#1 (THE "5 EXCUSES OF MOSES" SERIES)
"WHO AM I?"
TEXT: Exodus 3:1-12
INTRO: What does it mean to be a “Christian?” If someone who had never heard of Christianity spent time observing Christians how would they describe us? What would they say a Christian is and what the call of Christian is?
a. They would say Christians are called to go to Church meetings once or twice a week.
b. Christians are called to give money in offering plates and sing a few songs.
c. Christians are called to listen to some guy stand up front and explain the meaning of this book called the Bible!
d. Christians are called to hope some day for a place called heaven! etc. (in some churches they would not hear about this anymore!)
e. Christians like to have lots of dinners together.
Would they even know that we are primarily called by God to win the lost!!!??? Would there be enough evidence among us that being a Christian is not just for personal satisfaction but is a call to win the lost?
Like Moses, when God called upon him to go and save the Jewish slaves in Egypt he finds more excuses for not responding! In a series of 5 excuses Moses begins with an excuse that sounds so humble, but it is just another excuse to do nothing! "WHO AM I?" he says to God, meaning that he is nothing! However, he is focusing on the wrong statement ... it isn't who Moses is; it is who God is that counts!
A faith that carries no responsibility, that carries no load, is not likely to stand the test of time or trials!
ILLUS: DURING THE HURRICANE OF 1938 HERE IN NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND, THE RAILROAD BRIDGE AT WHITE RIVER JUNCTION WAS IN DANGER OF BEING SWEPT AWAY BY THE FLOOD WATERS, SIMPLY BECAUSE IT STOOD ALONE AND EMPTY. THE POWER OF THE STORM WOULD BLAST THE FRAIL BRIDGE APART. SOMEONE WHO HATED TO SEE THE BRIDGE LOST CAME UP WITH A PLAN, HE HAD THE RAILROAD COMPANY BACK UP AND OVER THE BRIDGE SEVERAL FREIGHT CARS THAT WERE HEAVILY LOADED DOWN WITH CARGO. THEY DID THIS WITH BOTH TRACKS ON THE BRIDGE. SURE ENOUGH, EVEN WITH THE STRONGEST CURRENTS AGAINST IT, IT STOOD! THE ONLY WAY IT WAS IMPERILED WAS WHEN IT CARRIED NO LOAD! THE BURDEN UPON IT ACTUALLY KEPT IT STANDING DURING THE STORM! HE WHO CARRIES THE WEIGHT OF THE LOST ON HIS HEART WILL NOT BE DESTROYED BY THE GREATEST STORMS OF LIFE! – Source Unknown
Moses had spent 40 years living a simple shepherd's life, he was married, content, living a comfortable life, at 80 years old perhaps he was looking forward to retirement. At such a point in his life God comes and puts a fresh call on his life, a call to save others! Moses however is ready with excuses ... each seemed reasonable to him, but they were unacceptable to God. We often use these same excuses, and God persists just as He did with Moses!
Moses discovered that there is NO TIME in life when we are free from the responsibility to save the lost, there is no retirement plan for believers except when we get to heaven itself.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we are called to save others, and that each of us has a job to do for the Lord. No excuse is a good one for God!
I. BURNING BUSHES! Ex. 3:1-6
A. Present Service 3:1
1. Why would God call a man like
Moses, a simple shepherd on the back side of a rough wilderness to lead
a. God knew exactly what He was doing; this was exactly the kind of training a man would need to lead a huge crowd of people through the desert!
b. It was the very experiences Moses had had for the last 40 years that made him such a good candidate for the kind of ministry God needed!
2. Moses now knew the desert well, he knew how to find water, he knew the importance of fighting off enemies of sheep, etc.
3. It was his active present service that qualified him for the ministry God was looking for!
a. It is important to know that had Moses NOT been active in this kind of ministry already, he would have never had the burning bush experience!
b. God tends to call those who are already serving and active.
4. It was the very things on Moses’ mind as a Shepherd that would be the kinds of things needed for someone to lead Israel!
