Who am I? You say, “I have got this weakness in this area.” God says, “Yes I know, I made you like this. I gave you that weakness.” God is saying that He is in control of both your gifts and limitations. God tells us to go ahead and do that which He is prompting us to do and He promises to be with us.
Preached in 2011.
Let's open our Bibles to Exodus. I don't have a long message this morning. But I did want to share something along the lines of what we've looked at. Exodus 3 Our brother and sister have shared something about their labors among the students there in Bucharest. And you might be saying, well, that's fine for them, but God would never use me like that to see people saved. And I want to speak to you briefly this morning on five common responses of those whom God uses. Five common responses of those whom God uses. The first response is in Exodus 3:11. "But Moses said to God, 'Who am I?'" That's the first response: Who am I? Second, in v. 13, the end of the verse, "Now they may say to me, 'what is His name?' What shall I say?" So, the second response is What shall I say? Third, in Exodus 4:1, "What if they will not believe me?" That's the third question that comes up. What if they won't believe me? And then the fourth one in v. 10, "Please Lord, I have never been eloquent." And then finally in v. 13, "Please Lord, send someone else." It's amazing, isn't it? So, first of all, who am I? This is the question that ought to come to our minds when we think in terms of trying to reach out. I know that any time we think of witnessing to someone at work, or any time the students think of going out and doing outreach on campus, any time you think of initiating to go over to a neighbor and talk to them about the Lord. The first question is, "who am I?" And it's almost what you'd call a prerequisite for being used by God: To realize that we're nothing. You remember there was a time when Moses did not feel that way. You go back to chapter 2 of Exodus, verses 11-15. It says, "It came about in those days when Moses had grown up that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew - one of his brethren - so he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. And he went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other, and he said to the offender, why are you striking your companion? But he said, 'who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?' Then Moses was afraid and said, surely the matter has become known. When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian and he sat down by a well." So, here's Moses trying to take matters in his own hands and thinking that he was able to do something for his people in his own power, and it utterly failed. Now, you can imagine the impossibility of him going in and trying to kill off the Egyptians one man at a time to try to deliver Israel. God had much bigger things planned for him. Let's turn to Acts 7. You see here in Acts that Moses did realize something of what God was calling him to do early on. It says in v. 22, "Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds." He was a man of power in words. Now contrast what we're going to be looking at, when he says, "I can't speak." "He was a man of power in words and deeds. But when he was approaching the age of 40, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel, and when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand." So he evidently had some inkling of the calling he was going to have, but they didn't understand it. "When the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you're brethren, why do you injure one another?' But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away saying, 'Who made you a ruler and judge over us? You do not mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?' And at this remark, Moses fled and became an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons, and after forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mt. Sinai in the flame of a burning thorn bush. And when Moses saw it, he began to marvel at the sight, and as he approached and looked more closely, there came the voice of the Lord. 'I am the God of your fathers; the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,' and Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. But the Lord said to him, 'take off the sandals from your feet. For the place on which you're standing is holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans and I have come down to deliver them. Come now and I will send you to Egypt.'" Now v. 35, "This Moses, who they disowned, saying 'who made you a ruler and a judge?' is the one God whom sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush." So, Moses started out in his own strength, and after forty years, he's saying, "Who am I?" And God had him to the place where he needed to be. Well, back in Exodus 3. What is God's answer to the "who am I" question? Well, we have the answer in v. 12. Moses says in v. 11, "Who am I?" In v. 12, He said, "Certainly, I will be with you." So the answer to the "who am I" is not, "you're somebody." But it's "you're nobody, but I will be with you." So God agrees with Moses - who am I? Well, you're nobody. But I will be with you. And as Brother Ravenhill used to say, "one man with God is a majority." That's what happened when Moses went in with God's power. He was a majority. "I will be with you." What an unspeakable comfort this is. "I will never leave