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.”
Well, the excuses, Moses is a very slow learner. He has had forty years to get stuck in his ways, forty years to believe after he thought he was such hot stuff that he’s nothing now. And so as we pick up the story, “But Moses pleaded with the Lord.” So there’s a guy who is really learning to pray. He’s pleading, “Oh God, oh God, oh God, no, no, no, no, not me.”
So he’s pleading with the Lord. He says, “You know what? All Your answers are pretty good, God, but I’m just not a very good speaker. You know? This is really going to take some oratory skill. I’m just not gifted! You know? I don’t have the ability. You’ve got the wrong guy.”
God’s answer is, “Who makes man’s mouth?” Hmmm. “Who makes him deaf or dumb, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now you go! And I will tell you what you are to say.”
And then Moses, after being convinced by the God of the universe that how He is made is exactly right for the job he is being called to do. He says, “Lord, could You just send someone else?”
Now, I think this is one of the most amazing passages in Scripture, because you talk about mercy and grace, you talk about a guy backing into God’s will. He is as reluctant as he can be. And yet, God has His hand on his life. And so He says, “I’ll tell you what, Moses. I’m going to accommodate.”
And, by the way, every time we accommodate, God often will get His will done in a way that we accommodate, but it always produces problems we don’t plan on. “So, Aaron, your brother, he’s a good speaker. You know what? I’m going to have him meet you and he can do some of the speaking and I will talk to you and you tell him what to do and he’ll do a good job up front. He’s a good PR guy. But, boy, he is going to cause you problems later. He’s also an artist, he builds golden calves, leads small rebellions.” I mean, it’s true.
Sometimes we think too highly of ourselves, we miss God’s will, God’s calling. Sometimes we think too lowly of ourselves, we miss God’s will. Moses’ reluctant trust in God’s promises and God’s character, notice, it was reluctant. But they were his baby steps to a sober self-assessment.
And notice in your notes, I put God’s answers. And under His answer, I put a New Testament passage so you could know that this isn’t some Old Testament thing about God, with one man, about delivering. When you have the excuse and I have the excuse, I’m a nobody, God says, “I will go with you. I will never, ever leave you or forsake you.” Jesus says that to you and He says it to me. “I’ll never leave you or forsake you. I’ll be with you to do exactly what I have called you to do.”
When we say to God, “I’m not smart enough,” He says, “Look, I have all the answers.” Philippians 4:13, “You can do all things,” not on your own, “but through Christ who gives you strength.” I’m going to give you what you need, but step out and trust Me.”
When we say to God, “I’m not credible, no one will ever believe me,” He says, “I’ll empower you.” II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us,” when we trust in Christ, when we turn from our sin and we accept Him as our Savior, the Spirit of God comes into us, and He takes up residence in our body, and it says, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity or fear, but of power and love and sound mind,” or literally, “discipline.”
You have, inside of you, all the power you need to fulfill all God wants to do in you. And then the final excuse is, “You know what? Basically, I’m just not gifted. You know, I’m just not able to do this.”
And God’s answer is, “I have gifted you for this job.” Are you beginning to see why it’s so important that you ask some hard questions, that you peel back some things in the past, that you put things into your mind that help you see yourself for who you are?
You know what? If I’m a young woman and I’m fourteen to eighteen years old or a little older, and I walk out of the grocery store and I look at Seventeen or Cosmo or People and then I watch MTV and VH1 and I look at all the people that are all the pretty people and then I look in the mirror and look at me, I’ll tell you what, it’s like, Uh-oh.
Or if I’m a guy and I’m thinking, Hey, how do you be successful? And you’re walking through the airport and there’s Men’s Health and now we’ve got not just female but male porn. And we’ve got this whole world of, I have to have biceps like this and steroids like this and in six weeks I could get abs of steel and so I tried the rocker and I tried the Circle and, you know…
And if I can just look a certain way and then others, you know, Forget it. I’ll never get that so I pick up Forbes and it says, “Tell you what, you get three or four more zeroes behind your name. You can strut your stuff.
