Hop, Skip, and a Jump
March 12, 2017
By Ed Young
The story of Moses and Jethro in Exodus 18 is all about hopping, skipping, and jumping into the life God has for us. It lays the foundation for God wants all of us to do and gives us the example of hearing and taking advice from the right people. But it is more than just an example for what we should do. As Pastor Ed Young show us in the last message of this series, living the life God has in store for us is all about the follow through!
A hop, skip, and a jump. That’s what we’ve been talking about her at Fellowship. Thank you so much for being here during this cold weekend. Wow, it’s unusually cold, is it not? Also, it’s spring break for a lot of people. Yes! You’ve got to love spring break. I had slow feet growing up athletically and coaches, they kind of got in my grill and told me I needed to purchase a jump rope, which I did. And I started skipping rope. How many people in here enjoy skipping rope? Well, not very many because it’s really hard. I understand that. It’ll mess you up. Ten minutes of jumping rope will wear you out. I thought I would try to jump some rope today and show you a trick that a boxer taught me several years ago. Well, I can tell you’d like for me to demonstrate. I can tell from your enthusiasm, but, I’ll go ahead and do it. Now these are shoes, too, dress shoes. You got to help a brother out. That’s it. So today, for a 55-year-old, my feet are pretty quick. They are. Jumping rope.
The rope is the standard. In other words, when I use this rope it pretty much flies under my feet and because it flies under my feet that means I’m in the air. So I jump and I land. I leap and I land. This is the standard, the Bible is the standard, for what we should land on and what we should leap over. It sounds a little bit unique but when you really consider it, it’s not. Most of us don’t jump right. Most of us don’t skip enough. Most of us don’t hop through life. This book, the Bible, teaches us in no uncertain terms how to land on the significant and skip over the superfluous. Isn’t it true that a lot of us spend too much time stuck in the secondary of life and we miss the primary? If we go through life, if we follow what God wants for our lives, and God wants the best for our lives, we will have the discernment and the opportunity to skip over the superfluous, land on the significant, and the significant will always lead to the magnificent.
One of the things I love about Scripture and this Bible is my standard and your standard, the thing I love about Scripture is the Bible comes out and just gives us our priorities. Really, when it comes to what should be important in your life and mine, we shouldn’t really pray about it. It’s really wasting our time and God’s time as well. It’s kind of a dumb prayer, I know that sounds weird but it is. Because the Bible says our priorities basically are God’s principles and we should commit – it’s your choice and mine – to carry these things out. So God’s principles are my priorities, whether I like them or not. And by commitment I carry them out. When God says no in your life and mine, he says no for your protection. When God says yes he says it for our perfection. We have to know the no’s and know the yes’s.
Well, there’s a guy in the Bible named Moses, and many times when we think about Moses we think, come on, Ed. Seriously? How can I relate to this guy? Movies were made about him. People name their kids after Moses. He’s in the Hall of Faith. He was one of the great men of God to ever live and all that is true. Yet, the Bible tells us that Moses struggled with some of the issues that we all deal with. And today I want to kind of get into some of those issues, because he had a tough time skipping. He had a tough time hopping and a tough time jumping. Someone was able to get up in his grill and tell Moses, “Hey, Moses. Here’s what God has in store for you. And if you wake up and smell the coffee, if you begin to allow the Bible to be your standard, you can land on the most important stuff, the primary, and skip over the secondary. But Moses,” this guy said, “you’re stuck in the secondary.”
Israel, God’s chosen people, the Jews, had been freed up from Egyptian slavery. They’d been enslaved for 400 long years. Moses led them through the Red Sea. God parted it, and they were on their way, the Bible says, to the Promised Land. What’s so funny about this trip is it would take a couple of guys backpacking maybe two days to walk from the Red Sea to where Moses was camped, but it took the Israelites two months. And if you want to talk about followers on social media? Like that Moses had 2 million followers. They were just following after him. And you would think the people would be so excited. You’d think they’d be going, wow, this is the greatest thing ever! We’re freed up from slavery! But people get negative. Have you ever noticed that? If you get people together anywhere, any time, we have a tendency to go a little bit rogue, to complain, to whine. And God’s people, the children of Israel, it was like taking your kids, mom and dad, on a road trip.
