The children played outside the school building, obviously a recess time. That one–the little girl–she could be the age my little girl would have been. Unbidden, the tears came, and I walked on. Would I ever let go of the past, I wondered? It seemed every child was a reminder, an angry parent became someone I wanted to shake and scream at (“You don’t know what you’re doing!!”), and the thought of what I’d lost haunted my dreams. Counseling sessions, therapy, nothing really erases past losses except love and time. You get so tired of hearing people say, “Give yourself time,” or “Time will heal the wounds,” since you don’t believe it’s possible. Eventually, it is, and they dim.
There are very few people whom you meet who do not have some type of burden, loss, choice, sin, or catastrophic mistake that makes a scar. Does God hold that over our head? Not if it’s confessed in the name of Jesus (1 John 1:9). But it’s not quite so easy to forgive ourselves, is it? Even King David, the man “after God’s own heart,” penned with emotion, “My sin is ever before me.” He struggled with choices he had made. Do you have some of those scars wearing on you? Get your notebook out, and get ready to study how we can live a life of purpose after a gigantic failure–perhaps one that has given years of consequences.
Click on the link for the sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church, preached Sunday, July 17, 2016, at http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select the last Sunday morning service. After watching it, work on the study notes below. They can be done in one day, all week, with a friend, by yourself, or in a group setting. The important thing is to grow as a Christ-follower daily, getting your “daily bread” by your study! Have your notebook handy as your notes will reinforce the sermon.
Today we want to focus on being an “Overcomer,” i.e., being victorious through troubles and trials, in spite of our past! Have you ever made a choice that caused you to lose hope and think a good life could never be pulled from beneath the chaos you created? What was it that continued to push you through the pain to see what the future might hold? Write down some thoughts.
We want to contrast our lives with that of Moses, an Israelite man who was raised in the palace of Egypt’s Pharaoh, with all the the pomp and royalty that went with the position he held, his prestige, and his power. However, at the age of forty, he killed a man, and the killing caused him to have to flee Egypt, sending him into the desert, where he lived as a shepherd. As we’ll see, God sought him, gave him freedom from his past, then used him to change his entire nation. Almost everyone has a past that holds us back from thinking we can be used for God’s purpose. Let us see how we can change that.
Think About, Write Down, or Discuss:
God doesn’t look at our past to determine if He wants to use us
- Read Exodus 3:1-4. When Moses was eighty years old, God appeared to him from a bush that was burning with fire, yet not extinguished. What had caused Moses to leave Egypt and how long ago had it been? How would his action have affected him? (Read Exodus 2:11-14 if you need to refresh your memory).
God’s Holiness trumps our messiness
- Read Ex. 3:5, 6. God had been quiet for almost 400 years. Try to imagine what Moses felt; what do you think went through his mind as he realized the Holy Creator God was speaking to him? If this had happened to you, how would you have reacted? Write down some of your thoughts.
God’s plans will always be greater than ours
- Read verses 7-10. After 400 years of slavery, the Israelites assumed God had forgotten them. Had He? Who had initiated this meeting between Moses and God? If God asked you to do something significant, how would your past hold you back?
- What do you think Moses felt his remaining years were going to be like before God called him? Do you think he would have wanted to go back to Egypt? Why or why not? Have you been in a period of “exile” because of something in the past? Can you change it in any way?
God’s power will always be enough
- Read verses 11, 12. God had a job for Moses. He (God) did not bring up the past, did not punish Moses for what he had done, but simply told him what He wanted him to do–deliver Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. Moses implored God to let someone else be the deliverer. Why do you think he “argued” with God? Over the next thirty verses Moses brings up reasons that he cannot lead Israel out of Egypt. Skim your eyes through the verses; what does he keep missing?
- When you feel that God wants you to witness, or minister, how do you respond to that inner prompting? Would you feel differently if you heard God say aloud, “I will be with you”? Write down your feelings.
The only way to overcome our past is to know our future
- Read verses 13-14. We cannot read Moses’ body language, so we do not know if he was agitated about his past, or failing in faith when he kept bringing up reasons he could not do as God asked. What is meant that you ‘can only overcome your past by knowing your future’?
- Can you think of an example of God bringing good out of your life even though you may have a past that you feel He could hold against you?
- In what ways does the life of Moses this week challenge you in your daily life?
Moses had had forty years to ponder the killing in Egypt, his flight, and his life as a shepherd. Possibly he no longer had hope that his life would ever be different. As you go through this week, ask yourself if any baggage from the past is holding you back when God is asking that you be available. Consider your repentance for past sins. If your confession was real, where are your sins now (Psalm 103:12)? Pray diligently, falling on your face before a Holy God, asking how He can use you as the day of His return draws nearer. Seek opportunities to tell someone of His great love and forgiveness.
Memory Verse: 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.’”
Focal Passage: Exodus 3:1-14
Home Study: Read Exodus 3 and 4, to see Moses’ reaction to God’s desire for his life.