On Audio: Testimonies from David G and Melvin G, followed by the lesson below.
This month we have been focused on recovery and looking at Scriptures that teach us how God plays a role in our victory over the addictions, struggles, persistent sins, and troubles in our lives.
This is truly a ‘burning bush’ moment – a time when we can see that God is near and He is calling us to greater commitment and service to Him. The story of Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush is a reminder to us of God’s presence and power in our weakest moments. You may recall that Moses started off his life under threat of a murderous decree from Pharaoh. In desperate fear that the Israelites were growing too large, he ordered the killing of all newborn males. Moses’ mother and sister set him in a small boat and sent him down the Nile, where Pharaoh’s daughter found him and raised him. Though he was a Hebrew, he was raised in the riches of the Egyptian palace. When he was about 40 years old he saw an Egyptian soldier mistreating a Hebrew slave and he killed the soldiers. Knowing he was in trouble, he fled into the desert of Midian. In Midian he met Zipporah and married her, having children, tending sheep, and living in the family of Jethro. Though we are telling this story briefly, another 40 years of Moses’ life has passed. 80 year old Moses is tending the sheep near Horeb, the Mountain of God.
Exodus 3:2-6 Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. 3 So Moses thought, “I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Do not come closer,” he said. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he continued, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
This story is not about addiction in particular but I think it is about pain, suffering, oppression, and bondage. From the prison of slavery in Egypt God is sending Moses to set the people free. I think this tells us something about how God responds to our pain and helps us find escape.
1. GOD OBSERVES OUR MISERY
(3:7 I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings…”) God sees you while you’re in misery. Israel had been in Egypt for 400 years, but the intensity of conditions was growing worse. We may wish that God would remove all misery, but we do know that there is a work in suffering that God does. The recovery community talks about hitting ‘rock bottom’. Steve told me he was glad for every drink he ever drank. Each one led him to the bottom until he finally surrendered to God. Even during times of misery, God observes. He sees.
God hears our prayers during times of misery. God is not oblivious to our pain. He sees, He hears. There is some comfort in that.
2. GOD RESCUES US FROM MISERY
(3:8 and I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good ands spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…)
If we learn anything from the recovery community it is that there is an answer – there is escape from a life of substance dependence – and there is a job to do in caring for others. The process God uses is not a magic trick. It is not instantaneous. It involves the willing involvement of those He desires to set free. It is based on a cooperative partnership based on faith. It is real. It is empowered by God’s promises.
3. GOD USES FELLOW HUMANS TO FACILITATE ESCAPE.
(3:9,10 So because the Israelites’ cry for help has come to me, and I have also seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them, therefore, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”)
Reading on you find out that Moses isn’t too thrilled about going back to Egypt – offers up many excuses about why he can’t do it – but God sends him anyway. One of our jobs in the church is to help one another along the way – through our experiences, our troubles, our path through life. YOU are uniquely qualified to speak into the life and help someone else who is going through a similar problem. The secret power of the recovery community is a shared pathway through pain and a witness that escape is possible.
God sees us in our misery.
God rescues us from misery.
God uses fellow humans to facilitate escape.
We are gathered here today to worship God in His presence, Hear from those who have experienced victory, And ask ourselves – have we trusted God to deliver us from our own troubles? Are we still trying to make it on our own?
Maybe someone here today needs to turn to God to find the escape He can provide.
1. Have you ever had a ‘burning bush moment’ – a time when you felt God was leading you in a direction or showing you something? Would you share that with the group?
2. Why is it necessary to hit “rock bottom” before recovery can take place? What does “rock bottom” mean?
3. We could probably all attest that sin brings misery. What drives us to continue to be tempted, then? Why do many feel in bondage to sin?
4. Moses thought himself to be an unlikely choice to rescue Israel. What are some things you feel called to do for God about which you believe you are an “unlikely” candidate? What is something you once found difficult to do for God but now feels familiar?
5. There is a boundary between helping others who are going through a troublesome time that you have come through yourself and tending to someone else’s business. How can we navigate that boundary?
6. If the secret power of the recovery community is shared pathways through pain, why do we so often attempt to appear as if we have no troubles? How can we do better at this?
7. What else about this story did you want to talk about?