MORE STEPS                                                                Exodus 18:1-27

Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her and her two sons. One son was named Gershom,[a] for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; and the other was named Eliezer,[b] for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”

So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.

Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country. Exodus 18:1-27

We continue outlining the steps we can take when in need of personal guidance from God. (4) Reason with God, think through the issue carefully, and do what John Wesley suggested: Lay your reasonings at God’s feet. Ask yourself questions such as these: Am I asking God to direct me when my mind is already made up? What are the pros and cons of the matter? How will God gain glory from my decision? How will my decision affect my family? Thinking through an issue is the way we move from our reasoning to God’s reasoning and, when necessary, change our mind. (5) The more important the decision you have to make, the more time, if possible, should be given to it. We should be careful about this, of course, because if some decisions are postponed too long the matter is decided by our indecisiveness. Give yourself a deadline for the task. Whenever I have an important decision to make I enter into a 24-hour fast; that helps to clear the mind and makes it more receptive to God’s leading. (6) If guidance is still not clear, consider sharing your concern with a mature Christians friend or with a group. A wise king (Solomon) once said, As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). The passage I have chosen as our reading for today (a fascinating story) describes how Moses, when he was in difficulty and unable to cope with increasing responsibilities, received some wise advice from his father-in-law, Jethro. Throughout the Bible we find commands to come alongside one another in times of uncertainty (see the Further Study Section). God often uses others to help us know His desires.

PRAYER LINE: Gracious Father, again I want to thank You for the way You have designed Your Church, so that one member can help the other. I am not alone in this body. Help others to help me, and help me to help others. In Jesus’ name. Amen. (EDWJ)

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