James Merritt - Miracle in the Mirror
Let me tell you about the most helpless and frightening situation that I've ever faced in my entire life. To this day and it happened many, many years ago, it can still kind of make me almost wake up in a cold sweat. Teresa and I just moved back to Atlanta and we had gone shopping with my mom and we had left our two oldest boys, James and Jonathan. James was about seven, Jonathan was about four. Joshua was with us. We left them with my dad. And so we were coming back home and at the bottom of the road where we lived was railroad tracks. And just as we got there, the gates came down. We had to stop for the train to go by.
So we can see from the bottom of the hill there, probably about 500 yards from the top. We're looking up the highway and they're almost at the top of the hill. James and Jonathan are sitting in the middle of the road playing. Somehow they'd gotten out of sight with my dad. He didn't know where they were and they're up there at the top of the hill. Now this is a very busy road. Cars come flying over that hill. And I knew, we all knew, Teresa and I knew if a car comes over that hill, they'll never see them in time. We're gonna watch our kids get killed right there in front of us. And so of course, we're yelling, we're screaming and they can't us. And we realized that and in fact, they couldn't even see us because of the train.
We could see them, but they couldn't see us. And it seemed like that train was like 25 miles long. It seemed like it would never, ever, ever, ever get by and all we could do was pray. There was nothing else we could do. We were absolutely helpless. And all we could do was just pray and say, God, please do something. Thankfully, no one came over the hill. We were able to get to them first. But I wanna tell you for me, that was a Red Sea moment. I'm standing there and absolutely, God, if you don't come through, this is not going to end well. And if you live long enough, you will all experience your own Red Sea moments. And you say, what do you mean by Red Sea moment? I'll define it this way. A Red Sea moment is where you have impossible situations, where it seems like there is no way out, no way up, no way back. You are totally helpless and the only way forward requires God to come through.
Now, if you are at all familiar with the Bible, those two words, Red Sea ought to make you automatically know who we're talking about. It ought make you think of somebody. I'll give you an example. I want you to say this out loud. When I say garden of Eden, who do you think about? Adam and Eve. If I say the ark... Goliath... When I say lion's den... Daniel. Now when I say Red Sea, you probably think of who? Moses, of course. But there's some of you, you may not be very familiar with the Bible. I talked to a man not longer ago in fact it was after the 9:15 service. In fact, he just got born again, he just got saved after the 9:15 service right out there. Doesn't know much about the Bible. Didn't know much about the story of Moses and that may be you.
So let me kind of introduce you to this man. Except for Jesus, no giant cast a bigger shadow over the Bible than Moses. In the centuries between Abraham and Jesus, the most influential figure was Moses. He was mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible. If God had a Mount Rushmore, Moses would probably be the first guy on the piece of that rock. He was one of the two men that were sent back from heaven to talk to Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. He wrote the first song ever written in the Bible. And to this day, he is revered by Muslims, he is revered by Jews, and he is revered by Christians. The Jewish festivals of Tabernacles, Weeks, Passover, the holy days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, all find their roots in the story of Moses.
If you ever get a chance to go to Israel with me, you go to Jerusalem, you'll see these people walk around in long black robes and they've got hair coming down like this and long beards. They're Orthodox Jews. They dress the way they dress and they even force the entire nation of Israel to shut down on the Sabbath day all because of Moses. He still cast a big shadow today. As a matter, he is enshrined in the architecture of the US Supreme Court. Inside there's a mural, a painting. Outside there is a monument honoring Moses as the greatest law giver in history. But what put Moses on the map, what made Moses a household name was this one event. It was this one defining moment.
The series we're starting today, that we're calling Red Sea moments. Because what you're going to see in this series is in so many ways the life of Moses is your life. And the life of Moses is my life. I want you to listen to what about to tell you. This is why you don't wanna miss the next eight weeks. The story of Moses really is our story. Because the story of Moses is not just what God did for Moses, it's what God wants to do for you. It's not just what God did in Moses, it's what God wants to do in you. It's not just what God did through Moses, it's what God wants to do through you. The story of Moses is not just a story, it is your story, it's my story. God wants it to be our story. And the first thing we're going to learn from Moses is we are not accidents.
