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Summary: The introduction to the Fall 2008 sermon series, ‘Overload: Saying ’No’ So We Can Say ’Yes"’

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and so I begin this morning with this picture. (Slide 1)

Can you read it? Why not? (Allow feedback.) The print is too small and it is crammed on the slide. Can anyone tell me what any of it says?

How about this?

(Slide 2)The next day, Moses sat as usual to hear the people’s complaints against each other. They were lined up in front of him from morning till evening.

(Slide 3) When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “Why are you trying to do all this alone? The people have been standing here all day to get your help.”

(Slide 4) Moses replied, “Well, the people come to me to seek God’s guidance. When an argument arises, I am the one who settles the case. I inform the people of God’s decisions and teach them his laws and instructions.”

(Slide 5) “This is not good!” his father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.

(Slide 6) Now let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing him their questions to be decided. You should tell them God’s decisions, teach them God’s laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives.

(Slide 7) But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.

(Slide 8) These men can serve the people, resolving all the ordinary cases. Anything that is too important or too complicated can be brought to you. But they can take care of the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.

(Slide 9) If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”

(Slide 10) Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. He chose capable men from all over Israel and made them judges over the people. They were put in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.

(Slide 11) These men were constantly available to administer justice. They brought the hard cases to Moses, but they judged the smaller matters themselves. Soon after this, Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, who returned to his own land.

Now, how was that? Much better? Why? There was room, there was margin in the slides that could help us read our main text for this morning, Exodus 18:13-27.

There was a professor of sociology (the study of societies and groups) at the college I attended who used to use a ruler to measure the margin of his students’ papers when they wrote a paper. He was a great man and I wish looking back, that I would have taken a class from him but I did not. However, I have always failed to see what measuring the margin had to do with learning sociology!

Just as we need margins in anything we read so that it makes sense to us, we need margins in our lives so that life makes sense to us. We need spaces so that we can live and grow and follow the Lord (as well as maintain our sanity.)

(Slide 12) Our series for the 5 or 6 weeks is title ‘Overload: Saying ’No’ So We Can Say ’Yes.’’

This is a series that I believe we need to experience given our current personal and cultural history and journey. As a nation, we are experiencing a great deal of overload and the results of overload. We need something more than another program to help us cope. We need the help and grace of God!

Some of us are on overload – work, school, family, finances, church, we are spinning many plates these days… and are desperate for margin; for space to feel human again. How does that happen?

Let me suggest the following things, which will serve as our focus over the next several weeks.

(Slide 13)

We can deal with overload when we admit to its existence. The first step in solving a problem is to admit that we have a problem that needs solved.

Being busy is one thing, being overbusy is another. Life, reality has limits. Right now our nation, I believe is having to learn (I truly hope) that there are limits. We have to come to grips with the truth that we can only do so much in a day and in a month and in a year and in a lifetime. We are told and taught that ‘you can do anything you want to’ and to a certain degree that is true, but it is not possible. We have to make choices, we have to say ‘no’ so that we can ‘yes’ to the right things.

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