"When You Hear God's Call"
Exodus 3:11 - 4:17
(Delivered Sunday, June 3, 2001 at Bethany Bible Church. All scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version.)
I'd like to tell you the story of something that happened to me about twenty years ago. I believe it was a pivotal moment in my life.
My wife and I attended a small Baptist church in the Seattle area, where I served as an assistant in the youth ministry. I had just completed my professional art training; and was beginning to work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. But even while I was in school, I had been feeling that the Lord was drawing me into something beyond a mere career in graphic arts. I was feeling that He was calling me to enter into His work in some way. For many years in fact, at one level or another, I had been feeling this prompting of the Lord. But I kept suppressing it, because I held to the belief that I should be a graphic artist. After all, I had already begun my career; and I told myself that it would be very inconvenient and embarrassing to try to change things just as I was getting started.
Then, one Sunday morning during a worship service, our pastor issued the call that God used - I now believe - to changed everything for me. I remember that his message was about responding to God's call on our lives, and about being willing to step out in faith and do whatever it was He was calling us to do. At the conclusion of his message, the pastor did something that I'd never seen him do before. He walked out from behind the pulpit, and stood before the congregation. He invited whoever felt the call of the Holy Spirit that morning to come up, and stand with him as a way of saying that they'll give themselves over to whatever ministry the Lord had for them - to go wherever the Lord wants them to go, and do whatever the Lord wants them to do. He then promised that he, and the church family, would pray for those who came forward that God would give His clear direction and leading for the next steps in their lives.
As I remember, no a person in the congregation moved! The whole place was very quiet and still - which, frankly, confused me. I was pretty sure that the pastor was giving an invitation; but I wondered if, perhaps, I was mistaken since no one was coming forward. But in the profound quiet of that moment, I knew that I needed to forget about what other people were doing, ... or, in this case, not doing. This was a matter between just the Lord and me. I knew that the Lord had been calling me into something bigger than where I was - even though I didn't know what it was He was calling me to. And at that moment, I felt very strongly the prompting of the Spirit to go and stand up with my pastor and say "yes" to that call. My legs finally became unfrozen; and I walked up and stood beside him - hoping that I was doing the right thing. I was the only one who stood that morning; and my pastor led the congregation in praying for me.
I remember sitting down afterwards very unsure of myself, and thinking I'd just made a fool of myself. "Oh great!" I thought; "Now what have I done ...?!!" But now, when I look back on that day, I realize that what I "did" was very simple and very important. I quit resisting God, and stopped suppressing His call on my life. I decided to tell God "yes" to whatever it was He wanted to do through me - without any reservations. And from that day forward - that day when I genuinely said "yes" to God's call on my life - a surprising and exciting series of circumstances began to unfold. It was just a year or so later that my wife and I were packing up whatever we had, and moving to Portland so that I could begin my training as a pastor.
I had been feeling the call of God on my life for a long time prior to that day; but the course of my life dramatically changed on the day when I finally said "yes" to that call.
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As I've thought back on that story lately, I've found myself praying for people in our church family. I believe that it's possible that we have future pastors in our church, or future missionaries, or future evangelists. I believe that there are people present this morning that God has been speaking to along those lines, and that He wants to use in some wonderful ways.
It may be that you have your life all settled down just the way you want it to be; and things seem very comfortable and safe just the way they are. But you've been feeling a nagging sense within you that God was calling you to something bigger than where you are. You've been feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit to lay your comfortable world on the alter of sacrifice to Jesus, and allow Him to take you into some new place in His service.
It's a scary thing to say "yes" to God's call - especially when you don't know for sure what it is that He's calling you to. It's scary to think that saying "yes" will set you off on an adventure to an unknown destination. It's a scary thing to say, "Yes, Lord. I'll go wherever You want me to go; and I'll do whatever You call me to do. I'll give myself to You, Lord - just as I am - to surrender my life, my talents, and my labors over to whatever You want."