As a matter of fact, the same God that brought Moses into the world at a specific period, at a specific place, for a specific purpose, to fulfill a specific plan is the same God that has done that for you. Now I wanna tell you, you're not gonna believe this. I'm not hyping this, I'm not selling anything. You are every bit of special to God as Moses was. God has a purpose for you, just like he did for Moses. You play a part in God's plan, just like Moses did. Now, let me give you the background of the story. We're in the book of Exodus by the way, second book in the Bible. When Moses was born, the Hebrew people had become slaves in the land of Egypt. It wasn't always that way. 400 years earlier, there was a great man named Joseph. Joseph was Jewish, he was a Hebrew. But God used Joseph, raised him up through the ranks. He became the prime minister of Egypt. His people were adopted, Pharaoh adopted all of the Hebrew people and gave them favored status and said, "You're now one of us".
The 400 years had passed and the Bible says there was a pharaoh that arisen. He didn't remember Joseph. He didn't know Joseph. He didn't care about Joseph. What he did see was there were these foreign immigrants in his country and they're my multiplying like rabbits. And he's thinking if I don't do something, they are going to absolutely take over the nation of Israel. So the Hebrew people now have two big problems. There was a pharaoh that had forgotten Joseph, but even worse, they had forgotten God. He had forgotten who pharaoh was, they had forgotten who God was. And it was in that situation that this little baby was born that changed everything. The Hebrew people needed a miracle and that miracle came in the form of a baby.
Now I'm gonna say this to you and again, you're gonna think, man, this is just psychobabble, but it's not. Go home today, this is your assignment after the message. Go home today and look in the mirror and you're looking at a miracle. You are a miracle. Just as much as Moses was a miracle, you are a miracle and I will show you why. There were three things we're told that were true of Moses from the moment he came into the world, that was true of you, and is true of you the moment you came into the world. Number one, we are born in the providence of God. We are born in the providence of God. Now this most extraordinary man is introduced in a very extraordinary way. We're in Exodus 2:1.
Now a man in the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman. Now you may think, that's not very important verse. It's a big verse. Matter of fact, there's a big word in that verse and it's that word now. You know why that's such an important word? Because the only time on God's clock is now. God doesn't care about yesterday, he's not even worried about tomorrow. He never worries about anything. God is all about today. On God's clock, the time is always now. It's never later. And here's the point. Just like Moses was born in God's time, you were born in God's time. Just as Moses was born in God's now time, so were you. And God's time is always about, God's time is always about timing and His timing is always perfect.
Listen, think about this. I bet you never thought about this before. You know when you were born. Most, every one of you I'm sure know your birthday, but have you ever wondered why your birthday is your birthday. Why were you born on that particular day, in that particular month, in that particular year? And why were you born the person that you are? Because that was God's perfect time for you. That was God's perfect time for your birth. And no birth is never an accident. We are all an appointment. We're all born according to God's timetable. God's timetable is perfect, so that means from the time I was born and the time you were born, God has been in control of every aspect of your life. And I'll show you why this is such a big deal. Had I been a consultant, had you been a consultant and God came to you and God had said to you, "Hey, what do you think about me bringing Moses into the world"?
You would've said to God, "I don't think that's a good idea. I don't think this is a good time". Well, why not? Because Pharaoh was so afraid of the Hebrew people getting out of control. He had actually put out a decree about Hebrew baby boys. Here's what he did. "The king of Egypt to the Hebrew midwives whose names were Shiphrah And Puah. Remember those names by the way. 'When you're helping the Hebrew women during child birth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him. But if it is a girl, let her live.'"
