02/21/F – Our Best Efforts

Exodus 2:11-22; Matthew 17:10-21; Psalms 22:19-24; Proverbs 10:8-9

OT: “Years later, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his own people and observed their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his people. Looking all around and seeing no one, he struck the Egyptian dead and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you attacking your neighbor?” “Who made you a commander and judge over us?” the man replied. “Are you planning to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses became afraid and thought, “What I did is certainly known.” When Pharaoh heard about this, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well.” (‭‭Exodus‬ ‭2:11-15‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

This is merely conjecture – but I wonder if Moses had a sense that he was supposed to be involved in delivering his people in some way. He was nursed by his Hebrew mother – I wonder if she instilled in him a higher calling. I wonder if growing up in the royal family, while knowing his origins, gave him a sense of calling. If that were the case, I can see why he would feel compelled to “deliver” the Hebrew that was being unjustly beaten by the Egyptian. The only problem was that his best efforts were extremely limited, misguided, and made a complete mess of things. Were it not for God’s mercy and grace, Moses, in attempting to take things in his own hands, would have completely derailed his destiny. Was Moses destined to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt? Yes – but it was not to be done by Moses’ strength or in his understanding – but by the empowering and leading grace of God. How many times to I try to take my “calling” into my own hands and try to make things happen? How does that turn out? Not well – and a lot of mistakes are made in the process. It is much better to wait on the Lord, do things in His grace, and by the leading of His Holy Spirit.

NT: “When they reached the crowd, a man approached and knelt down before him. “Lord,” he said, “have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and from that moment the boy was healed. Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” “Because of your little faith,” he told them. “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. However this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting”” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭17:14-21‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Back in Matthew chapter 10, Jesus gave His disciples authority to drive out unclean spirits and drive them out… and they did just that. Somewhere along the way, things must have gone a little sideways. Perhaps the disciples began thinking they were “all that” and began placing faith in their ability and not in Christ. Either way, they failed in being able to deliver this boy from demonic oppression and had to send the father to Jesus instead. Jesus grieving at the state of things, responded accordingly. So often we try to do things in our own strength or in our own ways and make a mess of things… and that grieves The Lord and the Holy Spirit within us. Oh, if we would just place our faith in the Lord, wait on Him, so what He instructs us to do and not pervert His words or His ways… then things would be so much more glorious.  When the disciples asked Jesus why they failed, His response was essentially lack of faith, lack of prayer, and lack of discipline. Again, faith isn’t something you muster up within yourself – like getting hyped for a competition. Faith is placing complete trust on the Faithful One and allowing your faith to come alive in obedience.

Psalms: “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters; I will praise you in the assembly. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! All you descendants of Israel, revere him! For he has not despised or abhorred the torment of the oppressed. He did not hide his face from him but listened when he cried to him for help.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭22:22-24‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Notice how David’s attitude and countenance changes from the first 20 verses of this psalm to the last few. As he has reminded himself of Who his Lord is and how his Lord has been faithful, he sets aside his self pity and negative feelings and places his faith in the Lord. He says to himself, I will praise the Lord… and he says to his nation of followers, honor and revere the Lord! Why? Because He is faithful and he will hear the cries of the faithful. I don’t have to be the deliverer, because He will be the deliverer. I don’t have to do things through my best efforts, for He will empower me with His effort.

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