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Why God Lets Christians Fail - Life of Moses Part 9

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 18, 2024 7:00 am

Why God Lets Christians Fail - Life of Moses Part 9

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Well, if you follow professional football at all, then you know who Kurt Warner is.

But just in case you don't, let me tell you a little bit about him. Kurt Warner grew up with his greatest dream being to play professional football. When he graduated from high school, he was passed over by all the larger colleges. And so he went to the University of Northern Iowa where he basically sat the bench his entire career. When he graduated from college, he was snubbed by the NFL. And so he ended up stocking shelves in a supermarket in Iowa, making $5.50 an hour.

It was while he was working here at the supermarket that he met Brenda, now his wife, who ended up leading him to personal faith in Jesus Christ. Well, Kurt Warner went on from there to play two years of indoor arena football. He then went to Amsterdam and played a year in NFL Europe. And finally in 1998, he was signed to a contract by the St. Louis Rams to be the third string backup quarterback for Trent Green. He began the 1999 season with the Rams also as the backup for Trent Green.

But early in the season, Trent Green hurt himself. And suddenly, Kurt Warner was rushed into service as the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. And he went on to surprise everybody and have one of the greatest seasons of any quarterback in NFL history. He threw 41 touchdown passes in 1999, the most in a single season by any quarterback in NFL history. He led the NFL in completion percentage that year. He led the Rams to a 13-3 record and to a victory in Super Bowl 34. And he was named the most valuable player of the National Football League for the 1999 season. And when Kurt Warner was leaving the field after his victory in Super Bowl 34, and a reporter caught up with him, the first thing he said was not, I'm going to Disney World. The first thing he said is, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, before they could turn the mic off. Good for him. Now, at a Billy Graham event, at a Billy Graham event not long after that, he said this, and I quote, he said, People often ask the secret of my success as a football player.

It has nothing to do with how I work out in the offseason or my diet. The secret of my success is simply Jesus Christ, end of quote. Now friends, Kurt Warner, as a follower of Jesus Christ, who gives God this kind of spotlight and this kind of credit, it doesn't come as any surprise to us, does it? It makes perfect sense to us that God should have given this man the kind of human success that he gave him.

But here's the interesting thing. Every year since 1999, Kurt Warner has fallen dismally short of the success that he experienced in that one year. Now, why is that? Why is it that God sometimes lets outspoken, sincere followers of Christ fail? I mean, why doesn't God let Joe Gibbs win the Super Bowl every single year? Why is it that God didn't let Clay Aiken win American Idol?

Why is it that Mel Gibson did not win the Oscar for Best Picture for the Passion? Why is it that the dramatic comeback by Dave Dravecchi fell short after only two games? This is what I want to talk to you about today. I want to answer the question, why does God let outspoken and sincere followers of Christ fail sometimes?

Why does God allow committed Christians sometimes to suffer loss and pain and heartache and tragedy and setbacks in our lives? What we want to do is we want to go back into the life of Moses where we see this principle illustrated and then we want to see what happened there and bring it forward and then we'll talk about, well, what about our lives today? So that's our plan. And if you brought your Bible today, I want to ask you to open it to Exodus chapter 3. If you did not bring a Bible today and you're here in our main auditorium, I'd like you to reach under the armrest there at your chair and you will find a copy of the Bible.

We're going to be on page 41. Page 41 in our copy, Exodus 3 in your copy and while you're turning, let me give you a little bit of background. We saw last week that after living in the palace of Egypt for 40 years, the first 40 years of his life, Moses made a decision. He decided to walk away from all the pomp and circumstance of the palace and he decided to serve God with his life instead and so he went out and attempted to lead an exodus. He attempted to lead the Israelites out of Egypt with his own power, his own wisdom, his own human ability and as part of that, he killed an Egyptian taskmaster. He was forced to flee from Egypt like a common criminal and he went out and lived in the Sinai wilderness.

Here's a picture of where he went inside the red circle. He went out and lived in the Sinai wilderness for the next 40 years of his life and there he tended the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro. Now that's where we've been so let's pick up the story Exodus chapter 3 verse 1.

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro and he led the flock to Mount Horeb. That's the same word in the Bible as Mount Sinai, the mountain of God and there 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 doesn't burn up. Now say, wait a minute Lon, you say, wait a minute, do you really think there was a literal bush there on Mount Sinai that was actually on fire?

Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, I think there's a very good possibility that that bush is still there to this day. You see in 312 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine gave his life to Jesus Christ. His mother, a lady named Helena, we'll show you a picture of her on a coin here on the screen. His mother was already a believer before him. She very probably prayed him into the kingdom of God.

And after he became a believer, his mother, Helena, came to the Emperor and said, I'd like to go to the Holy Land and visit all of the sites I've been reading about in the Bible. Can I go? Well, what are you gonna do? You can tell your mother?

No. So he said, of course you can go mom. But he said, just to make sure that you're safe, I'm going to send the whole Roman 10th Legion with you. So all she goes to the Holy Land with the whole Roman 10th Legion with her. And everywhere she went in the Holy Land, she would say to people, where did this happen? Where did that happen? Where did Jesus do this?

Where did this take place? And wherever that took place, she would leave a contingent of Roman soldiers there. And she would say to them on this spot, build a church, build a church, build a church, build a church. Friends, you know, today, if you go to Israel, we have much to thank Helena for many of the places we go today and see that represent these biblical sites would not be there today. If it wasn't for her doing this, they'd be Jiffy lubes today.

You understand what I'm saying? We owe this woman a great debt of gratitude. Well, she went all the way down to Mount Sinai. And when she got to Mount Sinai, she said to the people living there, where is this mountain where God appeared to Moses?

And they said, we'll do better than that. We just want to show you the mountain. We'll show you the very bush where it happened. And she built a church around that bush. They showed her 300 years later, the Emperor Justinian enlarged that church. And that is today what we know as St. Catherine's monastery. Here it is at the very foot of Mount Sinai. Now that bush is still inside St. Catherine's monastery.

Let me show you a picture of it. And the Bedouin and the monks there claim that they have tried to plant sproutings and saplings from this bush all over the Sinai. And it will not grow in any place except this one place inside the monastery. And they are convinced this is the very bush in which God appeared to Moses. You know, every time, every year when we do our Israel tours, we go here.

And I explain to people everything I've just explained to you. We see the bush. And one year, about six or eight years ago, we were there. And when we first walked into the monastery, there was a young couple from England that came up to us, a guy and a gal. They were hitchhiking around the world. And they heard us speaking English. And so they said, could we tag along with your group because, you know, you speak in English. We said, why, sure.

So I took our group over to the burning bush. And I showed them. And I explained everything I've just explained to you. And then I said, well, are there any questions?

And this young man from England raised his hand. And he said, I said, yeah, what's your question? He said, well, are they going to burn the bush today or do they only burn it on special occasions? I said, what? He said, are they going to burn it today? Because if they're going to burn it today, we're going to stick around and watch. And if they're not going to burn it today, we'll move on. And I said, what? You got to be kidding. Well, as we were walking from there to the next place, we were going in the monastery, the Muslim guide that I was working with leaned over and whispered to me and said, you know, he said, you have to teach your people in the West to read their Bible more.

I said, the Muslim told me that. Well, friends, whether or not this is the actual burning bush or not, I can't tell you. It might be.

It might be. But let's move on. All right, first four. And when the Lord saw that Moses had turned aside to look, God called the Moses from within the bush and said, Moses, Moses and Moses said, Here I am. Do not come any closer. God said, Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Then God said, verse six, I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. And the Lord said, verse seven, I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, 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 to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Verse 10. Therefore, Moses, come now, I will send you to Pharaoh so that you may bring my people Israel out of Egypt. Verse 11. But Moses said to God, God, who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

Now, how interesting is this? 40 years before this was the very job that Moses wanted to do. 40 years before this was the very job that Moses had tried to do. And 40 years before this was the very job that Moses was sure he could do in his own energy, wisdom and human power. But now, after failing in his first attempt to do this, after being forced to flee Egypt like a common criminal, now after living as a fugitive on the backside of the desert in humiliation for the last 40 years, now here in Exodus three, we're confronted with a very different Moses. Gone is the haughty self-assurance that had characterized him at age 40. Gone is the fleshly self-sufficiency that had characterized him at age 40. And instead, what we now found is a man who is humble and modest and deferential and self-effacing and godly, a man that God can now really use for his glory.

