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Prepared To Be Sent Out

by Rev. Dr. Paul Sene

We realize that more often than not, we are required to be separated from the old way of life and things from our past which contradict God's Word. When many of us repent, our friends, acquaintances or our old surroundings will try to pull us back to our old world. In the church, once we were excited, we were on fire for God (zealous for God and His ways), but when we return home, back to our friends and our familiar surroundings, our fire dies down and we go back to living our old lives. What we require is a time of separation between the old and the new life.

Why separate? Does it mean I have to withdraw myself from my daily job and spend my days in a quiet place like the mountain? Friends, before we knew Jesus Christ and His truth, we did things in our lives which were bad. They could be bad habits and attitude, wrong priorities, ungodly way of thinking, and so on. You see Jesus loves us just the way we are and when we confess our sins, He forgives us. But Jesus sees something else in us, a great potential inside of us. In His eyes, we are like precious stones in the rough and He wants to cleanse the dirt off us before He can finally put us on display and draw people to Him. We see this only to a certain level but Jesus sees far beyond. He is going to separate us from the things that will hinder us from getting closer to Him, things that will distract us from fulfilling His purpose and things that could destroy our lives. The way He does the separation is different for each person but He will definitely begin that process in our lives.

To show you how He does it, let's go back to Moses who started as an adopted child, then became a prince, then a fugitive, then a wanderer, then finally, a deliverer of His people. It's amazing to see the transformation.

Deuteronomy 34:10 states, "But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face."

Moses was born of faith (Hebrews 11:23). However, when he was born, he had to be taken away from his real parents. Moses was adopted and raised in the house of Pharaoh's daughter. Moses had adapted the Egyptian culture and way of life. "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:22). Then one day something happened which changed his life forever.

Exodus 2:11-12
11 Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.
12 So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

It says, ".. he went to his brethren." Moses knew he was a Jew. But remember he was a Jew raised in an Egyptian household and was considered as the Pharaoh's son. That day he saw an Egyptian beating one of his brethren. Then Moses took the matter into his own hands. He thought he had to defend his brethren but what would the Egyptians think of that? That's why he looked around and made sure nobody was watching, and then he killed the Egyptian.

When we take matters into our hands and we don't include God, we create problems for ourselves. Moses' intention was good but it was unwisely executed.

Exodus 2:13
And when he went out the second day, behold two Hebrew men were fighting and he said to the one who did the wrong, "Why are you striking your companion?"

Moses tried to play the role of a hero again. Instead of getting support from his brethren, he was condemned. This was yet another unwise act of Moses. Instead of becoming a hero he became a zero. Now he was probably stressed out. Moses may not know it, but this incident ushered Moses into the separation process God had prepared for him, and it's called the WILDERNESS (Exodus 2:15).

I believe the Lord must have spoken to Moses about His call because in Hebrews 11:24-25 states that, "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin."

Moses faced a difficult decision in his life. He had to choose between royalty or poverty. He had to choose between Egypt which represented world power or His people, which represented powerless slaves.

We all have to make decisions. In fact our lives are made up of decisions. For those of us who have been following Jesus for so long, surely we must understand His call on our lives. Every man that has been born again knows something is happening deep within his spirit. Deep inside we should know God is speaking to us about His call, but many choose not to acknowledge that call because it's not tangible.

You have to understand that the wilderness is not a punishment from God. It is one of the best places to separate you from the old. Wilderness is where God prepares you to fulfill His purpose. Wilderness doesn't mean that God has to send you to an Arabian or an African desert. In fact, wilderness is where God seems very distant from you, where no one is there to help you and your circumstances are against you.

A simple example is a human baby. When they are new-borns, they must rely on others to do everything for them. They need to be bathed, fed, clothed, etc. As they grow up, one of the things they need to learn is to eat by themselves. Parents must allow their children to grow independently. They must give room for their children to learn new things. How many times when we were growing up we felt that our parents didn't love us? We wondered why our parents forced us to do the things we hated; some examples are doing mathematical questions, spelling, eating vegetables, etc. How many times have we felt that our parents were not there when we needed them?