So every Hebrew boy is born with a death sentence. Every single one. And yet in God's mind, this was the perfect time in Israel's history for Moses to be born. Because as you're going to see in the moment, this is so cool. The same pharaoh that wanted to kill Moses adopted him as his grandson. What a story. The same Pharaoh that wanted to kill Moses adopted Moses as his grandson. It's one of the greatest display of the providence of God you will find anywhere. That the man who would someway, someday day deliver the Hebrew people from this tyrannical, evil, brutal, dictator is gonna be trained by Egyptian royalty to become one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.
You say okay, what's the point? Here's the point? No birth is accidental. There's no such thing as an accidental baby. No baby was ever born at the wrong time, in the wrong place. Every single child is conceived and born in the providence of God. It is not an accident that you were born or I was born at this particular time in this particular place as this particular person. And when you study the life of Moses, you're gonna find out there were a lot of miracles that took place in Moses' life. As a matter of fact, outside of Jesus, more miracles took place in the life of Moses than anybody else in the Bible. But what's really interesting here is at the very beginning of the story, there's no miracle. A man marries a woman. They come together, they conceive, and a baby is born. But what some people would call coincidence, the Bible calls providence.
And you're going to see in just a moment, it was the providence of God that brought Moses out of the womb into the world. By the way, the same providence of God that brought Moses into the world, is the same providence of God that guided Moses through the world. It was the same providence of God that guided Moses' mother to put Moses in that basket in a river. And at the same time, it was the providence of God that guided Pharaoh's daughter to come down to the river at the time the baby was put in the river. It was in the providence of God that just as the baby got in the river and the daughter came to the river, that the baby began to cry. It was in the providence of God that daughter heard that baby cry and that her daughter said, "Well, I want to adopt that baby".
Here's the point I'm trying to make. The providence of God from the time you're born to the time you die, God's providence never stops working in your life. You may not see it, you may not realize it, you may not feel it, but he is always working. So you may think, I've heard people say, "I wish I could see miracles like they used to have in Bible days". Can I tell you something? Every day you live is a miracle. You are here today because of a miracle of God's mercy and God's favor. There's a miracle in your mirror every day. It all starts with being born in the providence of God. But that's not the end of the story. Just like Moses, we are born in the providence of God. But just like Moses, we survive under the protection of God.
Now watch how this story works out. Moses is born. That's good news. Well, maybe not. Because remember, Moses is born under a destinate. From the time Moses drew his first breath, he's a wanted baby. Not the good way, but a bad way. Every year, 140 million babies are born in this world. 10% will never see their first birthday. One out of 10 babies will die before their first birthday. Well, in that day, the mortality rate was much higher. Because Pharaoh said, "I want a 100% mortality rate. If that Hebrew baby is a boy, I want that baby dead. Want it dead, forget alive". So the moment that Moses is born, every Egyptian soldier is a hit man. Every Egyptian soldier's got his name. Every Egyptian soldier wants to hunt him down and kill him. So Moses needs a bodyguard. But he only needed one.
So here we go. When she, Moses' mother saw that he was a fine child, she hit him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. And Moses' mother was named Jochebed. One of the greatest women in the Bible. So she's had a baby. She's kept that baby for three months. She knows she can't hide the baby any longer. She doesn't have any choice. She's got to give the baby up. So in this tremendous act of faith, she goes down to the river. She gets some reeds, she makes a basket. She puts that baby in the basket, and she puts that baby in the river, and she steps back.
And to a human eye, you would say, well, she just rolled the dice. It was just a game of craps. It was just the luck of the draw. All she can do is leave it up to fate. No, that's not what she left it up to at all. I want to show you something. This will be worth coming to church for. I'd never seen this till I did this message. You see this word, papyrus basket. She put him in a papyrus basket, that word's only used one other time in the Old Testament. It's the word taba. You ready for this? The only other time that word is used in the Old Testament is the word that was used for Noah's ark. That wasn't a basket she put him in, that was the ark of God she put him in. Angels were around that basket.
