There’s the story, I am sure you have heard it before, of the college professor who always began his first day of class at the University dramatically telling his students he could unequivocally prove that God absolutely did not exist.
Looking up toward the ceiling he would shout, “God if you are real, then I want YOU to knock me off this platform. Come on, God, I will give you 15 minutes!”
Over the next several minutes he kept taunting God, saying things like “Here I am God, I’m still waiting and still standing” and smugly smiling at the class.
Then – all of a sudden – a burly 240-pound halfback for the football team came rushing forward from the back of the classroom and collided with the professor, knocking him full head over heels over his desk and into the chalkboard behind.
More shocked than hurt, the professor sputtered as the young man helped him back to his feet, brushed the chalk off of him, “Why on earth did you do that?”
The football player smiled as he walked away… and replied,
“Well, Professor, I guess God was busy; So, He sent me with your answer!”
Exodus 3:10-15Amplified Bible
The Mission of Moses
10 Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, and then bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 And God 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 serve and worship God at this mountain.”
13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, when I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers (ancestors) has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “[a]I Am Who I Am”; and He said, “You shall say this to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” 15 Then God also said to Moses, “This is what you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Israel), has sent me to you.’ This is My [b]Name forever, and this is My memorial [name] to all generations.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
In our text this morning, we find God saying to Moses:
“I will SEND YOU to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10
God was SENDING Moses to confront Pharaoh and free Israel from their slavery.
But as I was studying and preparing today’s Fourth of July devotional today, a staggering question and thought just rushed unto the forefront of my mind:
Why did GOD send Moses or anyone else for that matter?
Why not just do it Himself?
Did God really need the help?
Was He busy or something?
No… God was not busy.
But there was something about sending Moses on this task that speaks to us about God’s plans for our lives.
First, we need to realize God doesn’t need us.
He owns the sheep, the cattle, every other animal on a thousand, thousand hills.
He has an army of angels at His beck and call.
And as Amos 4:13 put it
“He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth—the LORD God Almighty is his name.”
If God HAS all that, and can DO all that,
what’s He need with me… or you… or Moses???
Psalm 8:4 asks, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”
But, the fact of the matter is:
God IS mindful of us.
He DOES care for us.
And when it comes to doing His will, God graciously allows us to take part.
One of the most intriguing promises (for me) that Jesus ever made was this one:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even GREATER THINGS THAN THESE, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
Jesus promised that WE would do GREATER THINGS than He did on earth?
But Jesus quite literally fed thousands with just 5 loaves and 2 fish.
He healed the sick.
He raised the dead.
Have you ever done any of those things?
In fact, I have NEVER done anything even remotely like that.
And yet Jesus clearly says to me: “I’ll do greater things than those?!!!”
How’s that possible?
Well, consider these two stories out of the book of Acts.
The first story is found in Acts 8:26 where we’re told:
“AN ANGEL of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road— the desert road— that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’”
As we read the rest of the story, we find that Philip does as he’s told and goes down to that road and sees a man riding in a chariot.
He begins running alongside the chariot and hears a high official from Ethiopia reading from the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah (famous chapter predicting many things about who Jesus would be), and he asks the man if he understands what he’s reading.
The Ethiopian replies ““How can unless someone explains it to me?” Acts 8:31
So, Philip climbs up into the chariot and begins talking about Jesus, and the conversation turns to how the Ethiopian Servant can become a Christian.
As they’re riding along, the Ethiopian says:
“Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:36) and they went over to the water and Philip baptized this “Queens Servant” man into Christ.
Now, a couple of questions:
1. WHO sent Philip to meet the Ethiopian Eunuch? (An angel)
2. WHY didn’t the angel go themself?
Hold that 2nd question in your mind for a second as we go the next story.
In Acts 9 we read about the conversion of Saul (who we know of as Paul).
Now, at the time, Paul was an enemy of the church.
He hated Christianity and did everything in his power to undermine and hurt those who belonged to Christ.
