Beth Moore - The Art of Growing Up - Part 4
I want you to jot this down with me. This is point number four. Point number four. This is where all that leads. "When Jesus drives, all passengers thrive". My ongoing prayer over and over and over again is, "Jesus, be the driving desire of my life. Not just my need; be my desire. You, Jesus. I desire a lot of things. I desire things for my kids. I desire things with my kids. I desire a lot of things in life, but Jesus, you be the driving desire of my entire life". I want you to go with me to that Ephesians 4. I want you to see something. In 15 it says: "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ".
I'm about to say something bold, and I pray that we'll respond in the spirit and not in our flesh with some kind of permissiveness that is not intended here. But you know what? For some of us in this room, it is really time for us to cease letting people treat us like we are children when we are 35 years old. Can I wait for somebody? Sometimes, there comes a time when we have been talked down to so much, treated like we are such idiots and like we have the wherewithal of a three-year-old, that in order to grow up a little bit, sometimes we have to say in a very loving way, "The thing about it is, thank you, Jesus, and by your grace alone, I am actually an adult. And I need to make some adult decisions. And I may need you to step aside so I can do them". Anybody know what I'm talking about?
Some of our children are treating us like they are the adults in charge and we are their children, and we need to rebel. We need parents going into rebellion against their rebellious children and saying, "You know what? Actually, you're the child and I'm in charge. You're the child and I'm in charge". I want you to take a look at Acts chapter 14 with me for a moment; I gotta show you something. It's driven so much of what we're studying this weekend. Acts chapter 14, verse 19: "But Jews from Antioch and Iconium, having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe".
They stone Paul until they think he is dead. They drag him outside of the city and drop his body where they think he is going to die. The disciples from that area, and by that I mean the followers of Jesus from that area, come and gather round the body of Paul that they believe to be dead. "Oh, my word, look what has happened. Look what has happened". I mean, can you imagine? I mean, this is the apostle Paul and, I mean, here is his lifeless body on the ground, and it all of a sudden begins to twitch. And then he sits up and then, I mean, like, he's purple from being stoned, a different kind of stoned than we're used to in our culture. And right before their very eyes, he walks right back into that city. I ask you, what would a kid watching that think? "Who is that? Who is that"?
Now, listen carefully to what I'm trying to say here. Nobody wants to be the one that got beaten up, but everybody wants to be the one who got up. Don't tell me you wouldn't. Don't tell me that if you were not in this movie, you would not wanna play the part of Paul. Oh yes, you would; I will not believe you if you tell me that you wouldn't. Would you wanna be a bystander watching that thing happen, or would you wanna be the one they're all standing, staring over, and suddenly he begins twitching, and the man that they thought was dead, he has the courage by the power of God to get back up and march his self right back into that city. Who does that? Who does that? Who does that? Who does that?
Don't tell me you do not want that to be you. No, we don't wanna be beaten up, but we do wanna get up, and we do want there to be a young Timothy that says, "I don't know what that was, but I want that. I wanna live that kind of life, I wanna live that kind of life". I wanna live that kind of life. Let me tell you what's at stake in maturity. When you and I think to ourselves, "Listen, I cannot think of a more boring word in all of the entire English language than 'maturity," I want you to understand with me, maturity does not mean that the adventure is over. It means that it is finally beginning, finally beginning. Listen, that when we begin to grow up in the faith, that's when it all starts. That's when it begins.
Listen, growing up is when shepherds like Moses on the far side of the desert are called by God to stand in front of pharaohs. Little boys didn't do that. An adult did that. Growing up is when somebody who served as an aide to a mighty figure, like Joshua served as an aide to Moses, suddenly finds himself chosen by God to lead an army into the Promised Land. That wasn't a little boy. That was an adult. That was somebody growing up. Growing up is when waves of the ocean becomes floor to the feet of faith, like they did for Peter.
Listen, you cannot walk on water in your Pull-Ups! Anybody getting that with me? If we're gonna walk on water, we're gonna have to grow it up a bit. We're gonna have to quit being so, I mean, like, just scandalized by everything and we're just, like, we give ourselves, we consider having a bad day as somebody canceling our nail appointment. Something's gotta happen here. Something's gotta happen here, because we're meant to be mighty warriors of the faith. Growing up is when people sing their own midnight songs like Paul and Silas did when they were jailed after being beaten and they started singing, and God quaked the ground and he broke the chains all over the jail cell. Growing up is when we can shake off the snakes like Paul did in Malta. Faith is for grown-ups. Adventure is for grown-ups.
