Offbeat #6 - Jethro

When we think of making an impact for God’s kingdom, often we think of certain types of activities: evangelistic preaching, missions, healing ministry, etc.. These kinds of big, bold actions capture our attention quite easily. But, what about hospitality or wise counsel? Are we as quick to celebrate these activities? The story of a man named Jethro, from the book of Exodus, reminds us of the importance and impact these often-neglected acts can have.
Moses’ story is likely familiar to you: the great leader whom God used to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt. Jethro’s name may be less familiar, but Moses’ story was greatly influenced by this man and his demonstrations of simple hospitality and counsel. Once, when Moses was a young man, he killed an Egyptian who was beating one of his fellow Israelites. When word got out, Moses fled into the desert land of Midian for fear of retribution from Pharaoh. Upon his arrival in the land of Midian, Moses gave aid to the seven-daughters of Jethro, a priest and shepherd in Midian. Jethro responded by inviting Moses into his household. He showed him hospitality and even gave one of his daughters to be Moses’ wife. It can be easy to overlook the importance of this in Moses’ life, but Moses was a man without a home: raised by Egyptians, but not an Egyptian; an Israelite by birth, but alienated from his people by his upbringing. In Jethro’s family, Moses found a refuge. He lived in that refuge for 40 years before God called upon him to deliver Israel from slavery (Ex. 2:11-25).
We meet Jethro again in Exodus 18. God worked powerfully to lead Israel out of Egypt, through the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and through his provision of water and manna in the desert, but now Israel was a disorganized group of slaves trying to survive in the desert. Moses’ first act was to sit as judge before the people, dealing with disputes and arguments. Imagine trying to do this for over a million people? Moses was carrying a load far to big for him. Enter Jethro once again, this time as wise counselor. Jethro, perhaps leaning on his experience of managing a large household and estate, suggested to Moses that he appoint “chiefs” over groups of ten, fifty, one hundred and one thousand people. These chiefs would manage the business of the people, leaving Moses to deal with only the disputes unable to be handled by these overseers. This simple structure, stemming from Jethro’s wisdom, freed Moses to lead in other ways and, more importantly, to commune with God.
Hospitality and wise counsel may be less-celebrated kingdom building actions, but they are of huge importance. If you work these characteristics into your everyday life, you can have major impact on the life and ministry of others. Just last week, a couple who taught my 7th and 8th grade Sunday School class visited Grace for Sunday service while in the area to see family. I could easily recall some of the incredible wisdom they passed on during that time that had a tremendous influence on my developing faith. A handful of other teachers and counselors played similar roles in my faith journey, my ministry, my marriage, and my role as a parent. I can think also of people who showed me hospitality during a difficult season of my family life when I was in high school. I had a number of second homes. These families made me feel welcome and gave me community and friendship when I needed it most. Without the faithfulness, service, and intentionality of people like these, I really don’t know where I would be.
You have all the tools you need to play similar parts in other people’s faith journeys. You don’t need years of biblical education or formal training to offer hospitality or wise counsel to those in need. Simply share from what God has given you. Who knows how the wisdom or refuge you offer may be a launching pad for the faith, life and ministry of others?

Sean's Picks

Turning Over Tables - This song by The Brilliance reminds us of the power of God's love to set people free and build bridges of community and hope in difficult situations.

Best News Ever - Stanley John was my academic advisor and the head of my program at Alliance Theological Seminary. His teaching has greatly impacted my view of Christianity and of global missions. In this sermon, you'll get a feel for his passion for missions history, current trends, and how you and I fit in to what God is doing around the world.

Missions Spotlight:
Shannon Campbell (Disciple Makers)

PSU freshmen moved in last week! Would you take a few minutes to join me in prayer for these specific requests?
  • Pray for opportunities on campus, despite obstacles: We are starting outreach this week as freshmen move in. Pray for God to lead us to students, and for Him to lead students to us, despite restrictions.
  • Pray B.O.B. for DiscipleMakers student leaders: A Burden for the lost, Opportunities to reach the lost, and Boldness to reach the lost. Pray many will be eager to help with outreach! Pray our student leaders develop the desire & urgency to spend time in prayer for those who haven't believed in Jesus.
  • Pray for our small group outreach training on August 22nd: We'll hold remote training over Zoom for all small group leaders & co-leaders for the year ahead. Pray students will attend, grasp the vision, and be excited about reaching the campus, especially through their small group communities this year. 
  • Pray for God to mobilize students to take the gospel to all nations: Some of our students are considering full-time ministry, either in the States or overseas. Pray for clarity and wisdom for them this year as they reach out to their international friends who are on campus.
  • Pray for unity on our staff team: As we seek to be flexible & nimble in planning, pray we will believe the best about one another, and pray against Satan's attacks on our relationships amidst the craziness of ministering during Covid-19.
  • Pray for creativity and wisdom in planning: We are forced to think outside the box this semester as we reach and teach students. We want to practice wisdom, keep students healthy, and joyfully submit to guidelines set by the PSU administration. Pray we can continue to reserve classrooms in PSU's spiritual center for socially-distanced teaching. Also pray for us as we minister virtually to many of our students, who are doing remote learning this semester.
  • Pray for favor in the eyes of the PSU administration: Pray the current freedoms we as staff do have on campus will not be revoked, and that PSU will see the need for ministries like DiscipleMakers because of our ability to encourage students who struggle emotionally & spiritually with the gospel. 
  • Pray for encouragement for our team and students: If PSU decides to go fully online for the semester, pray we find hope and strength in the Lord to keep ministering well. 
  • Pray for other DiscipleMakers campuses: Many are facing restrictions greater than those currently at PSU! Pray for the encouragement of the staff serving there. 
  • Pray for God's mercy: That He will give wisdom to those developing a Covid-19 vaccine and protect more people from getting Covid-19.
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