I mean, the vessel has been fully prepared for the master's use. So our question is, how did God produce this kind of radical transformation in the life of Moses? Well friends, let me tell you the answer. The answer is that for the first 40 years of his life, Moses attended the University of Egypt there in the palace. But for the second 40 years of his life, God sent Moses to a very different school. He sent him to a school that I like to call Wilderness Theological Seminary. Let me tell you about Wilderness Theological Seminary. The only faculty member in this seminary is God himself.

The classes meet on the backside of the desert. The only degree that's offered in this seminary is a Ph.D. in the ways of God. The length of study in this seminary is as long as it takes. And the curriculum in this seminary is based on heartache, failure, loss, humiliation, and pain.

My point is that what changed Moses into a man of God that God could now use was not his 40 years of success in the palace of Egypt, rather it was his 40 years of humiliation on the backside of the desert. Now that's as far as we want to go in our passage today because now it's time for us to stop and ask the most important question. And you know what this is, so I hope you're ready. And I hope you're going to do this nice and loud. Here we go.

One, two, three. So what? Yeah, you say, Lon, so what? Say what difference does any of this make to my life?

Burning bush, whatever. All right, well, let's see if we can help with that. You know, one Tuesday not long ago, I had a young man in my office and we were talking and he said this to me. He said, you know, he said, you're trying to convince me to become a follower of Jesus Christ, right? And I said, right. He said, well, Lon, the problem is that you are one of the major reasons why I'm hesitating. And I said, me? What did I do? He said, it's not what you did. It's what God did to you.

I said, I don't understand what you're talking about. He said, Lon, I look at you and I see somebody who's trying to serve God. I see somebody who's trying to honor God. I see somebody who's trying to put it all on the line for God. And then God goes and shafts you like he's done. You say, Lon, what does he mean by that?

To use his terminology, God's shafting you. Well, friends, what he was referring to is that 14 years ago, God sent a very special little person into my life and into my family's life named Jill. Now, Jill's a beautiful little girl, but she's very ill. She suffers from a rare genetic disorder. She's had literally thousands and thousands of grand mal seizures in her life. Jill, at 14 years old, cannot talk. She cannot feed herself. She cannot dress herself. And she's not potty trained. She has severe mental retardation and multiple other disabilities. Jill could not survive on her own for one single day. And she cannot ever be left alone for her own safety sake.

This young man knew all about Jill. And he went on to say to me, if this is how God treats his followers, then why in the world would I want to be one? Well, that's a good question isn't it?

And we better have an answer for that question. And maybe you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus in a real impersonal way. And maybe one of the things that's been hanging you up is some of the tragedies you see in our world and some of the heartaches you see even Christians go through. And you cannot integrate that in your mind with how God could be a good and loving God and still these things happen.

Well, friend, if that's what you're struggling with, you came to the right place today because we're going to answer this question. Friends, why doesn't Joe Gibbs win the Super Bowl every year? Why didn't Clay Aiken win American Idol?

Friends, why is there no Oscar on Mel Gibson's mantle? And why did Dave Dravecki's arm snap in two on his second game back from his comeback? And as followers of Jesus Christ, sitting here today, why does God allow you and me to experience the failures, the heartaches, the defeats, and the losses that we sometimes go through?

Well, let me answer that question. The answer is that God sends these reversals into our lives for the very same reason that he sent 40 years on the backside of the desert into Moses's life. And that is because these things are teaching tools that God uses to produce true spiritual formation in our lives.

They are teaching tools that God uses to produce true spiritual formation in our lives to make us more Christlike, to make us more holy in our walk, to make us more usable to God. God has grander and higher purposes in our life than just making us comfortable, friends. He wants to make us usable for the kingdom of God.

And so you say, okay, Lon, okay, wait a minute, stop, stop, stop right there. You're talking about grander and higher purposes that God uses suffering and heartache in our lives for? I mean, what grander and higher purpose could there possibly be for tragedy, pain, and suffering in our life?

Well, I'm glad you asked because I'm going to tell you about three of them right now, and then we're done. Number one, what grander and higher purposes does God use suffering and failure in our life to accomplish? Number one, God uses it to humble our high opinion of ourselves. James chapter four, verse six, God is opposed to the arrogant, but he gives grace to the humble. Romans 12, three, do not think more highly of yourself than you ought, Paul says. And let's be honest, all of us here are prone to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, especially in Washington, D.C. And as followers of Christ, what the Bible says is that for God to bless us and for God to use us, God first has to humble us just like he had to humble Moses.

