity.  A great leader always looks for opportunity – where can we move and advance in the kingdom of God.
  • Great leaders do not fear anybody.  Joshua did not fear anyone;  he was a leader depending on God.
  • He spoke these words, they were not just from his own strength but from his dependence on God.

There are some great lessons we can learn from Joshua.

1. Leadership Development takes time:

Moses was Joshua’s mentor for 40 long years in the wilderness before Joshua took over. Joshua took the victory over Amalekites and when he gained the victory, Joshua could have done a couple of things.  He could have sat back and reaped the reward of victory throughout his life.  Joshua could have challenged Moses, and he could have climbed up in leadership ranking very quickly.  But Joshua did not do that, instead he did the opposite.  The Bible says Joshua was subordinating/ assisting Moses until he died.

  • We can think about Noah and how he built an ark with no prior experience.
  • But here we see that Joshua had to go through leadership training for over 40 years with Moses.

Joshua had a very great role in the leadership of the children of Israel.  There are a great number of occasions where Joshua was assisting Moses.

  • Exodus 24:13  Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.  When God called Moses to Mount Sinai, Moses also took Joshua to a certain level.  When Moses comes back the entire nation was into idol worship except Joshua.  Joshua was waiting for Moses to come back while the rest of the crowd thought that Moses had died.
  • Numbers chapter 14 says – When they spied Canaan Joshua brought a good report in the favor of God.  When all the children of Israel were racing against the leadership of Moses, only Caleb and Joshua were standing with Moses.
  • Numbers 11:28 – So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!”  When people came against Moses, Joshua was standing with Moses.

God raised Joshua as second in command and as a successor of Moses.

  • Joshua was assisting Moses, under his shadow for 40 long years.
  • He was very faithful, and he was executing all his responsibilities according to what Moses said to him and he was fulfilling all the needs.
  • At times we say that leaders are not born but are raised.  We see that Joshua was very careful to learn everything from Moses.  Joshua learned from Moses on how to listen to God, how to make decisions that we can advance in the kingdom of God, how to be a good leader politically, military wise and the spiritual aspects, how to handle difficult situations when people come against the leadership.  Joshua was observing everything from Moses.
  • The Bible says Joshua was assisting Moses until the time comes.  When Moses died, God decided to bring Joshua up in the leadership.

There is a time when God will lift us up.
1 Peter 5:6 – Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.  
At times God expects us to be quiet and honor the leadership that God has given us – maybe in the church or our nation or our workplace.  We know for sure that some of our leaders in our workplace are not godly, they do not even consider us, they ill-treat people.  But as a child of God, God does not want us to raise against them, God wants us to be humble.  The Bible says that the leadership is given by God – may it be in the church, political arena, or our workplace.  We need to be submissive, if we do so, God will lift us up in due time.  Today people do not want to wait.  Joshua waited for 40 years being submissive.

  • Pastor Balan was working with a pastor for three years in his early days of Christian life.  From that man of God, Pastor learnt certain things.  He learnt how to get things done by fasting and praying.  He was a man of prayer.  Things were getting done when he threw his knees down.  He was a prayer warrior.  When he preaches not everybody liked him but there is a great crowd, with miracles happening, demons being cast out – because he was a man of prayer.
  • Pastor Balan got to work for another three years with another pastor and saw how boldly and courageously he stood oppositions.  He recounts the beginning of his ministry – he was in the city of Bangalore and everybody in the streets were against him and when he does something, the next day morning, the people would come and destroy everything.  They were all against him.  He recalls how he was chasing an individual every time when they did something from one end of the road to the other end to beat them up.  He forced the kingdom of God, the church, in his location by his strength.  Everybody was afraid of him.  He is still ministering there, and it is a great church today.  One thing that Pastor Balan learnt was how boldly we need to establish the kingdom of God.
  • For another three years, Pastor Balan worked with another Pastor who really helped him on how to establish a ministry in the North American context.  All these years Pastor Balan was just assisting them and just doing what they wanted him to do.  But Pastor Balan had to wait for a time when God would give him an opportunity to lead.

It may be true in each one of our lives.  There are times we are called to follow.  There are times we are called to lead.  We need to know what God wants us to do – are we called as Noah?  Are we called as Moses?  Or Joshua?  Leadership development takes time.

2. Leaders ought to be Strong and Courageous:

Leaders are to be strong and courageous. When we look at the leaders in the political arena, they are so courageous, the way that they talk, the way they address the crowd is all very courageous.  God expects us to be courageous in what we do.  In Joshua Chapter 1 as mentioned above, we see the word courage mentioned 4 times in all 18 verses.

  • Verse 6 says – Be strong and of good courage.
  • Verse 7 says – Only be strong and courageous.
  • Verse 9 says – be strong and of good courage.
  • Verse 18 the people say to Joshua – Only be strong and of good courage.

Even in the farewell note when Joshua was about to die, we read that in Joshua 23 – Joshua was addressing the crowd and telling them to be courageous.  Do not be afraid, be courageous.  Joshua was a man of great courage.  Being strong and courageous is a great characteristic in a leader.  Joshua spent two-thirds of his life assisting his master Moses and the remaining 30 years he was called to lead.