Yes; it's scary. But I can testify that you don't need to be afraid to say "yes" to God's call. God deeply loves those whom He calls into His service. He has nothing but your very best interest in mind. He knows you far better than you know yourself; and He knows what you are perfectly suited for - what task in the work of His kingdom will truly excite and fulfill you. Saying "yes" to His call is something that no one will ever regret.
If God is speaking to you in that way this morning, then before our time is through, I'm going to invite you to come - just like I did twenty years ago - and stand up with me as a way of saying "yes" to God's call. I will lead our church family in praying for you, and then we'll all be dismissed. What happens after that? I don't know. Only God knows for sure. But it will be thrilling to find out, won't it? You'll have taken your first footsteps into the greatest adventure you could ever embark on - the great adventure He has for you! What an exciting day this can be!
Now; I'll bet that some of you are thinking, "Oh no ...! Why - of all mornings - did I have to show up for church today?!!" No doubt, you have a hundred arguments springing up in your mind right now for why you shouldn't say "yes" to God's call to service; why you can't afford to do so, or why you're just not the 'ministry type', or why now isn't a good time in your life for this sort of thing. And you wouldn't be alone in having such arguments arise in your mind, either. The fact is that some of God's greatest heroes of faith started out in their great adventure in ministry by trying to argue God out of His call. One of the greatest of these reluctant heroes was none other than Moses.
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At the time when God's call finally came upon him, Moses - from a strictly human standpoint - was an utter failure in life. It would be hard, in fact, to imagine anyone who had fallen a greater distance into failure than Moses. He had been adopted from the Jewish people into the household of Pharaoh. He had been lifted out from slavery into royalty in less than a day's time. He became a great prince who had risen to the top, destined to rule the greatest kingdom in the world. He had the greatest earthly opportunity a man could ever have - the greatest education; the greatest provision; the greatest future. But he threw it all away, in the prime of his life, by committing a rash, stupid act of murder in an attempt to avenge a fellow Jew. He not only lost his royal standing, but Pharaoh himself sought to put Moses to death for this crime. He went sliding down the ladder of success like it had been covered with grease!
And so, at forty years of age, Moses was a man on the run. His past glories were a wasted memory. His future was a big zero. He fled from his adopted kingdom, and from the throne that had been destined to be his; and he eventually found his way to the wilderness, and into the land of Midian. The long and the short of it was that he went from being in line to rule the world, down to becoming a mere shepherd of another man's flock. He married the daughter of the owner of the flock, had a child, and settled down to a quite, uneventful existence. He spent the next forty years of his life as a mere shepherd - perhaps always living with a bit of shame and regret over how far down he had fallen from a position of power and greatness; perhaps frustrated that the first forty years of his life - with all his education, political know-how and cultural training - had gone to such profound waste; but at least, he was content that he had reached old age in quiet, and peace, and relative comfort.
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That's when God's call came and interrupted Moses' cozy life. I'd like to suggest to you that one of the remarkable characteristics of God's call to ministry is that it doesn't always come when we would most expect. You would have thought that God's call would have come when Moses was in his prime and in a position of great power and leadership; at a time when it would have been easy for him to have done so much, humanly speaking. But God permitted Moses to undergo forty dismally wasted years, and allowed him to become a comfortable old failure, before He finally issued His call. God's timing is mysterious; but it's always perfect. It comes at such a time as to show that it was God - and not man - who issued it.
God very often calls a man or woman into ministry when they're young and flexible. I believe that's the best time to begin to serve the Lord. But we should never put it past God to issue His call to someone when they're old and comfortable and ready to retire; when it seems that it would just disrupt everything one has worked for to say "yes". Furthermore - and praise God for this! - we should never think that utter failure in the eyes of man hinders God from calling whomever He chooses, anytime He chooses, for anything He chooses!
As Moses was tending his father-in-law's flocks in the wilderness, God appeared to him in the midst of a burning bush. As Moses drew near, God spoke to him and issued this unexpected call:
I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Caananites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them (Exodus 3:7-9).