So committed to this task that, when he heard there was a body of Christians meeting up in Damascus, he led several men up there to take those Christians prisoners back to Jerusalem in chains for trial and their suitable punishment.
But on the way to Damascus, Jesus confronts him, blinds him and knocks him to the ground.
And he “heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’” (Acts 9:4-6)
Then after three days, Jesus goes to man named Ananias and commands him to go and teach Saul/Paul what he needs to know about being a servant of Christ.
And amongst the things Ananias told Paul was this:
“… what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16)
Now: a couple of questions
1. WHERE was Paul when his sins were washed away? (Damascus)
2. WHY didn’t Jesus’ wash Paul’s sins away when He met him on the road to Damascus?
Because this is what Jesus meant when He promised that “greater things you will do than I have done.”
Philip (in baptizing the Ethiopian) and Ananias (in baptizing Paul) were given the honor of serving Christ and freeing others of the chains of their sins.
They were given the privilege of being the agents of God’s salvation to those around them.
On each occasion, Jesus or an angel COULD have led these men to salvation.
But in both cases, it was a mortal Christian who was given that honor to serve.
It’s not that the angel and Jesus COULD NOT have directly saved those men.
The fact is – they WOULD NOT do that.
That privilege was reserved for men and women who belonged to Christ.
You see, God doesn’t NEED us.
But He WANTS us… to be His partners in SERVANT ministry.
Just like Moses who led his people out of the darkness of slavery into the light God’s light, it’s a high honor we’ve been given. And a great privilege to serve.
But there are times when people aren’t sure they can do that.
Just like Moses… they don’t feel up to the job.
They might even think they’ll mess it up and make God mad or something.
But as you notice from our story, the only thing Moses did that made God angry.
You know when that was?
It was when Moses tried to turn God down.
He tries telling God he can’t talk very well.
God says, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:12
Then Moses simply says: “Send someone else”
“Then the LORD’s ANGER BURNED against Moses…” Exodus 4:14
I tell you – if you’re going make God mad, you don’t want to do it by turning Him down.
It just doesn’t seem like a good career move.
Besides think of all the adventure and excitement and honor Moses would have missed if he’d just walked away from God’s Servant commission.
To this day, Moses is highly revered in both Judaism and Christianity, and Moses’ name is mentioned nearly as many times in Scripture as Jesus.
But God didn’t just send Moses to the people unequipped to do this task.
He gave Moses three tools to help him get the job done.
And what we’re going to do today is look at them in the reverse order in which they occur in Scripture.
The 1st tool God gave Moses (and the last in the story) has to do with the issue of Moses’ fear he did not think he could speak well enough to get the job done.
“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.” Exodus 4:10
I know a lot of Christians who say that.
They don’t believe they know enough or can present the Gospel of GOD well enough to speak to others. AND you may be one of those people here today.
Now, I guess it should be enough for us to accept God’s statement to Moses:
“Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:11-12
But sometimes that just not enough for some folks.
I believe there are a whole lot of people who struggle mightily with that fear.
And that fear just shows me that many are NOT all that different than Moses.
Moses was one of the greatest men that ever walked, but even he was afraid to share with the people exactly what message God wanted him to communicate.
But God did give something to Moses to help him overcome his fear.
You know what God gave him?
That’s right – God gave him a helper.
“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. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.” Exodus 4:14-15
God gave Moses a helper.
He sent Moses’ brother (Aaron) to speak for him.
Do you have a “brother” who might help you share your faith?
Yeah? Who might those “brothers be”?
That’s right – you have a whole bunch of Christian brothers and sisters right in your churches and communities and neighborhoods.
And I bet that if you had someone, you’d like to talk to about Christ they’d be more than happy to step up and go with you.
You have got servant helpers
– Elders and Deacons and Laity, Sunday School teachers, all kinds of Godly women and men who would be your “Aaron” and help you share your faith.
They’re your backup team.
As Servants of Christ, they can help you share your faith for the “first time” or they might be able to step up and help you try a different angle on friends or relatives who you HAVE witnessed to, but who won’t listen to you anymore.
Have you ever been to a car lot to buy a car?