And how does God do that? Well, folks, nobody ever learned humility from success. I mean, if that were true, Donald Trump would be the humblest man in America.

And we all know how that is. Humility is learned from failure, defeat, loss, suffering and pain. This is what the apostle Paul said. Second Corinthians 12, he said, to keep me from being conceited, to keep me humble, God gave me a thorn in the flesh.

This thorn in the flesh was some kind of physical malady, some kind of physical ailment. And look what Paul says. Paul says, God gave this to me not to hurt me, but to humble me so that ultimately he could use me.

And you know what? God does the same thing today to followers of Christ that he did to Paul two thousand years ago that he did to Moses 3500 years ago. This is the same system God uses to produce humility in our life so he can bless us and so he can use us. Number two, grand and high purpose number two for suffering and failure in our life is that God uses these things to teach us to depend on God and God's resources instead of our own. Now, you know, friends, given the chance, every one of us would rather depend on our own wisdom, our own cunning and our own human resources and strength than we would God.

That's just the way we're wired as human beings. Moses was like that. Moses, when he went out to lead the first exodus, he was depending totally on his own resources. And one of the blessed results of suffering, my friends, is that it shatters our self-reliance. It shatters our self-sufficiency and it forces us to rely on God because we don't have anybody else to rely on. It forces us to rely on God's resources and tap into God's resources because we don't have any other resources to tap into. And that is something very important to learn as a servant of Christ.

Paul talked about it. He said, 2 Corinthians chapter 1, we want you to know about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great affliction, far beyond our ability to endure. We were out of resources, Paul says, so that we even felt the prospect of death within ourselves.

Now, look at the next verse, verse 9. This happened to us. God put us through that suffering. Why?

So that we might learn not to rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. I don't know how you say it any simpler than that. You know, the house I used to live in over in Fairfax for 15 years, we had two acres in the back, but it was all floodplain. And the trees that were back there basically spent the whole year sitting in surface water.

Now, I noticed something very interesting. I noticed whenever a big storm would come along with big winds, the trees that would blow down on my lot were always in the back. They'd blow over right from the roots. In fact, the roots were about three inches deep. But I also noticed that in the front yard where I had a couple of oak trees, where it was very dry because our house was on a hill, I noticed those trees never blew over.

And you know why? It's because those trees didn't have a lot of water on the surface. Those trees had to send their roots down really, really, really deep looking for water.

And as a result, they became stronger trees. Now, you know, as human beings, we're just like trees, folks. If all the water we ever need is just floating on the surface, if there are never dry times in our life where we have to send our roots down deep into Jesus Christ looking for sustenance and spiritual resources, we will become weak as well and not be able to withstand the storms of life. God sends suffering and heartache and difficulties into our life to force us to rely on Him in ways we would never have to if we had surface water all the time.

To put it another way, God sends trouble into our life so that He can make us into oaks instead of into floodplain trees. Number three. And finally, why does God send suffering and heartache into our life?

Number three. He does it to produce in us compassion and mercy for other people. Paul says, 2 Corinthians chapter 1, God comforts us in all of our troubles so that we may learn how to comfort others in their troubles.

And notice the assumption here. The assumption is other people are going to have trouble and the assumption is we as followers of Christ are going to have trouble too because that's how we learn to connect with people in pain in a way that we can never learn from a book or a seminar or a course in college. And friends, connecting with people is the key to ministering to people. A few years ago I took my sons one night to Baskin-Robbins and they were all ordering ice cream and as they were standing at the counter doing that I was just glancing around the store and basically it was deserted except for one party sitting over in a booth way in the corner and I noticed them and I noticed that it was a man and his daughter. But I noticed when I looked a little more carefully that the daughter was severely disabled and the man was sitting there with a little plastic spoon feeding his daughter ice cream because she could not feed herself.

