- Sermon Notes
God’s Answer to Fear
In Exodus chapter 4 Moses had an amazing encounter with God. He had been raised in Pharaoh’s home with education and privilege, and even tried to be Israel’s deliverer by his own power. He saw an Egyptian beating a fellow Hebrew and he struck down the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.But Pharaoh quickly found out and Moses had to run for his life. He then spent 40 years in the desert of Midian.
One day as Moses was pasturing his father-in-law’s flock he saw a burning bush. It was on fire but was not consumed.He turned aside to look, and behold, God called to him from the midst of the fire.
God called Moses to be the deliverer of Israel. “Go and gather the elders of Israel together and tell them that I am indeed concerned about them and what has been done to them in Egypt.” Then in verse 18 He said, “They will listen to what you say, though the king of Egypt will not listen except under compulsion.”
Moses was afraid and didn’t want to go so he gave God a series of excuses. And this is where the story applies to our lives. Many people do not move as God wants them to move or do what God wants them to do because of fear.
But God has an answer to fear. And when people start beating around the bush, pardon the pun, God confronts their excuses. Last chapter, Moses responded by saying, “Who am I that I should lead the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” God responded, “I will be with you.” In other words, deliverance for Israel does depend on who are, but on who I am and I will be with you.
Then Moses said, “I am going to the sons of Israel and when I say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ they will say to me, ‘What is His name?” What shall I say to them? God answered, “I am who I am, you shall say, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ This will be my memorial name to all generations.”
That is the key to what God wants us to apply to our lives as well.
I. Do What God is Asking
- Verse 1, Moses says, “What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say?”
- What’s interesting is that God already told Moses that they would listen.But Moses is afraid and tries to cover with excuses.
A.God has a purpose for your life
- God wants to do something with your life. He gives you a life to do something with it, to have a purpose and a meaning.Many people are afraid that
their lives won’t amount to anything, but they’re also afraid to do anything about it.
- There is no one who is insignificant in the kingdom of God. He has decided to use you to make a difference in other people’s lives.
- Every one of us knows people who are hurting, who are oppressed, and who need the help of God in their lives.
- Paul wrote that God has given us the privilege of reconciling people God…
2 Corinthians 5:18-19, All these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation
- Paul also wrote that the work of ministry is to be done by the body of Christ…
Ephesians 4:11-12, And He gave some as … pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Illus – I remember when I was living in Longview and volunteered to be chaplain at the hospital in the oncology unit. There was a full-time chaplain there, but do you know really made the difference? It was those who had lost someone to cancer and were now ministering to other families who had cancer.
- Many people are convinced that because there has been failure in their lives they have no value; no usefulness.
- Yet God uses you when he restores you out of your failure to give hope. Others need to know that the power of God restores and delivers people from bondage.
Illus – Last week, Darryl Strawberry spoke to the men of our community with that exact message. He was a failure and everyone had given up on him, but God rebuilt his life. God will rebuild your life also and give you hope and meaning and then will use you to rebuild and strength others in their faith.
App- Moses saw himself as a failure. His attempt to be Israel’s deliverer failed miserably and now he was just a shepherd of someone else’s flocks in the middle of no-where and he wasn’t exactly in the prime of his life.
A.The great “I Am” will be with you
- Earlier in chapter 3 when God told Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh, Moses said, “Who am I?” In other words, “I’m nobody. I’m a failure. I
can’t do it.”
- God’s answer was powerful and rings through the generations to our ears today! “I will be with you!”
- Then Moses came up with another objection when he said, “When they ask me your name, what will I tell them?”
- Tell them, “I AM has sent you!”
Illus – I read a book some years ago about string theory; a scientific theory of everything.In short, it theorizes that everything in the universe is made up of little bits of energy that vibrate like little strings.In other words, everything in the universe is made up of pure energy, but where did this energy come from?I have another theory of everything, his name is I AM!
Colossians 1:16-17, By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible… All things have been created through Him and for Him.He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
B.The Great “I Am” is the answer to fear
- The Great I Am gives meaning and purpose to your life. “I Am” -- YHWH -- is translated Yahweh or Jehovah.
- When Abraham offered Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, God provided a ram instead and said, “I am Jehovah Jireh; I am your provider.
- God said to the nation of Israel, “I am Jehovah Rapha; I am your healer.”