Did you ever notice that you first meet with a floor salesman?
Then if you show interest, they’ll pass you along to another “higher up” in the company… and maybe even a 3rd person to talk to about your potential sale.
Do you know why they do that?
Because they know if you’re genuinely interested, the chances of their making a sale go up dramatically depending on how many people they get you to talk to.
In the same way, the more of your “back up ‘Servant’ team” at church you get talking to your family and friends and neighbors, the higher your chances of courageously communicating your faith in Christ to the people you care about.
The 2nd tool God gave Moses was the opportunity to have some “skin in the game.”
The LORD said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So, Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow. Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So, Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh. Exodus 4:6-7
When I first read, pondered that, I wondered, what do these verses say to me.
And then a phrase came into my mind: “Skin in the game.”
In focusing on Moses’ hand God was getting Moses to put his skin in the game.
Then I went on the internet to look up exactly what that phrase meant.
According to one on-line dictionary, this was the definition:
Skin in the game means “To have a personal stake or investment.”
In other words, to have “skin in the game” means that you, I, are committed to the success of a project or cause, and we’ve shown that by investing something incredibly valuable and intimately personal in struggling, achieving its success.
So, when it comes to Servanthood,
how do you and I know if you and I have “Skin in the game?”
Well, someone once boiled it down to 3 issues:
How much TIME, TALENT and TREASURE do you have committed to Christ?
How much TIME have you invested in God each week?
Some folks would say… “well, I show up for church 1 or 2 hours a week.”
And that’s nice… but that’s hardly what you’d call “investing”.
That’s more like dabbling.
No, to really have “skin in the game” when it comes to the amount of time you spend for God each week, you and I have got to do so much better than that.
We’re talking about –
how much time do we spend talking to others about our faith during the week?
How much time do we spend reading our Bible on our own?
How much time do we spend throughout the week praying, talking with God?
How much time do we spend during the week serving in God’s neighborhood?
Then there’s the topic of how much of your TALENT do you give to the church?
What talent do you have that you can use for God?
I recently passed by a church sign of a congregation, and I was a little jealous about something they put on their marquee… mostly because they thought of something completely original and so 100% immensely useful before I did!
Their marquee sign read if your car could not afford to pay for inflation, they were offering to freely change the oil in your car to keep it ready for its work.
That was a GREAT idea!
I am just sorry that my former auto mechanics heart did not suggest it first.
Somebody at that Church was using their talents for serving their neighbors.
There’s the matter of putting genuine ‘kingdom value” on our ‘TREASURES’.
Mark 10:17-22 Amplified Bible
The Rich Young Ruler
17 As He was leaving on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially good and morally perfect], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 18 Jesus said to him, “[a]Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially] good [by nature] except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not testify falsely, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he replied to Him, “Teacher, I have [carefully] kept all these [commandments] since my [b]youth.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love (high regard, compassion) for him, and He said to him, “You lack one thing: go and sell all your property and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk].” 22 But the man was saddened at Jesus’ words, and he left grieving, because he owned much property and had many possessions [which he treasured more than his relationship with God].
How does this poignant Gospel text speak to your allegedly “Servants Heart?”
If we don’t have any ‘genuine’ “skin in the game” as far as our “treasure” goes, are we or are we not ready to become ‘fully’ invested serving God’s kingdom?”
What does it mean to fully commit ourselves to the success of God’s kingdom?
Matthew 6:19-21Amplified Bible
19 “Do not store up for yourselves [material] treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.
The last thing I want to point out… is the first thing God asked Moses:
“Then, the LORD said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’
‘A staff,’ he replied.” Exodus 4:2
What have you got in your hand Moses? God had asked.
Well, what did Moses have in his hand?
(Pause) That’s a dumb question.
Of course he has a staff in his hand… he’s a shepherd.
But this was more than just a staff.
This staff symbolized everything Moses was and everything Moses owned.
This staff represented the totality of Moses’ wealth.
He may not have had much, but this staff represented all he had.
At one time Moses had been a prince of Egypt, with power, prestige and palaces.
