Sermons

Summary: Using an example of Moses we can never allow our past mistakes to be our limitation.

Want Greatness? Don’t Let Your Past mistakes Define You

Deut, 34 : 1 _ 12

One of my favorite movies is the Pursuit of Happyness staring Wills Smith. It is a movie portrayal of the story of Chris Gardener. Raised in the United States foster care system because his mother was in jail, he struggled as a salesperson trying to make a living as a medical equipment sales person but that went nowhere. He became homeless when he could not afford to pay for the motel room he was staying and with a child to take care of when his girlfriend left, he slept in night shelters, public bathrooms and at train stations. Despite all these setbacks, Mr. Gardner did not give up and under night lights or anywhere he could find shelter, he studied for the finance brokerage licensing examination which he saw as a ticket out of homelessness. Did I tell you that Mr. Gardener is black and also had seen his share of discrimination and racism? Yes he saw it all but he also believed that there is goodness in the human heart and that others seek for us when we have something to offer. He knew he could offer his services and hard work if he could just get the license despite his skin color and so he pursued this dream. In 1982 his dream came true and he passed the licensure examination and with the license in hand, he found a job with the brokerage firm of Dean Witter. Others could have given up or rest because now they have a job and a place to live. This was not what Mr. Gardener did. Five years later, in 1987 he opened his own brokerage firm. Nine years later in 2006, he sold the firm he founded in a multi-million dollar deal. Today Chis Gardner is worth more than $60 million according to the website celebrity Networth. Think about that, from homelessness to being a millionaire. Mr. Gardener has told his story all over the world and those who have not heard him speak have seen the movie about his life. He is a failure in marriage because his marriage broke because of infidelity in San Francisco. He grew up in a foster care because his step father was abusive and his mother was in jail. He is today one of America’s success story because he has one thing: he did not allow failure to define him.

Today I invite you to look at another individual who did not allow failure to define him. Turn with me to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 34 : 1 – 12. I want to take as our text verse 10 “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face”.

This last chapter of the Pentateuch or law tells the story of the death of Moses at the age of 120 years. The author tells the story of Moses being taken up on an elevation to see the panoramic view of the Promised Land. He is standing and looking at the northeast and then is shown west and south looking at the coast of the Dead Sea. He saw “the plains of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar” (v.3), the editor noted. Then the Lord reminded him that it is the land promised to his ancestors but added: “I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there” (v.4). After seeing the land, the narrator said Moses died and was buried at an unknown location though the general area is known (land of Moab). There was mourning for the beloved leader and Joshua took over, yet we know unlike Moses, Joshua needed help from others in order to know the will of God. He never communicated directly with God (Num. 27 : 21). Our editor, like most editors do added something to the narrative to help the readers in v. 10, “Since then”, since the death of Moses, from this time in history and since that age, “no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses”. The description along with certain details in the story makes Moses super human. Moses is even buried by God (v.6). Yet looking back at his life he was not that different from other humans in fact, he was quite the contrary and went through so much hardship and failures. Yet the editor, at the end of his life praised him for “all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent to him to perform (v.11) and “the mighty power” (v.12. Moses endured and overcame so much to win praise at the end. Like everyone else he saw his share of failures, foibles and human brokenness.

Perhaps you have forgotten some of what he went through let me summarize them for you. He was born at a time when Pharaoh was killing infant boys and he had to be abandoned at a river bank and so he grew up away from his parents. He murdered someone and fled from Pharaoh (ex. 2 : 15). He tried his hand as a shepherd and that did not go so well and despite being a murderer, God called him. With the power of God in the form of a staff in his hand he was still easily frustrated and was not kind to criticism. His leadership skill was not perfect, but despite all that he went through, he pushed on and refused to allow failure to define him. He organized a band of people as they wandered from Egypt to Canaan and provided laws that defined the people as the people of God. At the time of his death, he had worked so hard such that the editor noted that no prophet had risen to such prominence.

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