1. Courageous leaders value their past – Joshua has seen with his own eyes, the red sea parting and the plagues coming over the Egyptians one after the other, water gushing out of the rock, he was closely walking with Moses.  According to our conviction, all of us are called to lead, we may be leading our child, our family or a team, or a student leader, etc.
2. Courageous leaders know their present – the current expectations, the challenges, the job that is not yet done and you are called to do that job.  You are a leader because someone is expecting you to do something.  Joshua’s challenge is to enter into Canaan, Joshua knows the size of the army that he has, the kind of resources that are given to him and the challenges that are in front of him – the river Jordan was in front of him.  There were so many types of people who were living in Canaan.  The Bibles lists that there were Amalekites, Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, etc. were some of the whites that were living in Canaan.
3. Courageous leaders carry God’s presence into the future – 
Joshua 1:5 –  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life;  as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.  I will not leave you nor forsake you.
As Joshua was leading and as he was moving forward, he was taking the presence of God along with him.  Joshua was holding the presence of God as he was walking into the blessed land of Canaan.  There were times Joshua had to make sure people were held accountable.  He made sure Achan was held accountable for the loss they encountered as they were trying to capture the city of AI.
Courageous leaders had to conquer kings and kingdoms;  Joshua was doing it.  He was guarding himself from the enemies, from fear and discouragements.  We are called to lead with great courage.  In second Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy and he says, God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and of sound mind.

2 Timothy 7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

3. Leaders must stand on God’s Word and in Prayer:

Leaders must stand of God’s word and in prayer. The reason for Joshua’s success as a leader was his adherence to the Word of God.  God spoke to Joshua saying, Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night that you may observe to do according to what is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success”.
When God brought Joshua into leadership, God told him one thing specifically – This book of the law shall not depart from you.  God was referring to the word of God – the Bible.  That is what God said to him – this book of the law shall not depart from in front of your eyes.
How do we keep this book of the law in front of us? We see that Joshua is fulfilling this commandment of God throughout his career.
We can see a couple of examples of Joshua’s commitment to the Word of the Lord:

  • In renewing the covenant at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim: Joshua 8: 30 – Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron  ” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.  32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.  33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them.  Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.  34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.  35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.
  • Joshua’s devotion is obeying God’s word.  Joshua 11:15 As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.
  • Even at the end of his life, he encouraged the nation to heed God’s Word.  Joshua 23:1-6
  • We see Joshua praying for the people’s failure following the defeat at Ai.  Joshua 7:6-9
  • Joshua praying in the middle of warfare. When 5 different kings of the Amorites joined together and came to attack the city and the inhabitants of Gibeon, Lord sent hail stones and killed many of them. On that day Joshua made this prayer – Joshua 10:9-14

Joshua read all the commandments that God had given him.  Leaders must stand on God’s word.  Even at the end of his life, he was instructing people to read the Word of God.

Maybe you are called to lead someone, it could be your family, a group of people – you need to learn the Word of God, it is important.  Without His Word, we fail to lead people.  All the leadership qualities and characteristics that we need today are written in this law.  To lead people in a life that is pleasing to God – it is all written in the Word of God.  God is asking the leadership to come back to the Word of God.  The Bible says that Joshua was not only reading the Word of God, but he was also a man of prayer.  When Joshua was called to fight the city of Ai, they underestimated the battle and thought it was easy to win the city.  What happened then? They had a major defeat after a great victory against the Amalekites.  The reason for this defeat was because somebody did not obey God.  God told them not to bring any of the valuables from that city and they should destroy and burn everything.  But there was a man named Achan who took some of the Babylonian garments, silver, and gold.  He took them to the tabernacle and hid them.  Nobody knew about this.  Let us look at the way Joshua is dealing with that.

Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.  And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth.  Then what will You do for Your great name?”

As Joshua was kneeling down, with his forehead touching the ground, this was the prayer he prayed.  He is crying out to Lord asking why there was a defeat in his place.  Why did this happen in my church?  My family?  Why is this happening in my nation?  A great leader was down to the ground, on his knees crying out to the Lord – Why did you allow this to happen God?
Great leaders are called to intercede.  Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior but that of a great leader.  Intercessors stand in the middle of God and people.  Here we see Joshua crying out and asking of how people will defame His name.  What can I do Lord?

Joshua was praying in the middle of a warfare.  Joshua was in the middle of the battlefield and the enemies were coming in the other end and the children of Israel are advancing.  Joshua is leading as a great leader and in the middle of everything, he stopped and started praying.  Can we see such a leader today?  Let us look at what Joshua is doing.  There are five different kings of the Amorites that are joining together for an attack against the city and inhabitants of Gibeon.  The Lord is sending hailstones, so they were all getting killed by it.  Now Joshua:

Joshua 10:9 Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.  10 So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah.  11 And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died.  There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.  12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;  And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. ”  13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies.

When we go back and check the history of Joshua, we find that the Sun was standing stationary in the middle of the day for the entire day when Joshua prayed to God.  Great leaders must stand on the Word of God and they must stand in prayer.

Sometimes we may feel this sermon does not really make sense to you.  But who knows, you are a leader who is coming up and the Lord has already marked you.  You may be asked to lead down the line.  You may also be leading right now.  God is asking you to lead in prayer and on the Word of God.  You may be leading prayer in the church, or leading a children’s ministry, you may be leading worship or an outreach ministry.  But God is asking you to lead as you stand on the Word.  So, it is important to study the Word of God and it is important to pray.  When you give importance to God, God will honor you.  Try it out, start studying the Word of God and you will see that God honors you.  There are witnesses right here at the church, who will be able to come up and give their testimony on how God honored them when they went to a Bible study or when they prayed fervently.  You will become an effective leader when you develop a passion for praying.  Any part of the work that we do in the kingdom of God, let us do it with prayer.

Summary:

We have learnt from the life of Joshua:

1.  Leadership development takes time
2.  Leaders ought to be strong and courageous
3. Leaders must stand on God’s Word and in prayer

Learning from the OT Leaders : Noah – Obedient and Willing

Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Noah – Obedient and Willing | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 21, 2018

Noah – Obedient and Willing

When we go through the leadership list of the Old Testament, we find Noah towards the end of the list.  The way Noah moved, operated and the way he brought forth the kingdom of God on this Earth shows that he is a mighty man of God.

