Where Is Your Focus?

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God's omnipotence matters more than our incompetence.

Exodus(34) (Part of the Rescued(33) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on October 15, 2023 (Sunday Morning(342))

Courage(1), Fear(4), Strength(4), Thanksgiving(2), Trust(24), Weakness(1)

Rescued

Where Is Your Focus?

(Exodus 4:10-17)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Many years ago in the city of Minneapolis at Bethlehem Baptist Church they needed a Sunday school teacher for the junior boys. This class wasn't bad, just energetic. No teacher had been able to control them. Ewald Chaldberg, a Swedish masseur, was asked to teach, and he took the junior boys class.

 

Ewald still had his Swedish accent. Buzzing all over the church was the word, ‘He'll never make it. Three weeks, and that will be the end.’ But somehow Ewald Chaldberg believed God when he took the class, and he stayed with it through the years. He kept teaching boys.

 

Some years ago I was asked to come to that church and share in a service. It was the tenth anniversary of the death of Ewald Chaldberg. How do you like that--a layman in the church, and they're celebrating the tenth anniversary of his death!

 

During the service, they recounted that at least forty men were in Christian service someplace in the world because Ewald Chaldberg taught boys, loved them, and watched over them as they grew. Ewald Chaldberg had faith to believe that God could overcome his human limitations.

 

On the morning of that anniversary celebration, twenty-seven lay persons stood up to say, ‘We're going to be like Ewald Chaldberg in a small way.’ The obscure immigrant with a Swedish accent found significance because he trusted the Lord who said, ‘My idea is bigger than your idea.’”

 

Source: Gordon Johnson, "Finding Significance in Obscurity," Preaching Today, Tape No. 82.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1998/october/5397.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Calling into pastoral ministry

        • Most of you know my calling story, into pastoral ministry

        • God answered me, as I cried out to Him, one morning on my way to work in Southern California

        • He said He already told me what He wanted me to do

        • I knew it was serving Him as a pastor

        • I had one major fear that I expressed to Him – what will I preach about every Sunday

          • God used a book written by Chuck Smith to calm that fear

          • Chuck Smith shared that he began preaching verse-by-verse through books of the Bible

          • I knew that I could that, which I have done for almost 15 years

        • I also knew the stress involved in pastoring, since I grew up in a pastor’s home

        • God met all of my excuses with His comfort, compassion, love, patience, and guidance

        • I wanted to focus on my inadequacies, but God wanted me to focus on His unlimited power

 

  • WE

    • How many of us have given God excuse after excuse when He has called us to do something?

    • How many of us have focused on our inadequacies instead of God’s unlimited power?

 

Moses used so many excuses with God. ​​ First, he told God that he was nobody and the Israelites would not listen to him, but God said He would be with Moses and that the elders of Israel would listen to him. ​​ When Moses still struggled with whether or not the Israelites would believe him or listen to him, God gave him three miraculous signs he could use to prove that God had sent him and was with him. ​​ As we will see today, Moses expressed one more excuse, before he finally came clean with God. ​​ Moses was focused on his incompetence instead of God and His power. ​​ Moses needed to understand that God’s omnipotence mattered more than his incompetence. ​​ We need to learn the same thing, that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God’s omnipotence matters more than our incompetence. ​​ [Motyer]

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 4:10-17)

    • Excuse [noun] (vv. 10-12)

        • The Lord had just given Moses the power to do three miraculous signs, two of which he already experienced (staff into snake and back to staff; diseased hand to restored hand), but Moses had one more excuse

          • He had never been eloquent, but was slow of speech and tongue

            • What exactly did Moses struggle with?

              • Was it a speech impediment or defect?

                • Even if this was the case, we see throughout the rest of Exodus and Deuteronomy that Moses does a pretty good job of speaking in public

                • He does not always use Aaron as his mouthpiece

                • God was powerful enough to enable Moses to speak clearly

              • Was it a concern over not using Egyptian for 40 years?

                • I consider this hypothesis to be pretty weak

                • It seems like some scholar was reaching at this point

              • Was it “exaggerated humility”?

                • This has some merit

                • “. . . in the style of ancient Near Eastern ‘exaggerated humility,’ often employed in situations where one is appealing for help or mercy from someone else or showing one’s mannerly self-deprecation at being given a great assignment.” ​​ [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 133-34]

                • Stuart outlines multiple Scriptures throughout the Old and New Testaments where this style is used

                • The only concern with “exaggerated humility” is that Moses would not have needed a helper to speak

              • Was it a difficulty with formulating words under pressure?