I believe Moses was thrilled with everything God said up to this point. Moses knew that he was born a Jew; and he hated to see the sight of his own people being cruelly oppressed. The longing to see his own people delivered was what caused him to strike out and kill that Egyptian in the first place. Naturally, he would be glad to hear that God was finally going to act and save his native people.
But then came the bombshell:
Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt (v. 10).
The phrase "I will send you" hit Moses like a meteorite! How would you respond to such a call? It absolutely shocked Moses to the core! He was terrified! And in response to this utterly unexpected, utterly terrifying call, Moses offered a whole string of excuses why he simply couldn't do this incredible thing that God was commanding him to do. He sought - as many do - to argue God out of His call. In fact, he offered five specific reasons why he just simply couldn't do what God wanted him to do. God, in turn, responded by presenting an unarguable answer to every one of Moses' excuses.
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Is God calling you today? Are you feeling resistant to that call? Are you, like Moses, bringing up reasons why you just can't give yourself over to whatever God is calling you to do? I suggest that you listen carefully to Moses' excuses; and if you do, you just might recognize some of your own concerns represented in them. Then, I suggest that you listen to God's answers to Moses; and if you do, you'll most likely hear God's answer to your own fears and apprehensions.
Walk with me through this passage; and see how the God who calls you to a place in His service is, Himself, able to make you sufficient for the call.
First, I want you to see that, whenever God calls us to ministry ...
1. HE GOES ALONG WITH US (3:11-12).
Moses' first response to God's call was to point out his own inadequacy for what God was calling him to do. "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?'" (v. 11).
That, by the way, was a very good question! Who was Moses to go back to Egypt and speak to Pharaoh!! Who indeed!! He was a fugitive from Egypt. He had tried once before to deliver his people in his own power; and all that he succeeded in doing was make an utter mess of things. He was a failure - worse than that; he was a murderer and an outcast. And the very best thing that he had been able to become in the past forty years was a simple shepherd - and that over someone else's sheep! Who could be worse for this job than Moses?
But take a look at God's answer to Moses' question "Who am I?" God said, "I will certainly be with you" (v. 12). What a great answer! I love it, don't you? Who was Moses to do a thing like this? I'll tell you who he was; he was the man to whom God said, "I will certainly be with you" - that's who Moses was! Moses was nobody. The almighty God is everything; and He was going to be with Moses. That's all it took to make Moses sufficient for the job.
And not only was Moses the man God was "with"; Moses was also the man that God "sent". God told Moses, "And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain" (v. 12). And that's exactly what happened.
God sent Moses; and He was with Moses until the people were delivered from Egypt and were gathered around the base of the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19-20). It was a mighty miracle; and I don't doubt that, as Moses saw all the people around this very same mountain later on, he said to himself, "God truly did send me to this task! And He truly was with me the whole way long!" The question of 'who Moses was' - in and of himself - wasn't even relevant to the task! Moses was no more powerful than the bush that God appeared to him in; and as someone said, "Any bush will do, so long as God is in it!"
God was with Moses as the man He sent; and that's what made him effective. Jesus, our Lord and Master, made a similar promise to us. He gave His "Great Commission" to His church - our marching orders, as it were. He issued His call to us when He said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I command you ..." Jesus has sent us. And then, at the end of His commission, He left this promise; "And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).
When God calls you to a place of ministry - whatever ministry that may be, or wherever that call to ministry may take you - you never need to be afraid to say "yes". If God is sending you, then the same God has promised, "I will certainly be with you."
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Next, notice that when God calls us into ministry ...
2. HE CONTROLS THE CIRCUMSTANCES BEFORE US (3:13-22).
It may be true that God was going to go with Moses as he went to rally his people together, and stand with them before Pharaoh; but Moses was still fearful because he didn't know what exactly he was supposed to do when he got there. God gave him a big task without much in the way of details. And as Moses' mind began to race through all that this enormous task demanded of him, he landed on the first problem he expected to encounter. "Then Moses said to God, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they say to me, "What is His name?" what shall I say to them?'" (v. 13).
This wasn't as small a problem as it might seem at first glance to be. The people of Israel, you'll remember, had lived in the Egyptian culture for four-hundred and thirty years. I don't believe that the Jewish people ever completely forgot who the God of their fathers was in all that time; but under all their hard bondage and suffering, they may have come to the conclusion that the God of their fathers had forgotten them. They may have thought that God had become pretty much irrelevant to their situation; as if He had abandoned them, and was thus no more help to them than the multitude of gods the Egyptians worshiped.
I suspect that the question "What is His name?" may have meant something like, "What kind of God is this 'God of our fathers' that He would allow us to suffer so? How is He any different from the gods of Egypt?" This question might even have been something similar the cynical question people sometimes ask today in the face of great suffering: "Where's God in all this?" What, indeed, is the character and nature of such a God as this? What is His 'name'? Moses had no idea how he would be able to answer that question ... let alone do anything else that God was calling him to do.
God was calling Moses; but Moses was responding to God's call in much the same way you might be responding right now: "God; you may be calling me to do something; but I don't know how in the world to even take the first step, let alone fully accomplish what you're calling me to do!!"
Look at God's answer to Moses question. "And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."' Moreover God said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: "The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations."'" (vv. 14-15).
God's answered the question, "What is His name", by describing Himself as the God who is the ever-present, self-existent One - the "I AM WHO I AM". What a powerful name that is for those whom God calls. He is the I AM - Yahweh in the original language. Every time you see the word LORD in all-capital letters in your Bible, it's a translation of that most sacred of names. It's meaning is something like this: "I am not the God of the past. I am not the God who 'was' the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am, right now, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am the same God to you as I was to them. I will be everything you will need for Me to be when you will need Me to be it." Moses was not being sent by the I WAS, but by the great and eternal I AM!
And so, God answers Moses' question of what to do by saying, "Say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you." And then, look very carefully at what God then goes on to say. It's almost as if He gives Moses a run-down of all that He has decreed will happen when he goes. He says;
Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, "I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey."' Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, 'The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.' But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians" (Exodus 3:16-22).
Can you see what the great I AM is telling Moses? God was telling him not to worry about the fact that he didn't know what to do; because He had already decreed all that was going to happen in advance. He is in sovereign control over all the details; and will make it all happen just exactly as He decrees. He will be as much the I AM in the future as He is the I AM in the present. All that Moses needed to do was return to Egypt and do exactly what God had commanded him to do - that is, to simply tell Pharaoh, "Let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God." God - the great I AM - has already seen everything else.
One of the leaders in our church is fond of saying, "When God sends us somewhere, we'll always find that once we get there, God's already been there." God does all the work; and it's our job to just show up and be faithful. The Bible tells us, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). The God who sends us has complete control over all the circumstances that lay before us. We don't need to know every detail of all that's going to happen. God controls it all; and just asks us to do the thing He tells us to do when we get there. He has already taken care of everything else.
Is God calling you minister in His name? Do you hesitate to go because you don't know all the details of what you're supposed to do, or how everything's supposed to work out? Don't ever let that stop you from saying "yes" to God's call. The God who calls you is known by the name I AM. He will be everything that is needed at just the right time. Go and do faithfully the thing He has placed before you to do. He has already arranged all the good works beforehand; and He simply calls you to walk in them.
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Next, we find that when God calls us into His service ...
3. HE CONFIRMS HIS OWN AUTHORITY THROUGH US (4:1-9).
Moses again hesitates to say "yes" to God's call; and this time, it's because he feared that those to whom he was being sent wouldn't believe that God had genuinely sent him. "Then Moses answered and said, 'But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, "The LORD has not appeared to you"'" (Exodus 4:1).
Moses objection was a very interesting one. God had just gotten through telling him to go and gather the elders of his people together, and tell them that the God of their fathers had met with him. And God had specifically said, "Then they will heed your voice ..." (v. 18). But now, Moses asks, "But suppose they wont, God. Suppose they say, 'You're nuts, Moses. The Lord has not appeared to you.' Well; ... what then God? Your plan begins with my going and telling the people that I have met with you. But what if they won't even believe me?" It's almost as if Moses is saying, "God, I know you said that they'll believe me; ... but what if they don't? How can I prove to them that You have really sent me to them - even though You've already said that they'd believe me?" Have you ever said something like that to the Lord?
Moses was worried about something that you and I should never think it's our job to do - that is, to impress other people with God's authority. God doesn't call us to even try to prove His existence to people; nor does He call us to try to validate His authority. He doesn't need our help in doing any of that. He simply asks us to go and do what He says; and we can trust that, along the way, He's perfectly capable of proving Himself to people, any time He wishes, through our faithfulness.
Look at how God responds to Moses.
So the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod." And He said, "Cast it on the ground." So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail" (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), "that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." Furthermore the LORD said to him, "Now put your hand in your bosom." And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, "Put your hand in your bosom again." So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. "Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land" (vv. 2-9).
As we read later on into the story, we find that Moses performed these signs in the sight of the people; "So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped" (Exodus 4:30-31).
Perhaps you're hesitant to say "yes" to God's call on your life, because you're afraid that others might not accept that call. Family or friends might think you've gone off the deep end. They might think you're throwing your life away. Others might ridicule you for being obedient to God's call. Perhaps you're afraid that you might look foolish.
Well; let's just accept the fact that, in the eyes of the world, you will look foolish for a time. But you can rest assured that, if God is truly calling you into His service, and you faithfully give yourself to whatever He wants to do through you, He will eventually confirm Himself, through you, to those He has called you to.
Take the apostle Paul. He refused to even try to 'commend' his ministry to the people God sent him to. He said that he didn't need to commend himself; nor did he need letters of commendation from others in order to validate his ministry. He simply did what God told him to do; and said, "...We have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant ..." (2 Cor. 3:4-6). He preached the message of the cross, as he said, "in weakness , in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:3-5).
We shouldn't let what others think about God's call on our lives keep us from saying "yes" to it. God may not prove Himself through miraculous signs and wonders, as He did through Moses; but He will confirm Himself and validate His own authority through us, at just the right time and in just the right way, as we go in obedience to His call. It's not our job to worry about God's own self-validation. Our only job is to do what He says.
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Next, we see that when God calls us into His service ...
4. HE PROVIDES WHATEVER'S LACKING IN US (4:10-12).
Perhaps you can identify with Moses' next excuse. "Then Moses said to the LORD, 'O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue'" (Exodus 4:10).
In the original language of this story, Moses literally describes himself as being "dull" or "heavy" of tongue. He didn't feel adequate to speak before Pharaoh because he wasn't eloquent in speech. Perhaps he had been eloquent at one time in his life; but forty years of taking care of sheep had made him pretty rusty at making confrontational speeches to royalty. He just didn't feel capable, in and of himself, of doing what God was calling him to do.
Moses was seeking to be excused from God's call on his life because he was focused on his own limitations. And those limitations were real. But those limitations presented no problem to the God that called him. "So the LORD said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say'" (vv. 11-12). The God who made all mouths - indeed, the God who made all things - is able to open stammering mouths, or give sight to blind eyes, or hearing to deaf ears. He was going to be with Moses' mouth; and He was certainly able to give Moses the eloquence to do what He was calling him to do.
Again, take the apostle Paul. He was a powerful scholar and speaker. He had many natural talents and abilities. But he had learned to say. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). He learned to say, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us" (2 Cor. 4:7). In fact, he even learned to 'take pleasure' in his limitations; because God was able to demonstrate His own power through Paul's weaknesses. "Therefore", he said, "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:10)."
Perhaps you're hesitant to say "yes" to God's call because you don't feel that you have what it takes to do what God wants you to do. Perhaps you don't feel as if you're smart enough to do what God may call you to do; or perhaps you don't feel talented enough; or perhaps you don't feel that you have the resources to do what He asks. Perhaps you're afraid that you'll go out into the place God wants you to go, and you'll find that you're way over your head.
But don't let such fears keep you from saying "yes" to God's call. Name your limitation; and remember that God is with you in it. Do you feel that you're not smart enough? Well; the God who made the smartest people in the world will be with your mind. Do you feel that you're not talented enough? The same God that has made the most talented people on earth will be with your abilities. Do you feel that you don't have the resources? The God who made all things will be there to provide all the resources necessary.
Don't ever say no to God merely because of your limitations. You may be limited, but God is not at all limited by you. God is more than able in the very place where you are not able. He is wonderfully sufficient to give you everything that you need to do what He wants you to do.
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Finally, we learn that it may be that, when God calls us into ministry ...
5. HE SENDS OTHERS TO LABOR ALONGSIDE US (4:13-17).
All of God's responses to Moses' excuses were reasonable and powerful. He answered every excuse by presenting Himself as the answer to Moses' concern. And now, Moses has no other excuse. All he can offer is a flat refusal. Moses simply says, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else you may send" (Exodus 4:13). In case you're not sure what Moses meant by that, he was basically saying, "Lord, please just send someone else."
God had been patient with all of Moses' other excuses up to this point; but this one caused God to become angry. It constituted nothing less that flatly telling God "No" - and even more than that, it was an implicit denial of all the other things God said about His own sufficiency for Moses' needs.
Notice God's response: "So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: 'Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God. And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs'" (Exodus 4:13-17).
Notice carefully how God responded. He didn't let Moses off the hook. He didn't say, "Fine. You blew your opportunity. I'm going to find someone else." Instead, God insisted that Moses go in obedience to His call. But God also promised to do what Moses asked, and "send by whomever else" He may send. God was going to send Aaron to be Moses' mouthpiece. Moses would tell Aaron what God wants said, and Aaron would speak before Pharaoh on Moses behalf. God provided a helper; but Moses was still commanded to go. And in all of it, God reinforced the things He'd already said before - that He was going to be with Moses' mouth; and that He would teach Moses what to do; and, of course, that Moses had better be sure to take the rod with him when he went so that the authenticating miracles would be performed.
Perhaps you, too, feel so inadequate for God's call on your life that you have no options but two: either go in obedience, or flatly refuse. But here's the good news; when we go - in obedience, but perhaps in great weakness and uncertainty - God will always be merciful to us; and He may very well send someone along with us to help us through the learning curve. It's interesting to read the story as it progressed in the Scriptures. It seems that Aaron increasingly slips into the background, and Moses steps increasingly - and ever more confidently - into the foreground.
Praise God that, when He calls us into His service, He never calls us into a solo-act. He makes us a part of a vast team. He makes us a part of a body that is connected to Christ as its divine Head; "from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16).
You and I are truly inadequate on our own for the great work God has called us to. But God already knows that. He doesn't call us to work alone; but just as surely as He calls us to one aspect of His work, He is also calling someone else to another aspect of His work - an aspect that will complete whatever is lacking in us.
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So then; is God calling you? Do you feel the prompting of His Holy Spirit today, calling you into some new work or ministry that He has in store for you? You don't have to be afraid to say "yes" to that call. He who calls you loves you infinitely; and He will be with you. He has sovereign control over every detail of the work He calls you to; and He will not fail to affirm Himself through you as you go. Whatever is lacking in you, He is more than able to provide; and into whatever He sends you, He does not send you alone.
If the Lord is speaking to you in this way this morning, then I invite you now to come and stand with me as a way of saying "yes" to God's call.
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Note from Pastor Greg: We were thrilled, on the morning that I issued this invitation, to see a total of seven people respond. Who but God knows what great adventures lay ahead for them? We need to keep on praying for God's leading and direction in their lives.
And if you are reading this, and - like them - have been feeling the Spirit of God calling you into His service in some way, why not stop, right where you are at this moment, and say "yes"? You have nothing to fear. Put the first foot forward today in the great adventure of ministry God has in store for you.
(copyright 2001 by Pastor Greg Allen and Bethany Bible Church. Reproduction without permission, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.)
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