"It Takes God to Do Something Great"
(and just about anything worth doing is something great)
Author: Dr. Neal Gray
Passage: Exodus 2:10-3:12
Purpose: Though you may do some things for God or His people on your own; if you would do some great thing for God or His people, God Himself must be with you.
As much as I dislike admitting it, many of the ideas I have floating around in my head are shaped, in one way or another, by the cultural events I have experienced. Put a lot more simply, the attitudes, music, and movies of my generation have influenced my thinking. They influence yours, too.
Do you remember seeing the movie starring Charleston Heston called, "The Ten Commandments"? My parents took all six of us boys to see that movie, (probably hoping it would do us some good!), when I was about 13 years old. It was my first exposure to the story of God’s people in bondage in Egypt, and Moses’ call of God to lead them to freedom. As I remember, I was very interested in the movie and watched every moment of it carefully.
==> What a surprise, later in life, to read the Biblical account of Moses’ call to be God’s leader of the people. It is so different from that movie!
Our Scripture spans two chapters. I want you to see the beginning of Moses’ adult life, along with his first (known) encounter with God. So, let’s look together at Exodus 2:10-3:12.
WE WANT OUR LIVES TO COUNT
Moses is a great man, a tall figure in biblical history. He did great things for God.
You may never be recorded as a great man or an incredible woman in the history books of the Church. But I know that YOU HAVE A DESIRE TO DO GREAT THINGS FOR GOD, or your country, or your family, or perhaps even for Christ’s Church. We want, it seems to me, our lives to count for something.
So, how can you get God’s help to do something great? to make your life count?
Moses’ Confused Childhood
Our hero in the story, Moses, had a confused childhood. The Pharaoh of Egypt was fearful of the increasing population of the Hebrew people in the land of Egypt. So, Pharaoh ordered that all of the new-born Hebrew male children be killed, "cast [the boys] into the river," (see 1:22).
Moses’ mother could not do this awful thing. You probably know the story, (see Exodus chapter one): she bore the male child, nursed him for three months, put him in a basket on the river, Pharaoh’s own daughter saw the beautiful baby boy and took him in to raise. (The movie got that much right!)
By God’s own Providence, Pharaoh’s daughter employed a Hebrew woman to nurse Moses--it was Moses’ very own natural mother!
So Moses’ grew up as the step-grandson of the king of Egypt. But surely his natural mother informed him of his correct birth race. Like I said, Moses had a confused childhood. For starters, His name, "Moses," means "I drew him out of the water." Even at three months old he was a "basket case"!
"Stop Harming My People!"
The first adult act we see of Moses sets the stage, really, for this message. We see Moses’ doing something drastic, something awful--but thinking that he was doing something great.
The Bible tells the story. Moses’ observed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew person. The Scripture reveals to us Moses’ thoughts, "This is one of my brethren," (see 2:11).
With premeditation, i.e., "he looked this way and that way," Moses committed murder. "He killed the Egyptian," and buried him in the Egyptian desert! Why did Moses kill the Egyptian? Because that man was harming two men of Moses’ natural birth race, the Hebrews.
==> Here’s the point to ponder: Moses’ thought that he was doing something very good. He thought that he was protecting his own people. And Moses had some authority and power. He wanted to use his position and power as the resident of Pharaoh’s household for the good of the Hebrew people.
Moses’ Actions Without God
But Moses did not have God. That’s right. Our hero, at this important time in his life, did not know the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
So he took things into his own hands, with his flawed human wisdom, and committed murder. A common saying applies here: "the ends justify the means." That was Moses’ reasoning. But it was all wrong.
Moses could not do anything great without God.
No Great Thing Without God
AND NEITHER CAN YOU. Your motives may seem right. The timing may be right. The strength to accomplish the deed may be in sight. But if you attempt to accomplish anything great, and don’t have God in it, FAILURE OCCURS.
It takes God to do something great.
==> I know you want to do great things in your life, to have a life that counts. Get God first. Get God fully. Get God and then get going.
WE WILL SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRE
We want lives that count. We want, at one time or another, something great to occur as a result of our lives. But, when we get it wrong, and great things don’t occur, we settle for something mediocre. That could be a poem or lyrics to a blues song:
"When we get it wrong,
and great things don’t occur,
We step back
and settle for mediocre."
