Exodus 3:1-14 - What Happens When God Calls You Into Service
Thomas s. Myers
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GOD CALLS YOU INTO SERVICE?
It is safe to say that everyone of us have made blunders and foolish decisions. Most of us, if possible, some of us would go back in time and change those blunders. I'm sure that as we look at the life of Moses, in Exodus chapter 3, he also would want to change his blunders. All though 40 years have gone by, Moses would still want to go back in time and remove his pride, remove his anger, and remove the murder that he committed in Egypt. As we come to Exodus chapter 3, I believe we will see that for 40 years Moses' foolish decision has been plaguing him. Now he is 80 years old.
I have found their are 3 dangers most of us encounter when we serve God. Moses, illustrates all three.
1st - Is running ahead of the will of God. In Moses' younger life, he ran ahead of God's will.
2nd - Is retreating after we have failed. You will fail, and like Moses, the tendency will be to retreat. And never to serve God again.
Bob Deno, will never go into the ministry again. That's Moses. But God is about to enlist Moses back into service. And if you are familiar with the story, Moses has no desire to be the deliver to serve God.
3rd - Is the feeling of inferiority. You begin to compare yourself with others. You will constantly think that someone else is always more qualified. The problem is, God has been speaking to you. You were called into service, not that other person.
When we come to Exodus chapter 3, we are not told that 40 years have gone by, since he left Egypt. All we are told is that he now keeps the flock of his father in law. Look at
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (NIV)
Moses has no idea what the day held for him. There was no message in the clouds, no rock slide, no thunder, no lightening. There was no hint that his life was going to change. It was just another day.
It is interesting that when revival comes, it arrives on ordinary days. You may have been praying for it, but when it comes it always takes you by surprise. Just like the day that David was told by his father to take some food to his brothers. He did not know it, but there was a giant named Goliath just dying to be killed. From that day forward, David's life will never be the same.
In 1630 an incredible revival broke out in Scotland. John Livingstone had been asked to preach to the Kirk of Shotts. It was the night before he was to speak. What was so unusual about the request is that John Livingstone was a failure. He spent the whole night in prayer, wondering what was he going to preach. Then at 8:00 A.M., just hours before he was to preach, and he ran in fear. He was determined that he was not going to preach. He was not going to blow another assignment. But the Spirit of God found him, and pulled him back to the study. He opened his Bible and his finger landed on Ezekiel 36:25-26, which says,
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (NIV)
Because the day was bright and beautiful, it was decided to hold the service outside. John Livingstone began to preach, the skies darkened, the thunder crackled, and it began to rain. And the Spirit of God moved John Livingstone to say, "Do you have a shelter form the storm of God's wrath?" As he finished his sermon, 500 hundred people trusted Jesus Christ as their savior. To John Livingstone, it looked like just another day. He had no idea that God was about to do a great work.
So it was for Moses, it was just another day in the desert. He had been there 40 years. Here is the point, when God leads you into a ministry, it happens on ordinary days.
Now look at EXODUS 3:2
2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. (NIV)
The word Hebrew word for bush "BUSH" means thorny shrub. It was just like millions of others. There was nothing unique about the shrub. It was just another shrub. And the fact that it burned was not unusual. Spontaneous combustion often will burn a bush in the desert. So the fact that there is a burning bush is not what catches Moses' attention. What catches Moses attention is the fact that 3 hours have gone by, and the bush is still burning. Maybe even 6 hours have gong by, and the bush is still burning.
And out of curiosity, Moses turns aside to get a closer look at this bush that will not burn out. Look at:
3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight -- why the bush does not burn up." (NIV)
And as Moses gets close to the bush, look at VERSE 4 and see what happens.
4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." (NIV)
Here is the point, once God saw the break in Moses concentration, God spoke to Moses. Take time for God to speak to you. We are in such a quick pace, get it done routine. No wonder we seldom hear from God. It is as if God has to take a number. Even our private prayer life, you only ask God to do things for yourself.
It happens in the home. Often I find myself just emptying the garbage. Rather than wanting to spend time with my wife, I just do my own agenda. We do that with God. Our relationship with God, becomes just a bunch or rules that we manipulate for our own agenda. Take time to hear what God is saying. God says to Moses, "Moses, Moses." God is not going to shout. He speaks in a still small voice.
Now look again at VERSE 4 and see Moses' reply. He says, "Here I am." Now if God had called Moses 40 years early, Moses would have said, "I knew God was going to call me. After all, I'm the champion of Egypt. I'm the hero of this land. God, I can do the job. I know Egyptian and Hebrew. I majored in hirographics, I have been trained as a prince, I've won battles with the enemy. God, it is about time that you called!" But now Moses just speaks one word in the Hebrew, anei, "Here I am."
