Sunday, November 06, 2011

Holy Ground

Holy Ground

Intro.: Sandra and I have done a bit of camping over the last 37 years.

  1. I think that one of the best times at camp is sitting around the campfire and eating marshmallows or making smores.

  2. The fire can bring heat and light.

  3. But the one thing I never wanted to see was a fire burning with nobody caring for it.

  4. And that is what Moses found one day as he was caring for his Father-in-Law's sheep, as well as his own.

Read: Acts 7:30-34


Trans: Moses lived almost 1500 years before this section of scripture was written.

  1. We are in the midst of a young man's testimony – Stephen is describing his faith in Christ.

  2. In a few minutes, after he is finished, Stephen will become the first martyr of the Christian church when he is stoned to death of giving a clear statement of his faith in Christ.

  3. Though there will be more to say about Moses' call to ministry, this passage does a good job of summarizing the parts I am interested in discussing this week.

T.S. In Acts 7:30-34 we see four key events that Moses had to face and focus on as God called him into being His servant.

  1. A Burning Tree

    1. I expect it was a strange sight. A burning bush would be strange enough – sitting there by itself aflame. No one around to set it on fire – no evidence of a storm with lightening that could have started it. Yeah, a burning bush out there in the middle of the desert would be a startling sight.

    2. But something else was strange – the bush was burning, but it wasn't being burnt up. Stephen doesn't tell us this in his sermon, but Moses makes it clear that this burning bush remained intact as he saw it that day.

    3. God used that burning bush to get Moses' attention that day so long ago -

    4. Moses first reaction was “amazement”. The greek word used here actually has many meaning – amazement, wonder, marvel, astonishment.

(Ill.) I doubt that we would be astonished. If the bush had been burning in that way in our day, do you know what we would do? In 2011, we would probably call the fire department. Then we would pass a resolution to build a fence around the area containing that miraculous desert bush.

         A. W. Tozer suggests that we would advertise a great Bible conference. We would spend tens of thousands of dollars promoting an international “retreat.” We would eat up all the ham and sweet potatoes in the area while we talked and gossiped.i

(Appl.) Would we be willing to let God talk to us? Would you mind God redirecting your steps? How does God catch your attention? It might be a rainbow, a song on the radio, or the kind word of a friend. But when God does get our attention, are you willing to pay attention.

  1. A Holy Place

    1. That burning bush was an amazing sight. But Moses would be shocked about what else is to be revealed.

    2. As Moses approached this amazing sight the most remarkable thing happened. He heard a voice.

    3. If he was not amazed by the burning bush, the voice coming out of that bush must have been even more remarkable, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.”

    4. Stephen says Moses trembled at that sound.

    5. Moses knew two things at that point. First, he knew his own heart – it, like everybody else's, was corrupt. And he knew that he was standing before a holy God. His reaction – he could no longer look at that burning bush, he could no longer look at the source of that voice.

    6. But God did not stop. He went on, “Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

(Ill.) M. Colley wrote a short poem to put this in perspective for us:

It may be on a kitchen floor,

Or in a busy shopping store,

Or teaching, nursing, day by day

Till limb and brain almost give way;

Yet if, just there, by Jesus thou art found,

The place thou standest on is Holy Ground.ii

(Ill.) In January, 1995, according to Gary Thomas in an article, J. Robert Ashcroft had fewer than forty-eight hours to live, but he was holding on to life, hoping to see his son, John Ashcroft, sworn into the U.S. Senate the following day. As family and friends gathered in Washington for a small reception, J. Robert Ashcroft asked his son to play the piano while everyone sang, “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.”

After the song, the frail old man spoke some powerful words: “John, I want you to know that even Washington can be holy ground. Wherever you hear the voice of God, that ground is sanctified. It’s a place where God can call you to the highest and best.”

(Appl.) Let me ask you one question, “Where has God pulled you aside, where is your holy place?” The next time you walk into your apartment, ask Him, ask God, where is your Holy place? Is it right there? Or maybe when you come to the lobby, that will be your holy place? Or maybe it is as you take a walk around the gardens? For those of you that still attend church, maybe it is your sanctuary where you worship. Wherever it is – acknowledge God's presence. Be amazed that he has met you right there – whenever or wherever it may be. Let God speak to you on Holy Ground this week.

  1. A Divine Call

    1. God was not finished with Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.”

    2. Moses had been away from Egypt for 40 years – now God was sending him back. He was ready to serve – God had prepared Moses for the last phase of his life.

    3. There are some amazing calls of young men and women in the scripture. Moses was early, but we could also mention Joseph, which was even earlier, Samuel, David, Isaiah, the apostles Matthew, John, Peter, and, of course, there was Paul. Each of these is a remarkable story in its own right and could have their own sermon or two. But today we look at Moses.

    4. It was at Sinai that David was first called. It would be a few weeks later that Moses would again come to Mt Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments for God.

    5. We will have more to say about God's demand of Moses – in fact Moses will have some things to say about it.

    6. But for now, let ask one more question: What is God asking of you? To what are you called? Are you willing to obey?



iTozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (1998). Vol. 1: The Tozer Topical Reader (236). Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread.

iiMorgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (796). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.