Let me tell you something. When she put that baby in that basket, you could have nuked that basket, that baby wouldn't have died. There wasn't a sword that could pierce it. There wasn't a bullet that could go through it. There wasn't a soldier. You could have had an army. Nobody could touch that baby. He was in God's ark. He was under God's protection. Because it was God's job to protect him. It was God's job to take care of him. So here's the thing. Jochebed wasn't just giving Moses up, She was giving Moses up to God, but she wasn't giving up on God. She'd given that little baby to God. So here's what we read. "Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He's crying. She felt sorry for him. 'This is one of the Hebrew babies,' she said".
Let me just stop right there. This is one of the Hebrew babies. Now what should have happened right then? Somebody tell me, you've been paying attention. What should have happened right then? Could have killed him. Her own father said, "Kill the baby". "Then his sister asked pharaoh's daughter, 'Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?' 'Yes, go,' She answered". So the girl went, I love this part, and got the baby's mother. Does God have a sense of humor? "So pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Take this baby and nurse him for me.' Now watch this, 'And I will pay you.' So the woman took the baby and nursed him".
Watch how the dominoes fall. The baby's placed in the basket on the river bank, pharaoh's daughter comes down to bathe, she sees the basket, sends her slave to get the baby. The baby is crying, she feels sorry for him. Moses's sister says, "I know somebody that can take care of the baby". The nurse says, "Go get her". And who does she get? Moses's mother. Do you think God knows what he's doing? You think God's got all this figured out? See, God is always aware. God always cares. He will do whatever it takes to protect his own. Sometimes it may be by parting a Red Sea. Sometimes it may be with a rock and a slingshot. Sometimes it may be in a basket of reeds. Sometimes it may be by pharaoh's daughter. Sometimes it may be by midwives. But God, every day wants us to understand, you live every day for one reason, you're alive today for one reason, God protects you. God is watching over you.
Steve Brown is a great Christian speaker I love. He's on the radio. Steve Brown told a story one time, one of the coolest stories I've ever heard. He tells a story about the Cherokee Indians. Back in the day, the Cherokee Indians had a custom. When they wanted their young men, we call them youth, but they wanted to move a youth into the manhood, you might call it their bar mitzvah, here's they would do. They'd take a boy, usually we'd be about 12 years old. They would take that boy out into the woods dark night. Dark at night they'd take him out into the woods and leave him there. And they would tell that boy, you cannot cry, you cannot scream, you cannot call for help, you cannot leave the spot. You have to stay right here all night long. Imagine that, you're 12 years old. And you're out in the middle of this wilderness and you know they didn't sleep all night long.
I mean, every little sound they played with their mind, every shadow looked like a bear, every noise looked like danger. And that 12 year old boy would count the seconds and the minutes and the hours just praying for the sun to come up. And then finally, when that sun would come up, that young Cherokee boy would kind of look around to see where he was, and the first thing he would see, about 10 feet away was his father with a bow and an arrow and a knife. 'Cause that dad had been there the whole time, keeping watch over his son. The son didn't know it, the son couldn't hear him, the son couldn't see him, but the whole time that father was standing right there.
And I wanna tell you, no matter where you are in your life, God is always right there beside you. He will never leave you. Yeah, let's give the Lord a hand. He will never leave you. He will never take his eyes off of you. He will never let his attention wander anywhere else. He'll never quit caring for you and loving you and protecting you and taking care of you. But that leaves me to say this and for some of you, this is gonna be very difficult. But if you're a parent and I'm a parent. But if you're a parent, from the time your kids draw their first breathe, before you even put that first diaper on them, I wanna advise you the first thing you better do with your children from time they're born, the first thing you should do and the very best thing you should do is you immediately give them back to God. 'Cause I got news for you, you may have conceived them, but they're not your child. They're his child. They're a gift to you. They don't belong to you, they belong to him.