Now look at VERSE 5
5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." (NIV)
Moses hides his face. Why did he do that? Because he is afraid. Why? Because Moses vivid memory of serving God, is as a failure. Moses may be thinking, God is here to get even with me. That is why I think Moses hid. He can remember doing God's will his way. He can remember doing God's will without asking God for direction. So Moses hides his face in fear of the wrath of God. The fairest thing from Moses' mind is the thought that God wants to use him.
Some of you are convinced that because of your past you will not be used by God. And if you are used of God, your convinced that it will be in a limited sense.
Now look at VERSE 7,8 & 10
Moses must have been thinking, "God, you want to send me? Wait a minute. Don't you remember, I am the one who blows those assignments. Don't you remember?" God says, "I never forgot you. I have been training you." Moses says, "But God, I am the one who blows it." God says, "And your also the one who has been forgiven." Moses must be in complete shock that God would want to send him. Look at VERSE 11.
11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (NIV)
If you have failed, the tendency is to resist the call of God. Moses says, "WHO AM I?" What Moses does not realize is that, he is just like the burning bush. There are thousands of bushes, but what makes the burning bush so special is that God is in it. And do you know what makes you so special to God? It is that He is in you. If you do not recognize that it is God in you that makes all the difference you will come up what sounds like such good excuses
for not serving God. Let's look at some of Moses' excuses for not servant God.
FIRST EXCUSE -- LORD, I DON'T HAVE THE CONFIDENCE. EXODUS 3:11
That might sound like a good excuse, but it is in fact extremely selfish. Notice, in verse 11, the personal pronoun "I."
"WHO AM I"
Moses' eyes are on himself.
THE GREATEST BATTLE IN DOING GOD'S WILL,
WILL BE THE BATTLE WE FIGHT WITH OURSELVES.
I heard about a man who went to a surgeon because he was losing his memory. They physician did a deep study of his condition and said, "W can't deal fully with your problem, without effecting your eyesight. One will have to go. Which will you rather lose, your eyesight or your memory?" The man replied, "I would rather keep my eyesight. I would rather see where I'm going than remember where I've been."
Moses is saying, "The memory is too painful. The last time I attempted to do God's will I blew it. I'm the one who blows these assignments."
Martin Luther was at the diet of worms and some of his friends stood with him. He is awaiting an audience with the highest officials of the church. One of Martin Luther friends said to him, "Aren't you afraid?" Luther replied, "The thing that I fear more than the
pope is self."
5 For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. (NIV)
3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh -- (NIV)
Moses' eyes are on himself, so he questions his confidence in serving God.
2And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." (NIV)
God is saying, "I will prove my faithfulness to you Moses. You will be free to bring the people out of Egypt and they will worship God right here at this burning bush."
SECOND EXCUSE -- I DON'T HAVE THE EDUCATION. EXODUS 3:13
13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, `What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" (NIV)
This is an excuse that stems from fear. It comes early in our Christians life and follows us. Moses is using an excuse that so many of us use. He is saying, "People will ask me question that I can not answer. Lord, if I take the job, I will not have all the
answers. What will I say when they ask me those questions?" God says to Moses, VERSE 14
14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.'" (NIV)
"I AM WHO I AM."
What is God saying to Moses? "Moses, you may not have all the answers, but you have all of me." "I AM WILL BE WITH YOU."
There will be times in your life you will not have all the answers. People will ask you question that you will not be able to answer.
People will see the laws in your life. People will find out that your human. That's when you fall back on God. That "I AM" is with you.
Hudson Taylor had just buried his wife. The ground of China was frozen. Howard Taylor writes the story of his father and how the children including himself are fast asleep in the basement. Hudson Taylor has just come into the basement. His hands are covered with dirt from burying his wife.
Hudson Taylor, Jr. is awakened by his fathers singing. He sang, "Jesus, I am resting in the Joy of who thou art, I am finding out the greatness of they loving heart."
The next morning Howard Taylor read his fathers journal. It said, "It does not matter how great the pressure is, what really matters is where the pressure lies. Whether it comes between you and God, or whether it presses you nearer to his heart."
Moses will have to learn that. Moses you will not have all the answers, but you will have all of God. The "I AM" is with you.
THIRD EXCUSE -- LORD, I WILL NOT HAVE THEIR RESPECT. EXODUS 4:1
1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, `The LORD did not appear to you'?" (NIV)
What is Moses concerned about here? His image. He wants to look good. He wants to have some clout. He wants people to respect him. Moses is 80 years old, but he still has his pride.
You can just hear Moses saying, "Lord, what if they do not respect me."
