Greg Laurie - On The Outside Looking In
Some years ago, I was back in New York City with my wife around Christmas time, we had another couple that were over there with us as well. So the girls went shopping at Macy's department store and it was raining like crazy, and they didn't wanna get wet, and I very valiantly said, I'll go get you a cab, and I went out in the horrible rain and finally a cab stops. I said, hang on here one second, so I opened the back door of the cab and I gestured to the girls come on, come on. And the girls are in high heels, so they're walking like this fast, you know, come on, come on, come on.
And while I'm waiting for them to come some guys starts to step into my cab that I hailed. And I said, sir, hold on, this is my cab. And this guy, I don't know how to put it delicately, he flipped me the bird, I mean, like within three inches of my face I don't wanna, you know, redo it again, but you get the idea right in front of me. I was so mad, I shoved this guy, I said, "It's my cab". This guy, "Whoa, I guess a psycho". So the girls got in, my other friend got in, we shut the door, we're driving off, obviously feeling really good about myself, I showed that guy.
And then the adrenaline wore off, and I realized how insane that was, what I had just done. And ironically, I was in New York City to preach. I thought, what if this guys shows up at the meeting I'm preaching at, says, hey, that's that guy that shoved me when I was trying to steal his cab. Basically I lost my temper and you know what? There's a lot of that going on right now, people are angry about a lot of things. Start with masks, oh men, there are militant non-mask wears out there, and if you dare to ask them to wear a mask, to walk into a store or whatever it is, they freak out.
I read in the paper the other day about a man that was asked to wear a mask in Starbucks, the barista said, sir, would you put a mask on. And this guy punched the barista and broke his jaw. No more caffeine for that, man. In fact, he needs an herbal latte or maybe a Frappuccino but then there are people that are militant, if you don't wear a mask, you must wear a mask. And everybody's getting a little too overworked about these things. And then there's politics, oh my goodness. Oh, by the way, did you know a presidential election is coming? So everybody's in their political corner and we come out fighting, and we come out debating, and it just seems to get more intense. If you take COVID-19 and combine it with the economy, along with the politics of the day, that creates almost a perfect storm of anger for a lot of folks.
According to psychologist Joshua Morganstein, the country is now dealing with three disasters, super imposed on top of one another, the pandemic, the economic fallout, the civil unrest, he says certainly a common way of responding is anger. So we get that, we know people lose their temper, we know people are uptight, but wait a second, are you a Christian? If you're a Christian you should be different than that. We should not be caught up in all of this anger that has been expressed by so many people. The Bible says, "A person who loses his temper is a fool". In Proverbs 29:11. Scripture tells us as followers of Christ we're to love others and we're to be at peace. In fact, Jesus said in John 13:36, "By this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you have love one for another".
Listen to this, when Christians love one another it's a powerful witness to a lost world. Lemme add, when Christians are fighting with one another, it's a poor witness to a lost world. Oh, I know we feel justified and unloading bull barrels and giving someone a piece of our mind, but if you give too many pieces of your mind away you won't have any left for yourself. We justify this anger because we know at least we say, we're in the right on this subject. Okay, fine, let's just say for the sake of a point, you're right, you don't have to scream at someone, you don't have to turn it into a major conflict. And we may rationalize this by saying, well, we're more spiritual than them and we need to set them right, but if you're really a spiritual person, if you're really a godly person, you'll be a humble person, and you'll be a loving person not someone who is filled with anger and rage.
We as believers should be showing love and forgiveness. And if we don't listen to this, we grieve the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Listen, the Holy Spirit is God, and the Holy Spirit can be lied to, the Holy Spirit can be resisted, the Holy Spirit can be insulted, and the Holy Spirit can be grieved. You only grieve someone you love. If some random stranger comes up to me and insults me, it doesn't grieve me, it just bugs me, but if someone I love says something hurtful to me, it grieves me. So we can grieve the Holy Spirit. You say, well, what does that even mean? It means to make sad or sorrowful. How do we do it?
Ephesians 4:30 gives the answer, it says, "Don't grieve or bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way that you live". And what would that be? He continues on. "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander as well as all types of evil behavior". Listen to this, "Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God through Christ has forgiven you". Be kind to each other. And I have no doubt that social media is feeding this frenzy. I think we spend way too much time looking at phones and tablets and following our favorite website that inflames us.