ILLUS: ELI WHITNEY WAS VISITING THE SOUTH OVER A CENTURY AGO WHEN SOME OF THE COTTON PLANTERS TOLD HIM OF THEIR DIFFICULTIES EXTRACTING THE SEEDS FROM THE RAW COTTON, HOW TIME CONSUMING AND DIFFICULT THE JOB WAS. THEY STATED THEIR WISH OF SOME KIND OF MACHINE THAT COULD DO THE JOB FOR THEM. THAT NIGHT WHITNEY LAY IN BED UNABLE TO SLEEP FOR THINKING ABOUT THIS. LONG AFTER MIDNIGHT HE WENT TO THE WINDOW TO GET SOME FRESH AIR. THERE IN THE MOONLIT NIGHT WAS A CAT THAT HAD JUST KILLED A CHICKEN IN THE CHICKEN COOP. THE CAT WAS DESPERATELY TRYING TO PULL THE DEAD CHICKEN OUT THROUGH THE SLATS IN THE COOP, BUT THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE SLATS WERE TOO NARROW FOR THE BROAD BODY OF THE CHICKEN. EVERY TIME THE CAT'S PAW CAME OUT OF THE COOP AFTER PAWING INTO THE CHICKEN, IT BROUGHT OUT ONLY A PAW FULL OF FEATHERS SINCE THE BODY OF THE CHICKEN COULDN'T FIT BETWEEN THE SLATS ... AS WHITNEY TURNED TO GO BACK TO BED HE BEGAN TO THINK ABOUT WHAT HE HAD JUST SEEN AND THE PROBLEM WITH THE RAW COTTON BEING SEPARATED FROM THE HARD SEEDS ... AND HE SAID, "WHY NOT BUILD AN IRON CLAW THAT WOULD PULL THE FIBERS THROUGH A FINE MESH LEAVING THE HARD SEEDS BEHIND." HENCE THE INVENTION OF THE COTTON GIN! IT WASN'T A COLLEGE DEGREE IN MECHANICS THAT HELPED HIM, IT WAS WHAT HE HAD JUST EXPERIENCED AND SEEN! -- Source Unknown
5. God often uses what we have experienced and who we are for the tasks He calls us to!
6. It was Moses' present service that qualified him for the task God had for him!
B. Personal Selection 3:2-4
1. The call involved using something that was both familiar and yet different!
a. There was nothing strange about a bush on fire in the desert!
b. However, one that was on fire, but not consumed was different!
2. Had Moses not been actively busy shepherding he would not have seen this scene!
a. God counted on his present service to make this opportunity available!
b. Moses is called by a method understandable to him!
3. When God calls He makes the call very personal and in a way we can and will understand!
4. Moses' curiosity was stirred by this strange sight, God did have his attention, DOES HE HAVE OURS!?
C. Problem Sandals 3:5-6
1. After God calls Moses by name and he responds with, "Here am I" God asks Moses to do 2 things:
a. "Do not come any closer" ... this may sound strange at first, but Moses wasn't ready for a full encounter with God at this point yet! Later, God meets with him face to face!
(1. God does not draw us in any farther than what we are ready for at any moment!
(2. God knew just how much Moses could handle for now!
b. “take off your sandals, for the place you are standing on is holy ground.”
(1. Why did God say, "take off your sandals"? God wanted no man-made barriers between Moses and his contact with God, he wanted direct contact with Moses and thus the sandals had to be removed!
(2. It was the practice of the day for a slave to take off his sandals when in the presence of his master ... it represented accepting the role of being a servant!
(3. Moses was to know that this encounter was not an ordinary event, it was not a "common" experience ... it was sacred!
2. What are some of the barriers between us and our contact with God?
3. Moses was to remove anything that came between him and God, and between what he wanted to do and what God wanted done!
