AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – January 8, 2005
THE LORD AS YOUR LEADER
Exodus 3, Joshua 1:1-9, Romans 7-8:17, Ephesians 6
The Leadership of the Lord is a vastly important phase of any life. If the person is not a Christian, then this is forfeited; but if he or she is, then this is to be found and realised to the uttermost.
First, there is leadership out of SIN, then into LIFE, and with this, to the depths of WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING, to development of TALENTS and the use of GIFTS in the Lord's service, in TEAMWORK with His people.
In Romans 6, you see His leadership out of grasp of SIN, in Romans 7-8 out from the weakness of sin into the bracing of life; in Ephesians 6, you find the weapons used in the warfare which is part of life. In Exodus 3, you see the BEGINNING of this strong leadership with MISSION, in Moses' life, and in Joshua 1, the same in Joshua's commission, as in Joshua 5:13-17. These examples speak.
Today, we start with the last two examples, and then proceed to Romans and Ephesians.
I. WHERE THE LORD IS NOT A MERE NAME BUT LEADER
MOSES was a babe rescued from death at the hand of genocidally inclined Egypt. Male children were to go. He escaped and by miraculous divine leading, found a 'nurse' who it seemed, was to become Queen, and brought up in court, he had great influence. Zealous and idealistic when a young man, he sought to help a fellow Israelite, being attacked, and in the struggle killed an Egyptian. It took 40 years of PREPARATION before God deemed him ready to be LED to lead his fellow Israelites as one bloc, out of Egypt. This took patience, perception, kindness, realism and leadership. In him, the Lord in that time developed such gifts. Being led, it is easier to lead others!
In the commencement, shown in Exodus 3 and 6, Moses was highly sensitive to the dangers of his commission to lead Israel out from the oppression of Egypt, but obtained co-operative re-assurance from the Lord in all things. The burning bush, the LORD's action, arrested him, the commission intrigued him, the power of God satisfied him and the divine concern for the race of Israel, was communicated to him. From such beginnings came a long stretch of amazing events, helps, self-control frequently called for, and a heart's concern for the practical needs, as distinct from the lusts of the people. Being led, he became a leader.
In the case of JOSHUA, here was a man who, when young, showed heart, courage and initiative, he and Caleb alone of those sent, being willing to go into the promised land, a step the race was called, challenged and commissioned to take. HE had to wait 40 years too - an interesting note on TIME OF PREPARATION for leadership. When the generation which refused to enter were gone, then HIS TIME CAME. In Joshua 1 and 5 we find the total willingness of a totally consecrated man to be empowered for the task, that of bringing in the new generation, and step by step, assuming control of the promised land. It was not easy. Many a tempest, fight and challenge had to be met; and despite difficulties, his leadership became a notorious work so that constructive actions could replace patience such as he had earlier shown, and scope at last was given for his commitment.
IN THE MEANTIME, in that 40 years of waiting since he himself was first willing to enter, he was tested as to his patience, his self-control and his willingness to forgive the people who by refusing to go in, had prevented over all those years, his own doing so: for it is no use seeking to lead people if you are irritated or unforgiving towards them.
LED by the Lord, he was at last able to lead others. KNOWING as one moved by his MASTER, how to obey, he learned to command. In the invisible ranges of his spirit, he found out the clarity of concept, the certainty of power and the reality of wisdom, as well as the beauty of having a purpose strong, true and worthwhile. Indeed, the Lord appeared and spoke to him as his Commanding Officer (Joshua 5:13-15).
Not all Christians have to lead others; but they are ALL called to be examples, whose impact , personalities and prayers contribute like salt to the meat. They all have to learn self-control and patience, for BEING in a team is no less important to the whole, than leading it. If no one is able to co-operate and be co-ordinated, what is the use of leadership; for who then will be led! And the masterpiece in Christ, is for one and all to care for one another, and study the lives of the others, so that the need and help, in tact and kindness, in spirit and in vision, can contribute invisibly but effectually to the work of the whole body. Of this, Christ is Himself the directive Head, and lives!
Read now those scriptures concerning Moses and Joshua as marked, and ponder how they relate to your own position, need and scope of service. LOOK where there is need, SEEK the Lord's leading and EXPECT it.
II. WHERE SIN IS TO BE DUMPED, DESIRE DUMPED AND VITALITY FOUND
But what if sin seeks a place, like al-Qaeda, to bomb your peace and blast your life ? Romans 7 articulates the struggle, seeing sin as lying within, seeking to dominate and provide LEADERSHIP to the soul, that it might be lost. WHO, says Paul in retrospect, will deliver me from the body of this death ? I thank God through Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-8:3). In Romans 8, he shows how the resident power of Christ, who did what the law could not do, in dying for sin, with it on Himself, then delivers His own people from the dread dynamic of its dealings! By His Holy spirit, enlivening the life from the deadness of domination by sin, He transforms it towards one of vitality and peace in His presence.
If, says Paul, the Spirit is not IN you (Romans 8:9), you are not a Christian. Yet if it is, then its power overcomes the dynamic leading to death, of sin, and vitalises you with victory. As many, says the apostle, as are led by the Spirit, these are the children of God; for you did not receive the Spirit in order to fear, but to cry, Father! to God and intimately relate to Him a leader and love, mercy and truth, vigour and vision, victory and virtue (Romans 8:12ff.).
III. WHERE WEAPONS ARE PROVIDED TO BE USED
Yet there is war. It is necessary to be LED by Him in war also, as shown in Ephesians 6, where you learn that the real and vital war is not of this country against that, or you against your neighbour or boss, but against spiritual powers, forces and dimensions. Leadership by false lords is readily available, and this, it must not only be resisted, but overthrown. TAKE the shield of faith, meeting the fiery darts which try to shiver themselves into your weaker parts, the flaming sword of the Spirit, by which you use the word of God in deadly certainty to cast down the missiles that are so weak before the power of God to smite. Indeed, have about your midst, the truth, central and dominant, always leading you, over your heart the breastplate of righteousness, guarding your vitals. This is Christ's as a gift, and use it with your own sincerity and determination to serve God in godliness: in all things, giving no room to evil. Then on your feet have the readiness to use the Gospel of God's grace.
Thus, ready with fellow Christians to be a fighting force, help the weak, clarify the confused, preach to the lost, teach the ignorant, fulfil the great Commission of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), with fearless steadfastness, always waiting on the LORD - for HIS leading, as to your special work, your needed strength and His way of doing things, ready to suffer in faith, to act in trust and at peace.
This is the real 'well-bred' spirit, bred of the Lord who is the bread of life.