Watch what the Lord does, EXODUS 4:2-3
2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied. 3 The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. (NIV)
The Lords is saying, "Moses, if I can do that with a stick, then think of what I can do with you? I am the one who transforms common things.
Let me say something about criticism. When you minister, you will either be in the pent house or the out house. You will either be in tower of praise, or the dumps of critizism.
When you serve God, you will not get away from critizism.
If the pastor is young, they say they lack experience. If his hair is gray, his hair is too old for the youth. If he has 5 or 6 children, he has too many. If he has no children, he is setting a bad example. If he preaches from his notes, he has canned sermons. If his messages are extemeranous, he is not deep. If he uses to many illustration, he neglects the word. If he doesn't use enough stores, he is not clear. If he condemns wrong, he is cranky. If he doesn't preach against sin, he is a compremizer. If he fails to please everybody, he is hurting the church. If he does please everybody, he has no convictions. If he drives an old car, he shames his congregation. If he drives a new car, he set his affection on things of this earth. If he preaches all the time, people get tired of hearing the same man. If he invites guest speakers, he is not doing his job. If he receives a large salary, they say he is paid to much. If he receives a small salary, well it just proves he is not worth very much anyway.
Stay at the task, When your serving God, it is like an open door that draws flies. You will attract criticism. But God is saying, "If I can handle a staff, I can handle the critizm for you.
Teddy Roosevelt wrote: It is not the critic that counts. It is not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of the deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is in the arena. Who's face is marred by dust, and sweat, and blood. Who strives, but airs, and comes short again and again. Because there is no effort with out error. Who at the worst, if he fails, he fails while daring greatly. Far better is it to dare mighty things, to do glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, then to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
If you are going to serve God, you will make many mistakes. People will see the flaws in your life. They are going to critize. But God says, "You will have all My power."
FOURTH EXCUSE -- I DON'T HAVE THE ABILITY.
10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." (NIV)
This is the most common excuse given among Christians. The excuse is, I do not have all the ability, or I am not qualified as others.
It really come out in VERSE 13
13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." (NIV)
KJV - 13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
NASB - PLEASE LORD, SEND THE MESSAGE BY WHOM
It would be just like someone who says, "Compared to Billy Graham I'm an idiot." Say, who is comparing? God isn't speaking to Billy Graham. God is speaking to you.
Moses finally says, "Please, Lord send someone else."
14 Then the Lord's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. (NIV)
God says, "O.K., Aaron!" Moses latter lived to regret this request.
1. Realize that you are unique and accept it.
2. Remember that you have nothing to prove.
3. Refuse every temptation to compare.
A couple opened a general store years ago. Then suddenly there was a mega department store that decided to build on the right side of the general store. Then to the left, a huge discount store was build. So here was this general store, sandwich right in the middle of these two huge stores. The owners of the general store knew that bankruptcy was imminent. Then they came up with a brilliant idea. They ordered a huge sign. They put it above their store. The sign read "MAIN ENTRANCE HERE."
You have a choice, you can gripe and complain, or you can allow Christ to put a sign on you that says, "MAIN ENTRANCE HERE."
The greatest lesson you will ever learn is that God is sovereign.
35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?" (NIV)
When you serve God, it will not be convient, it will cost you. So learned a lady in Poland during WW II. In WWII, in a Polish village the Nazi's came into that village, and accused all of the Jews of crimes against the state. They rounded up all the Jews and brought them out to a field. They were forced to dig a ditch that would latter become their grave. Then they striped them of all their clothes. They then lined those Polish Jews and opened fire with their machine guns. Bullet after bullet flew into their quivering flesh. And the people fell like cord wood. Head over hells into the grave they fell. A little 10 year old boy was standing there with his dad and mom. The bullets ripped through his parents body. And as they fell this little boy fell. But he was not touched by the bullets. He fell into the grave but did not move. They assumed he was dead because he was splattered with blood. They began to push the dirt over these people and they buried that little 10 year old boy alive. His face was in such a position that he caught a pocket of air. After several house, when it was now dark, he
began to dig out of his own grave. He clawed and dug his way to the surface. He was naked, clotted with blood and dirt. He went to the house of a neighbor and knocked on the door. When the door was opened, the lady of the house saw the little boy, covered with blood and dirt. She recognized him, and knew that he had been marked for death. She screamed at him to go away, and slammed the door in his face. The little boy dragged himself to another door and knocked on that door. He begged for help, but the same thing happened. He went to the third door. The lady of the house opened the door. She froze as she stared at that little boy. Before she could say anything, he said to her, "Do you recognize me? I am the Jesus that you say you love." She broke down and wept and said, "Come in, come in." And at the risk of her own life, she sheltered that 10 year old child.