- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Wardell Bonner at St. John Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Southeast.
By the time God spoke to Moses in the burning bush [Exodus 3:2-4], he is 80 years old. In the first part of his life in Egypt, Moses was learning how to be a somebody. Then from age 40 to 80, when he was a shepherd on the backside of a mountain, Moses learned to be a nobody.
Now here is Moses again, and he is learning how God can make a nobody into a somebody. When Moses was born, the pharaoh had declared that all the male Hebrew babies be destroyed. He thought someone in the Hebrew nation would grow up to be his rival. He was worried about this earthly situation.
You see, man always tries to fit God to his own plans, but God's view is higher. Think of when you travel on an airplane. At first the airport is so big, but once you rise up, even the trees and mountains seem small. When you become a child of God, you have to rise above things, rise above the devil.
So Moses' mother hid him in a basket in the river. When pharaoh's daughter found him, someone said, "I know a woman who can nurse him." And that was Moses' mother. Well, she raised him in the worldly court of pharaoh, but said, "Moses, I want to tell you who you are." She raised him as a Hebrew. What about you? Do you know who you are, or want to be who you are?
It took 40 years for Moses to learn he was somebody. As part of the royalty, he had his way. But his mother taught him so he did not lose his identity. Brothers and sisters, when times are good, don't lose your identity. If you can say "Amen" here in church, you should be able to say "Amen" on your job. If you can pray here, you should be able to pray in a supermarket. We can lose our identity. We'll read a newspaper on the airplane, but not bring a Bible with us.
So then one day Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. In his anger he struck at the Egyptian and then buried him in the sand. He tried to hide him. That is why we like night time to come, to hide us and what we do. Some people have dark tinted car windows. They hide. They don't want you to know who is riding with them. We hide in the back pew. Even ministers, we can be up here hiding behind these robes. But you know God. He sees everything.
The other Hebrews found out about Moses. When he told them, "Don't fight each other," they said, "Are you going to kill us, too, Moses?" You see, our deeds find us out. You must live what you talk. You can't be a devil all week long and Sunday morning singing, "Holy, holy holy." You have to try to be one person, a good person, seven days a week.
When pharaoh found out about Moses, he fled to the desert for the next 40 years. Now think about that. Forty years is a long time. How many of you say, "We've been doing it this way at the church for 40 years." But use you're imagination. Moses was 80 years old when God came to him in a bush that burned but was not consumed. God was ready to finally give Moses a job. He said, "I want you to go back and lead my people."
Moses said, "Forty years ago it would have been all right. Back then, I was a somebody." But there was the burning bush. It kept on burning, and you know, God has put something like that inside us. No matter how far we go from God, there still is something burning inside. You are a child of God. There is something within, so God has a way of putting you back.
Moses said, "I must turn aside." You've got to turn aside and listen to God. Moses wasn't ready to meet God 40 years earlier, but now he was. Everybody has to get ready for the moment. "Turn aside." We have to take the fire on the inside and go outside, and tell people God is alive.
Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Edwin P. Elliott Jr. at Reformed Presbyterian Church in Manassas.


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