you nor will I ever forsake you." "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." That is the confidence that we have and the answer that we have for the "who am I" question. Think of this: You say who am I do to this? Well, you're nobody. But God says, "I will be with you." Second question then: "What shall I say?" Verse 13 "Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" In other words, some things may come up that I don't know how to answer. And what will I do then? And notice God's answer in v. 14, "God said to Moses, 'I Am Who I Am,' and He said, 'Thus you shall say.'" He gives him instructions. And then v. 15, "God furthermore said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say.'" V. 16, "Go and gather the elders of Israel, and say to them..." He tells him just what to say. And v. 18, "They will pay heed to what you say. And you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him..." And then He tells him what he should say then. So in other words, God will tell us what to say in plenty of time to say it, if He wants us to say it. He'll show us what we're supposed to say. Matthew 10. The Lord gave this assurance. Verses 19-20 "But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak. For it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. For it is not you who speaks, but it is the Spirit of your Father Who speaks in you." So here again, Jesus deals with this "what shall I say" question. And He says, "don't be anxious about how or what you will speak. Because it will be given to you." So here you are, you feel like God wants you to witness to that guy that you're working with, and the thought comes into your mind, Who am I? And God says, that's not going to work, because you're nobody, but I'm with you. Well, what will I say? Well, I'll tell you what to say. So that won't work either. Alright? Number 3 Chapter 4:1 What if they won't believe me? "Then Moses answered and said, 'what if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?'" And then notice the particular form that the unbelief takes. "They may say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you.'" Unbelief always tells you that nothing real has happened to you. There isn't any God that's appeared to you. You may have had some religious experience, but there's never been any real, objective God who has appeared to you and spoken to you. And there's really nothing in this message that you have to share. And see, this really has to do somewhat even with your testimony. Unbelief says God hasn't appeared to you, and here you are proclaiming that God has appeared to you, and that they can be saved through this message that you're proclaiming to them. Well, what's the answer to this problem of "they won't listen or believe me?" Well, the answer lies in being in possession of the power of God - the rod of God, the presence of God. God's being with us. Now in this case, v. 2, "The Lord said to him, 'what is that in your hand?' And he said, 'a staff.' And then He said, 'throw it to the ground.' So he threw it to the ground and it became a serpent and Moses fled from it." And it goes on down in v. 5, "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." So specifically along the lines of what he was doubting, or he thought they would doubt, God says He gave him this rod of God and these signs. And so in this case, God gave Moses various miraculous signs, one after another, to overcome the powers of darkness. And He will still do that in our day when it's necessary. That's what happened in the revival in South Africa and (unintelligible). Those people were in gross darkness and under all kinds of demonic power, and all kinds of evil. And in that particular revival, there were all kinds of physical healings, blind people healed, and all kinds of deliverances. Unusual. I got a tape from one of the men that was used in that revival about healing, and I thought, well, I'm going to hear a lot about these miraculous healings that took place in this revival in (unintelligible). Actually, the entire message was teaching them the difference between a witch doctor and a regular doctor. When you're dealing with people that are coming out of deep darkness. And many times, God does special miracles because that's what's needed. That's what was needed here in Egypt. You realize that these Egyptian magicians duplicated several of the miracles. They turned their staffs into snakes which is incredible. So when you read about Egyptian religion in history books, it's more than just a religion. There was all kinds of demonic power in that religion, and God came up against it with signs and wonders. Sometimes He does that. Sometimes, He overcomes unbelief without any physical miracles or signs at all. Some of you have heard the account of the Hebrides Revival in Scotland in the late 1940's. There was a group of men, I think maybe 9 or 13, highly educated atheists, and they called for Duncan Campbell and they said please come and counsel with these men. We're afraid they're going to lose their minds. And those men were all crumpled up, broken, sobbing, weeping before God, crying out for mercy. There wasn't any physical miracle. It was just the power of God. He came and convicted them. Always, it's the presence and power of God alone that can overcome unbelief. Apologetics can't do it. Preaching can't do it. Even miracles can't do it. You see that in the Gospels where Jesus would perform those