We are going to ask and answer a very personal question that we all unconsciously, under the surface, are always asking but often it never comes up to the front. And that is this: who do you really think you are?
Not what you want other people to think you are, not what you think other people think you are, but when you take off, whether it’s the makeup or the job or the success or the hurts or the pain or the abuse, and you peel away all the stuff and you look in, not just to the mirror, but the mirror of your soul, who are you?
Who do you think you are? The question is not an easy one to answer as there are many factors and many people who try to tell us who we are. To complicate matters, our desperate longing for approval drives us to seek and to look and to act and be what we think others want, rather than discover who we really are.
I’d like to tell you that if you are over fifty or over forty or over sixty you won’t have to deal with this, but you will grapple with this all the days of your life. Who are you really? And how clear you get on answering that question, how accurately, will determine the quality of your relationships, and the contentment.
Because, see, an awful lot of people are doing a lot of stuff in lots of areas, looking for peace and contentment because, down deep, they don’t know who they are and if the truth is known, they don’t like who they are.
It raises the question, so how do we come up with, what factors develop this invisible picture, this MRI we have of who we really are? I mean, how do we get that?
Our family background, our environment, our personalities, the significant others, role models from our childhood, the values and belief systems we were taught all play a critical role in the formation of our identity.
And so when you list those, it gets pretty complex. One of the questions in the book I really appreciated was, “List the top three people and the top three major events that most shaped how you think about yourself.” You want to have fun with some people that you like and you trust and have a great discussion? Do that one. Just sit down over coffee sometime this week and say, “Who are the top three people,” and, you know, for good or bad, “and the top three major events that shaped this snapshot that comes out?” This is down deep who you really think you are.
So here’s the question I want to tackle with you. So, who are you really? If you’ll open your teaching notes, we are going to jump in to Exodus and we are going to get some answers. We are going to look at the life of a man named Moses who had quite a journey trying to figure out who he was.
At one point he thought way too highly of himself, almost blew it. At another point, he thought way too low of himself and almost blew it. Because here’s the key, here’s the one thing you need to understand: If you don’t get a sober self-assessment and understand who you really are, not who you want to be or not who you think you are, you will never fulfill the divine calling God has for you.
God made you in a certain way. You need to know who that actually is because you’re made for a purpose. I started the whole service by saying, “You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto a good work.”
A good work that He has for you, that before the foundations of the earth, He has a job for you that will be the most thrilling, the most fulfilling, and the most impactful. And He made you in a certain way to fulfill that! But if you don’t know who you are, you’ll miss it. Moses almost missed it.
Notice, as we open it up, it says, “Moses’ journey reveals how to come to grips with the real you.” And underline the word journey. This is a journey. This isn’t like, “Oh, I really now know who I am. I have it all down. I went to one service. It was great.”
Moses’ parents, childhood, education, and experiences were God’s preparation for him to fulfill His divine design. As you look in Exodus, look at chapter 2. I love the way this opens up.
For those of you who may be like me that didn’t grow up in the Church and I never opened the Bible and I didn’t know a lot of these stories, the children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt for about four hundred, four hundred and thirty years.
And Joseph was the great deliverer and then he died and then there were a bunch of Pharaohs that came. And now they don’t remember who Joseph is. And here’s all they know. They have all these Hebrew slaves and there are so many of them, they are afraid that these Hebrew slaves are going to have a revolt and take over Egypt.
And so they decide, “You know what? The boys gotta die.” So if you had a little boy? Infanticide. “We kill all the little boys; the girls are okay.” And then you get the story of these parents.
Notice chapter 2, “During this time, a man and a woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw what a beautiful baby he was and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she put a little basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. And she put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen.
And then soon after, the story goes, many of you know, Pharaoh’s daughter sees the baby, sees it’s beautiful, the little girl says, “Oh, what have you found?” She gives the baby to the little girl and says, “Have this baby nursed and then bring it back,” and then later we find that the baby gets adopted. And he grows up as the prince of Egypt. I mean, most people have at least seen the cartoon, so you have the basic story, right?