- When Moses was leading Israel against the people of Amalek in Exodus 17, He said, “I am Jehovah Nissi; I am your banner, your victory.”
- When Gideon faced the Midianite the army of 32,000 with 300 men, God said, “I am Jehovah Shalom; I am your peace.”
- When David was out in the fields as a lonely shepherd, God said, “I am Jehovah Ra-ah; I am your shepherd.”
- The Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah, “I am Jehovah Tzidkaynu; I am your righteousness.”
- The Lord said to the Prophet Ezekiel, “I am Jehovah Shama; I am always with you.”
- When Israel faced an Assyrian army of more than 144,000, God said to the prophet Isaiah, “I am Jehovah Sabaoath; captain of the armies of the host
- God said to Gabriel, “Tell Joseph and Mary that I am Jehovah Shua; I am your salvation.”
App – “I Am” is not restricted by your resources, your needs, or by the brokeness of our nation. I am everything you need God would say to each of us.
II. Give God What’s in Your Hand
- When Moses raised his objection in verse one, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?” God responded, “What is that in your hand?”
Moses responded, “A staff.”
- “Throw it down on the ground,” God said. Moses is about to learn one of the greatest lessons of faith anyone can learn.
A It’s God who makes it something
- “What is in your hand?” A symbol of failure.
- “I know this rod very well,” Moses could have said. “I once held the scepter of riches and power, but now I hold this old stick of wood, a symbol of
mediocrity. I’m just a shepherd out here in the desert, noticed by no one. It’s just an old wooden staff, it’s nothing.”
- The problem was that Moses was interpreting the staff in light of who he was. God was showing him to interpret the staff in light of who God is.
- If only he could have remembered what God had just told him, that God was the Great I Am.
- “What’s that in your hand?” “Throw it down before me and I will give it life,” God was saying.
Illus – What is that in your hand?
A ram’s horn, -- it’s nothing. “Throw it down before me, Joshua, and the walls of Jericho will fall to the ground.”
A slingshot – it’s nothing. “Throw it down before me, David, and the course of the nation will be changed when you take down the enemy that defies the God of Israel.”
3 loaves and 2 fish – it’s nothing considering the need. “Throw it down before me and 5,000 will be fed.
Two mites – it’s nothing. “Throw it down before me and a widow will give more than all the wealthy men of Israel and the world will be blessed by your generosity.”
A pile of wash – it’s nothing, I’m stuck here raising this child and it’s so hard. “Give it to me and I make something from that life that will make an eternal difference in many lives.
My business, my life….
- He is the One who takes what is nothing and makes it something. If we would just interpret life in the light of who God is.
John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Illus – Joni – Erickson Tada once gave her testimony at a Billy Graham crusade and said, “You see I am in this wheelchair and you may say that I am disabled. But God has made this wheelchair into a platform to impact millions, to strengthen their faith and give glory to God. My eyes have seen His glory; my ears have heard the wonderful news of His coming. My body awaits the day when I will dance before God in heaven.
But I say that you here in this stadium have many disabilities. You have eyes, but cannot see. You have ears, but cannot hear. You have a mind, but cannot understand. Give who you are to God and watch what He can do.
- God is the One who takes nothing and makes it something.
A.“Lord, send me”
- The Lord then demonstrated that He has power greater than the gods of Egypt.
- The serpent was a symbol of power in Egypt.In fact, the royal crown included a coiled cobra.It was a symbol of Egypt’s ability to strike down their enemies.
Illus – Jordi and I were in central Oregon visiting friends and we went for a hike near Smith Rock. As we walked the path we came upon a young snake, coiled and ready to strike. Though it was young, it was completely unafraid. Later I found out it was a rattlesnake. Snakes strike fear in people, it’s therefore a powerful symbol.
Illus – A few years ago, Jordi snuck up behind me and tried to put a snake down the back of my shirt, but it turned and bit her. Let’s just say she didn’t calmly shake it off. But I’m no better, one time I saw a baby water moccasin and I wasn’t exactly calm either.
- The healing of the leprous hand showed that God can do what the gods of Egypt could not do.They were powerless over leprosy and it was greatly feared
throughout the Middle East.