And it’s all relative. You know what? It’s all relative. In one culture it’s, “I’m going to get some more chains, I’m wearing my pants down a little bit like this, and I’m going to look a certain way.” I’m serious! And other guys going, “You know, I need to bump up to a G5 because all those chumps are flying those King Airs. I need a G5.” And that’s when you really make it.
And I’ll I’m saying to you is those bombarding messages and issues will eat you up, telling you that you don’t measure up. But if, this is the key to advertisement, if you can’t be discontent with who you are, you don’t need to buy what they’ve got. But you get a sober self-assessment, you realize who you really are, who God made you to be, what you’re calling is, and then you can choose and say, “You know what? That’s a false message. But you know what? I do want to keep my body in shape and I do want to present myself the best way I can and there is nothing wrong with being beautiful or attractive. But that stuff can’t make me, break me, and it doesn’t tell me who I am.”
Notice what he says. Moses’ life reveals that a sober self-assessment, write this word, is a prerequisite to fulfill your divine assignment. You can’t do what God made you to do unless you figure out who you are!
Our key passage in our R12 study is going to be Romans chapter 12, verse 3. It says, “For by the grace given to me, I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of the faith that God has given you.”
If you have a pen, I want you to underline the word think and then underline the word ought. And this translation, actually, the Greek text, it has the word think repeated again. And then I want you to underline the next word think. And then I want you to underline the next word sober.
That’s all the same root word. You know what he’s saying? “Look, you are surrendered to God. You have offered your body as a living sacrifice. You are saying ‘no’ to the world. You’re not going to let it conform you because it’s death. But you’re saying ‘yes’ to God, you’re renewing your mind.”
Now, the first place to renew your mind, “Don’t think too highly of yourself, don’t think too lowly of yourself, think as a sober judgment.” Look into the mirror, physically, but the mirror of your soul and realize, This is who God made you. And you know what it means? You have strengths and you have weaknesses.
You have things that come out of your past and your suffering and your hurts and some of you even have abuse that’s produced scars, so it’s hard to trust people, and produced levels of compassion and care for others that could have never happened apart from even the difficulty you have been through.
And so God says, “I want you to have a sober self-assessment. You need to know what your strengths are, but you need to know what your weaknesses are,” because God is going to bring other people’s strengths. You’re going to find there are no lone rangers. You need them and they need you.
No one can give you an accurate view of your life but God. And we are back to the verse that I keep quoting. You’re His workmanship! That word, you can circle workmanship. Literally, you are His poem. It’s a picture of, you’re His tapestry. You are His work of art. You are His Rembrandt. You’re His Michelangelo. God created you. There is no other DNA in all the universe exactly like yours.
And in His sovereignty, He knew where you would be born, He would know the mistakes that other people would have against you, He would know the opportunities that are unique to you, He would know your eye color, He would know what time in history. And here He has been preparing you, all these years, for today, to prepare you for the good work for you to walk in.
But the prerequisite is you’re going to get accurate on who you are. I mean, this is so profound, even Jesus, you know, sometimes we think that Jesus just automatically did God’s will. No, no, no. It was a struggle. He was fully God but He was absolutely fully human. And He lived His life out of His humanity, looking to the Father, trusting in the Holy Spirit, to give Him the strength and the grace to fulfill His will.
When He started His ministry and just before He was tempted, you know what He needed to remember? He needed to remember who He really was and He comes out of that baptismal water, what does God say? “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Some of you need to hear that from God. You’ve got so many old tapes. “This is My beloved daughter, this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
If you have put your faith in Christ, you have been made by God, redeemed by God, forgiven, adopted into His family. He not only loves you, are you ready for this? He likes you. He likes you without makeup. He likes you without rock hard abs! He likes you when you had a lot of money and He likes you when you don’t have a whole lot right now.