And I know some of you say, "But pastor, it is so hard to do that. It's so hard to give up my kids. How can you ask me to do that"? Wait a minute. Learn the lesson Jochebed learned. Okay, you ready? What you give to God always comes back to you. What you give to God always comes back to you. Now you think about this. Not only does Moses' mother get Moses back, she gets paid to take care of him. What you give to God always comes back to you. There's a miracle in your mirror because every day you survive under the protection of God. So number one, you know why I know we're all special? We were born in the providence of God. You know why I know we're all special? We survive under the protection of God. Let me tell you one last thing, you ready? We live for the purpose of God. We live for the purpose of God. Everything God puts his hand on has a purpose. Everything that God creates has a purpose. Every person born into this world has a purpose.
So let me go back to something. Remember those two women, we talked about those two midwives. When you read the story of Moses, you kind of think they're kind of incidental, but they're really fundamental. Remember, Pharaoh's orders. Every Jewish male to be killed the moment they come out of their mother's womb. He gave strict orders. Let me remind you of what he said. "The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives who names were Shiphrah and Puah, 'When you're helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that baby as a boy, kill him. But if it's a girl, let her live.'"
Now these midwives know the penalty for disobeying Pharaoh. They know if we don't end his life, he will end our life. It's us or him. And they could have very easily said, we're just obeying the law. We're just doing what we're told to do. Just like today. There are doctors who excuse what they do by saying, well, it's the law of the land. It's what five Supreme Courts justices said that every woman has a right to. And by the way save your email, you're not gonna change my mind. So we just have to do what we're told to do. But God had a purpose for these midwives. Listen to this. The midwives, however, Feared God. So just a is another aside, the day you fear man's law or five Supreme Court justices more than you fear God, you're in big trouble. I'll just leave it right there. You're in big trouble. The midwives, however, feared God. They didn't do what the king Egypt had told them to do. They let the boys live.
Then the king of Egypt summoned of the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live"? I love this. They're so funny. "The midwives answered Pharaoh, 'Hebrew women are not like a Egyptian women, they're vigorous. They give birth before the midwives arrived.'" Man, they just spit them out. We can't get there in time. "So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous". Now watch this, this is so cool. This stuff on Moses, I'm just telling you, I'm so excited about this series. It's so rich. Some of you don't know this, I'm five weeks ahead of my sermon preparation. I've already done my sermons the next five weeks. So I'm already so full of Moses, I just can't get rid of of it. And it's so exciting because it was God's job to protect Moses. Everybody knows that. But what's cool is how he did it. He didn't send angels from heaven. He didn't even step in himself. What does Moses do?
If you knew God say, "Hey God, we got a problem here. Man, Moses's about to get killed. How're you gonna take care of him"? You would've blown your mind if God had said, "You know what? There's these two minimum wage midwives who can't even read or write or sign their name, but I'm gonna use them to save that baby boy". And it's hard to even describe the courage of those two women. It's recorded act of civil disobedience in history. What I want you to notice is this, how God used two ordinary women in seemingly ordinary ways to do extraordinary things. And by the way, notice something else. Can anybody here tell me the name of the pharaoh? No, 'cause you don't know his name, 'cause we're not told who he is. But we know their names. 3,300 years later, we're still talking about Shiphrah and Puah And they probably had a Marine boy named Hooah.
But anyway, listen. You like that, Teresa? Listen. We talk about them today. They're famous today. We'll never forget them. Why? They had a purpose and they fulfilled God's purpose. Same through to Moses. Moses had a divine purpose coming to the world. Matter of fact, we even see it in what his name was. Remember how he got his name? "When the child grew older, she took me the favors daughter. He became her son. She named him Moses saying, 'I drew him out of the water.'" The name Moses sounds like the Hebrew word Masha and the word Masha literally means to draw out, to pull out. In other words, Moses's God used the daughter of a pagan king to pull him out of the water. So later on he could use Moses to pull the people out of the nation of Egypt.