- The blood was a symbol of life and death.Moses would of course turn the Nile River into blood.The Egyptians worshipped the river itself as the source
- Moses then gave one more excuse, saying that he was slow of speech.Some believe Moses may have had a speech impediment, but I’m not sure we can say that because Stephen wrote…
Acts 7:22, “Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.”
- I think it is more likely that he thought he would have to be the one to persuade the sons of Israel by the power and eloquence of his speech, not
realizing that his eloquence had nothing to do with it.
- “Who made man’s mouth?” God responded. “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to say.”
- Finally, Moses gave one final objection, “Send anyone other than me!”
- Now this was straight-up resistance. Moses simply had run out of objections and the truth comes out, he just doesn’t want to do it.
- God’s anger burns against Moses, yet He allows Aaron to be the mouthpiece for Moses. He will now have his brother to help him. But this is less than
- Moses then returns to his father-in-law and asks to return to Egypt.
- But God wants him to remember the moment he had an encounter with God, the moment he came to realize that God is the One who transforms. He is the
One who takes nothing and makes it something.
God's Answer To Fear
November 4, 2018
To Exodus chapter four, and we'll begin in verse one. The title of our message is "God's answer to fear." Exodus chapters three and four, we meet Moses. Moses has an amazing encounter with God, where we learn so much from this encounter. If you remember a little bit of the history, he was raised in Pharaoh's house, amazingly, given Egyptian education, and the privilege of wealth, and power, and stature, but he never forgot that he was a Hebrew.
He was greatly troubled because he saw the way the Hebrew people were treated, and it bothered him tremendously. One day he's out and about and he sees an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew, and something just burns in him. He looks this way and that to see if anyone's looking and he strikes down the Egyptian, kills him, buries him in the sand. The next day, he sees two Hebrews having a conflict, and one mistreating another.
He said, "Brothers, what are you doing? Are you not brothers?" Then the heavy-handed one said, "Who made you ruler over us? Who made you Lord over us? Who do you think you are, basically?" He said, "What are you going to do? You're going to kill me like you did that Egyptian?" Then immediately Moses knew he was in trouble. In fact, it got to the ears of Pharaoh who gave instruction, of course, to kill Moses, and so he fled.
He fled to the area of Midian, which is desert. In fact, it would be like on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba, if you look at a map of the Middle East, and there is the mountain of God. For 40 years he is taking care of sheep out in the desert. He meets a family, Jethro and his daughters. He marries Zipporah, has two boys. 40 years go by, he's now 80 years old. He left Egypt when he was 40. He's been 40 years out in the area of Midian and now he's 80, 80 years old.
He's out watching the sheep and he sees this bush that is on fire, but it's intriguing to him because this bush is not being consumed. He said, "I'm going to see what this is about." He comes near to it and he hears this voice, the voice of God speaking to him out of this bush that's on fire but not being consumed. He instructs Moses to take the sandals from his feet, "for the place that you are standing is holy ground."
He then tells him that he's going to be the deliverer of the sons of Israel. "I have heard their cries. I'm concerned for what's happening, and I'm going to send you." Moses is afraid. He doesn't want to do this, so he gives God a series of objections, and some call them excuses. "I don't want to do this." This is where, really, the story applies to our lives. Many people do not want to move as God wants them to move.
Many people do this because of fear. Fear grips many, many, people but God has an answer to fear. When people start beating around the bush, pardon the pun, God confronts the objection. God confronts the excuses. He started out by saying, "Who am I?" That's his first objection like, "I am nobody. Who am I?" He considers himself a failure at this point. He had presumed to be Israel's deliverer, failed miserably, had to run, and now he's been 40 years.
40 years, I tell you, is a long time. That's a long time to be in the desert. God does a lot of things out in the desert. People have desert times, and God does a lot of things in desert times. God is working on Moses. Moses didn't even know that God is working on him, but God was preparing him in this time of desert, wilderness, and aloneness. "Who am I?" which is to say, "I am nobody." Then God answers, "I will be with you."
He has another objection and he says, "Well, when I go to the sons of Israel and I say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' they're going to say to me, 'Okay, yes. What is his name?' What am I supposed to say?" Then out of the fire, God says to him, "I Am that I Am. This is my name, Jehovah, Yahweh. This is my memorial name to all generations. You tell them that." He's just speaking.
We're going to pick it up in chapter four, in verse one. We're in the midst of this Moses giving objections. We start in chapter four beginning in verse one. Then Moses answered and he said, "Well, what if they don't believe me? What if they don't listen to what I say? They may say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you.' What if they say that?" Then the Lord said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
He said a staff, a rod, a wood. Then He said, "Throw it down." The Lord said to him, "Throw it down onto the ground." He threw it down on the ground, and immediately it became a serpent, like a snake, a serpent. Moses fled from it, as you can imagine. I would too. The Lord then said to Moses, "Now, stretch out your hand and grasp it by the tail," which is the dangerous end because it can whip around and strike you. "Grasp it by the tail."
He did it. He stretched out his hand and he caught it, and then it became the staff, again, in his hand. He said this, "That they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." Verse six, "The Lord furthermore said to him, 'Now put your hand into your bosom.'", which is to say, "Put it into your cloak. Put your hand into your bosom." "He put his hand into his bosom. When he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow." Leprosy was a disastrous disease, and tremendously feared. No cure for it.
He said, "Now put your hand into your bosom again." He put his hand into his bosom again. When he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. It shall come about that if they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, that they may believe the witness of the last sign. It shall be that if they will not believe even these two signs, or heed what you say, then you should take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground."
Now this, he's going to have to wait to do, so he has to trust and believe God is doing something here about faith. God is establishing His name in Moses' life that Moses might believe. I tell you that the Lord would do the same in each one of us. He establishes His name that we might believe, because when it comes to our relationship to the Lord, faith, I tell you, is everything. He wants us to believe that our God is able.
Moses then said to the Lord, "Please, please Lord. I have never been eloquent. I'm not good with words. I've never been eloquent neither recently or in times past, nor since you have spoken to your servant for I am slow speech and slow of tongue." This is just another objection. The Lord said to him, "Who made man's mouth? Who makes him dumb, or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go."
It's almost like you can almost hear like the tone of a parent. Like, "That's enough. Go and I, even I, will be with your mouth and I will teach you what you are to say." Now, look at verse 13. He said, "Please, Lord, now send a message by whomever thou wilt." In other words, "Please Lord, I'm running out of objections. Let me just say it straight up. Could you just send someone else?" That's really what that verse is about. Then anger of the LORD burned against Moses when he said that.
I. Do What God is Asking
The Lord said, "Is there not your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. Moreover, behold, he is coming up to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth. I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth and I will teach you what you are to do." These are the verses that I want us to look at. We'll look at the other verses surrounding this on Wednesdays, we go verse by verse, but I want us to look at these because these verses are so important and so filled with application for our own lives today, starting with this principle for each one of us. Do what God is asking because God has a calling.
A.God has a purpose for your life
I'm convinced that God has a calling in each one of us. God has a purpose. God has a meaning. He wants to use us. Do what God is asking you to do. Verse one, Moses has an objection, "What if they won't believe me? What if they will not listen?" What's interesting is previously in the chapter before this, God already told him, "No, they will listen," but Moses is afraid, and so he's trying to cover with these excuses, these objections. The point that all of us need to see is that God has a purpose for your life. God has a purpose.
God has a meaning and significance to every one of our lives. He wants to do something with your life. God gave you a life so that you can do something with it, that purpose and meaning. Many people are afraid that their lives won't amount to anything. Don't you? When you get to the end of your life, don't you want to be able to look back on your life and know that somehow, some way, you blessed people? Somehow, some way, God used you in this world. You impacted people. You made an impact on people around you. God used you in some way. Don't you want to have that? Because meaning, and purpose, and significance, God wants us to have in our lives.
Many people are afraid that their life won't amount to anything, or that they'll waste their lives. There is no one who is insignificant in the Kingdom of God. Let me just tell you that. There is no one who is insignificant in the Kingdom of God. He has decided to use you and me to make a difference in other people's lives. You want meaning and purpose? Make a difference, make an impact, for good, for God.
Every one of us know people that are hurting, who are oppressed, who are broken, who need God in their lives. Paul said, he wrote in-- This is 2nd Corinthians 5:18-19, he said that God has given to us a ministry, all of us, not just pastors and teachers but all of us have this. He says in those verses, "All these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and He gave to us a ministry of reconciliation." Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against Him. He has committed to us this word of reconciliation.