He has the best of education, the best of food, the best of everything. He becomes this very powerful leader.
Now, it’s interesting, what I like about this is, as we open chapter 2, during this time, how would you like your biography to read like this? “A man and a woman,” I mean, when God is going to introduce, probably, the key character of the Old Testament, and He wants to know the lineage, when he wants to know, What kind of pedigree, what kind of platform, where do you come from, what’s your DNA? Well, this guy came from a man and a woman.
I think that is there for purpose. I would like you to observe that a lot went into his life. He had parents that were godly, they were willing to risk their life rather than kill him. He had parents that were risk takers, they had faith. He had parents, we will learn, because of what he does later, that were whispering in his ear who God was, Yahweh, the promises, the deliverance.
And then he had parents that were willing to say, “You know what? If this is God’s will for you to live in Pharaoh’s house, then so be it.” And here’s what you need to understand. Your parents, your background, your physical DNA, some hardships you went through as a kid, some difficulty, your birth order, whether you were first or second or third or sixth in the family.
God sovereignly uses your parents, your background, the lows, the highs, the difficulties, the pain, the experience – all of that, for a sovereign God is preparing you for your Ephesians 2:10 divine assignment.
Moses would need to know all about Egypt and Pharaoh and the gods and how they thought and how they worked when he would deliver later. Moses would need a great education. Moses would need great parentage to be a risk taker and be willing to do something.
All those factors made a big difference in his life. In probably one of the more personal chapters of this book, I shared a little because here’s the key. Now, I majored in psych and undergraduate and graduate work along with changing my majors and some other things. But at least it’s been helpful to observe life.
And when I began to look back and I encourage you to do this, not in some sort of, “Oh, I’m a victim, I came out of this background. Oh, I’ve been through these difficult times.” I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about looking at your family of origin, realistically, and realizing a lot of that made you who you are! And I don’t know about you, my dad’s name was not Jesus. My mom’s name was not Mary.
I mean, they were great people. My dad’s dad died when he was thirteen. My dad, at sixteen and a half, was in Guam, Iwo Jima. He went through horrendous things. He had nightmares until he died at eighty-five, eighty-six.
And my dad loved me. He just didn’t know how to express it. But I had to learn, Okay, my dad really loved me, but the way he loved me was, “I want you to be successful,” because he thought being successful would make me happy. So when I got, like, four As and a B, we had a talk about that B. When I went two for four in baseball, we had a talk about the two times I grounded out. “Now, look, son, here’s what you need to understand. Look, you pulled your head up. Don’t put your foot in the bucket! You stay down on the ball!” And I’m thinking, “Dad, I got two hits!”
You know, when I got a degree, it was, “Well, that’s real nice, when are you going to get your doctorate?” “Can we, like, have a little party or just celebrate this for, like thirty-four seconds first?” Now, he loved me! And my dad was a great guy. But what I understand, built into not only the physical DNA God gave me, I came from a home where performance, excelling, and getting people’s approval was the way it felt like love.
Well, I had to deal with that. And I had to come to grips with my natural tendencies are a certain way. This is the family I came out of. This is the era that I grew up in. I grew up in the late sixties and the seventies. I graduated from high school in the seventies. There were things going on in the world. You need to think that through!
What were the values? What were the beliefs? Who were my heroes? And you don’t have to over analyze it, but you have to get clear on it.
I came to a little summary: Apart from Christ, I remember jotting this in the book, between my family background and the DNA that God sovereignly deposited in me, I grew up to be a highly motivated, deeply insecure, hard-working, overachiever.
Well, guess what? Now I know what I’m working with. So what are you working with? I mean, it was hard to come to grips with, Man, you are insecure. I am. But, what I learned is that everybody else is, they just fake it in different ways than I faked it. You are!