"I Ran Away, and End Up Married"
Our hero, Moses, fled from his homeland, Egypt. He had tried to be the deliverer of the Hebrew people--without having God on His side.
And, we now find Moses "in the land of Midian," (2:12). This land was occupied by the people who descended from Ishmael, Abraham’s son. They were, in effect, a banished people.
While at a well, seven women, all sisters, showed up along with their father’s flock to get some water for the flock. Some men, "shepherds," caused trouble for them, trying to drive them away from the well.
Enter Moses again. As any valiant man would do, "Moses stood up and helped them," (2:17). We can confidently understand this to mean that MOSES CAME TO THEIR RESCUE! And somehow he prevailed. Now, what’s wrong with that? Nothing. Really, nothing is wrong is that. It was a good earthly deed.
And MOSES RECEIVED A GOOD EARTHLY REWARD. The father of the daughters gave one of the ladies to Moses for a wife. Hey, not bad, huh? There was probably nothing at all wrong with this lady who was now Moses’ wife.
Honorable is Okay, But Not Necessarily Great
What was wrong was that Moses married into a family that was banished by father Abraham long ago. And Moses--who was raised in the house of the king of Egypt--now found himself working as a sheep-herder.
Nothing really wrong here. A nice wife, despite her family ties. They had a son. Herding sheep is an honorable vocation.
But is any of this, "something great," in life? It is not. Moses was "a stranger in a strange land," (2:22). He had an upbringing that prepared him for greatness. God had intervened in his life as a baby to protect him.
Now, because of two deeds where Moses asserted himself--both for noble causes, I understand that--now he had to flee from his homeland; and is married, working as a sheep-herder. (Let me put this into some perspective: being a sheep-herder was not at the top of the socio-economic scale!)
Honorable life? I think it was. Powerful life, serving the Almighty God? Clearly not.
What Do You Want In Your Life
Friend, today I need to ask you a question: "What do you dream for in your life? Do you have any lofty, nearly unattainable goals? IS YOUR LIFE GOING TO COUNT FOR SOMETHING GREAT?"
Or...will you settle for second best, third best, mediocre? Today, you need to answer that question.
==> And remember, if you would do something great in your life, it will fail if you omit God from any part of your life. For, it takes God to do something great...and just about anything that is worth doing is something great.
WE DON’T EVEN SEE GOD
I want to make a praise-statement right now. Ready? Okay. "We serve a most loving, patient, merciful, gracious, and kind God!" Don’t we? Really, I can’t even conceive of how great God is, partly because He keeps showing me how tolerant and long-suffering He is toward us.
Hearing God, But Not Seeing God
The last vignette to look at from this passage is the most famous. It’s when Moses’ hears God’s voice from the burning bush.
The Bible tells us that it was "an angel of the Lord" who appeared to Moses "in the flame of fire out of the midst of a bush," (3:2). I like, in a humorous sort of way, what the Bible says Moses’ reaction was, namely,
"And Moses said, ’I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.’" (Exodus 3:3)
Yeah. I guess it would be interesting to see why a burning bush would not be consumed. BUT, notice this: Moses first thought WAS NOT that he was in the super-wonderful presence of the Almighty God!
Am I being too hard on Moses? I think I am being too hard on him, because his reactions are pretty much how all of us behave when God shows Himself to us. We see God at work. We hear His word. We sense His Spirit. Yet like Moses we say, "I wonder what’s goin’ on here?!"
God Is Calling
God’s voice really shook Moses up. "Moses, Moses."
God is all around us. God demonstrates by the wonder of His creation just how great He is. And for those who look to see more of God’s wonder, God calls out: "Neal, Neal." or "Vicki, Vicki." or He calls your name.
Our God calls you because He wants to give you every opportunity to do something great in your life. It takes God to do something great.
Listen, Moses was not any better than you are. God sees you just as important and valuable as He did Moses. You have worth, you have potential. Great potential to do something great in your life. It takes God.
Moses had a tough early life; confused about his identity. Killed a man. Took a wife he probably shouldn’t have. Yet God still called him. He called Moses in a very unique and special way.
Your God is calling you, too. I believe so strongly that God is calling you. The God of Christ Jesus has already demonstrated His love for you. AND HE CALLS YOU TO ANSWER.
The problem we have is that, like Moses, we can’t even recognize God when we see Him, when we hear Him. God had to tell Moses, "Take off your shoes. You are standing on holy ground."