And speaking of tablets, I wanna talk about a guy who really lost his temper. We're in this series on the life of Moses, we're calling it water, fire, stone. And Moses had quite the temper because when God gave to him the Ten Commandments and he descended from Mount Sinai and saw the Israelites who were left under the charge of Aaron are dancing naked before a golden calf, he was really ticked off and Moses took the commandments and smashed them on the ground. Now that's crazy. I mean, I know he's mad, and I know there's a place a righteous indignation, but to smash the commandments hand written by the finger of God on the ground, that's crazy, but Moses had that temper.
Hey, don't forget that the reason he was in exile in the wilderness is because he lost his temper when he saw an Egyptian slave driver mistreating a Jew. The Bible says he looked to the right, he looked to the left and he killed the guy. I mean, I'm not saying it would be a good idea, but punched the guy maybe, but literally he killed the man and then he buried him in this shifting sand and he was send into exile and God gave to Moses a long time out. You know, that's what you do with kids today when they're being naughty, all right, time out, and they have to go sit in a room by themselves. The Lord said to Moses time out, go to the wilderness.
For 40 years he tended a flock of sheep, he was off the grid, he was off social media, he'd killed his Twitter account, Facebook and Instagram, he didn't even use TikTok and he just waited. And the Lord recommissioned him. Now you would have thought this would have been new and improved Moses free of anger issues, but he goes into the Pharaoh to demand the release of the Israelites and the Pharaoh refuses, and we read that Moses went out in fury. So let's just say Moses had some anger issues.
All right, so let's fast forward now, many years. The people of Israel are on the very brink of the Promised Land, and by the way, they had been complaining every step of the way, and Moses was fed up, he couldn't take it anymore and he literally just loses it. Because the Israelites seem to have spiritual amnesia, they seem to be forgetting all that God had done for them over the many years, how God provided them food every single day right outside of their tent door and it was called manna, how God directed them with a fire by night and a cloud by day, how God watched over them, how God parted the Red Sea for them, but they forgot. And sometimes we get discouraged when we forget the faithfulness of God in the past.
In Psalm 107, we have a record of all that God did for the nation Israel, how He provided for them, how He protected them. And then we read in Psalm 107:31, "Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works for the children of men"! They just keep repeating that refrain. Remember that, just give God glory for what He has done because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He's been with you in the past, He's here for you in the present, and will be with you in the future.
Now, when I say that, that is only for the Christian. If you're watching me right now and you don't have Christ living in your life, this is not a promise you can lay hold of, but if you ask Christ to come into your life, He will forgive you of your sin and you can have his presence in your life and you can know that you'll go to heaven when you die and I'll tell you how to do that in just a few moments. But the Israelites had forgotten what God had done. So they were thirsty and they said, "We're thirsty Moses, and you know, you brought us out in the wilderness so we would just die of thirst".
And so Moses and Aaron go and pray in the tabernacle. That's a tent that they set up to meet God in. And by the way it's always a good thing to do when you're stressed, pray, when you're frustrated, pray, when you're angry, pray, pray that God will give you wisdom. So they're praying, Lord just help us now. And the Lord gives them a clear direction. The Lord tells Moses, "I want you to go to the rock, and I want you to speak to it and water will come out".
Now on another occasion, God had directed Moses to go to a rock and strike it with his staff and water came out, but this time the Lord said, don't strike it, just speak to the rock and the water will come and satisfy the thirst of the people. You know what? Moses was not in the mood to speak to some rock, he wanted to hit something. Have you ever been some mad you hit something then hurt yourself? Moses said, I'm not really gonna whack out rock once like last time, I'm gonna hit it twice. So he grabs the staff and he goes to the rock, well, let's see what happened.
Numbers 20:10, "He and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock and he shouted, 'Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water from this rock?' Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with a staff and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill". There's a number of things that went wrong here, some big mistakes that Moses made.
