A Sermon Preached at the ACK St. James Church – Buruburu on Sunday 4th February 2018
- Deuteronomy 7: 17-22
God is able to transform all things instantly but He also chooses to take long. The Bible, right from Genesis through to the Book of Revelation is a story of God’s acts of transformation, punctuated with scenes of instant transformations interjected with episodes of painfully long and tedious transformation processes. It took God only six days to create the heavens, the earth and everything in them thus transforming nothing into something; while it took God 40yrs from Egypt to the Promised Land – to transform the Israelites from being refugees to a settled community in the Promised Land and 400yrs transforming the Israelites from refugees to an organised nation with the first King – Saul.
The Little by Little Formula – I believe that God can carry out an instant transformation; but I also believe that God works out the transformation process through “The Little by Little Formula”.
Back to the Text
Deuteronomy 7:22 “The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.”
God had promised the Israelites that He would drive away their enemies. I am sure the Israelites would have been glad to see their enemies wiped out at once; which might have been far better for them. But God chose the way of “The Little by Little formula.”
But why “The Little by Little formula”?
- It is God’s Opportunity to Glorify Himself
God can glorify Himself through instant transformations but He will also glorify Himself through “The Little by Little formula”.
Deuteronomy 7:17 “You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?”
Friends, transformation is a difficult task to accomplish. It is one thing to say “Be Transformed” but when you get down to the actual process of transformation, then you find it is a high mountain to climb; a tall order to obey; a hard nut to crack; an almost impossible task to perform.
Israel was faced with stronger nations to drive from the land of Canaan. It was a difficult task to accomplish. The million dollar question in the minds of the Israelites could have been: How can we drive them out?”
Transformation process can painfully be so slow that we are tempted to abandon it all together.
Transformation process can painfully be frustrating if we imagine what we are faced with; what we will have to go through and how long we will have to go through it.
- Struggling with Obesity and weight lose
- Slim possible
- Going through a diet programme
From a shapeless raw stone to a beautifully sculptured dove
As one aspires to lose weight; in order to be transformed from obesity, “The Little by Little Formula” is the way of the transformation process. As one purposes to go through a spiritual transformation in any area of the spiritual life; be it prayer, reading of the Bible, memorizing verses – remember “The Little by Little Formula” will keep you on the path of transformation. With the “The Little by Little Formula”, you cannot give up. You will press on to be transformed.
As the Israelites focused on the difficult task of transformation, Moses encouraged them:
Deuteronomy 7:18-19 “18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear.”
The exodus event was not an instantaneous event, but a process of “The Little by Little Formula”.
Exodus 10:1 “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them”
So, Pharaoh’s refusal to let the Israelites go was away in which God sought to glorify Himself.
Exodus 10:20, 27 “20But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go. 27But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go.”
The challenges or hardships of transformation are overcome through “The Little by Little Formula”. Begin small and progress on little by little to a Transformed state.
- It Creates Learning Opportunities Through Experiences
“The Little by Little Formula” creates a powerful opportunity for learning and harnessing experiences. Each stage of the journey towards transformation is a learning opportunity and harnessing the experiences gained from each stage.
“The Little by Little Formula” is a Training and Preparation process for the life now and in the Future.
Exodus 13:17-18 “17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.”
When you see a Champion, remember he / she is a product of “The Little by Little Formula”
When you see a Successful Husband / Wife, remember he / she is a product of “The Little by Little Formula”
When you see a Prayer Warrior, when you see a Great Preacher / Teacher of the Word, remember he / she is a product of “The Little by Little Formula”
When you see a Saintly man / woman of God, remember he / she is a product of “The Little by Little Formula”.
When you see a Great Missionary / Business man-woman / Scholar / Entrepreneur / Politician, remember he / she is a product of “The Little by Little Formula”
When you see a Great Thief, remember he / she is a product of the “The Little by Little Formula”
And when you see a Transformed person, remember he / she is a product of “The Little by Little Formula”.
Sometimes we are in a hurry to get instant transformations. Unfortunately, in the process we either end up with a fake transformation or a transformation that cannot withstand the test of time.
“The Little by Little Formula” creates learning opportunities through experiences.
- It Creates Room for Perseverance
“The Little by Little Formula” creates Room for Perseverance.
Moses had this advice to give to the Israelites:
Deuteronomy 7:20-22 “20 Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. 21 Do not be terrified by them, for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. 22 The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.”
The Israelites were to create room for perseverance as the Lord dealt with their enemies; driving them out by hornets through “The Little by Little Formula”.
Friends, when you purpose to be transformed, then you are enlisting into a process; a long and tedious torturing process which requires perseverance. Otherwise it is possible to give up midstream.
James 1:2-4 “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Perseverance is developed through “The Little by Little Formula”. If the transformation process is to reach its climax, then perseverance is a necessity.
Paul explains to the Romans a remarkable outcome of the transformation process through “The Little by Little Formula”:
Romans 5:3-4 “3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Transformation can be “a big bang” but transformation can also be “The Little by Little Formula”
You might be complaining and crying to God, “…God, I have done everything as you commanded but why is it taking too long? I have been praying for my children to be transformed; for my wife / husband, for my church, for my country, for my place of work, for transformation but God why is it taking too long?
Remember “The Little by Little Formula”. We cannot do without it.
“The Little by Little Formula” gives us hope that God is at work; that transformation is still on course; it gives us hope that soon we will be there; that through perseverance, we will be transformed.
Moses’ experience with Pharaoh is a clear summary of “The Little by Little Formula”, being an opportunity for God to glorify Himself, as creating learning opportunities through experiences and as creating room for perseverance:
- There was permission but limited but not to leave Egypt
Exodus 8:25 “Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.”
- There was permission but limited but only men are to leave Egypt
Exodus 10:10-11 “10 Pharaoh said, “The LORD be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. 11 No! Have only the men go; and worship the LORD, since that’s what you have been asking for.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.”
- There is permission but limited but only human beings (men, women and children) can go
Exodus 10:24-28 “24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the LORD. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.” 25 But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the LORD our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the LORD our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD.” 27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.”
- There is total permission without any limitation
Exodus 12:31-35 “31During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” 33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing.”
That is the “The Little By Little Formula”
2nd Sunday before Lent, 2018
Your Brother in Christ Jesus
The Rev. Simon J. Oriedo
Curate at ACK St. James Parish Buruburu, Nairobi – Kenya