The Scripture never says whether Moses obeyed that commandment, we don’t know if he actually took off his shoes. What we do know is that "Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God," (3:6).
Afraid? Of course he was afraid. He had been trying to live his life without submitting to God. Moses tried to take charge of things--without God! Hide your face, Moses, from God because you did not know God.
Christian, God is calling you. WILL YOU HIDE YOUR FACE? Will you remove the coverings you have that keep you from God. When God speaks and your hear Him, you are standing on holy ground!
Do Something Great Moses!
The sad part is the last part. God had a project, one that would free His people. God called Moses to lead that project. The Lord said...
"Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:10)
Wow! A clear call from God. BUT, Moses complained and balked.
* Moses questioned: "Who am I that I should go...?" (3;11)
God answered: "Certainly I will be with thee...." (3:12
* Moses asked: "Who should I say sent me?" (3:13)
God answered: "I AM has sent me to you." (3:14)
* Moses complained: "But they won’t believe me!" (4:1)
God gave an incredible sign for Moses to perform.
* Moses whimpered: "O my Lord, I am not a good speaker." (4:10)
==> I want to cry out: GET A GRIP, MOSES!!! You’ve got a burning bush, God’s voice and presence, and a certain call from the Almighty God. Get on with it, man. Quit complaining that you can’t do it! GET A HOLY GRIP!
Get On With It Church Person
Speaking of "getting on with it," where do YOU stand today.
God has called you. He has called you...
* To obey Him
* To love others
* To draw close everyday to God
* To surrender your own agenda, putting God’s work first
* To take off the coverings that keep you from realizing you are on HOLY GROUND in front of God Himself
* To do His work
* To be His disciple, and,
* To please God rather than men.
God wants you to do something great with your life. I want you to do something great with your life. What is that something great? It is...
* Finding Christ Jesus as your Savior
* Allowing the Holy Spirit of Christ to clearly dwell in you
* Being a holy person
* Being a terrific husband, or wife
* Respecting your parents and those older than you
* Leading others to salvation
BUT MOSTLY, the greatest something...
* LOVE GOD IN CHRIST WITH ALL YOUR BEING!
==> And it takes God to something really great.
Will You Remove Your Shoes?
Will you remove your shoes? God is calling. You are before Him. Because you are on holy ground. Will you remove your shoes?
Today decide, will you argue with God, OR, will you say, "Yes, Lord, here I am. Wholly available to You." Right now, you are on Holy Ground.
Hymns & Reading
Suggested hymns and readings from the Church of the Nazarene "Sing to the Lord" hymnal:
Praise the Lord! Ye Heavens, Adore Him....Hymn #21
INTO HIS PRESENCE Worship Sequence............#112
1. Do you remember seeing the movie starring Charleston Heston called, "The ____ ______________"? They got so much of it wrong!
2. Moses’ confused childhood.
3. Moses’ first adult act: he _________ an Egyptian.
4. If you attempt to accomplish anything great, and don’t have God in it, ___________ occurs!
5. I know you want to do great things in your life, to have a life that counts. Get God first. Get God fully. Get God and then get going.
6. We __________ for something mediocre
7. Moses fled from his homeland, Egypt.
8. Moses married into a family that was banished by father Abraham long ago, had a son, and watched after sheep. Honorable, but not something great.
9. Friend, today I need to ask you a question: IS YOUR LIFE GOING TO COUNT FOR SOMETHING GREAT?
1 0. If you would do something great in your life, it will fail if you omit God from your life. For, it takes God to do something great...and just about anything that is worth doing is something great.
1 1. Our God calls you because He wants to give you every opportunity to do something great in your life. It takes God to do something great.
1 2. Christian, God is ________ you. Will you hide your face? Will you remove the coverings you have that keep you from God. When God speaks and your hear Him, you are standing on _______ ground!
| Copyright 2002
| Practical Holiness Ministry (r)
| "BRINGING PRACTICAL IDEAS TO
| THE CHRISTIAN LIFE." (tm)
| You may reprint or publish or hopefully preach
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| (see Mark 8:36).
| Dr. Neal Gray is the Senior Pastor of the
| Baltimore Parkville Church of the Nazarene.
| 8510 Fowler Ave -- Baltimore, Maryland 21234
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| LEARNING. MENTORING. SERVING. (tm)
| 2 Pet. 3:18 - 2 Tim. 2:2 - Matt. 20:26-28
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