Men Are Not Born
What is the first thing you do when
you experience failure? Our modern idea that winning is everything
forces us to hide from our failures. Also, our modern ideas about success
and failure force many to see themselves as failures. It is one thing to
fail, but quite another thing to see yourself as a failure. We may spend
our lives running from our failures because we think we are failures.
Have you ever noticed that resumes only list
a person's accomplishments? Resumes never list our failures. It would be
more encouraging to others to allow them to see our struggles with our
failures. We hear many share their stories of success, but how many share
their stories of failure? We are too concerned about what others will think
about us to share our failures.
God shares the failures of great persons in
the Bible. He wants to encourage us by helping us realize they were as
human as we are. Noah got drunk, Abraham lied, Jacob was a cheat, Joseph
was arrogant, and Moses was a murderer. You can't get more human.
Christianity does not promise us peace,
happiness and reconciliation with God without failure. Being a
Christian doesn't make life any less real. Christ does not eliminate our
problems. He does erase the sins of the past, but he doesn't erase the
influence of our past. Our past is ever with us as we deal with its influence
on our lives in the present. You may try to rid yourself of your past,
but your past will not rid itself of you.
Moses serves as a prime example of an
ancient person with a modern day problem. He was running and hiding
from his failures and living far below God's potential for his life for
he saw himself as a failure.
"As the time drew near for
God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt
greatly increased. Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became
ruler of Egypt. He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our
forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they
would die. "At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child.
For three months he was cared for in his father's house. When he was placed
outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.
Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful
in speech and action. "When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit
his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian,
so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses
thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue
them, but they did not. The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who
were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, 'Men, you are brothers;
why do you want to hurt each other?' "But the man who was mistreating the
other pushed Moses aside and said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us?
Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' When Moses
heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had
two sons. (NIV)
Understanding God's Call
Moses sensed God's calling to deliver his
people. I wish we could sense God's call for our lives. God has chosen
each of you for a specific purpose. He has placed you in Christ body to
fulfill his calling. Somewhere, in the scheme of things we have lost a
sense of God's calling and purpose.
Growing up in the Egyptian palace didn't make
Moses special. He was special when he was born. However, great men aren't
born--they are made. Growing up in Egypt and being set apart by God at
birth didn’t eliminate the possibility of failure. Sensing God’s call is
not the same thing as understanding and fulfilling God’s call. Many are
called but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14) Many who are called are not
chosen because they fail to be molded by God's will. The great men and
women of the Bible were made great as they yielded to God's will.
Sensing God's call is not the same thing
as understanding God's call. Seemingly, Moses thought he could
rally the Hebrews around himself by coming to their defense. He thought
he could show his concern by being a peacemaker as he settled their personal
disputes. Evidently, this was his understanding of what God called him
to do. But he failed. He didn't fail because he lacked a sense of God's
calling. He failed because he misunderstood God's will.
We may end up trying to do the work God has
ordained for us without proper knowledge of his will. Too often churches
lose a sense of their purpose because they lose sight of God’s will. We
may lose a sense of purpose because we see organization more important
than spiritual growth. We may struggle to create an organization rather
than build lives. We may understand God’s mission but fail to help people
understand his will for their lives.
When Ezekiel was called to preach God stressed
to him the importance of understanding God's will for his calling. God
wanted Ezekiel to digest God's will for himself before he set out to teach
You must speak my words to
them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But
you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious
house; open your mouth and eat what I give you." Then I looked, and I saw
a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before
me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.
And he said to me, "Son of man,
eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house
of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then
he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your
stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak
my words to them. (NIV)
God wanted Ezekiel to digest the Scriptures
for himself. Ezekiel needed specific knowledge of God's will. Sometimes
we get indigestion when we try to digest God's word for our own lives.
It conflicts with our own plans for our lives. However, if we really seek
to digest God's word properly it will taste as sweet as honey.
You can't fill God's calling for your
life depending upon human resources and human wisdom. Moses was
reared with the finest education the world had to offer in ancient times.
"Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful
in speech and action." He was indeed the prince of Egypt. They
saw to it that he graduated at the top of his class. His verbal skills
were excellent. An Egyptian education left him unprepared to fulfill his
God's call is never achieved through
worldly means. There was a lesson Moses had to learn before he
could fulfill God's potential for his life. You cannot sow of the flesh
and expect a spiritual harvest. The wisdom of the world is not God’s will.
Moses gives us a little more insight into what he did and what he was thinking
as he writes Exodus.
One day, after Moses had grown
up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their
hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.
Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and
hid him in the sand. (NIV)
There is nothing more dangerous than
a sense of God's purpose without an understanding of God’s will. "Glancing
this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him
in the sand." It is obvious that Moses
was relying on worldly wisdom to win a spiritual battle. He sought to win
the battle for God in his own strength. Moses was misguided in seeking
to fulfill God's purpose. It is no accident that when he came to the Hebrews
to offer his leadership the following day they mocked him. They couldn't
even see any human wisdom in killing the Egyptian. Sensing God's purpose
without relying on God’s wisdom will lead us to connive, manipulate and
scheme to accomplish God's will for our lives.
