Tending the flock at home

Exodus 3:1, 7-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro,[a] the priest of Midian.

Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

We all know the story of Moses and the burning bush. God called an adopted Egyptian, as he was tending his father in laws sheep, to do an extraordinary thing. Moses would be the one to confront Pharaoh and lead God’s people out of Egypt – out of slavery. The entire nation of Israel would be taken through the wilderness by a tongue-tied shepherd who was married…with children.

Moses didn’t abandon his wife and sons to fulfill the call. He didn’t neglect his God given role as husband and father in order to perform miraculous signs in front of Pharaoh. He didn’t choose to lead the people into the Promised Land and ignore his family. Moses went back to Egypt with his wife and children as he carried the staff of God in his hand.

Exodus 4:18-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

18 So Moses went back home to Jethro, his father-in-law. “Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt,” Moses said. “I don’t even know if they are still alive.”

“Go in peace,” Jethro replied.

19 Before Moses left Midian, the Lord said to him, “Return to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you have died.”

20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand he carried the staff of God.

 

For a time, Exodus 18 tells us, Zipporah and their sons went home to stay with her father (the boys probably had school and soccer practice to attend!). Regardless of the reason, Jethro eventually escorted them back to be with Moses and the people.

Exodus 18:2-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Earlier, Moses had sent his wife, Zipporah, and his two sons back to Jethro, who had taken them in. (Moses’ first son was named Gershom,[a] for Moses had said when the boy was born, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” His second son was named Eliezer,[b] for Moses had said, “The God of my ancestors was my helper; he rescued me from the sword of Pharaoh.”) Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, now came to visit Moses in the wilderness. He brought Moses’ wife and two sons with him, and they arrived while Moses and the people were camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent a message to Moses, saying, “I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to see you with your wife and your two sons.”

All throughout Scripture, we read about the heroes of faith. Ordinary men, called by God to do extraordinary things:

Noah.

Abraham.

Joseph.

These ordinary men married ordinary women and raised ordinary children.

My husband is an ordinary man. I’m ordinary. Our kids are ordinary. My man, an adopted child of God, has been called to lead His people out of slavery to sin. But in this season of life, the Lord is teaching him to be a shepherd. He’s tending to the flock at home. He’s loving his wife. He’s training our children. And soon, when the Lord speaks to him through a “burning bush,” he will GO, make disciples…with his wife and children.

sheepAre you an ordinary man? Do you have an ordinary wife? (perhaps you shouldn’t answer that!) Are you raising ordinary children? Whether you are called to lead a nation out of bondage, a local church or a small group, you are a child of God and you must GO, make disciples… with your wife and children.

Spend some time with the Great Shepherd. Ask Him: “Lord, am I tending the flock at home? Am I loving my wife? Am I training our children?” If any answer brings conviction from the Holy Spirit, confess, repent, and choose this day to serve the Lord, by serving your family. They are part of your extraordinary call. And one day, as you’re tending the flock, the Lord will tell you it’s time to GO.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader,[a] he desires an honorable position.” So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife.[b] He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker[c] or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.[d] Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.

A Wife’s Consent

Acts 5: 1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”

As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?”

“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”

And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”

10 Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11 Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.

Ananias. A man who, with his wife Sapphira, believed the Good News of Jesus Christ and were part of the early church. Perhaps they were included in the 5,000+ who heard Peter preach the gospel after Pentecost? Perhaps they hadn’t yet received water baptism before he and John were brought before the council, arrested and put in prison? Perhaps they hadn’t received the baptism of the Holy Spirit by fire? Perhaps their story would have been different if they had?

Perhaps.

But those chapters were never written.

Immediately after Ananias & Sapphira’s brief introduction in chapter 5 verse 1 of the book of Acts, we realize that Ananias was greedy for acknowledgement & affirmation. Upon the sale of his property, he also became greedy for the cash he earned. As Peter explained to him, it was HIS land to keep or sell.  It was HIS money to keep or give away. But he made a decision in his heart which would cost him his life- and the life of his wife.

He chose to fear man instead of fearing God.