You know, it’s very challenging to do that, especially … well, it’s challenging at any age. But when they’re young they tend to be whinier. Like, I’m thirsty! I’ve got to go to the bathroom! I’m hungry! When are we going to get there? Or whatever it is. I’ll never forget Lisa and I and the kids flew to Hawaii. My father has had a place over there for a long time and we were flying over there to meet he and my mom. About midway through the flight, and our seats were strategically situated by the bathroom, about midway through the flight Lisa grabbed my arm and she said, “I will never do this again.” It was kind of a crazy trip.
So this is what was going on with these Israelites. Here you had 600,000 men, probably about 2 million people total, and God’s people, after God had miraculously parted the Red Sea, what did they say? I’m thirsty! I’m thirsty! I want something to drink! And they complained to Moses. Moses told God about it and God said,
“Moses, see that 2×4 you have? Throw it in the water, the brackish water.” And like that the brackish water turned sweet and all the people were watered. Well, then a little while later, “I’m hungry! Moses, I’m hungry! I need some food!” God rained down the Hebrew Happy Meal from heaven, manna. And more manna, and more manna, and more manna, and it was like, look at these miracles! Then again, “Moses, I’m thirsty! The Happy Meal has made me thirsty!” and Moses struck a rock with the rod of God and then water started flowing there. So you would think these people. You would think, like, come on guys. This is a joke. God’s taking care of you. He’s guiding you in a supernatural way and you’re hating on Moses? You want to kill Moses? You want to slam Moses? You want to jam Moses? And I’ll bet you at this point Moses was probably going, “I’m tired of the drama and the trauma.” Yet Moses, though, made a mistake.
I’m kind of reading in a little bit to Scripture but as I look at this Moses made a serious error. Because if you read about it, Moses’ wife, Zipporah was not with him. Now a lot of people don’t know this but Moses’ wife, Zipporah, had opened a chain of stores that sold cosmetics all over the Middle East. So Zipporah was not there, nor were Moses’ kids. He had sent them to Peepaw, that’s Jethro, in Midian. And I think Moses made a serious mistake and it’s a mistake that guys make a lot, husbands make a lot, fathers make a lot. Well, I’ve got to do my work and there’s no way, you know, with the wife and the kids and it’s kind of more important than that situation.
I truly believe that being a husband and a father is more challenging than leading the nation of Israel. I really believe it. I think it’s easier to lead churches than to be a husband or father. I think it’s easier to be an attorney, I think it’s easier to be a doctor, I think it’s easier to do a lot of things, almost everything, than it is to have a great marriage and to have a great family. And all of that is not always the easiest thing. Many times it’s the hardest thing but it can become the greatest thing if you’re willing to work on it. And it seems to me like Moses is trying to take those key relationships and put them on the back burner. So that’s what has been in play.
So the children of Israel have experienced all these miracles. Now the Amalekites attack and the Israelites just open up a can on them. What’s so ironic and what’s so intriguing about the Amalekites, and please stay with me. Moses got on this mountain and when his hands were lifted the Israelites were winning in the battle. His hands got tired and his boys, Aaron and Hur, put some rocks under his elbows to keep his hands lifted to assist him. That’s a cool thing. Because maybe, just maybe you’re a parent and you feel like, wow. I’m just worn out. I’m tired. The pace, this NASCAR pace of life, is wearing me out. Keep your hands lifted. Concentrate on your walk with God. That’s the most important thing. The Bible says it, God says it. We’re designed to walk with God. We’re designed to follow him. We’re designed to have him first and to put the most offensive energy in our lives toward our relationship with him. And when we do that, man, great things will happen. We’ll have discernment and wisdom and perspective. When we don’t, wow, we’re going to get stuck in the superfluous.
So after this victory, after the Israelites had kicked the you-know-what out of the Amalekites, everything was kind of going great. And this is something that you’ll see in your life. Usually after the major event, after the victory, is when the enemy attacks the most. I think about the baptism of Jesus. After the baptism of Jesus he was driven out and he was tempted. So be careful, be watchful when great things happen because the enemy so often wants to strike during that time.
