Signs & Wonders: Week 2

There’s a pun about not listening that goes something like this:

So, I was on the couch the other day and my friend said "hey, you're not listening!" and I said "well, that's a funny way to start a conversation."

It's a light joke about the classic "tune-out".  It happens to the best of us. Active listening can be tricky though.  You have to pay attention to the speaker;  maintain the appropriate level of eye contact; maybe you paraphrase back what is being said; ask some questions; and avoid interruptions.  

Listening takes effort.  This week, we will talk about listening and the importance of listening to God.  Let's start with a prayer.  

Opening Prayer:

God, thank you for bringing us together this week.  We ask that you bless this conversation and help us to understand Your words.  Please help us to speak gently, listen well, and to be kind to one another.  In Your name we pray, Amen.  

Head:
Read Exodus 3:1-14 (CEB)

Moses was taking care of the flock for his father-in-law Jethro, Midian’s priest. He led his flock out to the edge of the desert, and he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. The Lord’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up. Then Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up. When the Lord saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

Moses said, “I’m here.”

Then the Lord said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain.  I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey, a place where the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites all live.  Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”  But Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  God said, “I’ll be with you. And this will show you that I’m the one who sent you. After you bring the people out of Egypt, you will come back here and worship God on this mountain.” But Moses said to God, “If I now come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they are going to ask me, ‘What’s this God’s name?’ What am I supposed to say to them?” God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. So say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’”

  • Moses received news from God that he was God's rescue plan to free the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt.  Yet, his response to the news was to question God's plan.  How might this be viewed as Moses not fully listening?

  • Using our modern understanding of what active listening entails, what would be some of the challenges Moses experienced in this story?  

  •  How does God comfort Moses when he expresses doubt about himself?

The Heart:

This collection of verses recount the exact moment when God reveals Himself to Moses as an adult.  However, God was present in Moses's life from the moment he was born.  In fact, God prepared Moses to be the one to lead the Israelites from captivity.  We know that Moses was born in Egypt to a Hebrew mother and was placed in a basket on the Nile River to be discovered by the daughter of Pharaoh.  Moses was raised as Egyptian royalty and was afforded all the resources to explicitly learn the language and culture.  Additionally, it would be fair to think Moses still had points of contact to help gain access to Pharaoh.  Moses could have realized that he was the perfect person to help with God's plan yet, he refused to listen.

  • Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt called to something because of your experience?  Share that experience where you felt called to something and you listened to that call.

  • God values good listening skills.  In fact there are several verses in the bible that highlight the value of listening. (James 1:19, Romans 10:17, Proverbs 18:13)  What are some ways that we can be better listeners?  

  • Last week, we talked about how the Holy Spirit is constant in our lives quietly nudging us to do the right thing.  How can better listening pick up on those nudges?  

The Hands:

If you think about how active the quiet presence of the Spirit truly is, then it is difficult to unsee how many signs from God there truly are in our lives.  This week, think about the nudges from the Spirit you experience.  You may be encouraged to pray about it.  But, once you start keeping track, all of a sudden, burning bushes are everywhere.   

  • Track the signs: Use a journal or memo in your phone and begin collecting the signs your feel, see, and hear. 
  • Use this Quote this week to meditate on how the Spirit shows up in and around you:  To eyes that see, every bush is a burning bush. -Eugene Peterson

Closing Prayer:

Hey God, thank you for the gift of listening.  Thank you for the quiet presence of the Holy Spirit within us.  Help us to be good listeners when the Spirit is guiding us.  Please forgive us when we fall short of this guidance.  Please show us the righteous path and provide us with opportunities to help others.  In your name we pray, Lord.  Amen. 

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