Remember the time you learnt to ride a bicycle? In the beginning your parents held your bike and helped you up when you fell. After a while, you had to do it on your own, your parents had to let go of the handles and then off you went. But somewhere along the road you fell, you looked around you and didn't see your parents, so you had to get up on your own. Though unseen, your parents were there, but they resisted running to help you because if they kept doing that, you'll be spoilt and whiny, and would have become too dependent on your parents. This attitude won't get you anywhere. On the other hand, as parents, do we still love our children when we force them to learn things? Yes we do. Do we know that the child is frustrated? Yes we do. Do we know they cry because they don't want to finish the food? Yes we do. Does it hurt us to hear them cry or see them fall? Yes and yes. But we know that what we are teaching our children today would one day be beneficial for them. It's time for the children to discover their own abilities and strengths in order to survive in this world on their own. So it is with God, our heavenly Father. We are created in His image. He wants us to have His character and to know His will. He allows us to go through circumstances so we can identify our ungodly character and finally realize that the world's ways can't bring us through. Only God and our faith in Him will secure our future.

"By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27). The decision Moses made led him into the desert, into wilderness life for 40 years. His was separated unto His grace.

Why did God let this happen? Remember God's ways are not man's ways. God uses desert wilderness to prepare and build His leader for His people. For starters, the wilderness is where God humbles us. God is going to make us see that we cannot make it without Him and that He is our safest bet. Notice the verses "...God led you into the wilderness to humble you...allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna..." (Deuteronomy 8:2a & 3). God humbled the Israelites by allowing them to hunger. There's nothing in the desert. It is a fact that being undernourished negatively affects people's health, productivity, sense of hope and overall well-being. Life feels hopeless. But God showed the Israelites that He was their only hope. God fed them with manna and manna was the best food for them to eat because it was food from heaven. I do not know what manna tastes like but I can imagine if I have to eat white bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner without any peanut butter, jam or cold cuts. I will crave what my flesh wants but God only gives what my flesh needs and He gave the Israelites what they needed. And that's not much of an option. Either be grateful for it or suffer in the desert. What is God trying to say? God is teaching His people to discipline their flesh because satisfying what our flesh wants will lead us into destruction.

The wilderness is also a place of contemplation. Moses had time to look back at what he had before in comparison to God. "..and test you, to know what was in your heart.." (Deuteronomy 8:2b). He wants to know if His people or Moses or we desire Him more than what we have left behind. This way, He wants to see if we would hunger more for His righteousness or for the comforts and pleasures of life. The wilderness is a time of purification. Isaiah called it, "the highway of Holiness" (Isaiah 35:6-8). Holiness also means "the state of being pure." Matthew 5:8 states, "Blessed are the pure in the heart, for they shall see God." Moses had to give up everything in his life. He had to be sent to a different nation, different tribe, different race and different environment. It was a drastic change. But God had a purpose for Moses. God was removing Egypt out of his life. Moses now had lots of time to find out more of what God was doing in his life. In his 40 years of growing up in Egypt, Moses adapted the Egyptian ways, wisdom, skills and powers of man. God wanted Moses to learn His ways, to embrace His wisdom, fully depend on Him and fully receive His power. Moses needed to know God's power to do His task. Therefore, God had to first separate Moses before He could begin moulding him into His mighty weapon. One thing we have to learn is that every one of God's people will face wilderness periods in their lives. The wilderness is where everything is spiritually dry, barren, desolate and there is no where to go. It is a place where you can appreciate your given life even though you don't have a luxurious life. If you notice, wilderness will train you to pray more, to seek God's face more, to read His word more consistently because you know and realize that without God you can't make it in the wilderness. Wilderness is your separation process. The desert made Moses the meekest man in the world and after that no other man was like Moses.