He continues to say, "Therefore, we entreat you to be reconciled to God." That is a powerful understanding, that God can use us to bring people back, to bring people to a relationship to the Lord. What a privilege is that? See, he said that the work of reconciliation, the work of the ministry is actually done by the church, the body of the church.
Ephesians 4:11-12, "He gave some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the service to the building up of the body of Christ." The significance that each person has is so important to grasp.
I remember when I was-- Many years ago, I was living up in Longview, Washington. I was in the restaurant business back in those days, but I had a desire to help, to make a difference. I actually volunteered to be a chaplain at the hospital. I had no ministry experience. I was just a youth. I was 21. That was young, but I wanted to make a difference, and so I decided I was going to go be a volunteer chaplain at the hospital.
They said, "What unit do you want to be a chaplain in?" I said, "Oncology, cancer, where people are dying. That's where I want to go." They gave me this-- Back in those days, I guess, chaplains got coats that look like doctors. I would go in these rooms and they would start like, "Doctor--" I said, "No, no, no. Listen, I want to talk to you about your soul. How can I pray for you?" I tell you what, that is a privilege, to pray with somebody, walk with somebody when they're going through a tragedy, going through a battle like that. Here's what's interesting, I met a number of other volunteers.
I was intrigued by something. It seemed like almost every other volunteer that I met, serving there in the oncology unit, had themselves had cancer and survived. Now, they're coming back because they want to do something for other people who are going through the same thing that they were going through. Now to me, that is an example right there. All of us have been through something. If God can use you to make a difference in someone's life, I'd tell you what, it's a blessing. It's a blessing. Many people aren't convinced because there's failure in their lives, that God can never use them either, they have no value, they're useless, but that's not God's perspective.
Remember last Saturday, many of the men here went to the event with Darryl Strawberry. Darryl Strawberry, many of you know, of course, spoke to our church guys and many of the guys in the community. A famous Major League baseball player had it all, right? Four World Series Championships, All-Star Game nine times, had a Rookie of the Year, major contract in his second year, and then absolutely crashed his life. Drugs, addiction, alcohol, women. It got so bad, he crashed his life so bad, that he actually spent almost two years in prison.
Now, you talk about going from a peak, a pinnacle, down to a place of the bottom. What he said is, "People threw me away. People were done with me." In fact he wrote a book recently. The name of the book is Don't Give Up On Me. God's Not Finished With Me Yet. I love the name of the book, and I love his story, because what happened is that he found Christ. He found a rock on which he could stand, and he begins to rebuild his life on this rock of Christ. God began to give him significance. God started to give meaning to his life and purpose, and that is to speak forth the truth that God takes hold of those that are broken and He rebuilds them.
B .The great “I Am” will be with you
He says, "I, myself, am an example of that." See, I love the story. Moses saw himself as a failure. What am I talking about? At the peak, right at the pinnacle, he had wealth, stature. He had authority. He was raised in Pharaoh's house with the highest of educations. Then he spent 40 years as a nobody. He wrote himself off. In fact, the sheep that he was shepherding weren't even his. He wasn't exactly in the prime of his life, 80 years old. That's getting up there. I'm getting there myself. Here's what we have to recognize when you look at the story, the Great I Am will be with you. That's the great part of this story. The Great I Am will be with you, that's the answer.
"Who am I? I'm just a failure. I am nobody. I am insignificant. I am a failure. Who am I?" God's answer to that is, "I will be with you." God's answer rings throughout the generations to our ears today. "I will be with you," is a truth for everyone of us. Do you believe that God will be with you? That is the very substance of faith, to believe that God is with you, to believe that God orders your way, that He walks with you through the course of your life. That is the very substance of faith, to believe that He is for you and that he walks with you. "I will be with you," He says.
Then Moses came up with another rejection. "Well, what will I say when they ask, 'You have met the God of our fathers, really? What's His name?' What should I tell them?" "You tell them that I Am What I Am, I Am That I Am, and all that I Am, I will be to you. You tell them that, my name is Jehovah, my name is Yahweh. It's my memorial name to all generations. I Am has sent you."
