Walking in the Presence. Exodus 33:12-17

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1 Walking in the Presence Exodus 33:12-17 Exodus Moses said to the Lord, See, you say to me, Bring up this people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, I know you by name, and you have also found favour in my sight. 13 Now therefore, if I have found favour in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favour in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people. 14 And he said, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. 15 And he said to him, If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth? 17 And the Lord said to Moses, This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favour in my sight, and I know you by name. John 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. Introduction: One of the great proverbial mysteries of the ancient world was the wind. How could it sometimes blow, sometimes not, sometimes from one direction and sometimes from another? Without an understanding of weather systems and pressure zones it was a real mystery. That was perhaps not so surprising because without intentionally making puns, in both Hebrew and Greek the same words were used to describe the English terms: Wind Breath Spirit. This sense of mystery lies behind what Jesus said to Nicodemus in this morning s Gospel: The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:8 This was part of a conversation in which Jesus was saying that without being born anew or born from above in the Spirit of God one cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. In other words, One cannot live in the will of God without becoming a new person in the Spirit of God. Entering the Kingdom of God depends on a spiritual transformation. o That which essentially motivates and impels us in life needs to change from what we were born with out of the womb to that holy spirit which makes God to be holy. o To play on the original word s breadth of meaning here, We need a breath transplant to enter into God s purposes and will. Or, We need to become Windy people who make others scratch their heads.

2 Expansion: 2 One person who really understood this was Moses. Moses is described as the most humble man alive. 1 The obvious implication is because he was humble God could use him so powerfully. In Exodus 33 Moses is in a painful place of intercessory prayer for the people God called him to lead. They have just been called a Stiff necked people and there is tension between God Almighty and his people. Moses is standing in that gap. The language and imagery is slightly different but the People of Israel, freshly rescued form slavery in Egypt are not doing well as the redeemed People of God. Instead of being windy and a mysterious alternative to all other peoples they are being as difficult and obstinate as any people might be just wanting to blend in. Moses is banging his head with frustration and in his great humility seeking to serve the Lord and intercede for the people. Now hear this conversation in chapter 33 from v.12 onwards: 12 Moses said to the Lord, See, you say to me, Bring up this people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, I know you by name, and you have also found favour in my sight. 13 Now therefore, if I have found favour in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favour in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people. It is as if Moses is seeking an upgrade in the relationship with God. They have the 10 Commandments but he is seeking more. Please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favour in your sight. This was Moses prayer. Let me know how you work and what you desire and I will do my best to please you. Let s now hear how the Lord God almighty responds to this prayer: 14 And he [God] said, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Moses knows he needs help so he asks for revelation of information and God promises presence. There it is in the second book of the Bible deep in the Old Testament. This is how God wants to relate and work with his people. Not by lists of requirements but through the dynamic of personal presence along the way. In that presence God will provide you Rest. That last promise is very appealing because nothing else will! Moses needs no convincing and he gets it straight away. This is his reply: 15 And he [Moses] said to him, If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth? 17 And the Lord said to Moses, This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favour in my sight, and I know you by name. 1 Numbers 12:3

3 Here is the big deal on this: 3 Moses began by asking God for a check-list of his operating procedures. God we want to serve you but we need help. If we know your ways, requirements and preferences then we will know we are on track and can relax without worrying. That sounds very customer oriented and helpful doesn t it? God raises the bar and has an exciting counter offer, which Moses will not refuse. Instead of revealing his customer preferences so the People of Israel can be sure they are on track God says that he will personally accompany them and this will provide the rest they desire. Moses gets it immediately. If God is with his people, others will recognize that. If God is with his people, all can rest and there is no need for anxiety. If God is with his people, God will work his purposes out. This was written somewhere near seven hundred years before John s Gospel was written and approaching a thousand years before the doctrine of the Trinity was set forth but Moses, John and the early Church were on the same page. God with us and in us is essential. God has always wanted close personal involvement in our lives. God seeks to be spiritually present among us as his people and within us as his children. The message to the people of Israel then and the Church today is this: Without the presence of God within and among, nothing worthwhile will happen and there will be no rest. Application: This is my passion: To live in the presence of God and know his Holy Spirit in all circumstances as I follow Jesus. Moses heard God set the agenda. God Almighty wanted to work through his chosen people through being personally present with them. Jesus told Nicodemus that a person needed to be so spiritually transformed as to be born again from heaven to be able to realize the purposes of God in their lives. The words and images are different but I am sure they are talking about the same thing. Seeking and nurturing the presence of God is essential for any church that seeks to be an outpost of the Kingdom and serve God s purposes. God must be really present or nothing worthwhile will happen. Friends without the manifest presence of God among his people nothing of value happens and we are deprived of the rest God give his beloved.

4 4 What can we do to make God welcome in His Church? How do you promote the presence of God? a. Not just symbolically or figuratively, not ontologically, really present. How do you create the conditions for Pentecost? Here is what I have learnt: 1. The power of invocation. This is simply praying Holy Spirit Come and waiting for Him to come. Offering God an open willing heart causes him to come. A congregation doing that together is powerful. 2. Secondly doing anything in faith as the Lord directs seems to attract the presence of the Holy Spirit. That is a general principle and a fulfillment of Jesus saying: Go and I will be with you when we move in mission as Jesus directed the Holy Spirit draws along side. It does not mean all problems are solved. It does mean you are not alone and God shines through. There are a few things in particular that seem to particularly draw the Holy Spirit. The first is genuine repentance. a. The first command Jesus gave in his call to embrace the Kingdom of God was: Repent and believe. To open the grammar up this becomes, Be ye continuously repenting at every opportunity so that all your choices conform to the Reign of God and be continually entrusting yourself to God s Reign. This was not a once time event as they came to him on the side of the road after 20 verses of Just as I am to confess sins so they could go to heaven. This was a call to follow Jesus and engage in a process of transformation so they could live the new life of the Kingdom making kingdom choices of repentance and faith every day. The Holy Spirit is an enabling presence in that process. It involves saying I renounce this aspect of my existing life to step deeper under the crown of God s Kingdom and the Reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. When people do that in spirit and truth, The Holy Spirit comes and His presence swells in the room changing the atmosphere. Conclusion: Last week I lead us in prayers of repentance and invocation under the crown representing the cross, and ascension of the enthroned Lord Jesus from where he pours out his Pentecost empowerment on the Church. Those who were here came and stood under the crown of the Risen-ascended Lord to enact our desire to be under that place from where Heaven s kingly presence flows in the person of the Holy Spirit. I would welcome hearing in person or by how you experienced that.

5 5 Today we are going to seek the presence of the Lord by His Holy Spirit through the sacrament of Holy Communion. Why? Because Jesus said so. He said: Do this in memory of me. Which can be validly understood to mean: Do this and the memory of me now will be present with you wherever you are. In other words when we break bread and share the cup in honour of Jesus death for us, he is determined to be present, really present by his Spirit and not just symbolically. My experience, and thus my belief, is that he really is spiritually present when we do this. This is a moment when for us as individuals and as a congregation gathered in his honour, the Spirit of God hovers over and within us. This is presence we need to be church. To take part in this you are invited with an Altar Call. Come God s people! It requires faith come to the table of the Lord knowing that you are welcome and it is safe. We may come with reverence but also joy and expectation not so much for a piece of bread or some wine but because in this occasion we may encounter the presence of God and be refreshed as the windy people of God standing out from the others peoples of the world and eager to serve Jesus as he calls.

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