Scripture Reference:

Genesis 6:1-8:4 and Hebrews 11:7 

Hebrews 11:7 – By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

The author of Hebrews commended Noah for his faithfulness, righteousness and for the fear of God.  Genesis records the historical section of what happened when God instructed Noah to build the ark.

The highlights of Noah’s story of the ark and the flood as found in Genesis:

  • God saw that there was a great wickedness happening on the face of the Earth.  He decided to wipe away mankind from the face of the earth including the earth.  But He found only one righteous man – Noah.  God wanted to preserve Noah along with his family.  When the head of the family is righteous the family has a covering.  The head of the family is the husband and the head of the husband is Jesus.
  • God has decided to wipe away humanity, both the head and tail because of wickedness in the world.
  • God gave Noah specific instructions on how to build the ark.  That was designed so that Noah and his family could escape the catastrophic effect of the flood that is about to come upon the land.
  • God instructed Noah to bring two of all living beings – male and female; 7 pairs of clean animals, all the food required for the animals and for Noah and his family.  God did not mention the number of days for which they should bring their supply.
  • After they entered the ark, rain fell on the ground, the fountains were broken open, and the whole Earth was flooded.  It was flooded for 150 days.  There was 40 days of continuous rain.  Every living thing on the face of the Earth was wiped away.
  • As the water receded, the ark came to rest in Mount Ararat.  Noah and his family continued to wait inside the ark before they could step out into the land, for the land was not dry.
  • Finally, after a year, God invited Noah to come out o the ark.  The moment Noah came out of the ark, he built an altar and he sacrificed a pair of clean birds that he brought.
  • God really loved it, and he was pleased by the sacrifice.  God established the covenant with Noah, saying, never again will I wipe away the face of the Earth by flood.   His sign of the covenant was the rainbow.

What was the task at hand?

Noah was given a specific task – to build the ark.  God instructed him on how he should make the ark –

  • The length of the ark shall be 300 cubits, width 50 cubits and its height 30 cubits.  The length of the ark is almost 500 feet – the size of one and a half football stadium.  If we lay flat three NASA space shuttles from head to tail, it is equivalent to the length of Noah’s ark.
  • The height of the ark is equivalent to that of a four-story apartment.  The ark had great storage capacity.  The ark can contain about 450 semi-trailer trucks of load.  The movers usually can fit in about eight to ten houses inside one truck.  God interested Noah with a great responsibility of building this Ark.
  • When we imagine Noah building this ark all by himself, it surely looks like a tough job.  Adding to that, the Bible says Noah was 500 years old.  At such an age he was given the responsibility to build the Ark.

1. You are never too old to build:

  • Noah built at the ark at the age of 500 years old. He also begot three sons Shem, Ham and Japhet (Genesis 5:32) at the age of 500.
  • When Noah was 600 years old, the flood waters came on the face of the Earth.  (Genesis 7:6)
  • After the flood, Noah lived for another 350 years.  (Genesis 9:28)
  • He lived on the face of the earth for 950 years and then he died.  (Genesis 9:29)

It took 100 years for Noah to build the Ark.  When we convert those years into today’s human lifespan, we can say that Noah was asked to build the ark at the age of 45 to 50 years old.

  • There is no age limit to start something for God
  • There is no retirement from the purpose of God
  • It takes the whole life, till the last breath to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives

Noah’s life was an amazing life, it tells us that we are never too old to build.  What would have happened if some of those leaders in the past had taken retirement at the age of 45-50?

  • Noah would not have built the ark.
  • Abraham and Sarah would not have had Isaac.
  • Moses would not been used by God to deliver His people.
  • Joshua would not have led the children of Israel into Canaan.
  • Caleb would not have possessed the mountain.
  • Simeon would not have seen the salvation of the Lord.
  • Paul would not have made his second and third missionary journey.

We are not limited by our age.
At times we may feel if God can do something through us.  We turn back and see the years we have wasted and now we are in a certain phase in our life where we think if it is too late for God to use us at this age.  But Noah was not reluctant to go when God called him at such an age.  But when we think about Moses, we see that he was reluctant to go according to God’s call.  The Bible says, Noah was readily obeying to the call of God in his life.

In our lives, when we question ourselves, we may be 30-35, 40-45, how many souls have we brought to the kingdom of God, how many people have we shared about Christ, and through our ministry, our words, and our life, how many of them are brought into the kingdom of God? We really get disappointed by that answer.  So, the question is, Lord can I do something in my life because I have only few years ahead of me.  What can I do Lord? But in such a situation – Noah is an encouragement.  When we look at the life of Noah – God can use anybody.  He is a restorer – He is a God who restores our life.

Joel 2:25 – “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.

When we turn back and look at our lives, we see different kinds of locusts were living in our life.  We were not spending our time for God.  We were not giving the way we are giving today.  We were not bringing up children the way we are bringing them up today.  We were walking away from God through many years of our lives.  Our years were eaten by these locusts.  But the Bible says that our God is a restorer.   He will bring those years back in our life.  What does that mean? If we decide to move forward the way Noah was, God will bring back those years in our life.  Our life will be extended, and God will speed up your ministry for the rest of our life.  What is the most important thing is – how Noah obeyed the call of God instantly and even at such an age, God entrusted Noah with such a great responsibility.

  • To build the Ark, there were several instructions that he had to follow.
  • We do not know how many people really helped him build the Ark.
  • The kind of help he got to transport timber from one location to another location is unknown.
  • It was  a massive vessel, how Noah managed all this by himself is very astounding.
  • But the Bible says  Noah did everything according to the instructions given by God.