So let’s take our Bibles and turn to the book of Exodus, Exodus chapter 18, and I’m going to read some of verses 8-20. The first thing I want you to notice in verse 8 is the first thing we should do. And let me talk to the families for a second. Let me talk to the fathers for a second, the husbands, the single parents. The first thing we should do is we should disciple our family first. That’s the first thing we should do. And Moses was missing it. He was. Zipporah and the kids were with Peepaw, Jethro. So after everything had broken out, Jethro came to visit Moses. So Ro came to visit Mo and he brought the grandkids with him. And maybe, just maybe after a couple of weeks the grandkids were driving him crazy. I don’t know. You know, maybe some of those family dynamics were taking place. So Zipporah was there, the grandkids were there, and we see Jethro and the whole family being reunited together in the desert at the base of Mount Sinai. A lot of information. Mount Sinai is, of course, where God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments. So when Moses saw Jethro they had this great conversation. He told Jethro the good, the bad, the ugly. He also told Jethro the great things that God had done.
And Jethro, because he was a priest of Midian, was not a follower of the Lord. As you read this and see the tenor and the tone of this conversation, Jethro became a follower of the Lord. Because he basically said, verse 11, “Now I know, Mo, that the Lord is greater than all the other gods.” And if you look in verses 8, 9, and 10. You’ll see the word saved, you’ll see the word rescue several times. The Bible is a book of the rescue. It’s a book of the rescue. When someone becomes a Christian, when I became a Christian I was rescued. The children of Israel were rescued from slavery. Moses talked about that. People heard about that. If you’re a believer you have a rescue story. Just like the children of Israel were rescued from Egyptian slavery, we’ve been rescued by God’s grace out of the slavery of sin and we should tell people about that. And when we tell people about that I believe amazing things will happen.
You know when you pray, and something that I do when I pray regularly, is I’ll say, “God, you know what? I’m going to meet people today and they have something to say to me. They have something that I need. Help me to receive that. But also, God, I have things that other people need in my life. And I don’t know who I’m going to run into today but give me the wisdom to do that.” And when you do that you’ll hear rescue stories. You’ll be a part of the rescue. And you’ll be able to share your rescue story. But first, you’ve got to do what? You’ve got to disciple your family. And Jethro, old Peepaw shows up, and Moses’ father-in-law was going to really give him some great words of advice. So Moses’ father-in-law had Moses’ best interest in mind. He wanted what was best for Zipporah, his daughter. He wanted what was best for the grandkids, and so often people with fresh eyes can give us a fresh perspective. Notice, too, in verse 12, Jethro celebrated God along with Moses and Aaron and the great things that God had done and was doing. That’s why it’s important as I say all the time around here to have your daily devotions with God, also to make sure that you lean in and you get in the habit of coming to church regularly.
Think about this corporate worship. “Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law,” I’m reading verse 12, “brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God.” He didn’t give it, no, no. He brought it. And that’s why when we talk about financial generosity we talk about we bring the tithe. The word tithe is 10%. I don’t give my tithe because first of all, it’s not mine to give. And secondly it’s a tithe to God that I bring, that God has gotten to me. So God has gotten it to me and now he wants to get it through me as I bring it. So we have this whole concept of bringing it right here. He brought a burnt offering and Aaron came with the elders and they had this amazing meal. I bet they had hummus and tabbouleh and lamb and chicken. But it was just unbelievable, and then some really strong coffee after that. Those are some things that we’re seeing already in Moses’ life. We’re seeing the family come together. We’re seeing Jethro begin to speak into his life. Well how did this happen? Jethro got Moses to talk. <rewind sound effects>
If you want to speak into someone’s life, if you want to give someone advice, you have to get them to tell you when and how and what they should speak about. You’ve got to understand the information. You’ve got to get the 4-1-1 from them. You have to get them talking because if you don’t know the context and you don’t have the right information, you’re not going to know what to share. So Jethro, the next day, he gets up, Moses gets up, and Moses sits, he puts his big rear in a chair and squillions of people were lined up because Moses said in the book of Exodus 18, I’ve got to hear all the disputes, all of the grumblings and whining from all of the people. Now Moses had dealt with a lot of drama. He’d taken this road trip from the Red Sea all the way into the desert. They had complained, they’d grumbled, they’d whined. They wanted to kill him. And now he’s just a victim of the tyranny of the urgent. That’s what Moses is. Moses was probably saying, “I’ve got to hear every case and every dispute because I don’t want to look at the comments section of social media anymore and see all of these trolls and all these mean people saying these bad things about me and cussing me out. I just want to help everybody and do what people want me to do. I want to do, Moses said, what the people want me to do.
