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Throw Down Your Staff
Scripture: Exodus 3:1-5; Exodus 20:6-11; Exodus 4:2...
Track 3 of 7 in the Wild Goose Chase series
Running time: 56 minutes, 11 seconds.
Many times in scripture God will challenge someone to follow him but at the same time require them to leave behind their staff. It wasn't until Peter, James and John threw down their nets to follow Jesus that they discovered who they really were and where God was leading them. It is hard to hold onto the nets and chase the Wild Goose. It was hard for the rich young man to hold onto all his wealth and chase the Wild Goose.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Throw Down Your Staff

How far did you travel this morning? Who traveled the farthest to get here? Do you pray when you travel for safety?

Believe it or not, we think way too small. In fact, because we think so small we really miss the greater things going on around us. Let me give you an example; Right now we sit on a planet that is spinning on its axis at approximately 1,000 miles an hour. Our planet will make one full revolution in the next 24 hours. Not only that, but you and I are traveling right now through space at approximately 67,000 miles an hour. If you don’t have any great plans for today, by the time this day is done we all will travel over 1.3 million miles in our annual trek around the sun.

Now let me ask you a question, when was the last time you thanked God for keeping us in orbit? I’m guessing never. Let’s pray together right now: Lord, thank you for keeping us in orbit. We were a little nervous about making the full rotation around our axis today, but you did it again, Thanks.

I bet that most of us don’t pray that way but isn’t it a little ironic that many of us have a hard time at times believing God for the little stuff while we take for granted the really big stuff? There is a reason for this, “we take constants for granted”.

Think about this a minute, what are the constants we take for granted? And that is the problem with God. God is the ultimate constant. He is unconditionally loving. He is always perfectly all powerful. Eternally faithful. God is so good at what he does we tend to take him for granted.

There was an exchange student from India who had never seen snow before. His first year in college in Washington DC the weather man predicted that DC would get their first snow of the year starting at 3:00 AM in the morning. He was so excited to see snow that he set his alarm for 3:00 AM, got up and waited. In the middle of the night while it was snowing the exchange student danced in the snow all by himself because he had never seen snow before.

Do you remember experiencing something awesome for the very first time? What was it and what was it like?

Do you know what is sad about these moments? Once the experience is over, we go back in to the routine of life and the cataracts of our habitual life clouds our vision. There are people who actually believe that they have never experienced a miracle. Are they kidding? We are surrounded by miracles all the time. We just take them for granted. When something new enters our personal environment, we become intensely aware but after a short period of time the newness wears off and it is eventually taken for granted. Psychologists call this "Inattentional Blindness".

What about you? Do you have this disorder? Do you allow the sacred to become routine? Routine is a cage many Christians find themselves in. This cage is a killer; allowed to exist and it will suck the Joy right out of you. Routine will never let you get where the wild goose wants you to go.

How many of you feel like you have been put out to pasture? There are so many things you want to do but for some reason, the dream died. Any examples?

Moses must have felt that way. You want to talk about routine; try tending sheep. For 40 years Moses was royalty in Egypt and he learned later that he was to deliver his people out of captivity. Then came the Egyptian taskmaster. After killing him for abusing one of the Jewish slaves Moses found himself in Midian, tending sheep for the next 40 years. His day started and ended the same every day. But you never know when or where the Wild Goose is going to invade the routine of your life. Moses is 80 years old when the Wild Goose came running into Moses life.

Exodus 3:1-5 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

Have you ever experienced something that was so awesome and overwhelming? It might be a beautiful view, a gorgeous sunrise or sunset, seeing the mountains for the first time, skydiving, whatever. These are the experiences when heaven and earth seem to touch.

The Celtics called this kind of experience “a thin place”. This is where the natural and the supernatural worlds collide. When the Creation meets the Creator. Where the sinner meets grace. or when routine meets the Wild Goose.

Moses experienced one of these moments when he saw an ordinary bush burning out in the desert right in the middle of his routine. Instantly the desert where he was standing became Holy Ground. God was present. This is how the Wild Goose is, he shows up in wild places at the wildest times. It doesn’t matter where you are. You can be sitting in your car stopped at a traffic light, working at your desk or lounging on your sofa. God can show up anytime and anyplace.

What do you think is the most dangerous question you can ask God? What do you want me to do with my life? Any idea what is more dangerous that asking that question? Not to ask that question.

If you ask God that question with a true willingness to do whatever He says, you had better be ready for God to disrupt your routine.

