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The Value of a Second Chance
08/24/2008
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:7; Exodus 3:1-10; Matthe...
Track 5 of 14 in the Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication series
Running time: 52 minutes, 14 seconds.


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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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Can someone tell me what the meaning is of this old 19th century proverb?

The bird with a broken pinion never soars as high again.

Basically what this tells us is, once you have failed, you will never, ever attain the heights you did before. It is sort of sad but with many people, they believe that this proverb is true. But I am here to tell you this morning that this proverb is false. It is very false. The man who wrote this proverb lived over 150 years ago. He, like many people originated one of the phrases that many believe to be sound wisdom. But once we shine Scripture on this proverb, it evaporates in a little puff of smoke.

All we have to do is go into Scripture and look at some of the greatest failings man could do and find that these failures were done by some of the character giants in the Bible. These mistakes weren’t done by the average Joe; they were done by famous heroes in scripture and most of the time exposed right in front of everyone. Abraham not only lied, he lied twice and right after that happened; he came to be known as “the friend of God”.

Jacob was a chiseler and a cheat who talked his own brother out of his birthright. Even though Jacob was a deceiver, God lifted Jacob to heights so high that his own name wasn’t sufficient enough, God changed it to Israel. And there were many others like Rahab, Jonah, David, and even a young man named John Mark. See, the guy who wrote the proverb about birds definitely didn’t really understand God and how God delights in using a person who has failures. In fact, the more the failures, the better God likes to deal with us.

Think about this a minute, how many failures have you had? Have you failed enough that you qualify to be used by God? Do you have any failures that would keep God from using you? Most likely, your worst failure makes you the best candidate to be used by God.

Another bird with a broken pinion was a man named Paul. He wrote about this very topic.

Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Can someone tell me what an earthen vessel is? The NIV uses the phrase “pots of clay” It is a common clay pot for everyday usage. What is an earthen vessel used for? This is all that you and I have to offer God…a pot. We are a perishable container. But there is one thing to note; a clay pot is not delicate china. It is thick, heavy pottery – not very attractive but it is great for everyday use. When the pottery is made, someone molds the clay into what the potter wants. Like the potter, God molds us into what he wants so we are useful for what He needs us to do.

Look closely to the 2 Corinthians 4:7; it isn’t the condition of the clay pot that is important, according to Paul, what is important?

Let’s look at Moses, after his life shattering failure and all those years learning from God in the desert, most likely Moses didn’t see himself as a usable vessel. I truly believe that when God called him through the burning bush, Moses was sincere when he responded to God, “Who am I”. But on one particular day out in the desert, God decided to call Moses. Why that day, why do it using a bush? Why use a man who failed and for 40 years lived a life hiding from everyone?

The Day

Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

Moses spent 40 years tending his father-in-law’s flocks. Of those 40 years, how many times did God speak to Moses? Why break the silence? Why that day? Why that moment? Think back to the worst thing that ever happened to you to date; when you got up that morning, did you know your life was going to be interrupted by tragedy?

That is the way these things go most of the time. The same was true with Moses. There were no hints, no signs to alert him to the fact that God Himself would break the silence that day and that life would change forever. It was just the common ordinary day, a day for tending the sheep like all the other days the past 40 years. The sun came up and Moses chalked off the 14,600th day as Jethro’s assistant shepherd. He wasn’t even the head shepherd. This is how God works; he speaks to ordinary people on ordinary days.

Do you remember what Jesus had to say about the greatest day?

Matthew 24:37-39 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

The Bush

Exodus 3:2-3 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

I always wondered how Moses saw the burning bush all the way up the mountain. If you remember the movie, the 10 Commandments, Moses climbed the mountain to see the wondrous sight. But there is a problem, where does scripture say that the bush was on the mountain? It doesn’t, in fact Stephen clarifies the scene better for us.

Acts 7:30 After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.

Moses didn’t see the bush on the mountain; he saw a bush in the area of the mountain where he was tending the flocks. The Hebrew word used here names the bush a “thorny bush”. That’s all it was; one of millions in Midian. The bush wasn’t different or remarkable, but what was happening to it certainly was.

In California during the dry season, how long does it take for a bush to burn when lit? How about a very dry Christmas tree? The same would have been with the bush Moses saw. In the dry desert, to see a bush burn would have been a very short event. But what caught Moses eye? What attracted his attention? The flame kept going, the bush wasn’t consumed. What goes through your mind when you see something that is extremely unusual? Do you have a tendency to get a little spooked or are you curious enough to see what’s up and to investigate it? Have you ever wondered if it was God getting your attention?

I like how the writer explains the scene for us as Moses first sees the burning bush:

1. He looked, he investigated
2. He spoke to himself

I don’t know about you, but I might have done the same thing if I were in his shoes. I might have felt as though I was in the Twilight Zone a little.