Let me stop. That is a leadership fail. A leader does not do what the people or the family wants. No, no, no. A leader takes people where they need to go, not where they want to go. Because your family, for example, doesn’t always know where they need to go. If you decided to run your family by what your family wanted to do, the most immature would outvote you and every meal would be a Happy Meal at McDonald’s. Does that make sense? So you have to lead people not where they want to go but where they need to go. I learned this 25 years ago. We took the only survey in the history of Fellowship Church. We had a professional group do it and we asked people the question, ‘What kind of church do you want?’ and we had all of this research and we read it. And as we looked at the findings I go, “Hahaha! We do the exact opposite of what people want!” and I felt bad for a second, then I thought, no, no, no, no, no. I feel great. Because at Fellowship we’re taking people not where they want to go, but where they need to go. That’s what Moses was doing right here and that’s what we have to do even in our family, gentleman. Even in our family, I’m talking to a single parent. Even in our family, mom. Even at the company, even at the hospital, even on the team. Because we get all that confused. We think, OK, I’ll just do what people want me to do. Well, that’s what totally messed Mo up. And he lost his momentum. That’s why Ro said, “Yo, we’re going to straighten you out.”
So Ro asked Moses two questions. He got him talking. I like what he didn’t say. Verse 14 he said, “What is this you’re doing for the people and why do you alone sit as judge trying to handle all of these situations?” Now you know he was biting his tongue. Because what I would have said… “Moses, have you lost your mind? You are going to fry! You cannot do this. It’s ridiculous…” That would have been totally wrong. I’m sure Ro was thinking that but he didn’t say that. He said, “Moses, what are you doing? Why are you doing it?” and Moses began to give him his reason and rationale and basically he says, I like all the personal pronouns. He’s like the prince of personal pronouns, verses 15 and 16. “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute it’s brought to me and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions. I’ve got to do it. I’m the only one to do it. If you want it done right you’ve got to do it.” Yet he was, and Ro told him this, “Moses you’re burning yourself out. You’re burning your family out, and you’re burning the people out who are standing around waiting in line. Moses,” he was saying, “you’re the first vision vandal. You’re robbing God of his vision. You’re robbing yourself of God’s vision, your family of God’s vision, and all of these people of God’s vision. You’re not being who you’re supposed to be!” Again, fresh eyes.
Who do you listen to when it comes to advice? Basically I could interview your four friends and I could tell what kind of person you are by your four best friends. You’re the sum total, I’m the sum total, of my four best friends. Moses had some great friends. He had Ro, he had Aaron, he had Hur, he had Joshua. You could throw in Caleb, maybe some others, but let’s just talk about those first four. These are some great people. And Moses was smart enough, and I pray that you’re smart enough, to listen to advice. What did Ro do? He said, “Hey Mo, you’ve got to get some organization, brother. You have got to get organized!” So Ro said to Mo, “Hey, yo. You’ve got to get organized.” Or you could say Ro said to Mo, “Hey Bro, get organized.” I knew I’d find a rhyme somewhere.
Moses’ father-in-law replied, after Moses gave him the context for advice. And this works in business, ladies. This works in business, guys. This works on the little league team. This works in the church because it’s Bible. It works everywhere. It works in marriage, works in parenting. It works, it works. His father-in-law replied, “What you’re doing is not good.” And don’t you love he didn’t say, “You’re nuts” or “you’re cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.” Because I mean, think about it. Here’s Moses and there are probably 600,000 people lined up around him. Now that is Crazy McCray. And you thought the TSA was crazy. No, no, no. The TSA is efficient compared to this, right?
“You and these people who come to you will only wear themselves out.” And this is the great pull. If you’ve missed any of these talks watch them on FellowshipChurch.com. This is the urgent versus the important. Most of us live by the urgent as opposed to the important. The important is what we do. It’s the important stuff we do first. Urgencies are things that are put onto you and me by people. Oh, I’ve got to answer this text. I’ve got to respond to this e-mail. I’ve got to go have coffee with… No, you don’t have to. Or I’ve got to take this call. No you don’t have to. You have to do what’s important. Because if you live by the tyranny of the urgent you’ll be stuck for a long, long time in the superfluous and miss the significant.
He says, “The work is too heavy for you. You can’t handle it alone. Listen to me now and I’ll give you some advice. May God be with you.” And here is the order. And he basically says, “Moses, only do what only you can do.” Say that with me. Only do what only you can do. What are your priorities? They’re mentioned in Scripture. The principles of God are your priorities. We’ve got to be committed to them, and here’s three of them that we’re going to find out. And there were three in Moses’ life and there are three in your life and there are three in my life.