If you're taking notes, here's point number one. Moses was taking personal credit for what God had done. Moses was taking personal credit for what God had done. What did he say? You rebels, must we bring you water as we did before. Excuse me, Moses, you didn't bring water out of a rock before, God did that, you're taking credit for what the Lord has done. And then he whacks the rock not once, but twice. Sounds like Moses is beginning to believe his own press, but here's the thing, God wants the glory in your life. And listen to this, God wants to use you, God wants to speak through you, God wants to use you as an instrument to bring comfort and help to people who are in need.
I just talked to a lady yesterday and she told me she works in hospice care. So she is with people who are in the brink of eternity and she was talking with a man who was close to death store, and so she went on and got him a copy of my book, "Jesus Revolution" and then read it to him and it impacted this man and he ended up coming to Christ. And so she told me about all the opportunities she has to minister to people. I thought what a wonderful thing this is. I mean, she's in a position where she could reach people that I could never reach. And you're in a position to reach people that no one else can reach.
So God wants to use you and God will use you. Listen to me, if you will dare to pray this prayer you will find the Lord will answer. Just pray this, Lord use me today. You can even pray it right now, Lord use me today. But listen God may answer that prayer sooner than you may expect 'cause God loves to use us, but when He uses us, make sure you give Him the glory.
Point number two, Moses disobeyed God. What did the Lord tell him to do? The Lord said, speak to the rock. Now another time the Lord said, strike the rock with the staff. You know, God will lead us differently in different situations. Sometimes He'll have us do it one way, and another time He'll have us do it another way. Jesus never dealt with any two people in exactly the same way. When you see Jesus with Nicodemus, the religious man He spoke to him in a certain way and said certain things. When you see Jesus with a woman at the well, it's quite different. When you see Jesus in the home of Zacchaeus, again, it's different. So the Lord will lead you in different ways, be open to the leading of the Lord. Don't be like some robot that does that the same way every time.
That's my imitation of a robot. Somehow your arms, I don't know, but like this, you know. Be open to the leading of the spirit. So the Lord said, speak to the rock. Moses hits the rock, not once but twice. And so that's because of his great anger and anger is something we need to get under control. But here is Moses now, he's in a range, and now the Lord is gonna deal pretty harshly with him. Look at Numbers 20:12. "The Lord said to Moses, 'Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them.'" Moses, you're not gonna take them in. It's pretty heavy duty. Moses was on the outside looking in.
Years ago when I was a kid, I was really into reptiles. I was a junior herpetologist, I had every kind of reptile you can imagine. All kinds of snakes and lizards and turtles, and I was obsessed with reptiles. And so for my birthday, I asked my mother to take me to a place called the alligator farm and it was in Buena Park right next to Knott's Berry Farm. So I invited a bunch of my friends, come from my birthday party at the alligator farm. So they all came, and I have to tell you reptiles are not always the most lively creatures.
A lot of times when you look into an alligator, it looks like it's dead, it just lays there, doesn't do anything unless you put food in front of it. Snakes are often the same way, same thing with lizard. So we go from cage to cages looking at these giant snakes, these massive alligators who basically all looked like they were dead.
And so we're out in this one open area where they had the biggest alligator and right over the fence you could see Knott's Berry Farm. And they had positioned a ride there that was going back and forth, and all of my friends and I were looking at this ride, and we're all thinking the same thing. Why are we here in the alligator farm looking at dead reptiles when we could be on that ride right now? We're on the outside looking in. That's how it was gonna be for Moses, he was not gonna lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Lemme explain why. God holds leaders to a high standard.
This is why the Bible says, "Be not many teachers knowing that we shall receive the greater judgment". I take what I do very seriously, I spend hours prepping and studying and I wanna give you messages that are theologically correct but also relevant to what you're facing in life. And I figure that my job is not to give you social commentary or political monologues, you can get that watching the news, I feel that my job and I feel this is true for any pastor or teacher of the Bible is to give you God's Word because I wanna reach every person. I want everyone I speak to, to come to know God if they don't know Him yet.