Now I want you to see it and take it in, because I want you to see, do you remember when it said in Ephesians chapter 4 that we are to grow up into the measure of the stature of Christ? I want you to see a little bit of what that word means because I want you to lock into it. In the New Testament, in Greek, this particular word means what you think it does. It means adulthood, it means maturity of life, mind, or person, and in the New Testament, age. But what I love about it is, like, full age and vigor. It's coming into the vigorous part of your faith life. That is what it is talking about.
I want you to look with me, if you would please, James chapter 5. I want you to hear verses 16 through 18: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. And then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit". The Word of God tells us in the book of James, listen, Elijah was a human being like we are. He did not have anything we do not have. We have the Spirit of God in us. Where the Spirit of God may have been with him, the Spirit of God is in us if we receive Jesus. We have the anointing. I want you to watch what happens here. He's already told Ahab, "The rain is coming. The rain is coming. The rain is coming". I mean, he staked all of it, everything, on the fact that God is going to bring it to pass as God has placed it on his heart.
1 Kings chapter 18, verse 41: "And Elijah said to Ahab, 'Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.' So Ahab went to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees". Can somebody get that with me? Just all the way down, all the way down. Now he said to Ahab, listen, "You go eat and drink because, I mean, the sound of rushing rain is, I mean, I hear it, I hear it". Well, the sky is just dead-on blue from sea to shining sea. Bows his self down on the earth, puts his face between his knees, "And he said to his servant, 'Go up now, look toward the sea.' And he went up and he looked and he said, 'There's nothing.'"
So Elijah keeps praying, head between his knees. "Go again, go again". "Well, there's nothing," he says to him, then, "Go again," and he tells him seven times, "Go again". I mean, listen, Elijah's working it out. He's working it out. I mean, he's got his face in his knees, working it out, sweating the thing out. "And at the seventh time he said, 'Well, I mean, there's a little cloud like a man's hand that's rising from the sea.' And Elijah says to him, 'Go up, and say to Ahab, "Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you".' And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel".
One little cloud, the size of a man's fist. It's coming. It's coming, it's coming. That cloud that says a rain is coming in my life, a downpour of the Holy Spirit. God is about to do something in my life that I have never experienced. My freedom is coming. This path is gonna open up to me because God is gonna enable me to do what he has called me to do, and my eyes are on the finish line. My eyes are on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. And I'm gonna do this thing with every breath I've got until I get home. You don't have a better plan than he's got for your life. You don't have a better plan than he's got for you. He says in 1 Corinthians 2:9: "More than your eyes have ever seen, more than your ears have ever heard, more than your mind has ever conceived, that is what he's prepared for those who love him," amen.
Now here's what I want to throw out at you in the last few minutes. It's number five, let's say it this way: "Ever-growing up keeps us from only growing old". But here's what we don't have to do. We don't have to just get old. And you know what I'm talking about, because you know people in the faith that are of many, many years but something about them, they are still alive in the Spirit, they're still alive in the Word of God, because they're just growing. They never wanna stop growing. Never wanna stop growing. That is what this thing is going to be about. We don't just have to just be getting old and nothing else, but that we keep growing throughout the process.
A friend of mine said something to me years ago that I keep thinking about. She said, "You know, Beth, the difference between aging and just getting old is the willingness to be inconvenienced". I thought it was profound. She was saying, "Like, for instance," she said, "we can get to a point where we're not gonna go to our grandkids' or our great-grandkids' games because we just don't wanna be inconvenienced. I mean, because it's a little harder to get in the car or whatever now". I'm not talking about, listen, there are infirmities where it is virtually impossible to get out of the house. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the matter of convenience. When we just go, you know, "It'd just be too much work. Too much work to get out there and serve a little bit. I'm just gonna coast at this point".
That's not what we want, because we want to ever-grow so that we're not just getting old. We wanna grow up till we go up. Somebody'll say "Amen" to that. Go with me now for just a couple of minutes all the way back to Exodus chapter 15. Exodus 15 is believed to be the oldest Psalm in the entire Word of God. In fact, not only that, it is believed to be what may be one of the first things that was ever actually written down under the inspiration of God on the page, that it may have even preceded, it may have been written down and recorded even before Moses had completed the books, those first books of the Old Testament. So I just want you to try to grasp that, how important it is. And this Song of Moses, he taught to the people after Jesus had delivered them from Pharaoh's army that had come in right behind 'em.
