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What's Your Excuse?

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Good Morning! This morning I want to invite you to turn in your Bibles to . We are going to be talking about excuses. Now I don’t know about you but I consider myself to be a pretty good excuse maker. In fact, I’ve been working on it for years. I find that most of the time when faced with something that I’m unsure about, or something that I know is really difficult I can quickly come up with an excuse. Now you may not want to admit it, but maybe you can relate to me on this.
I read a story about a pastor who had heard so many excuses around his church about why folks did not feel like attending that he decided to proclaim one Sunday “No Excuse Sunday.”
“No Excuse Sunday”
(He decided that he needed) His goal was to make it possible for everyone to attend church, without excuse. To do this he implemented some really interesting things:
having a special "No Excuse Sunday?"
Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say "Sunday is my only day to sleep in".
There will be a special section with lounge chairs for those who feel that our (seats) pews are too hard.
Eye drops will be available for those with tired eyes from watching TV late Saturday night.
We will have steel helmets for those who say, "The roof would cave in If I ever came to church."
Blankets will be furnished for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who say it is too hot.
Scorecards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present.
Relatives and friends will be in attendance for those who can’t go to church and cook dinner, too.
We will distribute "Stamp Out Stewardship" buttons for those that feel the church is always asking for money.
One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to seek God in nature.
Doctors and nurses will be in attendance for those who plan to be sick on Sunday.
The sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who never have seen the church without them.
We will provide hearing aids for those who can’t hear the preacher and cotton for those who can!!
When no excuse Sunday finally came around a husband and wife who were members of this church woke up early on Sunday morning to get ready for church.
It was just about time for the service when (the wife) she noticed her husband hadn’t moved a finger toward getting dressed.
Perplexed, she asked, “Why aren’t you getting dressed for church?”
He said, “Cause I don’t want to go.”
She asked, “Do you have any reasons?”
He said, “Yes, I have three good reasons.
First the congregation is cold.
Second, no one likes me.
And third, I just don’t want to go.”
The wife replied, wisely, “Well honey, I have three reasons why you should go.
First the congregation is warm.
Second, there are a few people there who like you.
And third, you’re the pastor!
So get dressed!”
We can all make excuses when we want to can’t we?
Read Scripture…Exodus 4:1-5
Exodus chapter 4 is sort of a make or break point in the life of Moses. Moses is faced with a choice. It’s the choice to step out in faith and follow God’s calling to a huge task or to return to the field where he had been shepherding.
I’m sure many of you know the story well - Moses had been called by God to be the great emancipator of Israel for Egyptian bondage. If you read back in chapter three you will see Moses’s reluctance to be the leader of Israel. In fact we see Moses offering several excuses as to why he was not the man for the job.
be the great emancipator of Israel for Egyptian bondage. If you read back in chapter three you will see that Moses reluctant to be the leader of Israel and in fact we see Moses offering many excuses as to why he was not the man for the job.
What were some of his excuses? God says to Moses:
Exodus 3:10–15 NASB95
“Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.
So Moses, when faced with the God-sized task of leading God’s people out of their Egyptian bondage first responds to this call by making some excuses. Well what are these excuses?
Excuse 1: “Who am I that you should choose me for this task?” - God, how could I be the one that you are calling to do this? God, surely there is someone better suited for this task?
God’s answer: “I will be with you.” - Basically Moses it’s not about you its about me with you.
Excuse 2: “Who will I tell the Israelites is sending me?” - Basically God I don’t have enough information, I don't know enough about you.
God’s answer: “I AM WHO I AM - the I AM is sending you.”
Excuse 3: (found in our focal passage for this morning )
Exodus 4:1 NASB95
Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’ ”
What if they do not believe me or listen to me?”
God’s answer: (He responds to Moses with a question): “What is in your hand?
This statement is profound if you think about it. It is really a heart-searching question. Each of God’s previous responses to Moses’s excuses were about what God has going to do for Moses, and who God waw, but this is different. You see, God answers Moses’s question with another question. God says simply: “What is in your hand?”
This morning I want to examine the call that God has given to Moses in light of Exodus chapter 4:2. So we are actually going to spend most of our time camping out on this one verse because I believe that God’s answer to Moses applies to each of us sitting here this morning too.
This morning I ant to examine this call that God has given to Moses in light of Exodus chapter 4:2. I believe that God’s answer (in the form of a question) to Moses “What is in your hand?” applies to each of us sitting her this morning too.
I want us to look together at three ways we need to consider God’s reply to Moses in verse 2.
First we see in God’s reply to Moses’s question in the form of an Appeal.