God’s wisdom gives us an understanding
as to when and how things should be done. God is not limited to
what he can do, but he will do it in his own timing and not before. "One
blow struck when the time is right is worth a thousand struck in premature
eagerness." Forcing things to be done is a fleshly response. Forcing things
to be done is not God's will. When we are responding to God's will things
flow together smoothly.
Many in the church are burned out because
they have been running on human ingenuity. They think they are doing God’s
will. They have worked hard for the church, but the only thing that keeps
them going is human strength and human ingenuity. They are burned out.
Burnout usually leaves us feeling a lack of accomplishment. When we are
not accomplishing our goals we either get busier or quit. We get that feeling
that we must do something even if it is wrong! We either quit or try harder
to accomplish more. We think if it is to be, it is up to me.
We must begin to meditate on God’s will
so that we can begin living within his will. The best thing to
do when you feel like it is up to you is to put on the brakes. Stop and
get refocused on God's will---then you can accomplish his purpose in your
life. You can’t fill God’s specific call without specific knowledge of
God’s will. Moses sincerely thought that God was in his plans to
deliver the Hebrews when he killed the Egyptian. It baffled him to think
it didn't work. The reason it didn't work was because God wasn’t in it.
Losing A Sense of God's Purpose
Misunderstanding God's will cause us
to lose a sense of God's calling. Every painful memory of Egypt
reminded Moses of his greatest failure. Those memories are so vivid. He
knows that he has failed in the calling he thought was so real. Now he
doubts his calling and loses a sense of God's purpose for his life. So
he finds a new purpose. He loses himself in a self-chosen occupation as
a shepherd. There was only one problem. That was not where God wanted him
to be. Now Moses is not only out of the will of God, he is also not in
the place where God wants him to be. He has missed his calling because
of a lack of understanding.
Waiting on God is the hardest thing in life.
When we get tired of waiting we begin to force our own will and own way
upon others. We begin to push and strain and dump emotional garbage to
get things moving in the direction we think they should go. We usually
end up in disaster.
Moses was further away from God than he had ever
been because he wanted to accomplish too much on his own too soon.
As we study the life of Moses it is evident
that he lost a sense of God's purpose for his life. We may be exactly where
God has placed us, but we must also be living within God’s will. Trying
to force human solutions upon others may cause us to lose a sense of God's
purpose when we fail. We think God should honor our battle plans when we
should be honoring his battle plans. Our plans won’t work.
After forty years Moses probably had finally
pushed the thoughts of Egypt and the sense of God’s purpose into the dark
recesses of his mind. Now he has a new life and a new family. During his
forty years in Midian Moses had cleaned up his resume. However, Moses learned
that he couldn't hide his failures without them coming back to haunt him.
He had hid the Egyptian he murdered in the sand, but it came back to haunt
him. He had hid himself in Midian for forty years, but God's purpose continued
to haunt him. After forty years of silence God spoke to Moses.
How many times during that 40 years in Midian
do you think Moses rehearsed his failures in his mind? Each time he rehearses
the failures, his bitterness and resentment was enlarged. He knew that
he had sincerely tried to no avail. He had probably convinced himself that
his sincerity was the all-important ingredient to success. He believed
that his sincerity would make his battle plans work. He had sincerely given
his all. What else could he do but put the whole bitter experience behind
him and forget it? But God wouldn't let him forget Heaven's set purpose
for His life. Moses is brought face to face with what God ordained him
to do. God faces Moses in the burning bush.
The LORD said, "I have indeed
seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because
of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I
have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring
them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing
with milk and honey-- the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites,
Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me,
and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go.
I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."
Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the
Israelites out of Egypt?" (NIV)
Forty years in the wilderness taught
Moses one major lesson we must all learn in life. Moses learned
his inability to hide his problems from God. When we run from our failures
in an effort to deal with them, we may discover that our failures will
not hide from us. Eventually we will have to deal with them as they continue
to resurface in other areas of our lives. When Moses told the children
of Israel, "Your sins will find you out." (Numbers 32:23) He was speaking
If you hide from your failures in one marriage,
they will resurface in the next marriage. If you hide from your failures
in one job, they will resurface in your next place of employment. You may
hide from your failure as a parent, but your failures will resurface in
the lives of your children and your children's children.
If we refuse to face our failures in this
life, we will have to face them in judgment. How much better would it be
to face them now?
It Takes More Than A Renewed Sense of God's
The easiest thing in the world to do
is to seek to renew your sense of God's call while neglecting his will
for your life. God had appeared to Moses in the burning bush to
persuade Moses to return to Egypt to deliver the Hebrews. Moses made excuses
for not going. Who would believe him? He wasn't an eloquent speaker? So
God manifest his miraculous powers. Moses' hand becomes leprous and God
heals it. God turns Moses staff into a snake, and then he turns it back
into his staff. Then God gives Moses, Aaron his brother, to speak for him.
Moses is finally persuaded to go. The sense of God’s call is finally reborn.
Then Moses went back to Jethro
his father-in-law and said to him, "Let me go back to my own people in
Egypt to see if any of them are still alive."
Jethro said, "Go, and I wish
you well." Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt,
for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." So Moses took his wife
and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the
staff of God in his hand.
The LORD said to Moses, "When
you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders
I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he
will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD
says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he
may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn
God had renewed his call to Moses and Moses
was persuaded to accept God's call. Yet, there was something amiss. In
spite of a renewed sense of God’s call Moses still wasn't in the will of
God. "At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met him and was about
to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin
and touched Moses’ feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood
to me," she said. So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom
of blood," referring to circumcision.) (Exodus 4:24-26 NIV) Moses
was minimizing the necessity of doing God's will.
Moses was ignoring a part of God's covenant
that demonstrated his disobedience. God can't use you in his service
if you refuse to obey his will. Moses was like many of us.
We are willing to be in the right place--the place where God calls us to--but
we minimize the necessity of doing God's will. Moses had minimized the
necessity of circumcising his son. "At a lodging place on the way,
the LORD met him and was about to kill him."
Circumcision was like Christian baptism. It
is the place where we acknowledge our personal surrender to God's will.
It is the place where we dedicate our all to God. Moses had not dedicated
his all to God. He did not circumcise his son according to God's will.
He was seeking to go to the place of God's calling without obedience to
God made it undeniably clear that he could
not use Moses until Moses surrendered in obedience. Moses
couldn't expect to go to Egypt and ask the Pharaoh to obey God without
having a willingness to obey himself. Moses had to learn an important lesson.
If his wife wouldn't circumcise his son, God was going to kill him. He
was already incapacitated to the point where he couldn't do it himself.
God would kill him for his disobedience just as sure as God promised to
kill the Pharaoh’s firstborn for Pharaoh’s disobedience.
When it comes to obedience, God means
business. Many desire to serve the Lord while ignoring their need
to be baptized. Many who have been baptized are seeking to take refuge
in the body of Christ while ignoring God's will for their lives. They are
not living up to their calling. The church has placed its emphasizes on
where people ought to be. We are excluding the necessity of being what
God has called us to be. We are called to this specific place for the purpose
of obeying God's will. Without obeying God's will, we will never fulfill
God's purpose for our lives. Our sins will surely find us out.
I would like to think that we are here this
morning because of the providence of God. In fact, I am sure of it. All
the blessings of this new place of worship and new members are great. Yet,
enjoying the providence of God is no substitute for obedience. Only our
obedience will allow God to lead this congregation to fulfill his will.
God's province may have put you here, but
only your obedience will allow God to fulfill his purpose for your life.
God's providence always brings you to the place you need be, but only you
can determine to do the will of God. This is why many are called and few
are chosen. Too few choose to do God's will. When we are willing to do
God's will God chooses to use us to fulfill his purpose for our lives.
Doing God's will is something each of
us must decide to do. Moses wanted to be a man of God, but God
let him know that it was impossible without obedience. We may think that
no one would have ever noticed that Moses' son wasn't circumcised. Circumcision
seems very personal and private, but everyone would have known. There are
a lot of personal and private matters that affect others. God's will
is very personal and private, but it affects everyone around you.Our disobedience
stinks to the high heavens. Even the Pharaoh would have heard the cries
from the circumcised Hebrews. Our success is dependent upon us doing God's
Personal Obedience Allows God to Work
Your personal obedience makes it possible
for God's powerful will to be done in your life. The moment you surrender--God
goes to work in a very personal way. God begins to move people and events
when we decide to obey.
The LORD said to Aaron, "Go
into the desert to meet Moses." So he met Moses at the mountain of God
and kissed him. Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him
to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to
perform. Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites,
and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed
the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that
the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed
down and worshiped. (NIV)
God sends Aaron to greet Moses. It is Aaron
who tells the people everything the Lord has said to Moses. Forty years
earlier when Moses had gone alone they mocked Moses, but now God is in
it. They believe Moses because God causes them to believe in him. They
believe Moses because now it is evident that he is living within the will
of God. Now Moses is not telling them what he is going to do for them,
but God is telling them what He is going to do through Moses.
Do you see the difference it makes? Now it
is not forced but comes as the natural outcome of God's purpose and will.
God's grace is free but don't ever think
it is cheap. You have probably discovered that most things in life
that are free are usually never cheap. Grace forces us to face our greatest
failures head-on through repentance. If we think for a moment that grace
only involves forgiveness of the past, we will find ourselves hopelessly
running from our failures as they continue to resurface throughout lives.
Too often we see success as the absence of
failure. The adversity failure brings is like a strong wind. It tears away
from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves
as we really are.
Psalms 119:67, 71-72
Before I was afflicted I went
astray, but now I obey your word . . . It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious
to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (NIV)
Your greatest hindrance in fulfilling God’s
plan for your life is yourself.
You must sense that God has a purpose for
You must understand God’s will for your life.
You must wait upon God’s timing for your
You must obey God’s plan for your life.
Then you will experience the availability
of God’s power for your life.