We are never too old to build; What we need today is the zeal, the courage and determination.
It is the obedience to the call of God and God is going to take care of the rest of the year.  God is going to bring everything on our way, but we could do something for God before we end our lives on this Earth.  Learning from the leadership ability of Noah – we see that a leader does not worry about his age, all that he worries about is hearing from God.  The moment he hears from God, he is right there onto the business of obeying God.

2. You don’t need to rely on your past experience:

The instruction was to build the ark, and God is about to send rain on the face of Earth. If we ask Noah about how he could build an ark, he will very well say that he did not know anything about rain and that he has never heard of rain in his life.  All that he will know is that he heard from God.  He will say that God spoke to me and God asked me to build the ark.  The second characteristic of a great leader is the fact that we do not have to rely on our experience.

God will often ask you to do what has never been done before:

God is going to ask us to do certain things in our lives which we have never done.  You would have never preached, probably never sang, but when God asks, we are going to do it.

  • Noah had never seen rain in his lifetime, before the flood there was no rain in the history.  Rain was a new thing for Noah, he did not have any clue about what rain is.
  • If we research all the way from Noah to Adam, there is not even one person who could verify what God spoke to Noah.

God said that He is going to send rain on the face of the Earth.  If we were to ask Abraham, Abel or Cain if they had seen rain before, they are going to say they have never heard of it.  When we think about it, Noah heard from God, but there was nobody who could verify what he had heard.  Nobody was there to support Noah on what he had heard from God.  This shows us that we do not need to rely on our experience, it may be good, but we do not need to rely on it.  Instead, we need to rely on the Word of God (not on our feelings and experience).

Rely on the Word of the Lord, not your feelings or past experiences:

  • Noah would have been discouraged during those 100 years during which he was building the ark, he had never experienced a single drop of water falling from heaven.
  • But the Lord spoke to him about rain.  It will surely be disappointing if he tried relying on experience as he had never experienced rain before.
  • He probably could have payed saying Lord I do not want to see rain, but please send a few drops of water from heaven.  He did not do that because he did not want to rely on his past experience.
  • But he never got discouraged, he was holding onto the word that was spoken to him.

We rely on our past experience:

  • Today the leadership experts say that you lead based on the success you gained in the past – something which you tried and worked out and if you try today it will work out.
  • Church builders say that you build a church in someplace now you try to replicate what you did to build the church.  So, if you are successful in building in one, if you replicate or duplicate the process you will be able to build 100 churches based on past experience.
  • For example, somebody is sick, and you are called to pray for them, you go to the house with an idea of how you prayed when someone else called you to pray in the past.  You could have prayed to someone who is sick, and they will be raised from their bed.  With that same idea, when you walk into another house and you are called to pray for them, but now when you start praying the demon in her/him started manifesting.  You cannot pray in the same manner; your past experience may not help here for this situation.
  • Most of the time God wants us to rely on the Word of God – on His promises.  Not on our past experience.

Noah, not having experienced even a single drop of water from heaven and he did not have any idea about what a flood was.  Yet he was depending on God’s Word not on his feelings and experience.  That means God can use anybody – as long as we receive from God and hear from God and obey what God says.  Most often there is a danger  about going by our past experience – our past experience will not allow us to believe what God says.  It will not really help us believe in the Word that God has spoken to us.  When we pray for our healing for instance, we feel better and start praying more, and then we feel much better than before and as we keep praying, we keep feeling better and based on that we pray more.  That prayer is based on our feeling, not on our faith.  Faith is – I know this is what God said and I claim the promise of God, in Jesus name I am healed; and just walk out of that situation.  That is faith.  When you try to base faith on feelings and experience it is not going to work.  We get discouraged.  At such times we try to question God and doubt God whether this is really happening.  That is the reason we cannot rely on feelings and experience, we need to rely on the Word of God.  It is challenging to put our faith in God and move forward.  When we do go by our feelings and experience, most of the time we do not obey God.  We will do what we feel like doing it or repeat what we did in past.

The definition of faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things that are not seen.  You don’t see any evidence of your health becoming better, but it becomes better all of a sudden.  That is true faith.  Nobody tells us that God may ask us to do something which we have never done before in the past.  According to the leadership teachings we probably cannot do it because we do not have past experience.  But God asked Noah to build an ark and he never experienced Noah.  Was Noah a carpenter? What was Noah’s profession? Noah was a farmer.  Can a farmer build an Ark? It seems impossible that a farmer that can build this huge vessel.  God really doesn’t need our experience, but God needs our obedience.

3. Make sure your vision is big enough to include everyone:

Noah is asking us to make sure that our vision is big enough to include everyone.  Noah was asked to build an ark to accommodate his family, his children, one pair of every living creature on the face of this Earth and seven pairs of clean birds.  Noah did not build the Ark according to one size, but according to the specifications given by God.

Luke 17:26 – And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.  

This is what Jesus said.
Noah was asked to build the ark to protect the seed – the godly people, and the seed of the future generation of all creatures on the face of the Earth.  Jesus says what happened in the days of Noah will also happen in the days of the Son of Man.  This simply means, that God is about to bring destruction on the face of this Earth, including all the creations – they are going to be destroyed, not by flood but maybe by fire.  God is asking us today, to build the Ark.  When we are building the Ark, Noah is telling us to make sure our vision is big enough to include everyone.  The vision of the church must be big enough.

  • God has given us the burden to include all people regardless of their background in our church.
  • God wants us to make an Ark that can accommodate all people.  If we do not have such a big vision, we are going to lose some of those dear ones in the eternity because we don’t have room.