Although painful, the wilderness experience is not meant to destroy you or to defeat you. The wilderness experience is for you to meet your God at "the burning bush". "And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush" (Exodus 3:2). Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father..." (Exodus 3:6). At the burning bush, Moses met God. At the burning bush God told Moses His purpose, His will and His call on Moses. God wants us to have our own "burning bush" experience. The time came for Moses to come out of the wilderness. Behold, he was filled with God's power, was humble and brave and his life was completely surrendered to God to be His tool to deliver His people out of Egypt. Through Moses, God sent the 10 plagues over Egypt. Through Moses, the Red sea was divided, through Moses God entrusted the 10 commandments and through Moses God forgave the Israelites for their rebellion.

Let's look at another strong figure in the New Testament: the apostle Paul. Like Moses, God separated apostle Paul from the Jews and led him to Arabia.

Galatians 1:17
Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me: but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Arabia was a spiritual boot camp for apostle Paul. The wilderness is the only place where God uses the circumstances to tame the human soul. It is the place where you are vulnerable to the situation, the devil, even to God - seems like God is not in control anymore. God stripped away Paul's pride and self-centeredness. The wilderness taught Paul and the wilderness teaches us the simplicity of life, to live by faith and makes us realize that "Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

If God had not set Moses aside for forty years, I don't think he could have endured being in the wilderness with the Israelites in their 40-year journey to their promised land. Everybody has a unique calling and God has unique ways (don't you worry about that) prepared especially for you. You are never too old or too young to be separated unto grace to fulfill God's purpose in your life.

Friends, whether we like it or not, God's plan has to happen in our lives. Here are just a few examples of some of great leaders in the Bible and how God separated them to fulfill His purpose, and yes, notice the uniqueness of how the separation took place.

Abraham was 75 years old when God called him out of his country, from his father's house to the land that God would show him. Through Abraham flowed the blessings to all his descendants. Jacob fled from his family to avoid Esau's wrath. He went to live with his uncle Laban and worked really hard for a long time. He was cheated and manipulated by his uncle, yet at the end he was the father of God's chosen nation, as God changed his name from Jacob to Israel.

Joseph, a young man, was sold by his own brothers as a slave to an Egyptian, away from the comforts of his father's house. Then he had to endure a series of trials until finally God raised him up to be the only Jew with the highest rank to rule Egypt so he could save his own nation.

John the Baptist was separated since the days of his youth, living in the desert and when he emerged he was the only one worthy to baptize Jesus Christ, and Jesus said that there is no greater prophet than John.

The wilderness process was different for all of them but still it had to happen. Nobody likes being separated; let alone being in the wilderness. It hurts, it is lonely, and it is painful. Suddenly, you experience hardships and, you think everybody's mean to you. Well, I don't know what situations you are facing but you and I better seek God and lean on His strength. Maybe those circumstances are your wilderness, your separation process. You need His strength to endure that. In the wilderness we learn how much God loves us. It teaches us that God does not measure us by what we do, how much money we make, how beautiful we look, how much power we have, but it is simply based on His own love for us.

Moses and apostle Paul didn't run away from their deserts but they faced their wilderness. Moses and Paul were totally different people after they went through their wilderness. They were so much in love with God that they reached a point where everything was useless unless God was there. Their lives impacted the world. As we read in the Bible, God indeed poured out His blessings on their lives. Moses prayed, " me now Your ways that I may know You" and " me Your glory" (Exodus 33:13 & 18). Apostle Paul's goal was not to build the biggest ministry, but to know Jesus intimately, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.." (Philippians 3:10).

When you come out of your wilderness, you become stronger in the Lord because you have allowed Him to build His character in you which produces the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Like Moses and apostle Paul, you won't seek to fulfill the desires of your flesh but you will seek to desire God. Your pursuit is His heart. On the other hand, God knows that now is the time to send you to do His mission and to fulfill His purpose for your life.

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