                • This also some merit, especially since the Lord provides Aaron as a helper for Moses

                • “Moses was afraid that in the intense negotiations that would undoubtedly take place with Pharaoh he would not be quick or persuasive enough to present the case adequately before Pharaoh.” ​​ [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 93]

                • How many of us would agree that we do not feel adequate to formulate words or ideas under pressure?

                • I find that I usually hold my tongue and not speak when I am under pressure – I need time to think and formulate a proper response – when I don’t do that, I usually say the wrong thing

            • Moses recognized that he had never been this way in the past and it had not changed since the Lord had spoken to him

            • “Moses meant to say, ‘I neither possess the gift of speech by nature, nor have I received it since Thou has spoken to me.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 293]

          • God was not caught off guard by Moses confession

            • He already knew that Moses had never been eloquent and that he was slow of speech and tongue

              • That did not matter to God

              • He knew Moses’ character

              • God was able to use Moses in spite of his weakness and fear

              • God’s omnipotence matters more than our incompetence.

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God can use our weaknesses for His glory.

              • It is probably safe to say that most of us struggle with fear about sharing the Gospel with our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers

                • We may say, like Moses, that we have never been eloquent and are slow of speech and tongue

                • We may fear being asked a question that we do not have the answer to

                • We are concerned that we may not share the Gospel well enough or clearly enough

                • “God doesn’t call the equipped, son. ​​ God equips the called. ​​ And you have been called” ​​ [Rick Yancey, The Fifth Wave]

                • Biblical support

                  • Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-2:5

                  • Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

                  • Matthew 10:19-20, But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. ​​ At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be your speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

                  • 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, What, after all, is Apollos? ​​ And what is Paul? ​​ Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. ​​ I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. ​​ So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. ​​ The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. ​​ For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

                • God can use our fear of sharing the Gospel for His glory

                  • He wants us to rely on the Holy Spirit to strengthen us through our shaky voice and scattered thoughts

                  • God’s omnipotence matters more than our incompetence.

                  • His desire is that we share what we know

                  • If we do not have the answer to a question, we can simply say, “I don’t know, but I will get you the answer.”

                  • That leaves the door open for another conversation about the things of God

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God to use me for His glory, in spite of my fear and weakness.

              • “One of the great evangelists of all time and founder of the YMCA, D.L. Moody was very impacting but not very polished. ​​ A woman came to him after one service and said, ‘Mr. Moody, I noticed in your message that you made eighteen grammatical mistakes.’ ​​ ‘Ma’am,’ Moody replied, ‘I’m using all the grammar I got for the Lord. ​​ What are you doing with yours?’” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis—Job, 242]

          • God understood Moses’ concern, but did not let him off the hook

          • “In response God uses a series of rhetorical questions to underscore that his power extends to the realm of human speech.” ​​ [Alexander, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 97]

        • God’s response

          • Creator

            • The Lord asked Moses three questions that He did not expect him to answer

            • The Lord answered His own questions with another question – Is it not I, the Lord?

            • The Lord helped Moses understand that He, as Creator, had the power to help Moses speak clearly and the power to teach Moses what to say

            • God’s omnipotence matters more than our incompetence.

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is Creator!

              • As Creator, He is all-powerful

              • There is nothing impossible for Him

              • Whether it is a speech impediment or an inability to think quickly under pressure, God has the power to help

              • “The God who made us is able to use the gifts and abilities He’s given us to accomplish the tasks He assigns to us.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 184]

            • The Lord was going to be Moses’ helper and teacher

          • Helper and teacher

            • Command

              • The Lord told Moses, Now go!

              • The Lord was ready for His freedom plan to get started

              • “Stop making excuses, Moses, and get going”

            • Promises

              • I will help you speak

                • The Hebrew literally reads, “I will be with your mouth”

                • God did this not only with Moses, but also with Aaron, as we will see in verse 15

              • I will teach you what to say

              • Spurgeon often worked 18 hours a day. Famous explorer and missionary David Livingstone once asked him, ‘How do you manage to do two men's work in a single day?’ Spurgeon replied, ‘You have forgotten that there are two of us.’”

                Source: "Charles Haddon Spurgeon," Christian History, no. 29.

                [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/july/2517.html]

              • God did not give Moses this huge job to do and then send him on his way alone—He helped him and taught him

              • God’s omnipotence matters more than our incompetence.

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God helps us and teaches us.