A few years ago, I was reading a book. I like to read in different things. It was a book of-- It's a scientific book on the theory of everything. It's a scientific book, The Theory of Everything. It was about string theory. Maybe you've heard about string theory. To summarize it simply, it's that the string theory believes that everything, that's why it's a theory of everything, everything in the universe is made up of little bits of energy that vibrate like little strings. Everything is made up of these strings of energy, everything, the whole entire universe.
Of course, that leads us to the question, "Well, where does this energy come from?" which leads me to my theory of everything. My theory of everything is His name is Jehovah. He is the creator of all things. I Am is the theory of everything. In fact, Colossians 1:16-17, "By Him, all things were created both in the heavens and on earth. Visible and invisible, all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together." That is who we serve. That is the great I Am. He says, "The Great I Am, creator of the universe, will be with you."
C. The Great “I Am” is the answer to fear
I love that song where David says, "I lift up mine eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth." Now, do you see why that's so important. "If He by His great Might and Power made the heavens and the earth, then surely He will accomplish what concerns me today. I lift up mine eyes to the hills for the Great I Am is with me, the Great I Am. His name is Yahweh, Jehovah." It is applied to our lives.
It's very interesting because when you do like the names of God, they have great significance. When Abraham offered Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, God provided a ram instead of Isacc, and so He said, "I Am Jehova Jireh, Jehovah Jireh. I am your provider." Then later God said to the nation of Israel, "I am Jehovah Rapha, I am your Healer." Moses, as he was leading the Israel-- against the people of Amelek, in Exodus 17, God said, "I am Jehova Nissi, I am your Banner over you. I am your Victory."
When Gideon faced the Midianite army of 32,000 with only 300, God said to him, "I am Jehovah Shalom, I am your Peace." When David was out in the fields as a shepherd, God said, "I am Jehovah Raah, I am your Shepherd."
The Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah, "I am Jehovah Tsidkenu, I am your Righteousness." The Lord said to Ezekiel, "I am Jehovah Shammah, I am always with you." Then when Israel faced the Assyrian army of more than 144,000, when they surrounded the city of Jerusalem, He gave them a great promise. He said, "My name is Jehovah Sabaoth, captain of the armies of the host of heaven," and 144,000 fell in one night. God said to Gabriel, the angel, "You tell Joseph and Mary that I am Jehovah Shua, I am your Salvation."
II.Give God What’s in Your Hand
I Am is a powerful name, and it's that name that is with you, and with me. It's not restricted. The Great I Am is not restricted by your resources, or your needs, or the brokenness of our nation. The Great I Am is everything you need. God would say to every one of us-- Notice this, when you get to Exodus Chapter four, give God what's in your hand. When Moses raised his objection in verse one, "What if they will not believe me? What if they will not listen to what I say?" Moses said. "What is that in your hand?" or God said, "What is that in your hand, Moses?" Moses said, "It's a staff, a rod." "Throw it down to the ground."
A.It’s God who makes it something
Moses is about to learn one of the greatest lessons of faith that anyone can learn, and it's this. It is God who makes it something. It is God who takes and makes something out of it. What is in your hand? A rod, a simple piece of wood, a symbol of failure. "I know this rod very well," you can imagine Moses could have said. "I once held the scepter of riches and power, but now I hold the stick of wood, a symbol of mediocrity. I'm just a shepherd out here, noticed by no one. It's just an old wooden staff. It's just like me. It's just like me. I'm no one, and this old staff is nothing."
"Throw it down. Throw it down." See, the problem is that Moses was interpreting this, or seeing this staff in the light of who he was. God was going to show him who this staff can be in light of who God is. If he could only have remembered what God had just told him, "I Am the Great I Am. What's in your hand? Throw it down. I'll give it life. I will use it. Throw it down."
What will this staff become in Moses' hand? This staff in Moses' hand will become a symbol of God's power wherever he goes. When he goes to Pharaoh, and challenges Pharaoh, it is the staff that he uses to demonstrate God's power. When he stood in front of the sea, Israel desperate because the army of Egypt was pressing down upon them, it was the staff that he set down in the water, and it parted before him.
This staff is going to become something that God will use. What a great symbol as he first looked at it? This is just an old stick of wood just like me. The great lesson for all of us, because a lot of us have that same perspective-- "It's just me. I am no one," but what God can do, what God can do when you lay it down, paths the question, "Lay it down before me."