#1 – Concentrate on your walk with God. What did Ro say to Mo? He said simply, you’ve got to be God’s representative, Moses. I’m God’s representative. You’re God’s representative. I represent. I can, as a believer and I should, represent Jesus. So you’re God’s representative where you go to school. You’re God’s representative at work. You’re God’s representative at home. You’re God’s representative to your brother and sister. I’m God’s representative. You’re God’s representative. That’s a priority.
#2 – Communicate the Word of God. Ro said, “Mo, OK, you’re to be God’s representative. Only do what only you can do. Do the big stuff. Delegate the rest to these people who are just standing around.” Communicate, communicate the Word of God. Now I do that for a living. I’m a preacher, I’m a pastor. I communicate up here. But really my communication is on the rugged plains of reality with Lisa, with the kids. I mean, how could I stand up here and talk about this stuff if I was not living the stuff. And I’m not perfect. My marriage is not perfect. My marriage is awesome. My kids aren’t perfect. My kids are awesome. And I’m just going to tell you. You can have and spend quality time with your spouse, have great kids, and God can do big things. I mean, we have one of the biggest churches in America. I’m not bragging, I’m just, praise God! But I’ve not burned myself out. My marriage is not hanging in the balance. My kids aren’t crazy, on dope or messed up. My finances are in order. So if I’m not living the stuff, who am I to stand up here and talk to you about this? Does that make sense to you? It’s all about God’s grace and power. But if it can work in my life it’s going to work for you. Gods’ ways are higher than our ways. God’s ways are better than our ways. So I’m communicating God’s word as I live my life. So are you.
#3 – I’m to demonstrate the ways of God. I’m to live it out. Information without application is an abomination. You know, it’s great to learn the Bible. It’s great to know theology, we have to know it. Don’t get me wrong. That’s why we spent three weeks in Exodus chapter 18. Three weeks! And it’s showing you the power of Scripture. It’s showing you that I can do and you can do three different studies on Exodus 18 and fine three unique angles and different things every time we read the Bible. So that’s one of the reasons that I did this series. Another one was it’s just speaking to my life about some of these issues.
Well, Moses got his game in order. And I’ve got to ask you something. Let me talk to the families. Would you say your family is in order? You have a little baby? That little baby is screaming for order, literally. Put the baby down, not when the baby is ready but when you’re ready. Order. “Yeah, but it cries so much.” That’s, I mean, crying’s not going to kill a child. Some of the moms are showing their teeth at me right now. See what you’re doing, if you’re allowing the child to run the show, what you’re doing is you’re beginning to lead by what your kid wants as opposed to what they really need. They need order. I mean, the moment the doctor slaps them on the butt, start training them. How about your toddlers? How about those in junior high or high school? Being a parent is giving way. It’s delegating more and more responsibility. As I said before, even in marriage there’s delegation. Equal in form, unique in function. Are you delegating in that manner? Are you leading? Are you communicating? Are you representing? Are you demonstrating in this endeavor. Because I’m telling you, the family is where it’s at. Do you have order in your marriage? Do you have order with a regular date night? Do you have order even with your teenagers? When you say be in your room by 9:00 p.m. You don’t have to go to bed until maybe 11:00, but be in your room by 9:00 p.m. because the house is your mom and dad’s house. And if you come out here after 9:00 you’re going to see us making out. And you’ll just see that one time and you’ll never come out of your room again. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about order!
Fellowship Church is a highly creative church and it blows me away the creativity we have here, from every slice of Fellowship. Well how do we have creativity? We have great order. You see, creativity emerges from order. You don’t create your way into order. You have order, then you have creativity. And creativity in marriage and family is romance. So, just a thought and the great thing about it is Moses listened. He took advice.
I want to leave you with two Scriptures and just make these your own. Proverbs 12:15, “The way of fools seems right to them but the wise listen to advice.” You hear with your ears, you listen with your brain. Proverbs 19:20, “Listen to advice and accept discipline and at the end you’ll be counted among the wise.” Who are you listening to? Listen to men and women of God. Who are you listening to? People who have been there, done that, now what? People that have the coffee mug, the tank top, and the t-shirt. Listen to people like that. Listen to people with skins on the wall. Listen to people who have lived the life. Listen to people who have their lives in order and God will show you how to hop, skip, and jump.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]