              • When God asks us to do something for Him, He will not leave us alone

              • He will help us and teach us, too

              • What is the Lord asking you to do that you feel inadequate or unprepared to do?

              • Do you believe He will help you to have the strength and courage to speak and He will teach you what to say?

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to help me have the strength and courage to speak to __________ (name) about ____________ and trust Him to teach me what to say.

            • God will help you and teach you

        • The Lord addressed all of Moses’ fears and excuses, so Moses finally confessed his true feelings

    • Excuse [verb] (vv. 13-17)

        • Moses’ confession (v. 13)

          • Lord

            • Moses does not address God as Jehovah [Lord] (the existing One; the proper name of the one true God)

            • Instead he uses Adonai [Lord] (lord, master, sovereign)

          • Moses did not want to do what God was calling him to do

            • He said it in the most neutral and non-offensive way as possible

            • “‘Send by the hand of whomever you will send’ (but not me, understood).” ​​ [Mackay, 95]

            • “Every one of his questions had been answered in stunning ways. ​​ Now he basically said, ‘Here I am, send someone else.’” ​​ [Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Exodus, 31]

            • Isaiah the prophet, when called, said, here I am, send me (Isaiah 6:8)

          • How many of us have told the Lord the same thing that Moses did – “Here I am, send someone else”?

            • When He has asked us to share the Gospel with our neighbor

            • When He has asked us to serve at the local food pantry

            • When He has asked us to teach Sunday school or children’s church

            • When He has asked us to give sacrificially

            • When He has asked us to go on the mission field

            • When He has asked us to serve Him in pastoral ministry

            • When He has asked us to serve Him in a volunteer capacity at church or with another ministry

          • I’m sure the Lord was or is angry with us when we tell Him “No”

          • That was how He responded to Moses

        • The Lord’s response (vv. 14-17)

          • The Lord’s anger burned against Moses (v. 14a)

            • It took the Lord a long time to get angry with Moses

              • He answered all of Moses questions to this point

              • “When Moses presented reasoned arguments against what he was required to do, God gave reasoned responses. ​​ Now that he is simply being insubordinate to the one he recognizes as ‘Lord’ the conversation is broken off. ​​ There must be no more attempts to get round what he has been told to do.” ​​ [Mackay, 95]

              • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is slow to anger.

                • Biblically support

                  • Exodus 34:6-7a, And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

                  • Psalm 86:15, But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

                  • Joel 2:13, Rend your heart and not your garments. ​​ Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

                  • Jonah expressed the same character of God as Joel did when he prayed to the Lord. ​​ He told the Lord that he knew this would happen (Jonah 4:2)

                • Application

                  • Aren’t you glad that God is slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness?

                  • I know I am, especially since I told Him “No” about pastoral ministry for 13 years

                  • He was so gracious, compassionate, loving, and faithful to me during those years

                  • He provided for my financial support every year with the two faith-based ministry that I served in

                  • He brought individuals into His family through salvation as I served Him in children’s ministry

                  • How have you experienced the fact that God is slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness?

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank the Lord for being gracious, compassionate, loving, faithful, and slow to anger when I have said “No” to _____________.

              • I am grateful that the Lord does not give up on us

            • “The Lord is angry with Moses, but He doesn’t give up on Moses. ​​ He simply expands His call to include Aaron as Moses’ mouthpiece.” ​​ [Courson, 242]

          • The Lord gave Moses a helper (vv. 14b-16)

            • God’s suggestion

              • What about your brother, Aaron the Levite

                • Why did the author include “the Levite” after Aaron’s name

                • Moses was obviously a Levite too, because they had the same parents

                • Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of Aaron’s role as priest

              • He can speak well

                • Even though the Lord had promised to be with Moses’ mouth and teach him what to say, Moses still felt inadequate

                • What Moses lacked, Aaron had in abundance, but that would eventually get him into trouble with the golden calf situation in Exodus 32 [Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, 76]

                • Moses and Aaron would be an incredible team together

                • Aaron would need Moses strong spiritual guidance from the Lord

              • The Lord shared some insider information with Moses about his brother

            • God’s foreknowledge

              • As I mentioned earlier, God was not caught off guard by Moses confession about not being eloquent

              • He was also not caught off guard by Moses refusal

                • God’s plan to rescue His people would not be thwarted by Moses perceived inadequacies and refusal

                • He had already prompted Aaron to leave Egypt and begin making his way to Midian to find Moses

                • This was God’s providence at work

              • God laid out His plan concerning how this cospeaker arrangement would work

            • God’s plan

              • Order of speaking

                • God was going to speak to Moses

                • Moses was going to speak to Aaron

                • Aaron would speak to the people (and Pharaoh)

                • “Thus God was the revealer; Moses, the prophet; and Aaron, the public repeater, an arrangement not unlike that in the modern church involving God, the Scriptures as the location of his word, and the preacher as the public repeater.” ​​ [Stuart, 138]

              • Divine message

                • God would help both Moses and Aaron to speak

                • God would teach them both what to do

                • The messages that Moses received were spoken to Aaron, who would share them with the people

                • God was the originator of the messages and not Moses or Aaron

              • How does this apply to us?

