The Burning Bush that Talked
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. (Exodus 3:3-4)
Moses may have been one of the most educated men of his day simply because he had become the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. She would not have allowed her son to coast along as a lazy do-nothing in Pharaoh’s Palace. The Egyptians were an advanced civilization with great knowledge of math and science and agriculture. But here Moses is on the back side of the desert like a wandering nomad, tending sheep. Not a very advanced job.
His little job didn’t require any exercise of math or science or supervising of other people. We remember that he, by himself, had stood up to several shepherds at the well and that got him into the shepherding business. It looks like he’s wasting his talent and training on this flock of sheep. No one there to bow and address him as “Your Royal Highness Prince Moses.
Moses had early memories of a connection with a Jewish slave family. Nobody else in Pharaoh’s House had such a connection. His curiosity must have grown through the years. His blood mother surely did more than to wash his face and nurse him at her breast. She surely taught him everything she could about the Lord and Moses carried it with him into “the Big House.” Strange things she taught him that didn’t fit in with the Palace. He could not dismiss what she told him and what he saw in the slave hovel.
He survived the trek across the hot desert, running out of food and water. And here he is, safe and isolated from Pharaoh. He has seen a lot of things. He knows a lot of stuff. He has a lot to think about while he’s alone. And then it happened. He had seen a bush struck by lightning and burn up in just a few minutes. But…this is strange. The bush burns and burns and is not consumed. He went over to get a closer look.
The bush begins to talk to him with great authority: “Don’t come any closer! Pull off your shoes! You’re standing on holy ground!” He could have continued on a scientific inquiry but he had the good sense to realize that something much bigger than scientific inquiry was taking place. He had just met God!
Have you encountered your burning bush? Just you! God has your number and He singled you out and said: “Listen up! I’ve got something to say to you.” There are all kinds of burning bushes. Our knowledge of God is sometimes skimpy at best until God enrolls us in the Burning Bush 101 course. From then on, God is not a vague, maybe-so idea. Moses was at least 40 when he had his burning bush experience. He was enrolled in Pharaoh 101 until then. Oh, he was not wasting his time in Egypt. He was not wasting his time when he was floating in the little boat on the Nile river among the crocodiles. That was risky business for his mother to put him in the bull rushes on the river.
An overriding truth in God’s dealing with us is that usually all the days of God’s nudging us along look like common, uneventful days. It’s only when we look back on them that we can see there was a design unfolding all along. The place(s) we lived, the teachers we had, the people we met who just walked into our lives one day. God knows a lot about making and planning and doing things in the lives of people.
A burning bush in Moses’ earlier years was not in God’s plan. But there came the day when the burning bush was God’s calling card for Moses. We don’t have Moses’ job. But we DO have a job and we have Moses’ creator God who keeps up with sparrows and everything that lives and moves and He also keeps up with you. Whether we know it or not, when we put our feet on the floor every morning, it’s Holy Ground and we ought to live and think like it. I’m talking to saved people this morning. I may be talking to people who need to be saved people. After you are saved, this verse describes who you are:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I pray every day that God will pour out His Spirit upon us, our homes, churches and nation; for every preacher God has called and for every church He has built.
To that end I interviewed this unusual man of prayer for six days and wrote it down.The book highlights the life of Paul Ferguson as a fighter, evangelist and an earnest man of prevailing prayer. I met him in 1952.
He became the Southern Welterweight Boxing Champion in 1939 at age 23 and defended the title for eleven years. He had 232 professional fights and two thirds of his 214 wins were knockouts. He was never knocked out. He lost 10 fights and had 7 or 8 draws.
After the 2nd World War he continued boxing and while at the top of his game, he discovered by grasping John 5:24 that a Christian cannot lose his salvation. He lost interest in boxing and turned to the Bible and prayer with the same passion and discipline that he had exercised in boxing.
For the rest of his life he focused his whole life on: Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you… (James 4:8a). He memorized over eight thousand verses but he focused on the verse above. God’s power was upon him as he walked with God.
God had called Paul to be an evangelist but he wanted to be a pastor so he could be at home with his family. He argued with God about it for months. One night while working in a railroad switching yard in Greensboro, NC, the overhead lights went out. Paul continued with paperwork on his clipboard, using the light from his headband.
Suddenly he was lifted off the ground and moved over several feet. He thought he had been standing between tracks six and seven but he was not. He was standing in the middle of track seven. A coal car quietly rolled along the track where he had been standing and slammed into the car below. God made it clear to him: “The next time I won’t pick you up.” Paul dropped to his knees in the cinders and cried out to the Lord: “I’ll be an evangelist! I’ll do anything You want me to do!” (This story is on page 83 in the book. According to Mrs. Ferguson, who is still living, It happened in Greensboro, NC and NOT in Chattanooga, TN. The tape was not clear on this story.)
Missionary biographies are full of God’s unusual interventions.You already know that God made His angels …ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). And … the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…
(2 Chronicles 16:9)
Paul studied every Bible passage pertaining to prayer, especially of Jesus, the prophets, the Psalms and the apostles. He spent much time studying the lives of such men as E.M. Bounds, Charles Finney, Praying Hyde, Andrew Murray, A.T. Pierson, John Rice, Lee Roberson, D.L. Moody, R.A.Torrey, Charles Spurgeon, and many others. His favorite study was the life of Jesus and His relationship to the Holy Spirit.
One day I went by his house to take some fresh produce. When he finally came to the door he was barefooted and blinking at the bright day behind me. I had disturbed his prayer time. In his hand was a sheaf of papers on which was written the name of over a thousand people he prayed for every day. I knew my name was in that list somewhere. He said he had them memorized but if the Lord prompted him to stop and pray a while for one name, he would put his thumb there so he could easily find the next name.
We present Paul Ferguson the Fighter to encourage you to pray through hard times. Don’t give up! Pray for His power and direction in your life and in bearing spiritual fruit. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples (John 15:8).
The late Dr. John R. Rice wrote 60 years ago: “The drought of death is upon our country, upon our churches; upon our ministry…The trouble is that we do not have the power of God.” In 1969, I heard Dr. Rice say to a thousand preachers in Chicago:“If you preachers don’t learn how to pray, you needn’t bother to learn how to preach.” Deep down, we all know that— but prayer is hard work and we are all…so busy.
Jesus promised His power to do His work – (Luke 24:46-49) - (Acts 1:8) (Luke 11:13) etc. The reason we don’t have His power is that we are content to work in our own strength or else we simply don’t want to be bothered with prayer and walking with God.
If you would like to get a copy of the book, here's how: Call or Write: The Christian Book Store (910-692-3471) – 156 NW Broad St - Southern Pines, NC 28387. You can use VISA, Master Charge or Discover Card. Easy reading: 288 pages with 17 pages of pictures. One copy for only $12 (including postage). NC residents pay 7% tax. If you are not pleased, return for a full refund.
Dr. Lee Roberson read the manuscript and wrote the Foreword. He came up with the title: Paul Ferguson the Fighter. He knew Paul well and believed the accounts recorded in the book.
(Paul Ferguson: July 10, 1916 --- November 15, 1996)