We build a church for a 100 people and we cannot contain a 120 people.  We build a church for 500 and we cannot contain 600 people, we are going to lose them.  Noah was very careful to include the next generation in the vision that God has given to him.  That is the reason children’s ministry is important – surrender your children and be there to help them.  Youth ministry is equally important.  If we don’t include them in the vision, when we are gone, there is nobody to continue God’s vision.  The church has to be closed.  When all of us are gone, we are going to go one day, God’s vision cannot be accomplished.  Noah was very careful to include the next generation in the ark.
When we sit together as a family to pray, it is very important to include your children.  When we discuss something spiritual it is important to include your children.  Le them get that vision that you carry in your life.  Our vision needs to be big enough.  This is a prophetic word for the church from:

Isaiah 60:3 – And nations shall walk into thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising.

The third characteristic of a great leader is that – Noah was able to magnify his vision in a bigger way that could accommodate everybody.

4. God doesn’t make the ark, we have to make it:

If we ask Noah about what helped him build the ark, Noah would say that he learnt one thing in the whole process of building the ark – God doesn’t make the Ark, we have to make it. The moment he got the vision, Noah did not sit and pray asking God to give him an Ark.

  • God did not give him an ark, He is not in the business of making Arks.
  • But God gave a design to Noah, that happens in our life too, God gives the instruction/design, but we have to build it.
  • Noah had to build the Ark.
  • But God did one thing, He grew the gopher tree.  Noah cannot do that.
  • God broke open the deep and God sent rain from above.  Noah cannot do that either.A leader gets a vision from God and he doesn’t just pray about it and leave it there.  He starts doing something about it.
  • It is not either praying or doing, but it is both praying and doing.
  • Sometimes we use prayer as an excuse for not doing anything.  Sometimes, we as believers, pray for more and we do very less about it.
  • Eventually we appear to be as fools in front of the unbelievers.
  • Because we say that we believe in our prayer and expect God to work on behalf of us.

But God did not say that we don’t need to study or prepare.  We really need to work hard.  If Noah had been sitting and waiting because he believes all the promises of God will given because God said – Ask me and it will be given; the ark would not come in front of him.  He worked hard for 100 years.  That does not mean the Word of God is lying.  It’s not “either”, “or”, but “both” are important.

When leaders get a vision, they not only pray about it, but they do something about it.

Think about the vision that God has given in your life.  Where is that vision now? If you did not do anything about it, it is not going to come by itself, prayer is not magic.  The more you work and the more you pray, and then God makes it happen.  He makes it happen.  What about your higher studies we wanted to do, God gave us that vision and promise, but now it has not happened.  Why? Because we are not working, just praying.  We fast and pray but nothing happens.  A leader who gets a vision, not only prays about it, but does something about it.
Nehemiah, another great leader, is in the process of building walls for the city of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 4:7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.  Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

They prayed about it and also set watchmen.  Praying about it and doing something about it is when we see the work of God.  When Nehemiah finished praying, he did not wait for God to come and protect.  He appointed security guards everywhere.

  • Our prayer should never stop us from doing something.
  • Our prayers should never stop you from taking medical help when it is needed.
  • Your prayer shouldn’t stop you from putting all your effort in your studies and in your job.

At times we become fools in front of others as it does not work for everybody.  At times people quit medical help and rely on prayer and die prematurely, that is not the will of God.  God wants you to live to the fulness, until the day that God has appointed.  We need to pray about it, but we should never stop seeking medical help when it is needed.  We should never stop studying and working hard just because we prayed.  It is both prayer and action.

When God gave a vision to Noah, he went on doing something about it and eventually he built the Ark.

Summary:

1.  You are never too old to build
2.  You don’t need to rely on your past experience
3.  Make sure your vision is big enough to include everyone
4.  God doesn’t make the ark, we have to make it

Learning from the OT Leaders : Moses – Reluctant but Willing

Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Moses – Reluctant but Willing | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 14, 2018

Moses – Reluctant but Willing

This sermon is a continuation of the series titled – “Learning from the Old Testament Leaders”.  The first leader from the Old Testament is Moses.  The moment we think of Moses, these are the following things that come to mind: he parted the red sea in half by the power of God, he was supposed to be dead as a baby, he obeyed God, he was not a fluent speaker, he had a face to face encounter with God, the incident of the burning bush, he was an intercessor, he was brought up as an Egyptian Prince, and so on.

The burning bush incident tells us that he was reluctant, not willing to lead but was forced to lead.  We read that from:

Exodus 3:7 – And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.

Exodus 3:10 – Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you must lead My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

God says that Moses “must” lead His children out of Egypt.  To this Moses replies –

Exodus 3:11 – 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?”

God re-assures Moses and says –

Exodus 3:12 – 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.”

Moses, still being doubtful –

Exodus 3:13 – Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’  what shall I say to them?”

To which God replies –

Exodus 3:14 – And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

Then Moses, being anxious said what if they do not believe me or listen to me?  To this God asked Moses to place the staff which he held in his hand on the ground which immediately turned into a serpent and when Moses lifted it up it turned back into a staff.  To re-assure Moses, God asked him to put his hand into his bosom and take it out.  The hand was leprous and again he did the same and the hand was clean.  Did this satisfy Moses?  No!

Exodus 4:10 – Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant;  but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

To lift him up, God said –

Exodus 4:11, 12 – So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?  12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

After hearing all of this from God, finally Moses gave up and asked God to send someone else.

