Summary: To prepare Israel for what God had in store for them, He dramatically showed them how to accomplish great things for His Name’s sake. This ancient battle scene provides a pattern for attempting great things for God.

1. The first step for attempting great things for God is to be clearly called by God

2. The second step for attempting great things for God is to be openly dependent upon God

3. The third step for attempting great things for God is to be consistently unified toward God

4. The fourth step for attempting great things for God is to be boldly boastful about God

5. The fifth step for attempting great things for God is to be overtly thankful to God

EXODUS 17:8-16

In the late 1700s, a young bi-vocational pastor of a tiny country Baptist church in England caught God’s vision for missions. He became deeply concerned about spreading the Gospel to the world. But he was really just a nobody. How in the world could this little country preacher impact the world for Christ? He had a hard enough time impacting his own community. He couldn’t even impact his fellow pastors. In 1786, he stood up in a ministers’ meeting and told them that it was the duty of all Christians to come together and spread the Gospel around the world. One old hyper-Calvinist in the meeting shouted, “Young man, sit down—when God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid and mine.” But even opposition like that wouldn’t quench his concern for lost people. The Great Commission meant something to him. Jesus had called us to make disciples of all nations, and he was ready to answer the call. A few years later, he became a full-time pastor, wrote a very influential book on missions, and preached one of the greatest sermons ever preached. In that sermon, William Carey said these words: “Expect great things from God—attempt great things for God.” Finally, he overcame all the resistance and formed what would later become the Baptist Missionary Society—the great-great-granddaddy of our very own SBC. William Carey is known as the father of modern missions for his work in creating the missionary society, for his missionary work in India, and for all the Bible translation work he did. All that he accomplished… all of the souls that were saved as a result of his work… all of it was because he expected great things from God. And because he expected great things from God, he attempted great things for God. Thousands of years earlier, another man expected great things from God. Moses had seen the awesome power of God. He had seen the burning bush. He had seen the plagues in Egypt. He had seen the parting of the Red Sea. And he had heard God’s promises. He heard when God promised Israel a land flowing with milk and honey. He heard when God promised to protect them and care for them and make them a prosperous and blessed nation. He had seen God’s power and heard God’s promises and he expected God to be faithful to keep His promises. He expected great things from God because God promised He would do great things. And because of what Moses saw and what he expected, he wasn’t afraid to attempt great things for God. This passage recalls the history of Israel’s first battle in the wilderness. Joshua and the Israelites were going to fight their first battle as God’s chosen nation. To prepare them for the battles and blessings that awaited them, God dramatically showed them how to accomplish great things for His Name’s sake. War isn’t easy—especially when it’s you against the whole world. That’s what it was like for Israel. God gave them a land. Then He told them they had to conquer all of the nations who were currently living there. Dozens and dozens of nations. Many were larger and most had more military experience than Israel. Doing what God wanted in conquering the land was a great thing for them to attempt to do. Just like doing God’s will is a great thing for us to attempt to do. What is God’s will for us here? Well, one thing is that God has called us to reach our world with the Gospel. Not just our area—our world. That is a great thing for us to attempt. But how can we attempt such a seemingly impossible task? The same way Moses did. The same way the Israelites were supposed to do the seemingly impossible task of conquering all the nations in the promised land. We can look back to this ancient battle scene for a pattern to help us in our attempt. In this battle, we can see five crucial steps for attempting great things for God. The first step is to be clearly called by God. Look with me in verses 8-9:


In order to attempt great things for God, you have to be clearly called by God. God clearly called Moses to be the leader of His people Israel. Remember how it happened? Moses was an Israelite who was born into the Egyptian captivity. He was born an Israelite, but was raised in the house of Pharaoh. When he saw how Egypt was oppressing his people, it made him angry. It made him angry, so he took matters into his own hands. One day he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite. He looked around to make sure no one was looking and he killed the Egyptian. Notice something—we all know the story of Moses. God had a wonderful plan for Moses. The problem was, He hadn’t called him yet. Moses was attempting to do great things on his own. It was God’s plan for Moses to lead the Israelites out of bondage and into the Promised Land. That was His will. It was Moses’ desire to rescue the Israelites from their bondage. But God hadn’t called him to do it. Not yet anyway. Moses was acting on his own. And it cost him dearly. It cost him 40 years of insignificance in the Midian desert. It also cost Israel 40 more years of captivity. But then God called. He called him out of a burning bush. But now, Moses wasn’t so excited. He was comfortable and the plight of his Israelite brethren wasn’t so fresh on his mind. First Moses was ready to jump out ahead of God’s call. Now God was ready to call and Moses wasn’t ready to respond. But after wrestling with God’s call for a while, Moses finally submitted. And God gave him a sign of His call and authority. He gave him a rod. I’m sure it was a simple shepherd’s staff. But it was a symbol of the power of God’s call on Moses’ life. It was a symbol that served as a constant reminder of God, His power, and His calling. From that point forward, anytime Moses attempted something great for God, he had his rod there as a reminder of God’s call. As he stood on the top of the hill overlooking the battlefield, he had his rod. He had it to remind him that the only reason he was there was because God clearly called him. What has God called us to do? Has He placed a call on your life as an individual? Has He placed a call on us as a church? One thing He has called us to do is to reach the lost. That’s a clear call. It’s an unmistakable call. It’s a burning bush call. If we’re going to attempt to reach the lost in this area, we have to recognize our call. We have to carry it with us. We have to know that we’re not in it alone. We’re not acting on our own. We’re acting under the authority and power of Almighty God. The first step for attempting great things for God is to be clearly called. The second step is to be openly dependent upon Him. Look in verses 10-11:

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