Romeo United Methodist Church
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Looking Up - Reaching Out - Caring Within
The 5 Excuses of Moses
By Dr. Gary R. GlanvilleMay 22, 2011
Scripture: Exodus 3:1-14
I begin with a terrible story. The commanding officer was furious when nine GIs, who had been out on passes, failed to show up for morning roll call. Not until 7pm did the first man straggle in. "I'm sorry sir, " the soldier explained, "but I had a date and lost track of time, and I missed the bus back. Being determined to get in on time, I hired a cab. Halfway here, the cab broke down. I went to a farmhouse and persuaded the farmer to sell me a horse. I was riding to camp when the animal fell dead. I walked the last ten miles, and just got here."
Though skeptical, the colonel let the young man off with a reprimand. However, after him, seven other stragglers in a row came in with the same story--had a date, missed the bus, hired a cab, bought a horse, horse died, walked back in.
By the time the 9th man reported in the colonel had not only grown weary of this ridiculous tale, but he became angry. And he growled at the 9th soldier, "Okay, what happened to you?"
"Sir, I had this date and missed the bus back, so I hired a cab...." "Wait!" the colonel screeched at him. "Don't tell me the cab broke down."
"No sir," replied the soldier. The cab didn't break down. It was just that there were so many dead horses in the road, we had trouble getting through."
You know, it's amazing how many excuses we can come up with for why things didn't turn out the way they should. We are filled with reasons why we should not be held accountable. We want to blame anyone or anything else before accepting any blame ourselves. We also come up with all kinds of reasons why God cannot use us in some form of ministry, from being too young, to being to old, from being too busy, to not being qualified enough. And what may hit us strangely, is that Moses, the great leader who led 2 million people across the wilderness for 40 years, who crossed the Red Sea on dry ground and saw God perform mighty deeds against the Egyptians, this same Moses had all kinds of excuses why God could not use him, why it would be best for God to pick someone else for the job.
In this message, I think we’re going to discover how truly human Moses was, just like you and me. And I’m hoping, through this message, you will not only be able to relate to Moses as an ordinary guy, like all of us here, but begin to see how God, despite objections, used a reluctant individual to carry out His plans of deliverance. For once Moses got past the excuses and began to step out on faith by simply making himself available, God was able to use Moses, just as I believe God can use us today if we will simply be available. For availability does not require talent, nor significant influence, nor a certain age. Availability means, I am willing O God to be used by You in whatever capacity You desire. I am even willing to do the simple mundane things over and over again if that will honor and please You. I want to be Your servant. And I make myself available for Your work on earth, whatever that work might be, and however You want to use me.
So let's look together at these 5 protests of Moses, and see if we can identify with any of them. (Exodus 3 & 4)
After God tells Moses, he will be the leader to deliver the people out of Egypt (Exodus 3:10), Moses asks this first question in verse 11 that I think many of us have asked: "Who me?" You want me to do what? You must be thinking about another Moses You know. Who in the world am I to go up to the king of Egypt, a lowly, desert shepherd as I am, and tell Pharaoh, he has got to let the Israelites go? I am a nobody. Who is going to care what I say? What influence can I bring? How am I supposed to persuade an entire nation whose economy depends in part upon millions of slaves – to let them go free? God, this is not a good plan.
But you see from God's perspective, the Lord did not need nor want someone influential. The Lord simply needed a willing servant. God would take care of the rest. And what piece of encouragement does God give Moses in response to his question? We read it in verse 12. God tells Moses, I will be with you. That's all you need to know Moses. I will be with you. One plus God equals a majority. I will not leave you. Moses, you step out on faith and trust me, and I will do My stuff as promised. And I guarantee you, I will get you there, I will use you to deliver my people, and I will bring you back to this very same mountain to worship.
Sometimes we need to hear and be reminded God will be with us no matter what happens. Especially during some of those times when life doesn’t make any sense. Whether that means a financial challenge or we’re going through a family crisis or a family health scare. I wonder if the people in the south dealing with flooding and the aftermath of tornadoes need to hear once again – God will still be with them?
So Moses responds in verse 13 with question #2 - but what do I do if someone asks me some really tough questions? Someone is bound to ask me something I don't know the answer to. I am not a theologian. I have never studied at seminary. What if they ask me Your name, or what You are like, what do I say? I don't know that much about You.
Doesn't that sound like some of us in the church when we are asked to consider a leadership role, or serve on a committee, or teach a Christian Education class? What if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer? I'm not qualified enough because I don’t know enough.
But let me ask you this: Do we ever know all the answers? Do we ever really feel qualified enough in any field we pursue? The good news is, we don't have to know everything right now, this moment, before God can use us. God's message and presence will radiant through an obedient heart that's willing to step out on faith.