I wanna speak to people of every political background, if you're a conservative, if you're independent, if you're liberal, I wanna tell you what the Bible says. I wanna reach people of every race, I wanna reach people of every age. My purpose is to call people to Christ and get them grounded in this Scripture. And by the way, that's called the Great Commission. What is the Great Commission? It's to go into all the world and preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, teaching them all things that Christ has taught us, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So my job if you will, my calling as a pastor and an evangelist is to proclaim the gospel to you, tell you how to come into a relationship with Jesus and then help you get grounded in the word, but the Lord wants me to do what He calls me to do. And so Moses was not doing what the Lord had called him to do. You know, you can't selectively pick and choose the things in the Bible you want to follow. Jesus said, you are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you. Now we might say, well, I like this part of the Bible and this other part of the Bible, but this one part of Scripture, I don't know if I agree with it. No Jesus said, if you do whatsoever I command you, He didn't say whatsoever you find easy, or whatsoever you personally agree with. By the way, who are you to offer an opinion on the Bible? This is absolute truth.
"Well, I'm not so sure I believe that". Like, who cares what you think? I had someone, excuse me, someone asked me years ago, "Greg, what do you do when you come to a passage in the Bible you don't agree with"? And my response was, "Well, then change your opinion because you're wrong". The Bible is right, and we need to align our thoughts with what the Scripture teaches. And so Moses obeyed the Lord in some areas, but not in others.
And here's another reason why God told Moses to speak to the rock and not to strike it. In Scripture, the rock is a picture of God Himself. Scripture refers to Him as our Rock and our salvation. 2 Samuel 23:32 says, "Who is God except the Lord? But our God who is a solid rock". Jesus said to Peter, "Upon this rock I will build my church". And that was right after Peter said, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. So God is a rock, Jesus is our rock. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 10, it says, "They all drank the same spiritual drink, and they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ".
So in the Old Testament this idea of a rock it's a picture of God, so when Moses struck the rock twice, he was doing something that should not be done. Listen, Jesus has already been struck once, He's already been crucified for you, you don't have to go back and strike Him again. Lemme put it another way. You don't have to get born again, again and again and again and again, Jesus already died for your sins and rose from the dead and if you've asked Him to come into your life, He's forgiven you and you haven't done that yet I'll tell you how in a few moments, so now you need to accept that forgiveness. And that was the problem Moses was violating in very important symbol.
Point number three. Bad decisions bring bad consequences. Because of what he did, he was not able now to enter the Promised Land. Have you ever said or done something you regret it? In fact, right after you said it, you thought, why did I just say that, should have never said that. Or after you did that thing, you thought, oh, if only I could relive that moment. What would Eve had given for another chance before the tree in the Garden of Eden? what would David had given for another chance to relive that night when he laid lustful eyes Bathsheba? You know, unfortunately we can't go back and change the past, but I have one more point, God gives second chances. Because I'm talking to somebody right now who has messed up, somebody who has crossed the line, someone who has said or done something they're ashamed of, but here's the good news, God gives second chances.
See, what happened here with Moses is not the whole story, and your whole story is not done yet either. Moses story is recorded in Hebrews 11, Hebrews 11 is the heroes Hall of Faith, great men and women that trusted God, and the thing they all had in common was, they put their faith into action. And as you read the account of Moses, and for that matter all of the people in Hebrews 11, no record is made of their mistakes, all we have is a record of their faith in action.
Hebrews 11:27 says, "By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger, he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and application of blood so the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel". Wait a second, that's not the whole story of Moses, whereas this story of when Moses killed the Egyptian? Where's the story of when Moses lost his temper and broke the commandments of God? Where's the story of a Moses hit the rock twice? It's not there in Hebrews 11, it's because he applied the blood.
Remember the Passover, the Lord said to the Israelites I want you to take the blood of a lamb that you've slain and I want you to apply that blood over the doorpost of your house, on the left, on the right and on the top. And if you think about it, it makes a perfect cross. And when I see the blood, the Lord says, I'll pass over. So they applied the blood and because the blood was applied the judgment of God did not come on their firstborn. So Moses applied the blood and he was under the blood. you say, I don't even know what you're talking about with all this bloody stuff.
See Jesus died for your sin, and once you've asked Him to forgive you of your sin you need to accept the fact that you are forgiven. You don't have to keep going back and reliving your past over and over again, or try to offer some kind of penance for your sin, He offered everything for your sin. He paid for your sin, He died for your sin, and if you've asked Him to come into your life, He's forgiven you. And if you've messed up, He'll forgive you and give you a second chance. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we will confess our sin, He's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all on righteousness".