Exodus 4:13 – But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

There is no doubt Moses was a reluctant leader.  Right now, God is speaking to you, prophetically concerning our future. Eventually Moses turned out to be a great leader.  The main purpose of this teaching is to observe the qualities of Moses as a leader.  This is a quick overview of who Moses was:

A quick overview of Moses’ life:

Moses was born in Egypt and was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, yet he had a passion in his heart for his own people because he saw a Hebrew getting beaten by an Egyptian whom he killed.  After 40 years of life in the palace, Moses had to flee for his life. He fled into Midian and there he became a shepherd boy.  That continued until he met God in the burning bush.  Another 40 years went by when Moses reluctantly accepted the calling of God in his life.  He was willing to go back to Egypt.  When he went to Egypt, God did amazing things through Moses.  Each event that took place in the life of Moses from Egypt to Mount Sinai – we truly see his role as a prophet, a priest, a ruler and as a savior of Israel.  There is no doubt that Moses was called by God and how he reluctantly accepted the calling of God.

Characteristics of Moses:

  • He was a murderer.
  • He was a reluctant leader.
  • He was easily provoked because of his short-tempered nature as we see in the Bible from the incidence when he was coming down from Mount Sinai and broke the tablet containing the ten commandments written by the hand of God.
  • He disobeyed God by hitting the rock instead of speaking to the rock.
  • Eventually he was punished by God when he was barred from entering the promised land.

God used Moses to lead His people from the land of Egypt.  Nobody in the Bible was used in such a great manner. Moses was made for a time such as that, where it is impossible to think of a leader that could replace Moses.

Scripture Reading:

Exodus Chapter 2 verses 11 through 15 – Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens.  And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12  So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13  And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?”  14 Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?  Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”  So, Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!”  15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses.  But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian;  and he sat down by a well.

Acts 7:17  “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt 18 till another king arose who did not know Joseph.  19 This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live.  20 At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God;  and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months.  21 But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son.  22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.  23 “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.  24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian.  25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.  26 And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’  27 But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?  28 Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.

30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.  31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight;  and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him,  32 saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  And Moses trembled and dared not look.  33 ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.  34 I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt;  I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ’

35 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’  is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.  36 He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

Numbers Chapter 12 –
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married;  for he had married an Ethiopian woman.  So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?  Has He not spoken through us also?”  And the Lord heard it.  (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!”  So the three came out.  Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward.  Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream.  Not so with My servant Moses;  He is faithful in all My house.  I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;  And he sees the form of the Lord.  Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?”  
So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed.  10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow.  Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper.  11 So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord!  Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.  12 Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!”

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!”

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days?  Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.”  15 So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again.  16 And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran.

What Moses considered his strengths, eventually became his weaknesses:

After reading these three references from the word of God where Moses is portrayed, we get a bigger picture.  Whatever Moses considered as a strength during his early stage becomes a weakness during his later time.  This can be true for us.  Now Moses is not eloquent – slow to speech and tongue tied.  Moses who once was living in Pharaoh’s house is later not able to face Pharaoh.  Moses is angry with people and broke the covenant tablets.  Moses was again angry and upset when people in Kadesh were crying out for water opposing Moses’ leadership and wanted to kill him.  Moses comes and says “Hear now you rebels”.  That is how Moses spoke, we do not see this often.  He was very angry and upset.  This is when he struck the rock out of anger instead of talking to the rock.  He brought the children of God out of Egypt and did so many wonders but was eventually barred out of Canaan.

Zealous & Passionate:

Moses is a great comfort to us since we look up to him and want God to use us the way we are.  Often, we say we want to cleanse ourselves and then serve God, but God wants to use us the way we are.  Moses was a zealous and passionate man of God.  He was very passionate about what he was doing.

Acts 7:22 – And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds.

At times we complain about our work, but God says that He wants us to be passionate about what we do.  When Moses was in Pharaoh’s palace, we gained a lot of wisdom from the Egyptians.  He learned about Geography, Physics, natural History, Symbols, Pictographs, Arithmetic, Geometry and everything the Egyptian way.  He was not sitting idle, he was always equipped filled with wisdom and skills to battle in the battlefield and lead the army.  Moses was very passionate about everything.  Great leaders were not achieving many things at the start of their career, but they were very passionate about what they were doing.  They were not just given a Nobel Prize when they are working in the laboratory, thinking of one day in the future when they will be rewarded.

Romans 12:11 – “Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord”.  God always wants us to keep our spiritual temperature high.  But many factors like sickness, work, financial situation and things of the world will not allow this.  But God always wants us to keep our spiritual temperature high.  But Moses was very passionate.  He was teased by the Hebrews – “Who made you as a leader  and ruler over us?”  but God made him the leader.

His passion made him a ruler and judge:

Acts 7:35 – “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.

When people reject, God is there to lift us up.  The place where we fall, that is the same place where we will also get up. God can rise you in the same place you failed.  We are all called to lead.

Moses was zealous, not Aaron:

Why was Aaron not given the leadership even though he was very good at speech?  Aaron was the one who was making the golden calf, he made the people worship the golden calf. But when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, the holy zeal for the Lord was burning within him as a leader.  Now we realize why Aaron was not made a leader.  But God was still holding onto Moses even though he was reluctant to take the leadership role.

Dependency on God (seen from in every step Moses took):

The reason God is holding onto you is because God found something special in your life.  You may fail in other areas of your life, but God looks at your life and character that you have.  Moses was a leader called to lead, he was dependent on God.  God wants us to depend on Him.  Moses was constantly connected to God.  He was always consulting God for everything, that made him to be a great leader.

Numbers 7:7 – Not so with My servant Moses;  He is faithful in all My house.  8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;  And he sees the form of the LORD.  Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”

Some of us are living in this mess today because we failed to listen to the voice of the Lord in the decisions we made in our life.  Right now, God is telling you to come back to Him and listen to Him in every decision you make.  Because every step that we are going to make is important for our family, our children and for the benefit of the kingdom of God.

Moses heard from God before each plague was sent out:

Moses was in Egypt and before every plague was struck in the house of Egyptians Moses was asked by God to warn them.

Exodus 8:1-2 And the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs.

He is a God who speaks and tells us what to do.