Have you ever had one of those moments when everything was somewhat normal, usual for your day when all of a sudden, life changes. Something is different. How do you react to such things?

This is how God works. He might not speak vocally down from Heaven, shouting His Word at you; but He does use His Book, He uses His people, and He uses events in your life to get your attention. The problem with some of us is, we live in such a fast paced world and due to all the noise and clutter in life, it is easy to miss the burning bush. All that is needed is a hushed spirit and a listening heart. Moses had these and therefore heard God’s voice.

The Need

Exodus 3:4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”

I think the most important word in this verse is the very first word, “when”. The Hebrew word used here means, “at the same time”. At the same time of what? When Moses stepped aside from what he was doing to go over and look closer to the burning bush. God spoke to Moses when he turned aside. God didn’t interrupt him. God waited until Moses was paying attention.

Have you ever spoke with someone who wasn’t paying any attention to you? How does that make you feel? What about your kids? Have they ever done that to you? What normally is your response? What about our society? What catches their attention? What does God have to do today to get your attention?

It is a bit scary to me what people shrug off anymore. A person could be getting mugged and no one cares. A plane crash happens and we watch it on the news but no big deal. Catastrophes all around us and all we want to know is did the Cardinals win today? It is hard for God to get His people’s attention. But Moses saw something unusual and stopped a moment to look.

It was not until Moses turned aside that God spoke. Before Moses knew it, he was facing his destiny. Before he knew it, he was speaking with God. Put yourself in Moses spot, what would you have said if you heard the burning bush speak to you? God called out to Moses and all he could say was, “It’s me”. I think 40 years ago he would have reached for his resume. Need someone special? You came to the right guy. Back then I think Moses would have expected a grand summons. For Heaven’s sake, He was the grandson of Pharaoh. But things are different. 40 years in God’s school of the desert changed him; made him a man ready to hear God on His terms.

I think Moses answered exactly the way God wanted him to. Don’t kid yourself; God is not impressed with “you”. He is not interested in your greatness; He is interested in your humility, your sensitivity and most important, your availability. Unless you have these three traits, you will never be ready for the things God has in store for you.

Exodus 3:5-10 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Verse 5 has always been a verse that fascinated me. Many times I thought about the concept of “holy ground”. Notice the words, holy ground, are not capitalized; unlike Holy Bible and Holy of Holies. Where was this holy ground? What made it holy? Or was there something else God was saying? Holy literally means “separated”. Moses was standing on ground that was separated. You and I are also holy ground. We too are separate; separated from sin; separate from the world even though we live in the world. The Spirit of God lives on holy ground, in us. God was saying to Moses to separate himself from the past and focus on the immediate task God has planned. He wanted Moses to listen carefully.

It was not the bush that was holy; it was where Moses stood that was holy. Why then did God ask Moses to remove his sandals? Were his sandals too dirty (Moses was out in the middle of the desert, in the sand)? Out in the hot desert, in the scalding sand, what is the last thing you want to do? God was making his point and he wanted Moses to pay attention.

“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”

God starts off with this statement. Moses immediately hid his face from God. What was the point by God to start with these great men? What is fascinating about this, just like Moses, these great men of God made huge mistakes in their lives and in sprite of their mistakes, God still used them. To Moses, they were famous men. To God, they were no better than Moses, no better than you and I. In fact, they did some things you would never consider doing. The point is, just like these great men, God too was calling Moses and the same with us.

Exodus 3:7-8 The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land.

God tells Moses an extraordinary statement. Something not only did Moses need to hear, but all his people need to hear.

I have indeed seen…
I have heard them crying out…
I am concerned about their suffering…
I have come down to rescue them…
to bring them up out!

This is the story, the main theme of the book of Exodus. The truth found in Exodus is the same truth found today. The truth delivered to Moses that day in a burning bush by God was the same message delivered by God when Jesus proclaimed his message. In fact, it was Jesus in both instances that delivered the message of deliverance. God is not far away from our pain and trouble; in fact he is very near. He cares, he is aware and best of all, God is touched by it.

The conclusion is simple; the bush that God used was just any ordinary bush. Any ordinary bush will do as long as God is in the middle of the bush. Moses got close enough to the burning bush to allow God to set him on fire. What does it take to qualify as a bush that God will use? You have to be dried and thorny. You have to be dusty and dirty. You have to be ordinary but most of all, you have to be burnable. He wants a bush that will ignite easily and get fired up. Are you dry enough so God can light you up or are you made out of asbestos?

I want to suggest that there are three common mistakes we bushes make who are candidates for God’s match:

1. We run before we are sent
2. We retreat after we have failed
3. We resist when we are called.

Moses made all three of these mistakes and God was still able to use him.