"What do you have in your hand, Joshua? A ram's horn? Throw it down before me and the walls of Jericho will fall to the ground. What do you have in your hand, David? A slingshot? Let me use it on the course of the nation will be changed when you take down that giant who defied the God of the armies of Israel. What does that little boy have? Three loaves, two fish? It's nothing. Give it to me and 5,000 will be fed. What is it that old woman is putting into the treasury? Two mites? It's nothing."
Two mites, that's nothing, but Jesus said, "This woman has given more than all of the wealthy men of Israel." What great glory comes to the widow. We could say the same thing about our lives. What do you have in your hand? A pile of wash? Kids to raise? They're in their terrible 2s, or their terrible 7s, or their terrible 12s? My life is so hard. Many people say this, “My life is so hard.” Give it to God, and God will make an eternal difference through you. God can use you to take those kids and make those kids someone that God would use to make a difference in this world. Whether it be your business or your life, what can God do with it? He is the one that takes nothing and makes it something.
If we would just interpret our things, our life, in light of who God is-- John 15:5, Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing.” Now, that gives this the perspective of it right there. I remember reading this story of Joni Eareckson Tada. You know that she was tragically injured and became a paraplegic in the teen. She was giving her testimony at a Billy Graham Crusade. She said, “You see, I am in this wheelchair. You may say that I am disabled, but God has made this wheelchair into a platform that has impacted millions. I wouldn’t trade this wheelchair for anything.”
Someone said to her, “If God would give you complete health in exchange for that wheelchair, would you take it?” “No, I would not, because God has given me a platform that has impacted millions to strengthen people’s faith, to give glory to God. My eyes have seen His glory. My ears have heard the wonderful news of His coming. My body awaits the day when I will dance before God in heaven. I can wait. I can wait.”
B. “Lord, send me”
She continued in her testimony and she said, “I say to you, there are many here in this stadium that have disabilities of your own. There are people here in this stadium,” she said, “who have eyes but cannot see, who have ears but they cannot hear. They have a mind but they will not understand. Give God who you are and watch what He can do.” God is the one who takes nothing and makes it something. The point that He is giving to us is Lord, we say, “Send me, here am I. Here am I, Lord. I’m no one. I am nothing, but here I am. I willingly say you can use me,” and you watch what God can do.
The Lord then demonstrated that He has power greater than the gods of Egypt. The serpents, throw it down, throw that staff down and it becomes a serpent. See, the serpent was a symbol of power in Egypt. In fact, the royal crown in Egypt included a coiled cobra. It was a symbol of Egypt’s ability to strike down their enemies. God is demonstrating that He has greater power than the gods of Egypt. He’s strengthening Moses’ faith because snakes strike fear. We know this is true. Moses fled from it.
Jodi and I were-- a few months ago, we were visiting friends over in Central Oregon. We went for a hike near Smith Rock. As we were walking down this path, we came upon a young snake. It was a little grayish young snake in the path. We then saw that it was coiled, ready to strike. I thought, “No, it's not rattling. There’s no rattle, see, so we’re safe.” It had this ominous coiled appearance, but I thought, “No, this is not one to play with.”
I went back and looked it up, and then I reali-- I looked it up and found out that young rattlesnakes don’t have their rattle yet, but they’re just as poisonous and very dangerous. It was not the slightest bit intimidated by us kicking dust at it. They strike fear. The healing of the leper’s hand showed that God has greater power. There were powers over leprosy, greatly feared. The blood is the symbol of life and death. Moses would, of course, turn the Nile into the river of blood, because the Egyptians worship the Nile as a source of life.
Finally, Moses gives one last objection, “Could you just send someone else?” We have to come to the point where we say, “Lord, here I am.” We got to get to the point where we say, “Lord, here I am.” No more objections, no more excuses, no more holding back. "Lord, here I am." Let's pray. [excluded prayer]
Church, tonight, would you say to the Lord, "You are the one that takes nothing and makes it something. God, here I am. I may be nothing, I may be insignificant, but in the hands of God I will be what you want me to be. Here am I, Lord."? Would you just open your heart and say that to the Lord? I'm going to ask that you would just raise your hand to the Lord, and then that's what you're saying when you raise your hand, "Here am I. Here am I, Lord. Here's my life. I may be nothing. I may be insignificant, but in your hands, you make it whatever you want to make it. Here am I, Lord."