Then in chapter 4, verse 1, Moses raises his third objection. God, what if they won't believe me? What if they won't listen to me? What if I go, and I do exactly what You say, and they laugh at me, and reject me?
Can anyone identify with that?
Let's bring this to present day. For those of you who are parents, have you ever known your kids to listen to everything you say? Does that mean you should give up on parenting? No, of course not. We keep on keeping on. And I expect in this world to meet many people who do not believe as I do, who either have not seriously considered the claims of Christ, have drifted away from the church, or choose to be antagonistic.
You see with some people, you can answer all of their questions, and they will still choose not to believe. I remember reading a story about Josh McDowell who was debating a professor, and he asked the professor, "If I could answer all of your questions 100% to your satisfaction, would you believe in Jesus?" And the professor still answered - "No." That professor would never have the faith to believe, because he would never allow himself to believe. He stubbornly chose not to believe as an act of his will. And its really a waste of time to debate with people like that. All you can do is love them.
And so this is my advice: With most people, don't worry about presenting all the facts correctly, knowing all the answers, just show them the love of Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.
Moses had a fourth objection as to why it was a bad decision for God to use him. Moses was not a great speaker. He wasn't good at debate. He was slow on his feet. He didn't have the gift of gab. He wasn't a good salesperson, with a winsome personality. He was terrible at responding quickly to concerns with all the right comments and snappy comebacks. If people raised objections to what he had to say, he wasn't sure how he would answer.
And God said to Moses, tell me this - who made the mouth? Who made the tongue? Who made your brain? Don't sweat the details, I'll tell you what to say at the right time.
And how interesting to look to the New Testament and find Jesus saying the same thing to His disciples in the gospel of Luke. (12:11-12)
"And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
But you know what God does in spite of Moses' excuse? God reassures Moses, by telling him, Aaron, his brother, can speak for him. Moses, I will instruct you. You can tell Aaron. Aaron will speak to the people.
Which brings us to the final protest on the part of Moses. Exodus 4:13. By this time, Moses has run out of excuses, and dodging the real issue, which I think is fear. [I say that because of verse 19, where God reassures Moses, the people in Egypt who were seeking your life are now dead.] And Moses finally says what is really on his mind. Lord, please find somebody else. I don't want to be the leader. Moses wanted his name scratched off the list. He wanted to sit on the sidelines and watch someone else do the work. Have you ever met someone who has all kinds of ideas, that is, ideas you can do? They don't want to get involved - but it would perfect for you.
I read a story about Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin during World War II. It was during one of their "Big Three" conferences and Roosevelt and Churchill were trying to convince Stalin to go along with a certain strategy they had in mind. Stalin gave some excuse why he didn't want to do it. The other two jumped in right away, "That's no reason for your refusal." So Stalin told them a story about two Arabs.
One day, one Arab asked the other to lend him his rope. The second Arab said, "I can't. I need it to tie my camel." The first Arab said, "You don't own a camel." The Second Arab replied back, "I know that, but when you don't want to lend your rope, one excuse is as good as any other."
Whether it was fear, reluctance, unwillingness, or something else, Moses did not want to go to Egypt. But once Moses begins to walk by faith, once he gets his feet wet, and begins to see God working through him, he changes his tune, and the Lord is able to use him in a powerful way. The act of doing the ministry put to rest Moses' imaginary fears and excuses. He saw that God kept His promise to remain with him.
So let’s bring this forward to present day, to you and me. I’ve been exploring the idea of traveling to Kenya, in East Africa, this coming September. Our missionary we support as a church, Michael Agwanda, has asked me and several other UM pastors to teach 50 African pastors in the very first Pastors’ training School for that area. The trip runs from September 15-27, and I would be gone two Sundays. I’ve run this idea by several committees and our District Superintendent. So far I have received confirming feedback and a positive answer to prayer that was on my checklist. At the same time, it wouldn’t be difficult to think of reasons not to go. Overseas travel is not cheap. September would not be the time I would pick. I have to prepare myself with multiple shots and malaria pills. There’s a tremendous amount of preparation. I have to find subs and the reasonable objections continue. On the positive side, I get to work with 50 pastors who have never been to Bible college or seminary. If I go, I could impact 50 congregations for the Kingdom of God, and that really excites me to know I could multiply myself through others. I’ve decided, if this trip is of the Lord, I don’t need to worry about it because it will all come together. God would never ask me to do anything that is not possible to do through Him. God will provide on all levels because God promises to always go with me.
Is there something that is uncertain in your life right now? Are there some concerns? Whatever that might be, I would like you to hear, I believe - God will be with you. God will walk that road by your side no matter where the journey might lead, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). Let us pray.