ILLUS: YEARS AGO PETER THE GREAT OF RUSSIA FELT A STRONG NEED FOR THE RUSSIANS TO LEARN THE GREAT SECRETS OF SHIPBUILDING. NO ONE KNEW HOW TO BUILD BETTER SHIPS THAN THE DUTCH; SO, LAYING ASIDE HIS ROYAL GARMENTS HE TRAVELED TO HOLLAND UNDER THE COVER OF A COMMON LABORER. HE WENT TO WORK IN THE SHIP BUILDING YARDS, ACCEPTING ANY AND ALL JOB ASSIGNMENTS NO MATTER HOW MENIAL OR HARD, KEEPING HIS TRUE IDENTITY A SECRET FROM ALL. HERE HE LEARNED WHAT HE NEEDED TO HELP HIS COUNTRY BUILD BETTER SHIPS. HE LAID ASIDE THE BARRIERS OF ROYALTY IN ORDER TO SERVE HIS FELLOW COUNTRYMEN, NOTHING WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS! WHATEVER NEEDED TO BE DONE WAS DONE! WHAT ABOUT US AS CHRISTIANS WINNING THE LOST, THE ONLY CALL JESUS LEFT HIS DISCIPLES WHEN HE RETURNED TO HEAVEN WAS THE CALL TO REACH THE LOST! WHAT DO WE NEED TO LAY ASIDE TO SERVE? – Source Unknown
4. When God calls you to something do you take off your sandals, your man made barriers?
II. BECKONING BURDEN! 3:7-10
A. Promised Salvation 3:7-9
1. Here we see God's heart toward those enslaved!
a. He has seen and heard the cries of the people because of the “slave drivers.”
b. God hates sin and the way it enslaves peoples' lives!
c. God is not indifferent to the suffering of people and their slavery!
2. God is "concerned about their suffering"... WE CANNOT be His people therefore and be indifferent to it!!
3. If we could only see what God sees, and hear what God hears, and feel what God feels, we would have a very different set of priorities and passion!
a. It is amazing how much we can and would change if we only saw the real disaster sin has caused in people's lives!
b. We would alter our life if we ever caught God's vision of this world!
ILLUS: WHEN THE TITANIC SANK IN 1912 WE ARE TOLD THAT 11 MILLIONAIRES WENT TO THEIR WATERY GRAVES ABOARD THAT SHIP, THEIR COMBINED WEALTH TOTALING NEARLY $200,000,000! IF THEY COULD HAVE SENT A LAST MESSAGE TO LOVED ONES BEFORE DYING HOW MANY DO YOU THINK WOULD HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THEIR WEALTH!? ONE WEALTHY MAN WHO DID SURVIVE SHARED THIS STORY OF HIS ESCAPE. HE HAD OVER $300,000 WORTH OF MONEY, JEWELRY, AND SECURITIES BACK IN HIS CABIN. AS THE SHIP BEGAN TO SINK HE AT FIRST WENT BACK TO TRY AND RESCUE IT ALL, BUT ON THE WAY HE REALIZED HOW FOOLISH THIS ATTEMPT TO SAVE WEALTH WAS WHILE DISASTER WAS ALL AROUND HIM. IN AN INSTANT HE TURNED AROUND AND INSTEAD GRABBED 3 ORANGES FOR SUSTENANCE IF NEEDED. HOW DIFFERENT THINGS WERE WHEN HE REALIZED THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE DISASTER ALL AROUND HIM, BETTER TO HAVE 3 ORANGES THAN ALL THE GOLD! HOW ABOUT US? IS IT REALLY AS IMPORTANT TO DO AND GET ALL THE THINGS WE ARE PRESENTLY WORKING ON THAN THE NEIGHBOR, FRIEND, CO-WORKER, OR FAMILY MEMBER THAT IS LOST IN SIN!? -- Source Unknown
4. Notice God's concern here, He says, “I have come down to rescue them ...”
a. This is precisely what God does in Christ!
b. It is interesting however that while He says He has come down to rescue them; He still planned on using a Moses!
c. God's work is not done without us!
5. God's plans are for good, for blessing! 3:8b
a. God delights in saving and blessing His people!
b. This alone can be motivation, to want to see others blessed as we are!
6. God reiterates the fact that he has heard their cries, the prayer of those who are hurting, God hates bondage!
B. Plan Secured!
1. “So now, GO. I am sending you ...” (emphasis mine)
a. But God had just said He had come down to rescue them, then why this “I am sending YOU”?
b. While God does the work, it is through human agency that He often does it!
c. God makes us part of the plan to save the lost!
2. God had a PLAN and He had a MAN!
a. Moses would have to catch the heart of God here to carry this plan off!
b. Moses would have to understand the priority God placed on saving people that are enslaved in order to stand up to the pressure!
c. NOTHING was more important to God than saving people from slavery, and this is still true!
3. God would use Moses to accomplish this task because Moses knew what it was like to be willing to lay down his life for sheep!
4. Only this kind of priority can destroy the enemy’s plans, only this kind of passion and sacrifice!
ILLUS: BEFORE THE SURRENDER OF WEINSBERG, THE WOMEN OF THAT BESIEGED CITY ASKED THE ENEMY TO LET THEM CARRY AT LEAST THEIR MOST PRECIOUS POSSESSIONS WITH THEM AS THEY WERE ALLOWED TO FLEE. THE ENEMY COMMANDERS FINALLY AGREED TO LET THEM CARRY OFF WHATEVER THEY COULD CARRY ON THEIR BACKS. AS THE ENEMY SOLDIERS WAITED FOR THESE TOWNSWOMEN TO RETURN CARRYING THEIR MOST PRIZED POSSESSIONS ON THEIR BACKS EVEN THEY WERE STUNNED WHEN A LARGE CROWD OF WOMAN BEGAN SHOWING UP AT THE CITY GATES WITH THEIR HUSBANDS AND CHILDREN STRAPPED TO THEIR BACKS, AS THEY SLOWLY AND LABORIOUSLY MARCHED OUT OF TOWN! EVEN THE ENEMY WAS NUMBED BY THE SHREWDNESS OF THESE WOMEN WHO CARRIED THEIR MOST PRIZED POSSESSIONS OUT OF SIGHT OF THE ENEMY; THEIR HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, AND CHILDREN! GOD HELP US TO HAVE SUCH PRIORITIES IN THE PRESENCE OF OUR ENEMY TODAY! ARE WE SHOULDERING THE TASK OF CARRYING THE LOST MARKED FOR DESTRUCTION!? THERE WAS DESIRE AND A PLAN, AND THERE WERE SOME WOMEN! ... THIS WAS ALL THAT WAS NEEDED TO EQUAL SALVATION FOR MANY! -- Source Unknown
III. BAD BRUSHOFF! Ex. 3:11-12
A. Personal Struggle 3:11
1. Everything was all set, God had the plan, God had the man, God made the call, now the response!
a. “Who am I?” ... what a response!!! Moses here reveals a man who had nearly had a nervous breakdown and was too burned out to respond in a positive way!
b. This is a very different Moses than 40 years earlier!
(1. Then Moses was arrogant!
(2. Now he was at the opposite extreme!
c. Either extreme, spiritual pride or excessive humility damages the work of God!
2. Moses obviously wasn't listening
closely, God didn't say Moses had to do it all: "Who am I that I
should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of
a. Moses only saw the work it required of him, he wasn't even seeing God's power at work!
b. Excessive humility overly focuses on "self," it is therefore no better than pride which does the same thing, it also focuses on "self!"
3. Moses was pouting here, acting like a failure, this is not the kind of man that God can use to inspire faith in others!
