Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Three People We Are To Learn From

How many of us have a favorite Christian speaker or teacher? You know, that person that we try to read all their books, or try to listen to all their messages? I think that each of has found or is trying to find someone like that, because if we are serious about drawing closer to God then we want to learn from the best that’s out there. Sometimes we stumble on a good teacher or speaker, and sometimes we actively look for them. Today I want to look at Scripture and talk about the three types of people that are found throughout Scripture that we need to have in our lives so that we can learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. So if you would we’re going to start our search for these three types of people by opening up to Exodus chapter 3.
As you open your Bibles, let me catch you up on what’s going on. The Jewish nation comes to Egypt at the end of the book of Genesis because of a famine in Canaan. After a while a Pharaoh decided that the Hebrews are having to many kids, so they start to kill off the boys. A boy named Moses is saved, because of his mother and is eventually adopted by the princess of Egypt. At about the age of 40, Moses kills an Egyptian for mistreating a Hebrew who are still treated as slaves. Moses then runs away and spends another 40 years in the desert. It’s here that we come to chapter 3 of Exodus. God gets Moses attention by lighting a bush on fire, but not allowing the bush to be consumed by that fire and through that bush God speaks to Moses about the Hebrews. So in verse 7 let’s pick up this conversation. 
7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Now the conversation goes back and forth between God and Moses, with Moses trying to get out of God’s calling, but in the end Moses obeys God and goes on to lead the Jewish nation for the another 40 years until he dies at about the age of 120. Now, what kind of impact do you think Moses had on the Jewish nation? Well, let’s see some of his accomplishments. In the power of God, Moses was able to convince the greatest world power of the day to release all of it’s free workforce. Moses led the people across a river on dry land while the water from the river towered above them. He led them for additional 40 years preforming many other miracles in that time period. Plus he wrote the first five books of the Bible which is the bases for the entire Jewish religion. Moses is our first type of person that we need to have in our lives. We need a leader. A leader is someone who shows us what it means to follow God in the good and hard times. For us today these national leaders are hard to find, but if we look throughout our nations history we can find countless leader’s. One of which would be George Washington, who kept his eyes on Jesus as he helped our nation in its infancy. We need people that show us how to live out our faith in God through all parts of our lives. Can you think of someone that could look toward as a person that shows you how to live out your Christian life? For me, one of the leader’s in my life is Pastor Jeff. He shows me what it means to care about God’s people and the people that are in the world. So if you’re lacking a leader who you can look to as a person who follows God, you’re going to be missing out on drawing closer to God, because it will be that much harder to see faith lived out.
Our second type of person that we need to learn from comes from the New Testament, so if you would turn with me to the book of Ephesians chapter 3; where will start in verse 3. Now there’s not much you need to know about what we’re about to read, except Paul was once a Jew who, with conviction and without mercy, made it his mission to destroy the newly formed Church after Jesus has ascended to heaven. But by God’s plan, he came to trust in Jesus as his Savior. In Ephesians 3 we get a glimpse of his calling. Let’s read together.  
1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
What type of man was Paul? Well, he came from a family that made tents for a living. His father wanted him to become a great religious teacher and so he paid to have Paul learn under one of the most influential Rabbis of his day, a man named Gamaliel. Before Paul’s conversion to Christianity, he was one of the brightest and fastest rising Pharisees of his age. Once he became a follower of Jesus, Paul tirelessly preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. He even rebuked the twelve Apostles and the other leaders of the early church for not allowing God’s grace to sweep over the people. But it doesn’t stop there, Paul was key in establishing local churches all over the Roman empire. In addition he wrote thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament and is the second most quoted person in the Bible, right after Jesus. It is through Paul’s writings that we get the bulk of our theological teaching in the Church. Paul is the second type of person we need to learn from, which is the scholar. A scholar is different from a leader in that they search for the deep understandings of God. They are the people that help us understand or challenge us to know more about the God we serve. Where a leader shows us how to put this knowledge into action, a scholar helps us become deeper in our relationship with God. For me a scholar that I love to read is A.W. Tozer. When I read his books I can only read a few pages at a time, because I need to ponder what he writes and let it marinate in my mind for a bit before I can move on. So, who can you point to as a scholar in your life?
Finally we come to the last type of person we need to have in our lives so that we can learn to be better disciples. If you would open up to 1st Samuel chapter 16 and as you do, let me bring you up to speed. At this time in the Jewish nation's history the people had asked for a king and they chose a man named Saul against the will of God. Saul turned out to be a bad king, so God told his prophet Samuel that it was time to replace Saul. God led Samuel to the family of Jesse, because it was one of Jesse’s sons who God was going to make king. It’s here that we pick it up in verse 6. 
6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
Here we see David, a young boy of about 16 years old, chosen by God to lead his nation. At first glance David wasn’t kingly, but God said that it wasn’t his outward appearance that God sought, but rather the inward heart. Luke, the writer of the book Acts quotes Paul in chapter 13 saying that David was a man after God’s own heart. David was given a lasting kingdom through the promised Messiah who turned out to be Jesus. David is seen as the greatest king that the nation of Israel ever had. Like the other people that we’ve talked about, David wrote a lot of the psalms that have given comfort to countless followers of God throughout the centuries. But at first even Samuel, himself a great prophet of God, could not see the potential of the boy that stood before him. David is the final type of person we need in our lives to teach us, this person is the unexpected teacher. Like David, unexpected teachers are those that we don’t think have anything to teach us. We write them off by saying that they’re too young, too inexperienced, and not worthy of a position in our lives as a teacher. But God calls us to have unexpected teachers in our lives. For me this I have learned from one of these teachers. Elisabeth was four years old at the time, like a lot of children, she displays unshakeable faith and trust in Jesus’ power. Through my Mom’s operation she helped me to trust in Jesus. No matter what the age or where the person comes from, God can teach us through them. Who is your unexpected teacher?
We need all need a leader that shows us how to live out our faith, we need a scholar that helps us find the undiscovered truths about God, and we all need to be open to having unexpected teachers show us more about God in our daily lives. Leader’s and Scholars are easy to find. They write books, they have books written about them and they show themselves because we tend to gravitate toward them. But the unexpected teacher is harder to find and we have a tendency to over look them, because they are not larger than life personalities. Instead they are simpler, but in their simplicity they have boundless potential to teach us.

As we close, I want to challenge you today to write down who are the leader’s and scholars in your life. But once you have that down, I want you to ask God for the unexpected teachers he has waiting for you to be revealed. God can teach us through anything, the question is, are we willing to follow what he has for us?