Now, he was lowly shepherd living out in the middle of the desert in a tent that’s moved whenever they needed to find new pasture for the flocks.
Even the sheep weren’t his – they belonged to his father-in-law.
Moses had little that was really his own… except his staff.
“So, (God asks) Moses what is your hand?”
As long as the staff belonged to Moses, it was just a staff. But once Moses gave it to God, God used it shake an empire. With that staff of God,
• Moses struck the Nile River and turned it to blood (Exodus 7:17)
• He stretched it over the waters of Egypt and brought a plague of frogs upon the land (Exodus 8:5),
• He struck the dust of the earth and up from the dust rose a plague of gnats (Exodus 8:16),
• He stretched it toward heaven and down came fire, thunder, and hail (Exodus 9:23),
• He waved it in the air and a horde of locust invaded the land (Exodus 10:13),
• He stretched it out over the Red Sea and the waters parted for Israel to pass on dry ground (Exodus 14:16),
• He struck a rock and water poured forth to quench the thirst of God’s people (Exodus 17:6)
• And when he held it high in the air, the Israelites prevailed in battle over their enemies the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16).
Once that symbol (of who he was) was given to God, it was no longer a mere shepherd’s staff.
Once it was given to God, it was as though God had placed in Moses’ hand the very power of the universe.
Had any part of the nature of the wooden staff changed even in the slightest?
No, it was still the same shepherd’s staff – but with a difference.
Now, it was no longer a mere piece of wood shaped by the hands of man.
Except now, as was shaped by human hands it belonged exclusively unto God.
Except now it had been consecrated by God to serve ALL OF God’s Children!
A Servant’s Attitude and Character
How do we advance in our careers?
How do we receive the recognition we think we deserve?
For many, the logical strategy is through self-promotion and our bringing attention to ourselves. Seeking credit for successes and pointing the blame at others for failures are other strategies often employed for advancement.
It’s being sure others know us by name and being aggressive to lobby for the best seat, the greatest rewards.
The Bible describes these attitudes as claiming honor “in the presence of the king.”
But the Bible gives us another, godlier model: to have the attitude of a servant in everything we do, to seek to serve God and others with a selfless attitude.
We are not to be proud or focus on ourselves but to stay humble.
We are always to work as unto the Lord, being max sure that GOD above all others is pleased with what we do and how we do it.
We are urged to remember that “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12 NLT).
If we humble ourselves before God, He will exalt us (James 4:10).
This year I will live the Gospel Life by:
Committing to at least two new spiritual practices to deepen my faith. – Philippians 2:1-4, Philippians 2:12-18
I will share radical hospitality by:
• Making my heart a welcoming place for God.
• Inviting a friend, colleague, classmate or family member to attend worship.
• Warmly welcome all who attend.
Welcome one another, therefore just a Christ has welcomed you,
for the glory of God. – Romans 15:7
I will be passionate in worship by:
• Preparing my heart and mind for worship.
• Attending worship regularly.
• By finding a daily devotional that works for me.
Let us not give up the habit of meeting together,
but let us encourage one another. – Hebrews 10:25
I will be intentional in my faith development by:
• Praying regularly.
• Being part of a group for discussions, study, or prayer.
• Discovering my spiritual gifts and talents.
They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and prayer. – Acts 2:42
I will be risk-taking in mission and service by:
• Listening more closely for God’s call on my life.
• Making a positive difference in the lives of others.
• Being willing to risk failure for Christ’s ministry.
Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. – Matthew 25:40
I will be extravagant in my generosity by:
• Offering more of my heart, my hands and my feet and my soul for God
• Supporting the church in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ
• Giving regularly, with tithing being the aim.
You will be enriched in every good way for your great generosity.
– Job 42:10-15, 2 Corinthians 9:11, Jude 20-25
Remember others may see outward appearances, but God looks at your heart.
Remember to seek first His kingdom.
Sow seeds with the gifts and talents you have been given.
Be confident GOD ALONE will provide all you need and bless you abundantly.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things
To your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
You are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen