Summary: If we want to be all that God has called us to be as a church and as individual believers, we must stop making excuses and take that step of faith in obedience to God. Like Moses, trust in His power, plan, provision, and precepts.
In his book, Something Else to Smile About, Zig Ziglar writes about his brother, the late Judge Ziglar, who loved to tell the story of a man who went next door to borrow his neighbor’s lawnmower. The neighbor explained that he could not let him use the mower because all the flights had been canceled from New York to Los Angeles.
The borrower asked him, “What do canceled flights from New York to Los Angeles had to do with borrowing you lawnmower.”
“It doesn’t have anything to do with it,” the neighbor replied, but if I don’t want to let you use my lawnmower, one excuse is as good as another.” (Zig Ziglar, Something Else to Smile About, Thomas Nelson, 1999; www.PreachingToday.com)
Excuses: they’re not real reasons; they’re just ways of avoiding what we really don’t want to do. I like the way Vance Havner once put it: “An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” In other words, it looks like a reason on the outside, but at heart it’s really a lie.
That’s why what Benjamin Franklin said is very true: “He that is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
So stop making excuses! If you want to be all that God has called you to be, stop coming up with so-called “reasons” why you can’t do what God has asked you to do. Stop telling Him, “It’s too hard” or “What if…” or “I’m not qualified.” If you want to be used of God to advance His eternal purposes on this planet, then stop trying to justify your inactivity.
That’s a lesson Moses had to learn before God could use Him in any significant way. God told Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, but Moses has all kinds of “reasons” why He couldn’t do that. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Exodus 4, Exodus 4, where we see what God does with our excuses in the way He interacts with Moses.
Exodus 4:1 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” (NIV)
Moses ask the question many of us ask when faced with a real challenge: “What if? What if they don’t believe me? What if something goes wrong? What if it doesn’t work?” Well, how does God respond to that excuse?
Exodus 4:2-5 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.” (NIV)
God took what Moses had in his hand and demonstrated His power through it. You see, Moses already had everything he needed to do what God called him to do. He didn’t need newer and better equipment. He didn’t need more money or more of this or that. He just needed the Lord who would use what Moses already had to overcome the forces of evil. The snake was a symbol of power to the Egyptians, so God was declaring to Moses that he would be able to overcome the powers of Egypt.
Also, I find it very interesting that the word used for “snake” here in Exodus 4 is the same word used of the “serpent” in Genesis 3. There, the serpent tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit and brought down the entire human race. That snake is none other than the devil himself, but God has given His people the power to overcome the devil and the very forces of evil.
In Moses’ hand, his staff was nothing, but in God’s hand it became power as Moses learned to trust God. You see, God takes what we have in our hands and uses it to overcome the forces of evil if we learn to trust Him.
Exodus 4:6-9 Then 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. Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.” (NIV)