Standing in front of the Red Sea:

When Moses was standing in front of the red sea, pharaoh’s army were coming at the back, and being surrounded by Mountains – the children of Israel did not know what to do.  Moses cried out to God asking Him what to do.  God spoke to him:

Exodus 14:15 – And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.  16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.”

As they complained for food:

Again, when the children of Israel complained to Moses about how they did not have food to eat and were dying in this wilderness questioning why Moses brought them out.  Moses went to God again to which God replied,

Exodus 16:11 – And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel.  Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread.  And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’ ”

Burden for people:

As leaders God wants us to depend fully on Him on our future, children, marriage, education and every step of our life.  If we decide to take a step without the permission of God, it is not going to be good.  Moses was very clear on that.  Moses was a great leader because he had the burden for the people.  Although he was living in the palace of the Pharaoh he went out and saw the burden of his people.

Exodus 2:11 – Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens.

But when he saw his people being oppressed, his heart burned within himself.  Moses did not hide himself from the face of the reality.  A leader cannot stay silent when people are suffering and are oppressed.  Moses truly challenges the leaders of 21st century.  When the power is given to us, Moses says “do not keep quiet when people are oppressed”.  God saw the heart of Moses and decided to make him the deliverer.  When we have the burden for people, God sees you and sees our heart.  Many times, we do not have that, we struggle within ourselves.  When Moses came down from the mountain, people were already worshiping idols under Aaron’s leadership.  Moses foresaw the kind of punishment that would be bestowed upon his people.  He did not want his people perishing under their sins in front of his own eyes.

Exodus 32:32 – Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.

Who prays such a prayer?  We need such a great leader.
God is putting some burdens in our heart these days and God wants to use you in the coming days and God wants to honor you.  Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior, but a characteristic of a leader.  If God is calling you to intercede, you are not just called to pray, but you are called to lead.  God put that burden in Moses and not in Aaron.  That tells that Moses was called to lead.  If God is burdening you with souls, he is not expecting us to sit in our rooms and pray.  He is calling us to lead the same way he called Moses.

Highly favored by God:

Moses was a man of God because he was highly favored by God.  We all wish to be favored by God today.  The favor of God is what makes a successful leader.  Today we see many leaders and many leading in the secular and spiritual world.  They are not very talented or equipped to lead.  But they are called to lead because they have the favor of God.  Moses was a short-tempered man, but God says he was humble:

Numbers 12:3 – Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.

At times, God does not see our shortcomings if we have the favor of God in our life.  We need to cry out for that favor today.  Moses was disobedient, God is telling him to go but he repeatedly came up with excuses.  He was even punished for his disobedience.  But still, God says he is faithful:

Numbers 12:7 – Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house.

Looks like God is partial, but that is not the case.  That teaches us to not judge anybody on what they do.  When God has a favor for him/her nobody can stand against them.

What was the secret of this supernatural favor upon Moses?

Hebrews 11:24-26 – It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.

This is the secret of divine favor upon your life.  God’s favor is going to be upon us, our family and children if we practice these scriptures.  These are the secrets we need to mediate upon:

  • God is asking us to step out by faith to serve people just like Moses stepped out of his comfort zone
  • The favor came upon Moses because he chose to participate in other sufferings without being selfish.  When we stop living for ourselves divine favor is upon us
  • When we try to push aside the worldly pleasures, we receive the divine favors of God.  We may look like fools to the world, but when we are doing it, we receive the divine favor of God upon our lives
  • We should set our minds not to acquire the wealth of this world and become too rich, but just enough to feed us every day.  Moses was not interested to get the treasures of Egypt.  Those who decide to work for the eternal reward are highly favored by God.

We learnt from Moses:

  • To be zealous and passionate about what we do
  • To depend on God in every step of our life
  • To have the burden for people as it is a leadership quality
  • Somehow obtain the favor of God by pleasing Him as Moses did according to Hebrews 11:24 -26

Quote: Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior alone, intercession is a characteristic of a leader.  If God is burdening you to intercede, you are not just called to pray, but you are called to lead.  (Life of Moses – Exodus 32:32)

 

Learning from the Old Testament Leaders – Introduction

Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders – Introduction | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 07, 2018

Learning from the Old Testament Leaders – Introduction

Today we are going to start a new series called – “Learning from the Old Testament Leaders”.  When we teach leadership on a Sunday morning, many might think – “Why do we need to teach leadership on a Sunday morning service? Not all of them are leaders who are coming here on a Sunday morning service. There may be people who have never heard of Jesus, who are here for the first time or children are here and some would have come with an expectation of spiritual enlightenment & spiritual thrill to be received during a Sunday morning service. And you want to teach about leadership?” But I thought about this, and what really drove me to this sermon series and start on a Sunday morning is this – I was thinking about what Jesus was doing for three and a half years?

What do you think He did during these three and a half years? I believe He was trying to develop leadership. Think about it. All that Jesus did for three and a half years was to educate, teach and impart those skills of leadership into the twelve apostles. That is exactly what Jesus did and I strongly believe that is what the churches would need today. We need good leaders. There are many books in this world on the topic of Leadership, but only one starts with the right foundation on Leadership and that is the world’s best-selling book. Does anybody have any idea about what is the world’s best-selling book? The number one bestselling book is the Bible, fortunately also the best leadership manual. We are glad that we can base our teaching on the best-selling book.