            • Application

              • God will not give up on us, either

              • PRINCIPLE #5 – God will provide everything we need to do what He calls us to do.

                • “. . . the Lord’s forethought anticipates our needs.” ​​ [Motyer, The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Exodus, 72]

                • He knows all about the excuses we will give Him

                • He knows that we will ask to be excused from the task

                • He will provide individuals that will walk alongside us as we do what He has called us to do

                • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to provide _____________________ (resource/individual/etc.), so I can do what He is calling me to do.

              • God will not give up on you even when you refuse to do what He is calling you to do

              • He will provide all that you need, so you can be obedient to His calling

              • God’s omnipotence matters more than our incompetence.

              • “The will of God will never lead you where the power of God can’t enable you, so walk by faith in His promises.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 184]

            • God reminds Moses about his staff

          • Don’t forget the staff in your hand (v. 17)

            • The Lord reminds Moses to take the staff in his hand

            • God was going to use it to perform miraculous signs

 

  • YOU

    • Trust God to use you for His glory, in spite of your fears and weaknesses.

    • Ask the Lord to help you have the strength and courage to speak to someone about a certain situation, and trust Him to teach you what to say.

    • Thank the Lord for being gracious, compassionate, loving, faithful, and slow to anger when you have said “No” to His calling.

    • Ask the Lord to provide resources, individuals, or something else, so you can to do what He is calling you to do.

 

  • WE

    • We need to trust God to use us for His glory, in spite of our fears and weaknesses.

    • We need to ask the Lord to help us have the strength and courage to speak for Him, and trust Him to teach us what to say.

    • We can thank the Lord for being gracious, compassionate, loving, faithful, and slow to anger with us.

    • We can ask the Lord to provide resources and individuals to help us do what He is calling us to do.

 

CONCLUSION

“Many years ago I was walking in Newport Beach, a beach in Southern California, with two friends. Two of us were on staff together at a church, and one was an elder at the same church. We walked past a bar where a fight had been going on inside. The fight had spilled out into the street, just like in an old western. Several guys were beating up on another guy, and he was bleeding from the forehead. We knew we had to do something, so we went over to break up the fight. … I don't think we were very intimidating. [All we did was walk over and say,] ‘Hey, you guys, cut that out!’ It didn't do much good.

 

Then all of a sudden they looked at us with fear in their eyes. The guys who had been beating up on the one guy stopped and started to slink away. I didn't know why until we turned and looked behind us. Out of the bar had come the biggest man I think I've ever seen. He was something like six feet, seven inches, maybe 300 pounds, maybe 2 percent body fat. Just huge. We called him ‘Bubba’ (not to his face, but afterwards, when we talked about him).

 

Bubba didn't say a word. He just stood there and flexed. You could tell he was hoping they would try and have a go at him. All of a sudden my attitude was transformed, and I said to those guys, ‘You better not let us catch you coming around here again!’ I was a different person because I had great, big Bubba. I was ready to confront with resolve and firmness. I was released from anxiety and fear. I was filled with boldness and confidence. I was ready to help somebody that needed helping. I was ready to serve where serving was required. Why? Because I had a great, big Bubba. I was convinced that I was not alone. I was safe.

 

If I were convinced that Bubba were with me 24 hours a day, I would have a fundamentally different approach to my life. If I knew Bubba was behind me all day long, you wouldn't want to mess with me. But he's not. I can't count on Bubba.

 

Again and again, the writers of Scripture pose this question for us: How big is your God? Again and again we are reminded that One who is greater than Bubba has come, and you don't have to wonder whether or not he'll show up. He's always there. You don't have to be afraid. You don't have to live your life in hiding. You have a great, big God, and he's called you to do something, so get on with it!”

 

Source: John Ortberg, in the sermon Big God/Little God, PreachingToday.com.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/october/4101209.html].

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