God Appeals to Moses:

God has already called Moses to serve him and lead His people Israel out of Egypt and now God seeks to clarify that call and stir up faith in Moses. God has been very clear about his call and even given Moses numerous reasons why he can trust the Great I AM, but Moses unsure of his own abilities and gifts then starts to ask “what if”. Have you ever played the “what if” game with God? We will get back to that thought more in a moment.
Anyone ever played the “what if” game with God?
We do this today: We have numerous openings to serve in various miniseries around our church and sometimes we ask and ask for folks to step up and serve in these areas...
We say things like:I just don’t think I can commit to serve here or there - what if something comes up?” God, I know you are calling me to do this or that, but “what if” another opportunity comes my way and I feel like I need to do that instead? God, I know you want to to share you Gospel message with people around me but what if they won’t listen?
The Lord says to Moses :"What is in your hand?” When God calls you - He wants all of you, and He will use all of you. God’s appeal to Moses has two parts:
The first part is an appeal to surrender the physical. God wants to use what Moses physically has in his hand. God wants Moses to surrender this to him.
Moses, o course was a shepherd and most likely had an shepherd staff in his hand.
(Show hiking staff and use as illustration)
Now most of us are not running around with staffs in our hands today like Moses a shepherd would have been, but rest assured we do have things in our hands. Sometimes we have our hands quite full with what we have going on in life. We have jobs, families, responsibilities, we have hobbies, commitments, hopefully we have areas of the church we serve in, and let’s not forget the talents, and gifts that God has given us that we each have in our hands. When we acknowledge this it leads us to ask ourselves two questions:
The first is this: What do I have in my hands? What in my life consumes me and takes up my time? What do I find myself staying busy with?
The second is: “Am I willing to surrender what I have in my hands to God? Am I willing to lay these things down before Him?” If we are not careful the very things we have in our hands are the things that keep us for effectively serving God. Listen, these things we have in our hands can be really good things! They can even things that we are using to serve God. God’s call to Moses is also God’s call to each of us sitting here today.
When God says to Moses “What is in your hand,” Moses has a choice to make. Will he answer God honestly, or will he make excuses.
The second part of this appeal is an appeal to submit the spiritual. God is not only interested in what is in Moses’s hand, but God is also interested in Moses. Look at verses three and four:
Exodus 4:3–4 NASB95
Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—
God says Moses what is that in your hand and Moses replies my staff - what does God say: Lay it down.
Moses could have said God, “I just don’t see the point in this. Listen I don’t think you have the right guy. I’m just a shepherd so why don’t I just go back and get back to work shepherding? After all that’s what I’m best at not leading large groups of people and freeing them from bondage.” However, God had a plan to use Moses in an mighty way but this required that Moses lay his will before the Lord. Moses had to submit to God.
Now when we think of a staff we thing of a wooden stick, but it holds very little value to us. To a shepherd like Moses their staff was a very important item of personal property. Think about it: this is a very valuable, necessary and prized possession to any shepherd. It was a tool of the shepherding trade, it was used to direct and herd sheep, it was used to inspect sheep, and to count sheep. Shepherds used their staffs to aid them in traversing rough terrain. It served as a means of protection both for the sheep and for the shepherd.
So what is God saying to Moses? He is saying Moses I’ve got big plans for you but you are holding on to something that I need you to lay down before me. Moses, lay down your livelihood, lay down you profession, lay down the object that aids you in traveling and traversing rough terrain, Moses lay down your protection and Moses trust Me. To be used by God Moses has to submit his will to God’s will.
When Moses did this God transformed what Moses had in his hand in an extraordinary way.

4:3 it became a snake The rod and serpent were two symbols well recognized in Egypt: The rod was a symbol of authority; the snake was the patron deity (goddess) of Lower Egypt (the Delta region).

When Moses performs this act in Pharaoh’s presence, Pharaoh has his magicians imitate it (7:8–13). However, the serpent of God consumes the Egyptian snakes and returns to its original state as a rod. While Pharaoh was not convinced (3:20), the demonstration indicated to the Israelites that Moses had been called by God (vv. 30–31).

Ask yourself this morning what do you need to submit to God so that you can serve Him the way He wants for you too? (both physically and spiritually) Are you willing to be like Moses and lay it down before the Great I AM? Our God can transform things that seem mundane and the ordinary into instruments used for His glory. Are you willing to be one of those instruments? Are you willing to be obedient before God?

God’s Appraisal:

God appraises what Moses has in his hand. God takes stock of what moses is carrying around with him. Moses replies “a rod (a staff).” That was the very simple and short answer that Moses gives to God. You can almost imagine Moses’s train of thought: “Well, God, it’s just a rod. I mean I don’t see what is so special about it, I mean it’s important to me, it’s my shepherding staff, I use it every day.”
Here’s the lesson Moses has to learn: The rod in Moses’ hands is only a cane. But Moses plus God is another matter—soon God will make this rod, this staff to be his instrument equal to all the might of an Egyptian Pharaoh. Moses’s rod is now going to be an instrument of the divine will and power of the I AM. But before that rod is to push Egypt’s king against the wall, God uses it to draw forth the faith of Moses and convince him it will be adequate to impress and defeat the Egyptian priests and magicians.
Langley, R. (1972). Exodus. In F. H. Paschall & H. H. Hobbs (Eds.), The teacher’s Bible commentary (pp. 55–56). Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers.
Langley, R. (1972). Exodus. In F. H. Paschall & H. H. Hobbs (Eds.), The teacher’s Bible commentary (pp. 55–56). Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers.
Moses, when faced with a call to a God-sized task looks at what he has in his hands and he sees nothing special. He considers the task before him and left to his own devices is going to come up short, but God sees what He can do through Moses, and God is not limited. He can even use a wooden staff to bring the nation of Egypt to it’s knees.

The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”

3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.

4 But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—

What is God calling you to do? How is He at work in your life. You may see His work before you and take a look at what you have in your hand and be saying to yourself “Oh Me.” Here’s the thing: it’s not about you, it’s not about you or me, it’s about the Great I AM, it’s about God, Almighty - One who is limitlessness, One who uses folks who are inadequate and who are not enough, ordinary people that come up short and He creates in and through them abundance!
From us God requires obedience. That we lay what we clench and hold so tightly in our hands (physically and spiritually) before Him When we do this it makes us available for Him to work through us.
God turned Moses staff into a snake and Moses was terrified of the snake and ran from it. Most of us would have run too. It’s obvious that Moses did not expect God to do what he did. The power of God is amazing, and beyond our comprehension! God loves to work in unexpected ways with ordinary people like you and I. Notice, thoughMoses was obedient, took action, and laid down his staff. Moses is also obedient when he picks up the staff that God has transformed into a snake.
God sees what we have in our hands much differently than we do. God would use Moses - later Aaron, and this rod to do great things. Here’s the thing, this whole time Moses had a choice - Moses could have clenched his staff tightly and not let it go. We do this is so many ways:
(Our Time) He could have said: “God you can’t possibly have need for this staff and I have things to do, so let me just go back to what I was doing shepherding, and watching my father-in-laws flocks. We can do the same thing today. “God I know you need someone to fill this ministry position in the church, and yes, I know I have that talent, but honestly I’m just too busy, you see I have a lot in my hands.”
(Our Money) God, I know you are calling me to tithe but I just have a lot in my hands, expenses and hobbies and what not and some other things I have got to get taken care of. Don’t forget God, I’m doing these things for You for Your glory. I’ve got to take care of these things first.
(Our gifts and talents) God, yes and am gifted in that area, as a matter of fact that is actually my profession I mean I do it every day, but surely you don't need me to use this gift for you. Tell you what God, let me hold on to that and I’m sure some way to serve you will come along later.
God, I know you are calling me to tithe but I just have a lot in my hands, expensiveness and hobbi and what not. I go to ttake care of these thigs first.
Sometimes I think God just shakes His head at all of the excuses we give.
Sometimes I think God just shakes His head at all fo the excuses we give.
I’m thankful that the Bible is real about Moses. I’m thankful that it does not sugar coat the fact that Moses is really struggling in his faith in God. Thankfully Moses laid his staff before the Lord.
Sermon Starters, Volume 1 Second—The Appraisal

God used Moses’ rod to do great things. In fact, the rod became known as “the rod of God” (Exodus 4:20; 17:9). It was prominent in a miracles of a snake (Exodus 9:23; 10:13), in opening the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16); in bringing water from a rock (Exodus 17:5, 6); and in the victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8–13). We may appraise the rod as nothing special but yielded to God it can become great and powerful. The lad with a few fish and buns saw this happen. Our biggest problem is not having enough, but lack of surrender and submission.

Will you surrender and submit what you have in your hands to God today? Will you surrender and submit your life to him. You may not think you have anything special to offer but a life yielded to God can do great things in His Kingdom.

God’s Admonition:

God’s reply to Moses can be expressed as a word of authoritative warning too. God says to Moses: “What do you have in your hand? Keep in mind this whole time God knew what Moses had in his hand. Questions like this are designed to make us think. For a brief moment Moses has to stop and take stock of what he was actually holding on to. He replies a staff.
So let’s ask ourselves the question once again. Take a moment and evaluate: “What do you actually have in your hands?” Do the things that consume your life, and your time honor God?”
The truth is that even at this point Moss still does not have everything figured out. That gives me great hope because I’m a person who does not have everything figured out. Moses still doubts his abilities and faith.
This is what we find a few verses later in this chapter:

Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

11 The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

12 “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”

13 But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.”

Aaron to Be Moses’ Mouthpiece

14 Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses

God
Exodus 4:10–14 NASB95
Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
Exodus 4:
Moses had just experienced something amazing. Moses saw God’s presence manifest in the form of a burning bush. God has spoked to Moses and given him his personal name. Moses had stood on holy ground. God had called Moses and given him reason after reason that He would always be with Moses. God had preformed extraordinary signs in front of Moss that He would use to free His people. Moses has laid what he carried down before the Lord and seen what God can do with an obedient heart and now in verse 13 Moses is willing to pick it back up again and go back to shepherding. It even says in verse 14 that God’s anger burned against Moses. Eventually god would call Aaron to come along side Moses and they would work together.
Illustration: How this happens to us sometime…(EX) Youth camp excited but them life returns to normal.
God was angry with Moses but God loved Moses. God loved Moses even in his lack of faith, even in his doubts, and even when failed to trust God the way God desired him too.
God loves youGod has a desire to work in your life to share his Gospel and to further His Kingdom.
What do you have in your hands? Do the things in your hands bring honor to God? Do these things allow you to serve Him or do they prevent you from being faithful to God?
Notice: In verse 5 of chapter 4 that God uses what Moses had to bring Gory to His name. It says that these things happened in Moses life:

that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

Consider this: “If those who know you best, those who you are around the most looked at what you had in your hands would they know that you were a Christian?” “If they never heard you speak of Christ, or of attending church, and only looked at what you held in you hands would they know that the God of Jacob had appeared to you, and that he was part of your life?”
In Jesus’ asked his disciples about his identity and Jesus tells them : 23 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
It’s hard to carry a cross if you have the wrong things in your hands.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
What do you have in your hands?
Something to surrender to God? - Maybe you need to surrender your life and trust in Jesus Christ and Lord and Savior?
Something to surrender to God?
Something to trust to God so that you can serve the Lord where He has called you?
Something that you honestly need to put down to be effective in your Christian walk?
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