Finally, the Pharaoh had said after all of those plagues, "Get out," and they had been able to depart, but as soon as they get out, man, that reasoning comes back to him, when he thinks from his point of view, "We have just lost our entire labor force and who can we oppress to do more than we want to do regarding the work we have to do but them? We need to get them back". So he sends out a huge army, horse and rider, after them, coming barreling toward them. And here are the people gathered, these tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of Israelites, on the edge with the hemming in of Pharaoh's army behind them and the Red Sea in front of them.
And it's like, "What do we do? We are caught". And God instructs Moses to raise up his staff and when he does, those waters begin to part, and those people of Israel walk across that sea on dry ground. Just about the time that Pharaoh's army comes in on that dry ground, those waters come right back together and swallows every single one of them up. I want you to see that it goes into this gorgeous Psalm that says: "I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and the rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him". It is gorgeous.
And so what happens after he teaches the people, after they're across and they're saying this Psalm, I want you to see what happens. In verse 20 of Exodus 15, in verse 20, it says: "Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron," and this is also the sister of Moses, "took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them: 'Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.'"
Would you just look at the very first women's ministry in all the Word of God? Is that gorgeous or what? She's just taken them over to the side, just taken them over to the side. She said, "Let's come right over here and while you're at it, bring your tambourines. And let's sing the praises of our glorious God". Do you know what I find so fascinating about that? She had lived for decades in ongoing oppression under the Egyptians. We cannot even begin to grasp the quality of her praise unless we have considered what the woman had been through. And of course, word circulates, and Moses, her brother, that she was the one that placed him, that put him, right where she could see him. She stood over to the side, after her mom had prepared that little basket and placed the baby in it.
Miriam stood over to the side and watched Pharaoh's daughter come down and claim that baby. She was the one that had the guts enough to go over, just a teenager at the time, go over and say to Pharaoh's daughter, "Perhaps you need someone to nurse the baby for you? I know of a woman who could do it". Wonder after wonder after wonder. So here is Miriam. At this point, it says that in Exodus 7:7 that "Moses was eighty and Aaron was eighty-three". She was their big sister and would have been approaching probably her mid-90s. At what point would you just go, "You know what? I'm gonna stay. I'm gonna stay, I mean, I really just can't". Talk about not wanting to be inconvenienced. "I mean, look, I'll be praying for y'all. I'm just gonna stay right here. I mean, I gotta be almost done. And so I'm just gonna hang out here".
Oh, no, no, they weren't about to have this adventure without Miriam. Here she went, here she went, because she was up for fresh adventure with God. I wonder if you happen to be 80 years old in this room today? Maybe 85? I believe God would have you know today there's still an adventure before you. There are still yet things to be done through you and things to be done before your very eyes. You are not finished yet. You, girlfriend, are very much not finished yet. Miriam was going. She was gonna take that adventure if it was the last thing she did.
I gotta tell you something. No matter what we ever drive, or whether or not we've ever been on a bicycle, no matter what's been ringing our bell all this time, or what we've eaten from that high chair, I don't wanna be morbid in any sense, because I want you to see something precious about it, we're all gonna end up right here, and our lives will come to a close on this earth and then when they do, it opens up in a whole new brilliant capacity that we were ever created to experience. "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book they were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them".
This is what I want you to hear, verse 17: "How precious are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them"! "How precious are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them"! Do you know what Psalm 116 says? I just want you to jot it down because it's so profound to me. Psalm 116, verse 15 says: "Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his saints". You get that with me? Same root word in Hebrew. "I saw you in your mother's womb. My thoughts toward you were precious and I see you at the end of your life, and the end of your life to me is precious, sacred". From beginning to end.
I was really moved reading over the words out of the Song of Solomon this morning. It's the words out of Song of Solomon, chapter 2, verse 10 through 12: "My beloved speaks and says to me: 'Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.'" "Come away with me. The winter is past".
We're gonna lay this body down. We're gonna open our eyes and see the face of Jesus, if we've placed our trust in him. And that winter is gonna be past and let me tell you, it will be spring. "When we lay down these bodies, we will kick up our heels". Because let me tell you, a day of dancing is coming. Let me tell you, a feast awaits us. Let me tell you, there will be joy everlasting. Let me assure you, everything we have ever been through will find meaning in the presence of the one who spoke the worlds into orbit and also spoke our names.