For some of you, you’re not an overachiever, you’re an underachiever. For some of you, your parents were laid back. I don’t know what it is, but here’s what you need to understand. Moses’ parents, childhood, education, experiences were God’s preparation. God wants to use it all for good. He’s in control. It’s true of Moses, it’s true of me, and it’s true of you.
Second, Moses’ warped view, he thought too highly of himself, prevented him from fulfilling God’s purpose for his life. Look at Exodus 2, picking up at verse 11, “Many years later,” you know, in the Bible, they skip years pretty quickly. So he went from baby to forty years old.
“Moses had grown up and he went out to visit his people, the Israelites, and he saw how they were doing forced labor. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew slaves. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.
“The next day, as Moses was out visiting his people again,” I mean, he’s got these roots, he’s got these Hebrew concerns, but he is the prince, he is the man, he’s the next guy for the throne, he’s got there wherewithal, “and he sees these two Hebrews arguing, ‘What are you doing hitting your neighbor like that?’ Moses said to the one that was in the wrong.”
And then get this line, I put underlined this in my Bible, “Who do you think you are?” It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? “‘Hey, who do you think you are?’ the man replied. ‘Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Do you plan to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ Moses was badly frightened because he realized that everyone knew what he had done. And sure enough, when Pharaoh heard about it, he gave orders to have Moses arrested and killed. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and escaped to the land of Midian.”
Moses thought too highly of himself. Now, here’s what’s interesting and this is true of you and true of me, sometimes we get our assignment right, This is what I’m supposed to do. But we try and do it in our own energy.
Moses basically says, here’s what I put. He thought, I’m capable, I’m able, I’m educated, and guess what? I’m the prince. I’m the man. You know what? I call the shots here. I mean, there’s Pharaoh but I’m Moses! Moses! I mean, you know, right?
“Hey, what are you guys doing?” And so he had confidence in himself. His warped view was that he had power, prestige, and his abilities, his education, and his background gave him the right to call the shots.
And he tried to do God’s will – and it was God’s will – his way and in his energy and his power and because of that, this overinflated view of who he was, he almost missed it. And that’s true of us. You think, Well, gosh, I’ve got this education and then I have that and then I moved up and then I did this and I spent all these years and I had this on my heart. I think my motives are right.
I think Moses’ motives were right! But, boy, his methodology was wrong. And God had to teach him something.
But sometimes we don’t just have a too high view of ourselves that prevents us from fulfilling our divine calling. Sometimes it’s too low. And so Moses’ warped view, too low, of himself almost prevented him from fulfilling God’s purpose for his life.
Now, what I want to do, and this will be frustrating for those of you who haven’t seen the movie or for those of you that really love the Bible. I’m going to try and walk through, very, very quickly, Moses’ too low view of himself.
And he basically has four excuses. And because of this, I’m going to have to skip some of the juicy parts. Now, you can read this later on your own. But I want you to pick it up, if you will, and in chapter 3, Moses was one day, he’s tending his flocks, he’s been out with these sheep. He’s got a new world, he’s got a new wife, he thinks his life is over. He’s hiding.
And he’s out on this rocky terrain, he sees this bush, and the bush is on fire, but it’s not burning. And the Angel of the Lord is in the bush and he comes near the bush and the Angel of the Lord speaks to Moses and He says, “You’re on holy ground,” and he takes off his sandals and he hides his face in his hands and he’s in the very presence of God, and he’s overwhelmed.
And what he’s going to hear is, “I’ve heard the cry of My people, [and guess what? Those instincts to rescue them were right] and I’m going to use you to rescue them. I want you to go be My deliverer.” Now, that’s a real short overview of most of chapter 3.
And then a conversation picks up. And we pick it up in about verse 10. He says, “Now go,” this is God speaking to Moses, “for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You will lead My people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
Now, before he was thinking, It’s a snap, man. I got that covered. Now listen to him. “But Moses says, ‘But who am I,’” an interesting question, isn’t it? Before they had asked him, “Who do you think you are?” And now it’s like, “Well, who am I?” Excuse, “I’m a nobody. No one could ever use me. I’m a failure. I blew it. I don’t, I’m nothing. How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”
How many times has a too low view of you kept you from doing… You know, it might be a really small voice and God says, “I want you to do this. I want you to introduce your neighbors to Christ. Just have them over for dinner.” “Well, who am I?” “You know what? I want you to take this step.” “Oh, no. Who am I?”