He like you when you are peppy and encouraged and obeying, and He likes you when you’re struggling. You’re His beloved son. The Transfiguration, remember when He launched out and it was near the end of His ministry? And they are up on the mountain and Moses and Elijah make a visit and there are Peter, John, and James. And the cloud envelops them, in Luke chapter 9, “This is My Son who I dearly love. Listen to Him.” He needed to be reminded clearly, in His humanity, of a sober self-assessment, which gave Him the renewed strength to do what? Go to the cross for you and for me.
Turn to the back page and let me get you started on some very specific application. Number one is, Ask God to help you recognize the warped mirrors of the world that have shaped your life. At some point in time, don’t you think, if you would go, like, if you had an eleven or twelve-year-old kid and they were really, really struggling with life, and they came to you and said, “Mom, Dad, whatever, would you please help me? Because I’m…” You’d tell them, wouldn’t you? I mean, wouldn’t you?
So don’t you think your heavenly Father, if you said, “You know, I find myself… I’m a workaholic; it started with a glass of wine and now it’s way more; I’m pleasing people all the time; I say yes to everything; I get overextended; I don’t like my body; I don’t like this; I don’t like that; I struggle with depression.” And on and on and on. It’s just, and by the way, I’m just describing all of us in this room, at various levels, at various times.
And what if you said to your heavenly Father, “I feel like I’m in the fun house with the different mirrors and my head tells me I’m normal, semi-dysfunctional like everyone else, saved by Your grace. But when I look in this mirror, I look like I weigh five thousand pounds, in my head, in my emotions. Or, actually, then when I look at this mirror and I look like I’m sixty-seven pounds and bulimic, emotionally. God, would You help me see me the way You see me?” Boy, that’s a prayer He’ll answer.
Second, there are some really practical things just to remind you that you’ll go through in the book. Begin the journey of developing a sober self-assessment by getting God’s view of you through His Word. I mean, I don’t read the Bible in the morning because, Okay, a chapter a day will keep the devil away. I need to be reminded of what is true of God, me, and life.
Third, His people. Then personal evaluation. Take that card and just do it with someone that is pretty safe and say, “You know, I was in the service and I’m probably wrong. Maybe. But I think these are my top three strengths and these are my top three weaknesses. What do you think? Give me your honest feedback.” And there’s no pressure.
The fourth thing is, Discover your primary spiritual gift and we will help you on that in the days ahead. The final thing I would encourage you is, Celebrate daily that you are unique, loved, accepted, capable, and being prepared to fulfill your divine assignment.
I have to share one little thing because I think when people hear all this, this last word is, This is really possible. And then I’m not going to lie to you. This is really a lot of hard work.
And everyone struggles but I think the culture has made it much harder for women than men. Isn’t it interesting? Movie stars. How come the guys can be, like, fifty and sixty, have leading roles, and be with all these hot chicks? And if you’re a hot chick, you hit forty, Ah, you’re out. Unless you can get a lot of surgery. I mean, it’s true.
And so I married this very beautiful woman that thought she was ugly and we went through a very long journey of learning how to get God’s view of you. We actually put some cards that we reviewed, actually, she reviewed for years and years and years that allowed her to see herself God’s way.
And I just wanted to share this as I close. Lest you think you can never change, you’re wrong. Changing how you think about yourself is hard work. Underline that in your mind: Hard work. But the rewards are well worth it. When my wife and I began reviewing these cards nearly thirty years ago, Theresa was a woman who was beautiful but thought that she was ugly, who was gracious and kind but thought she didn’t measure up, who was the most wonderful person I had ever met but felt inferior and had desperately low self-esteem.
When I watched her work and review these cards day after day, little-by-little, she began to believe what God said about her, rather than the message she absorbed from the people of her past and the traumatic experiences she had lived through.
In the last thirty years, I have watched a flower bloom before my eyes. Today, I live with a woman who is beautiful on the inside and the outside, that has a clear sense of confidence, and positive self-worth, that comes from thinking accurately about yourself.