miracles and they'd seek to kill Him. Only the power and presence of the Holy Spirit can convince even the elect that God is real. And in this case, Moses is concerned that the people won't believe him - the people he's come to deliver. And they wouldn't have except that God kept on until they were convinced. So to the question "what if they won't believe me?" God says I'll take care of that. You proclaim the message of deliverance to the people and I'll do to Pharaoh whatever's necessary to cause him to let them go. And eventually they will come to the place of believing Me. I love this testimony of our sister that she hears the song - God's able to do that just in a song: Open your heart to realize this is what I've been missing all my life. And God reveals Himself. So, what if they won't believe me? Well, they won't until I do whatever's necessary for them to believe you. That's what God said. Alright, number 4, v. 10: "I've never been eloquent" "Please Lord..." He's very polite about this. "Please Lord, I've never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant. For I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." Now, it's different than what Stephen said about him back in Acts. He said he was mighty in word. But this is his appraisal of himself. And notice, he says I have never been... You know, you have this excuse, well, I never... That's just the way our family is. We've never been very outgoing. Or we've always been shy. Or whatever it is. And that's what he's saying here. I've never been eloquent. And so it boils down to this: Lord, I don't have the necessary gifts and abilities to do what You're calling me to do. That's what he's saying. I don't have the necessary gifts and abilities to do this. It's not my ministry. I'm not called to do this. Well, You're calling me to do it, but I don't have what it takes to do it. And so what's God's answer? V. 11, "The Lord said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or Who makes him dumb or deaf? Or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?'" In other words, God says, I'm in control both of your gifts and your limitations. He says I make the ones that are dumb and deaf. So, you say, I've got this weakness in this area. God says, yeah, I know. I'm the One that made you like that. I gave you that weakness. And so He's saying, I'm in control of all those things. And He says here in v. 12, "Now then, go." I'm in control of that. I'm in control of your weaknesses and your strengths, now then, go. Isn't that a good word? Now then, go. Go ahead and do that thing that I'm prompting you to do. Now then, go... v. 12, "Even I will be with your mouth and teach you what you're to say." I'll be with you. And I'll be with your problem area and help you in that and strengthen you in the area where you're weak. So God's words are I'm in control of all that. And I'll be with you. Now then, go. And then the last one, "Please send someone else." v. 13, "Please Lord, now send the message by whomever Thou wilt." And at this point, humility starts to become unbelief and sin. And actually, it probably started a lot sooner than this. But here God shows His displeasure at Moses' excuses. And it's time for him to get going, to do what God has told him to do. And he said, v. 14, "The anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, 'Is there not your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. Moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you.'" He was already on the way. You see, God had already provided. "And when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart." So God's saying go ahead, press forward in confidence that I will provide whatever you need, even if it's an Aaron to help you in your calling. So, what an encouragement. Who am I? Answer: I'll be with you. What shall I say? Answer: I'll tell you. What if they won't believe me? Answer: I'll convince them. I don't have the gifts required. Answer: I'm in charge of both your gifts and your limitations. Now then, go. Please send someone else. Answer: It's time to stop the excuses, and start obeying. I'll take care of every shortcoming you have and I'll use other people who have gifts that you don't in order to make up for your deficiencies. So, now then, go. Well, let's pray. Father, we're so grateful that You're the One that determined - You said You heard the cry of Your people there in Egypt, and You determined to release them from the power of Pharaoh and from the heavy burdens. And Lord, we're so thankful that You are the One that initiated salvation and You're the One Who goes and serves notice to Pharaoh to let Your people go. And we thank You for what You're doing all over the world. We thank You, Lord, for these precious souls that You've saved there in Romania among these students. Lord, You said, "They shall be Mine, in that day when I gather My jewels together." Lord, we pray that You'd help us - help us to have a burden for our neighbors, for our co-workers. Open our mouths. Help us, Lord, to speak out and to rely on Your power to do what we can't do. Please help us, Lord, not to procrastinate in these things and to make excuses, but to realize that You've said You'll be with us, and You'll use us in the salvation of souls. We think of what You said to Peter, "Follow Me, and you will catch men." Not just that you'll fish for men, but that you'll catch men. We thank You for this great privilege, In Jesus' name, Amen.