Then God told him, “I will be with you.” Here’s the solution to Who am I? “I will be with you. And this will serve as proof that I sent you: When you have brought the Israelites out of Egypt, you will be right here on this mountain and you’ll worship.” Basically God says, “Hey, who you are is not important. What’s really important is Who am I? And that I’m going to be with you.”
Well, then we get excuse number two. Moses is not convinced. But he protested. “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me,’ they won’t believe me. They will ask, ‘Which god are you talking about? What’s his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
Excuse number one was, “I’m a nobody.” Excuse number two is, “I’m not smart enough. They’re going to ask me questions I don’t know. I’ll have these people over for dinner, if I talk to someone about the Lord here or if I take this step of faith, I mean, I’m just not smart enough. I mean, I didn’t go to Bible college and stuff…”
Or, you know, as one guy told me, “I’ve never been to college at all.” I said, “You’re running this huge company. I’m not sure college was a really big deal for you, was it?” “Well, I know, but I’m sort of uncomfortable in those…”
Often a too low view, “I’m not smart enough.” So how does God answer that? God replied, “I am the One who always is.” Or literally, “I AM THAT I AM. Just tell them that I AM,” the Ever Existent One, is the idea. Egō eimi. Jesus will quote this later, in Greek, when He talks to people who think He is claiming to be God and He will say, “Before Abraham was, I am.” And He reaches back into this text.
“The Lord, the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – you tell them I sent you. Now go and call all the leaders of Israel and tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors,’” skip down to verse 18, he reassures him again. “Hey, you don’t have to be smart enough. The leaders of the people of Israel, they are going to accept your message.”
And then he says, “I promise even the Egyptians will treat you well. When you leave, they will give you silver and gold.” And then we skip to chapter 4 and we get excuse number three. So God reassures him, “I’ll be with you, I’ll take care of it.” Chapter 4 then, “But Moses protested again. ‘Look, they won’t believe me. They won’t do what I tell them. They’ll just say, “The Lord never appeared to you.”’”
So, okay, let’s see, I’m a nobody so God could never use me. I’m not smart enough. Now it’s, Well, I’m not credible. I mean, they’re not going to listen to me. I mean, I don’t have the credentials. I don’t have the platform. They’ll never, never listen to me.
And so God says, “Okay, wait, Moses. I’ll tell you what. I authenticate people by, just not what they need out there, someday, someway. Let me take something that’s very common to you, you have used all your life. See that staff in your hand?” “Yeah, yeah.” “Put it on the ground. No, no, really. Drop it down.”
So he drops it down, it becomes a snake. Ooooh! You know? He says, “Okay, I want you to grab it,” this was probably very hard the first time, “I want you to grab this viper by the tail.” He touches the tail, bam! It becomes the staff again.
He said, “So, if you think you need credibility, what do you think about that one?” And I think Moses’ facial expression is going, “Man, I’m not really sure that’ll work.” And so God says, “Okay, okay, okay, okay. That’s plan A. Plan B, if they don’t listen to that, Moses, you know that little robe you’ve got on? Now, put your hand in it. Okay? Yeah. Good. Okay. Now, pull it back out.” “Ahhhhh!” “What is it?” “Leprosy!” “Oh my lands!” he says, “stick it back. Pull it back out.” “It’s gone!”
“See, if they don’t believe plan A about the staff, go with the hand. That is going to be really powerful. And, then, by the way, if that’s not good enough, we’ll go to the Nile, I’ve got a deal, we will turn all that into blood. Here’s what I want you to know, your credibility isn’t the issue. You trust Me and get your focus off yourself, and I will take what you already have, by My power and by My grace, and I will use you in ways that you never dreamed.”