Ananias wanted to appear generous, like his fellow believer, Joseph, who had sold a field he owned and given ALL the money to the apostles so that they could distribute it to those in need (Acts 4:36-37). Ananias wasn’t prompted by the Holy Spirit to sell his land. Ananias was prompted by Satan to be like Joseph. He has tempted by the lust of the eyes, flesh and pride of life. A thought captured his mind; sell the land, give some of the money to church leaders, and appear “righteous” like Joseph. Panic invaded his emotions; what if I need some of the money to provide for me and my family?! He made a willful choice; seek approval & affirmation from the apostles by giving part of the profit to the church and keep the rest.

Then he obtained his wife’s consent!!!!

Sapphira made the fatal decision to fear man instead of fearing God. Whether she was afraid to tell her husband “no” because of religious customs or societal pressure, she chose to fear his wrath, rejection, or withdrawal of provision instead of fearing God. She gave consent to lie- to him, and herself.

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They lied to the Holy Spirit!

They lied to the church!

Both sinned.

Both fell short of the glory of God.

Both died suddenly.

Both were an example to the believers.

If only they were the one couple in church history who sought acknowledgement and affirmation from religious leaders. If only they were the only husband and wife duo who wanted to appear generous, but were actually greedy.

If only….

Men still scheme and devise plans to look righteous. Women still give consent to lies. They may not die a physical death in front of others, but death comes non-the-less. Decay follows as Satan slithers his way through families and causes disunity amongst believers.

What are we to do, then?

Scripture is clear: confront the sin. If a man or woman fails to confess, the young men need to get up, wrap them in a sheet and bury them! (see also Matthew 18: 15-20) The church in America has become experts in sweeping sin under the rug. God is not fooled. May the Holy Spirit fall on the bride of Christ with all-consuming fire, causing us to confess, repent, and once more fear God. Only then can we be equipped to preach the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation so that others will believe & accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and go, make disciples.

God-breathed

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

Just as God breathed life into man’s body in the garden, God breathed life into the men that wrote each verse, chapter and book recorded in the canon of Scripture. Ordinary men were equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit to write an extraordinary love letter to the world.

Woven through the life stories of men, women and children throughout Scripture we learn who God is and who mankind is in relationship to Him. We discover love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. We realize the ramifications of sin. We are introduced to the Savior. We are warned about an enemy.

IMG_2961Each day as we study, the Holy Spirit breathes life and the words on the page become the Word written on our heart. Miraculously, we begin to receive instruction, rebuke, and correction. Through this supernatural training in humility and submission, our lives are transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are made righteous. We are equipped as a servant of God. We are able to do every good work.

If we don’t know the Word (Jesus) by studying the word (Scripture), we are not equipped to do any work. A student who is fully trained will become like their teacher (Luke 6:40). But a student who refuses to be trained, rejects the Teacher and becomes like the one they follow; Satan (John 8:44).

Reading a verse fragment a few times a week on a Bible app or Facebook post with a pretty background picture won’t thoroughly equip you. Would you give your child a handful of goldfish for the week and expect him to be sustained physically? NO! The child would be hungry and eventually, he’d starve to death because of the lack of nourishment. A child cannot live on goldfish alone. He needs the Word of God.

IMG_4461Dear child, if you’ve become malnourished, you cannot serve God. Sure, you may be able to sustain yourself and work for a little while, but the signs of starvation will eventually emerge. You may not notice it – but the people around you will. Your wife may say she feels unloved because you’re too tired to lay your life down for her. Your husband may say that he feels disrespected because you’re too busy to spend time serving him. Your kids may repeatedly disobey you because you’re too preoccupied to deal with their foolishness. The people you lead in the church may keep falling back into the same cycle of sin because you’re unequipped to shepherd their broken soul.

But don’t give up! There is still HOPE. The Good News is still the Good News. You can have abundant life. You can love your wife. You can submit to your husband. You can train your kids. You can lead others in the church. You can do every good work.

All you have to do is choose whom you will serve. God’s mercy is new every morning. Set that alarm on your smart phone to wake up 5, 15, 30 minutes earlier tomorrow. Grab your bible, pen, journal and a cup of strong coffee. Saturate your mind in Scripture. Then…do what it says.

You may feel ordinary, but Scripture will train you to be an extraordinary man or woman of God. God breathed life into your body when He saved you. God will breathe life into your soul when you study His love letter to the world.