And I watched him for a minute and I was really impressed with this man. I was really impressed with his tenderness with his daughter and I was impressed by his total lack of embarrassment about her condition and so as we were getting ready to leave the store I walked over to him and I said, sir, I'm sure you're going to think this is really random but I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you. I just want to tell you how much I appreciate the sacrifices that I know you've made for your daughter. My little girl Jill was about six at the time and going through horrible times and I said I just want to tell you that if your little girl could speak she would say, Daddy, thank you for loving me just the way I am and for being so good to me. Well, he got all choked up and I got all choked up and he stood up and we hugged each other. I mean, it was a scene right there in Baskin-Robbins. But I want to tell you something, those of you who know me, you know that 14 years ago I would never have had that conversation with that man.

In fact, 14 years ago I would never even have noticed that man and his daughter or if I had I would have purposely tried to go as far around him as I could because I would have been so uncomfortable I wouldn't have had a clue what to say to a guy like this. But friends, you got to understand for the last 14 years I have lived with a little girl who can't feed herself ice cream. I have lived with a little girl who can't speak and tell me how grateful she is for all that I try to do for her. We've suffered together. We've hurt together and God used that to change me as a person.

I understood something about what that man was going through that I would not have understood any other way. God used that suffering to give me a compassion and a mercy for him and for others I meet that I would just tell you I didn't have 14 years ago and I could not have gotten any other way than the way God gave it to me. I believe I'm a better man today because of 14 years of suffering. I believe I'm a better pastor today and a better husband and a better father because of 14 years of suffering.

And you know, no, no, no, and you know I want to tell you something friends. God has used that suffering to enable me to minister to people better than I could 14 years ago. Now there are a lot of you here today who are suffering. There are a lot of you here today that have got tough times in your life. There are a lot of you here today that God has sent heartache and pain and failure and difficulty and tragedy into your life and you're struggling to figure out why would God do this to me? I'm trying to live for him.

Why would he do this for me? And I'm here to tell you don't you dare accept a cheap and superficial explanation explanation for your suffering. Get rid of that name it and claim it nonsense. Get rid of that rebuke the devil away nonsense. Get rid of that come down here and get your miracle nonsense. I'll tell you why those things are in your life friend. Those things are in your life because God is not Santa Claus. Those things are in your life because God is not the genie in the lamp.

Those things are in your life because God is out to do something greater and deeper in your life than simply make you comfortable. God is out number one to make you into a humble follower of Jesus Christ. God is out number two to teach you how to depend on him and not yourself. And God is out number three to produce mercy and compassion in your life for other people in pain. God is out to turn you into a genuine woman of God. God is out to turn you into a genuine man of God. Listen now and there are certain parts of that process that can never happen any other way except through the doorway of suffering.

They just can't. You know G. Campbell Morgan, wonderful preacher, tells the stories with the Lord now but he tells the story about being in this little church where he was a visiting speaker and after church was over this lady came up to him and she was going on raving and raving and raving about the new pastor they had coming, a young man, how good he was, what a great preacher he was, what an effective communicator he was, just going on and on and on about this guy and this seasoned man of God, G. Campbell Morgan, let her finish. And then with a very calm voice he simply turned to her and said, ma'am, I'm sure your new pastor is wonderful but he'll be better after he suffers. He'll be better after he suffers.

And folks, you know what? So will you. So if you're going through tough times, I've got a piece of advice for you.

It comes from 1 Peter chapter 4. So then, let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful creator. Friends, your God is faithful. He knows what he's doing in your life. He is not wasting this experience. He is not trying to hurt you. He is trying to do something deep and significant in your life so trust him. He knows what he's up to. He's been making men and women of God for thousands of years.

He knows how to do it so work with him. Find joy in it because God's up to something big in your life. Let's pray together. Father, thanks for communicating biblical truth to us today. Now this is not truth we'll hear preached on the radio very much unless I preach it.

It's not truth we'll hear on the TV very much. We won't hear it in the pulpits of America very much. But this is biblical truth. And my prayer today, Father, is that you would give every one of us here the spiritual capacity to be able to embrace this truth and to let it form the framework for our lives so that we can interpret the hard times from a biblical point of view. Lord, use your word today to change our lives. Use it to fortify our souls and use it, Lord, to bring joy to us even in the tough times because we have a faithful creator that we can entrust our lives to. And even when we're suffering according to the will of God, that's exactly where you want us and we can trust you. And so God, encourage our hearts today with your truth and we pray these things in Jesus' name. And God's people said amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-18 08:06:50 / 2024-05-18 08:18:49 / 12

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