When reading the Old Testament, you will notice a strange habit the people of God did. They always seemed to be building altars. Why was that? Man has a natural tendency to forget what he should remember. So they built altars as a reminder of what happened in places where God worked or saved them or did some miracle on their behalf. They were milestones to help them find their way back to God.

How many altars do we see today dotting our landscape? Any idea why we quit building them?

There is a place I always look at when I am at Lincoln Christian University. Close to the drive leading into the campus is where the Wild Goose jumped on me and called me to chase after him. I wonder if Peter ever rowed out to the spot on the Sea where he first walked on water? Did Zacchaeus ever take his grandchildren back to climb on the sycamore tree where he first saw Jesus? Did Lazarus ever revisit the tomb where he was first buried for four days. Do you think Paul ever went past the place where God knocked him off his high horse? I wonder if Moses ever went back to where that burning bush once stood, took off his sandals and thanked God for interrupting the 40 year routine of his life by giving him a second chance to make a difference.

Have you ever found yourself in a slump? Maybe you are there now. What is it like to experience a slump? How do you get out of one? Here is a great way to cure a slump:

Change of place + change of pace = change of perspective

If you find yourself in one of these and you have a hard time getting out, change your place and pace…go on a mission trip. There is no better sure way of coming out of a slump that to shake up your routine.

Let’s talk about our change of pace a minute. When you consider your present life style, how fast is your life’s pace? An enjoyable stroll, a power walk, a jog, a sprint or the Iron Man?

Life is like a race. Too many times people are more concerned with how they start than how they finish. But when running a race, it is all about the finish. And how we finish depends on how well we manage the pace. In our lives, the pace we keep will have a great affect on how we finish.

Think about this a minute, in all the things you have to do, with all the responsibilities you have, how much margin do you have? Are you living on a thin margin, too fast a pace? Do you have margin for mistakes, interruptions?

Be honest, how many of you break the 4th Commandment?

Exodus 20:6-11 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Why did God institute the Sabbath? I would think we could accomplish more in his name if we worked seven days a week. So why did God stop working on the seventh day? He certainly didn’t need to take a break. The Sabbath is to remind us that we don’t keep planets in orbit. He does. But we would never know it by our frantic efforts to get to the bottom of our to-do lists. It is amazing the important things we will forget, over look, forget and even ignore all because we have things to get done. Busy, busy, busy, I have to get to the bottom of my things to do.

What do you need to give up? Where do you need to slow down? What changes do you need to make in your life to allow God MARGIN to work in?

God designed the Sabbath for one reason, to add a change of pace in your life. It creates a holy margin in our lives. Do you know what Sabbath actually means? “To catch ones breath.” The Sabbath is the time when our spirit can catch up with our bodies. It also allows you to see find the Wild Goose and where he is leading you.

Throw Down Your Staff

One of the reasons I like to go to Florida on vacation is because it relieves me of my routine. I do have to admit that it takes a few days to actually slow down and just relax. After a couple days I really don’t care what is going on at work, I don’t care when I have to get up, I don’t care when I need to eat and I really don’t care what I am supposed to do. For most of vacation I wear just two pieces of clothes, my swimming suit and a T-Shirt. Maybe I’ll put on my flip flops. I enjoy making my routine not a routine.

Not long after God told Moses to take off his sandals, he told Moses to throw down his staff.

Exodus 4:2-5 Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?”“A staff,” he replied. The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

To a shepherd like Moses, what was his staff and how important was it? It was first his security. He used it as a weapon to protect the flock. He used it as a walking stick and a prod to move the flock. He never went anywhere without it. It was also his identity.

Has God ever called you to throw something down? Something that was your security, your identity? How hard was it to do it?

Many times in scripture God will challenge someone to follow him but at the same time require them to leave behind their staff. It wasn’t until Peter, James and John threw down their nets to follow Jesus that they discovered who they really were and where God was leading them. It is hard to hold onto the nets and chase the Wild Goose. It was hard for the rich young man to hold onto all his wealth and chase the Wild Goose. He chose not to throw down his staff. Matthew left his tax table and followed Jesus. Nicodemus threw down his staff of religion to follow Jesus. Paul threw down his righteousness to follow Jesus.

For Moses, this was probably the first time He had ever seen a miracle when he threw his staff down and it turned into a snake. But notice, Moses had to first throw his staff down before it turned into the rod of God.

What if Moses would have held onto his staff? I think the answer is simple, the shepherds staff would have remained the shepherds staff. What are you holding onto that God wants you to throw down? Is it something that gives you security? Or is it something that gives you identity? What if you don’t throw it down?

You can’t chase after the Wild Goose without first throwing your staff down.