God Takes the Initiative
There are many facets of the grace of God, but none more important than the initiative of God. He doesn’t sit back and wait for us to find our way to Him. He doesn’t leave things up to us. He takes the initiative in everything in our lives. Exodus 3 and 4 shows a prime example of God’s initiative. If we look closely, we can see four parts to His initiative.
Attention Getter –God was very creative at times when He needed to get someone’s attention. Dreams and visions seemed to be the most common way in the Bible, especially with Joseph, Daniel, Ezekiel, and even John. Sometimes He would just speak, as He did with Samuel. He blinded Saul so he would stop and listen. And, of course, we can’t forget the angels sent to Mary and Zechariah. But Moses was a different story all together. The first two chapters of Exodus regale the story of the life of Moses in Egypt and how he ended up in the Land of Midian. But God found a foolproof way to get his attention while he was out shepherding his father-in-law’s flock. As we can see in v2-3 his curiosity got the better of him and Moses just had to check out the burning bush. Normally a bush on fire would only last a few seconds, but this bush was burning, but not ashes. Just imagine Moses’ surprise when God called out to him and told him not to come any closer and to take off his sandals.
Revelation – Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants and prophets.” In V7-8 God tells Moses that He hears the cries of Israel and He has a plan to rescue them. The same is true in Luke 1. God sent angels to Mary and Zechariah to reveal His plan to them. God told Ananias in a vision (attention-getter) in Acts 9:15 – “This man is My chosen instrument to carry My Name before Gentiles, Kings and the sons of Israel.” God was revealing His plan for Saul.
God isn’t going to prepare you for a task and then make you guess what you need to do. How do we find out what God wants to do through us? With prayer and Bible study He will show you exactly what He wants you to do. We have to realize that God is always working, God is always speaking. Jesus’ example of God working through Him is laid out in John 5:17, 19-20:
- V17 – “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” God has been working up to now and now God has Me working.
- V19 – “…The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.” Jesus doesn’t do anything on His own initiative; He watches and does what God is already doing.
Don’t worry about HOW God is going to bless this church; don’t worry about HOW God is going to bless you. You should search for how He is revealing Himself and His plan to accomplish His purpose.
Comfort Zone – Now we all have our own little niche where we feel most comfortable serving God. You’re more comfortable talking with certain people, probably because you have some common interests, you sit in the same spot, and you do the same tasks in church. Most people are resistant to change. You’ll hear excuses like, “we’ve never done it that way before”, “that’s too hard, I can’t do that, I don’t know how to do that.” In order to be an effective servant for God He has to get us out of our comfort zone. He has to get our attention and get us out of our comfort zone so we will rely on Him and allow Him to work through us. He may put you in a situation that will teach you what you need to know to accomplish His will. In Exodus 4:10 Moses tries making excuses because he is being asked to do something he is not comfortable doing. – “…Please Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant—because I am slow and hesitant in speech.” Consider Joseph—he is sold by his own brothers as a slave and even thrown in jail; really out of his comfort zone. During this time God was preparing Joseph to save Egypt and Israel from the coming famine. What kind of qualifications did Joseph have to earn the position he had under Pharaoh, other than dream interpreter? None, tending sheep was all he knew. He did know who was in control; he knew that God was always there. Joseph wasn’t qualified, God qualified Joseph. The Lord taught him leadership skills during his time as a slave and prisoner and made Joseph a success because of his faithfulness. Both Moses and Joseph placed their faith and trust in God and accomplished God’s purpose; all because they followed God out of their comfort zone. God is not interested in making us comfortable, but more interested in making us more Christ-like to accomplish His plan through Him. All you need to remember is God is in control and has a purpose for you. God had a purpose for Jesus. Just imagine His comfort zone. He had to leave the comfort of heaven and come to earth as a baby. He grew up as any other child. Jesus faced all of the same challenges we faced as teenagers. He was despised by man, persecuted, and paid the price that we all deserve to face by dying on the cross. He was faithful in what God asked Him to do and He willingly left His comfort zone. He did it for us. We should be willing to do it for Him. All we have to do is accept the invitation. Even still we have to remember, Satan will tempt us to try to destroy us. God tests us to strengthen us.
Invitation – Given an opportunity, called to task. God is the master planner, the master architect of this world, and your life. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.” God had a plan for each and every one of us BEFORE we were even born. He will invite us into that plan on His schedule, not our own. In V9-10 you see Moses’s invitation. God is only going to call you when you are ready. He let Moses know what was going to happen and gave him detailed instructions. All Moses had to do was rely on God. Invitations from God are usually pretty direct and detailed. Jesus told Saul, “Get up and go into the city and you will be told what to do.” He told Ananias to “Get up and go to the street called Straight.” The angel, Gabriel, gave Mary instructions to name her son Jesus, Zechariah was to name his son John. Hopefully, at this point, you have an open heart and are hearing God speaking to you.
The Book of Revelation has the ultimate invitation: “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone who hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him….” This invitation is a result of the most important initiative God took for this world, our Salvation! God knew sin would break our relationship with Him, He knew sin would separate us from Him. He took the initiative to reconcile that relationship BEFORE we were even born. He took the initiative to give us a gift that we don’t deserve and can’t get on our own. This gift is entirely dependent upon His love and His initiative. It has NOTHING to do with us and EVERYTHING to do with God’s grace. Ephesians 2:4 tells us “because of God’s mercy and His love for us, He made us alive with the Messiah; V8 continues on with, “For by Grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is GOD’s gift.”
At some point in time God is going to call you to task. How is He going to get YOUR attention? Are you listening, are you watching to see what God is doing? Are you willing to follow God out of your comfort zone? How are you going to respond when God invites you to work with Him? Have you accepted that ultimate invitation and asked Jesus into your heart? If not, do it now. God is trying to get your attention and wants you to come to Him. He wants you to get out of the comforts of this world and serve Him. The invitation open; all you have to do is accept it.