ILLUS: MARTIN LUTHER WENT THROUGH A GLOOMY PERIOD ONE TIME. HE WAS IN SUCH A STATE OF GLOOM AND DOOM THAT HIS BELOVED WIFE KATE DECIDED TO TEACH HIM A LESSON LEST HE DISCOURAGE THE REST OF THE CHURCH AND THE SAINTS THAT LOOKED UP TO HIM FOR LEADERSHIP. SHE PUT ON BLACK WIDOW'S GARMENTS EACH DAY AND MARCHED AROUND THE HOUSE AS IF IN MOURNING A DEATH. WHEN LUTHER SAW THIS HE ASKED HER, "WHO IS DEAD THAT YOU ARE WEARING MOURNING CLOTHES?" SHE REPLIED WITHOUT HESITATION, "GOD IS DEAD!" THIS SHOCKED LUTHER AND HE QUICKLY RESPONDED, "DON'T TALK SO FOOLISH WOMAN!" TO WHICH SHE SAID, "WELL, MY DEAR DOCTOR, YOU ARE SO DOWNHEARTED THAT I CONCLUDED GOD MUST BE DEAD, AND SO I PUT ON MY MOURNING APPAREL!" IMMEDIATELY LUTHER REALIZED WHAT MESSAGE HIS WIFE WAS TRYING TO GET ACROSS AND HE EMBRACED HER WITH A SMILE AND FORGOT HIS CARES AND FOUND NEW STRENGTH IN GOD! -- Source Unknown
4. Moses had asked the wrong question; it was not "WHO HE IS" that mattered most ... it was "WHO ARE YOU LORD?" that mattered most and should have been his question!
a. Moses was focused on the wrong thing, himself!
b. God can't find perfect people. He uses us not because we are perfect, but because He is!
5. Moses' first excuse flops ... he would have to come up with better ... and he will try 4 more times yet!
a. He had had enough training now, enough time. It was time to minister!
b. It is not wrong to prepare, Moses had had 80 years of this, it was important too, but now it was time to respond and serve! NO MORE EXCUSES!
B. Power Source! 3:12
1. God now promises two things to Moses that will help him with his doubts and insecurities!
a. "I will be with you" … What a great promise! He would not have to serve in his own strength or wisdom, God never asks us to do this!
b. "here is a sign to encourage you, you will worship on this mountain with Israel" ... this sign must have been only a half blessing; this means it would encourage him only after it happens and he sees it!
2. God wasn't expecting Moses to go in his own strength, and He will later give Moses encouragement from seeing the fruit of his ministry!
a. If Moses doesn't try, he will never know if that fruit will come!
b. It does help explain the many times Moses stood before Pharaoh and asked Pharaoh to let the people go for only a few days to worship in the desert and then they would come back, Moses wanted to see that sign as proof of the call!
c. God gives him something now to comfort him ... "I will go with you," and something for the future to help him later!
3. God's presence will make the difference! This is always the case!
ILLUS: ADMIRAL NELSON OF THE BRITISH NAVY IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN A WIZARD OF NAVAL TACTICS, ONE FROM WHOM STUDENTS OF SEAMANSHIP WERE ABLE TO LEARN MUCH. SIR ROBERT STOPFORD WAS ONCE SAILING WITH NELSON IN THE WEST INDIES AND WROTE TO A LOVED ONE, "WE TOO, MAY BE HALF STARVED OR OTHERWISE INCONVENIENCED BY SO LONG OUT OF PORT, BUT OUR REWARD IS THAT WE ARE WITH NELSON." AS LONG AS THE MASTER WAS WITH THEM, THEY WERE NOT AFRAID OF PERIL EVEN THOUGH TIMES HAD BEEN TOUGH AND NO SIGN OF LAND YET! SO IT IS WITH GOD! -- Source Unknown
4. God is trying to encourage Moses that ministry will be a success, when they worship on this mountain it will give testimony to that promise!
5. God's answer to his excuse "Who am I?" is simple ... "It doesn't matter as much as it is ‘who am I, the Lord!’" There is no excuse for refusal to serve!
CONCLUSION: Like many Christians today, Moses was reluctant to obey God's call on his life. When called by God to lead Israel, he was ready with an excuse instead of being ready to serve. His excuse sounds humble but it was the wrong question to ask! Instead of "who am I?" he should have focused on "Who is God?" Moses' excuse was based on false humility, he wasn't useless with God's call and power! When God calls, obey! It isn't who you are that matters most as much as it is "who He is!" God always enables those He calls, thus no excuse is adequate.