We are going into the Word of God to learn from the lives of men and women who are called to lead during the Old Testament days. The Old Testament leaders are Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Moses, Jonah, Joshua, Joseph, David, Gideon, and Nehemiah and the list goes on. These are a couple of good leaders we see in the Old Testament. There is a great scarcity of leadership in the Christian world. Good leaders are not available in the Christian world. But who knows, as we speak on leadership, I strongly believe God will raise some leaders from this congregation in the coming days. At times, many of us don’t see ourselves as leaders. Nobody is born as a leader – there is no label. Leaders are not born, but they are raised. Leadership can be nurtured, it can be cultivated, it can be taught. But it is up to an individual to stand as a leader. A leader is the one who knows the way – the best leader is our Lord Jesus Christ because He said I am the way. “A Leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” – as said by John C Maxwell.

What are we called for?

We are called to lead – the commandment that Jesus gave to the disciples is to go and preach the gospel all over the world and make them disciples. If we think about that commandment, it was not only for that small group. It is a commandment that was given to all of us. We are called to make disciples. Church is not meant to sit passively and watch others leading. We are called to lead broken lives. That was the call of God upon the lives of the disciples and that is the call of God upon our lives. We are called to bring healing to this land, we are called to heal the broken hearted. That is the reason why Jesus Christ came into this world according to the Scriptures. Prophet Isaiah says He came to heal the broken hearted.

Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less” – John C. Maxwell

We are all called for various reasons, this is the call of God that helps us see beyond the walls of the Church. The call of God is on our lives, it is up to us to grab it or leave it. The challenge that is in front of us is to take our eyes and set our eyes beyond the four walls of the church to see the heart of the city. In the book – Developing Leaders Within You, John C Maxwell states that “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Everybody is influenced by others – be it our house or our workplace. Sometimes we think that pastoral call is a higher call than the call of God in our lives – to work in our workplace, to be in the classroom, with our friends, in a factory floor or to be in the nursing home. We are all called by God to do something. At times we consider something else much higher than our call. But  we are all called in God’s kingdom. God has called us and put us in a place where we can influence others. We are not in the church all the seven days of the week, we are at workplaces, schools, spending time with family and so on. But we are called to influence. But in this journey, none of us are perfect.

Perfection is not a quality needed for a leader, the only perfect leader is our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Here a little, there a little”:

There are a couple of principles that we need to apply as we study and as we move further. One important principle is called – “Here a little, there a little”. The Bible does not say that Abraham was a great leader because of his leadership style. Nor does it say that Moses was a great leader because in his leadership he achieved many things. Even Joshua was not considered a great leader because he was a man of courage. As a student of the Word of God, we need to be careful to observe the leadership qualities in the Word of God. We need to apply these scriptural principles.

Isaiah 28:10 – “For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” 

NLT: Isaiah 28:10 – “He tells us everything over and over–one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”

  • Precept is a principle.
  • As a student of the word of God, we need to collect everything together.
  • There is another scripture that says none of the scripture stands on its own, it has a mate. There is a pair for every scripture.
  • We need to search and find that mate of that scripture and they are all linked together.
  • To find the qualities of a great leader from the Old Testament – we will be linking pieces of scripture together.

God commended the Old Testament leaders:

When we think about the Old testament leaders, these men and women are commended by God for their leadership qualities. The Bible tells us that these men and women obeyed God when God commanded them. Most of all they feared God and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. One example is from –

Genesis 1:38 – So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Pharaoh realized that Joseph has the spirit of God and is being led by the Spirit.

  • Connecting this with the New Testament we find in Acts that the Apostles must appoint leaders in the church and the main qualification was to be filled by the Holy Spirit.
  • They must be spirit-filled people who are led by the Holy Spirit. A leader is one who is filled with the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit.
  • The Pharaoh is testifying about Joseph when he asked if it is possible to find a leader such as Joseph who is filled with the Holy Spirit in whom the Spirit of God of God was present.

True leaders are defined by their characteristics:

Job 1:1 – “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.” 

  • Job was blameless, nobody could point a finger at him and he was doing the right things in life. He feared God and he shunned evil, these are the qualities that God commends about Job.
  • Many of the leaders in the Old Testament are commended by the Word of God and the ten commandments were embedded in their hearts.
  • Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not bear false witness.”  It is one of the ten commandments.
  • A simple example that explains what a false witness is – our employer will be able to trust in us only when they know that we do not lie – truthful and trustworthy.
  • The lying spirit is not from God. When we think about Joseph and David, we see this. Lying is a sin.
  • True leaders are defined by their characteristics. How do we build those characteristics in our lives? By the help of the Holy Spirit. God gives us grace and power to build those characteristics.
  • God is the most powerful being and He is the best leader too.

True leaders are teachable:

Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.”

When we read the word of God and do not try to understand it, we are speaking of our own heart and not willing to learn. Proverb 5:12-13 – “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction. I have not obeyed  the voice of my teachers nor incline my ears to those who instructed me.” We all want to be taught by God. To become a good leader, we must have a teachable spirit. Nobody will be interested in investing their time in somebody who is not willing to learn.

An unteachable spirit will not listen to God. The problem is pride. Proverbs 26:12 – “Do you see a man wise in His own eyes, there is more hope for a fool than for him.” We encounter people who are wise in their eyes, it could be us. It is true because pride stops a person from listening and from being taught. A proud heart brings an unteachable spirit. But God wants us to have a teachable spirit.

Two things that we need to ask God are:

  1. We need a spirit of submission. 1 Peter 5:5 – “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.””
  2. We need to ask God for a mind to accept discipline and correction. Proverbs 13:18 – “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” God wants to discipline us so that we can become somebody who is honored.

Summary:

  1. We are called to lead
  2. We are called to influence
  3. We are committed to learn from the lives of the OT leaders
  4. By applying here a little, there a little principle
  5. These men and women are commented by others and by God
  6. Leaders are defined by their characteristics
  7. True leaders are truly teachable
  8. The underlying cause of unteachable spirit is pride
  9. Ask God for a spirit of submission that accepts discipline and correction.