Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
WHY DO WE TRY TO CONVINCE OURSELVES THAT WE CAN'T DO SOMETHING, OR THAT SOMETHING IS IMPOSSIBLE?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
5 AUGUST 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (Luke 1:37)
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Every one of us is created in such a manner that we know deep down in our innermost being what God desires of us.
And unless we have become hardened against the unction of the Holy Spirit, from our continual refusal to listen, and have become a sociopath, we know the difference between right and wrong.
Then, if we really do know what God desires of us, then why do we try to convince ourselves otherwise and why do we try to convince ourselves that we can't do something or that something is impossible?
In chapter 3 of the Book of Exodus, we see that Moses had turned aside to the burning bush and harkened unto the voice of God; but when Moses realized what God wanted him to do, fear set in and he tried to get out of doing it. He sought excuses.
As we pick up God's conversation with Moses in chapter 4, verse 1, listen to Moses behaving much like us.
1. Then Moses answered and said, "What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you.' ''
2. And the Lord said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "A staff."
3. Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
We all want God to tell us directly what He wants of us, but when He does answer us in that still inner voice, or by some outward sign, we all too often flee from His answer.
The serpent was not to harm Moses, but to attract his attention.
What has God been doing to attract our attention, or have we become too hardened to see it?
Let's go back to our Scripture reading, and see what's happening to Moses.
4. But the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail" – so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand –
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."
Quite often when we don't listen to God the first time, we find that the second time, we also have to grasp a serpent by the tail.
It is a lot easier to do what God wants us to do the first time around.
Note what else God is showing Moses:
6. And the Lord furthermore said to him, "Now put your hand into your bosom." So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow.
7. Then He said, "Put your hand into your bosom again." So he put his hand into his bosom again; and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.
8. "And it shall come about that if they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign.
9. "But it shall be that if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground."
There is a physical sign coupled with a spiritual message in these two signs.
Leprosy was considered one of the wraths of God. It was considered to be a result of the person's sin.
God was showing Moses, as well as the people, what could happen if they didn't listen to Him.
We are also taught that our life, or soul, is in our blood; and by not listening to God, our life may be poured out on dry ground.
God doesn't want either of these situations to occur. He wants us to listen the first time He calls to us. The more often we don't listen, the harder the message from God becomes.
So what does Moses do after this? Let's listen in again, beginning at verse 10.
10. Then Moses said to the Lord, "Please, Lord, I have 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."
11. And 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?
12. "Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say."
Moses had a speech impediment, and just because it wasn't corrected immediately when the Lord began speaking with him, he assumes that his speech will never improve.
But the Lord tells Moses otherwise, for God Himself made his mouth, and the Lord will be with him to cause the words to come forth properly.
Does Moses truly believe the Lord?
Let's see, as we continue with our reading.
13. But he said, "Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever Thou wilt."
Moses didn't believe God.
He was so self-conscious; he so much feared what people would say about his speech impediment, that he couldn't believe that the Lord would correct it at the proper time.
The Lord wished to send the message by Moses, and not by someone else.
What is it in our own lives that God wished us to do, that we refused to do, so that the Lord would send someone else to do it?
And how do you think the Lord feels, when we respond in this manner?
14. Then 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. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
15. "And you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.
16. "Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and it shall come about that he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God to him.
17. "And you shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs."
Moses refused to do what the Lord wanted him to do; thus the anger of the Lord burned against him.
We are not told in what way this anger took shape, or what the results were; but if God was still willing to use him in this mighty way, think of how much more if he had listened the first time.
And the same is true of each and every one of us.
We are not doing all that God wants us to do.
There are people right here in this body that need to be led away from a life that is enslaved to sin, and into the freedom and saving grace of Jesus Christ; and there are many more like this in our community.
You and I have been called upon to be God's mouthpiece and living example.
And each and every one of us can truly be such a living example.
We can learn to turn away from the moral and destructive things that harm God's beautiful creation.
We can learn to turn away from contributing to the pain, suffering, and death of millions of humans and billions of other animals.
Moses learned, and so can we.
Moses learned because he was willing to learn.
In Romans 8:31-39, listen to what Paul tells us about this exultant living before God and others, and that we really have nothing to fear:
31. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
32. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
We are so used to living in a world filled with sin that we forget who God really is.
We forget that if God is for us, no one could be effective against us.
We forget what Jesus did for us, and we forget what God will do for us through Jesus Christ.
We forget because we fear.
And we fear because we have not perfected our love.
Listen and believe what we are being told, as we continue with our reading.
33. Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;
34. who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Believe this; it is true!
There is no need to fear!
Quit trying to convince yourself that you can't do something, or that something is impossible.
Turn away from your fears, for your fears separate you from the love of Christ, as we see as we continue with our Scripture reading:
35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36. Just as it is written,
"For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through him who loved us.
Do you hear this in your soul?
And we all know that the sheep and all other farmed animals don't need to be slaughtered, either, for God has supplied us with more than an abundance of plant foods.
We simply do not have to accept the ways of most people in world.
We can choose to live in the will of God.
Quit being satisfied with just getting through a problem and then begin worrying about the next one.
We don't just have to overcome our problems.
We can victoriously conquer them.
That is, if we do it in Jesus Christ.
This church is mostly empty because we fear and are satisfied with just getting along until we die.
It’s time we start conquering the enemy around us and within us.
It’s time we start living and loving for Jesus Christ.
We must remember that we don’t truly love someone if we let them go to hell.
Moses overcame his difficulties, and so can we.
And we will not be alone in what we do, for God will be with us.
38. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39. nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Your Comments are welcome
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