Now watch this. Even the very book that contains Moses' story, Exodus literally means departure. It means going out. Moses was born in Egypt to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt. You know why this is such a great story, 'cause it's the same story throughout the Bible. Behind every human person is a divine purpose that God wants to carry out. But this is the really unbelievable thing and we forget this. This is why I am so pro-life, unapologetically pro-life because whenever God has something great he wants to accomplish, the number one way He always does it, He sends a baby.
So, When God decided America needs to be liberated, He sends a baby named George Washington. When God said it's time for slavery to be eradicated, He sends a baby named Abraham Lincoln. When God says, you know it's time for racial equality to be elevated, He sends a baby named Martin Luther King. And when God says it's time for every sinner to be eternally exonerated, he sends a baby named Jesus. He always sends a baby. When he's got something great that needs to be done, He always sends a baby. Listen to me, God sent you for a purpose. God sent me for a purpose. We are not an accident. We're not just a random collection of molecules that came by way of evolutionary process. We are a special creation of God. We were born at a certain time at a certain place for a certain purpose to fulfill a certain plan. And God has great things for you just like he had great thing for Moses. And if you're willing to fulfill that purpose, he will fulfill that purpose to you.
Now let tell you why this is so important. If you don't ever discover why you are here, you will waste the time you are here. If you don't ever discover why you are here, you will waste the time you are here. See, science can tell us physiologically how we got here, but it can't tell us why we are here. Science can tell you how your life came to be, it can't tell you how your life is to be lived. There's a saying I'm sure you probably have heard before, God has a wonderful plan for your life. We've all heard that saying. It's true, but I don't think it's in the right order. This is what I think we really mean by this. It's not so much that God has a plan for your life as it is that you should give your life to his plan.
And God's for you is to accomplish his purpose and the one purpose we all have is to love God, worship God, serve God, and glorify God that gave us life to begin with. So here's what I'm saying to you and we're done. Go home today and look at the miracle in your mirror. Never underestimate the birth of any baby and never underestimate the baby of any birth including your own, because big things really do come in small packages. I'll just leave you with this, who would've ever dreamed that a mother in a poor family of an impoverished and enslaved people would give birth to the greatest law giver of all time.
And who would've ever imagined that a teenage girl who could not read, who could not write, who couldn't even sign her own name would give birth to the savior of mankind. It's incredible, the miracle in the mirror. We were all born at an appointed place, in an appointed period, under an appointed protection for an appointed purpose, for an appointed plan. And when you realize that's true, when you realize that's true, that means for the rest of your life every time you look in the mirror, just like God's man, Moses, you'll see a miracle staring back at you.
Would you pray with me right now with his heads bowed and with eyes closed? I wanna tell you right now whether you're watching online, watching by television, looking at a computer, whether you're in this building right now, let me tell you why you were born, you listen to me. You were born to be born again. That man that got saved after our 9:15 service, he came up to me, was telling me about a problem he had. He couldn't overcome it. I looked at him and I said, "I wanna ask you a question. Do you understand what it means to be born again"? He said, "I'm not quite sure". I said, "So you've never been born again"? He said, "No, I haven't". I said, "Sir, you'll never solve your problem until you get born again and then God will take care of your problem".
That's why he was born again this morning. You were born to be born again. And listen, no matter what else you do in your life, if you've never been born again, you will live a wasted life. So God puts you in to this world. Number one purpose, to give your life to Christ. He sent Jesus Christ to die for your sin, so you not only could have eternal life, but you could have a purpose filled life right now. If you're watching online right now, you're in this building, and you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, why don't you do what that beautiful lady did just a while ago. Five minutes before got baptized she gets saved. Would you like to be saved right now? You say yes, I would. Why don't you just tell the Lord something like this:
Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner and I'm lost. I need a savior. I believe you died from my sins. I believe God raised you from the dead. I believe you're alive right now. Come into my heart, save me, forgive me. I repented my sins, turn away from my sins. I give everything I am, Lord Jesus to all that you are right now.