Matt Hagee - The Courage To Try Again
The Bible is a book of courage. In Hebrews, you read these words: without faith, it is impossible to please God. And courage is the forerunner of faith. Because courage is never the absence of fear. Courage is doing what you should do in spite of the fear. We look at first responders, police officers and firefighters, and we often describe them as being individuals of great courage. It's not because they're not afraid of the situations that they face. It's that they're willing to do what others will not even though the fear is present. The individuals who had faith that pleased God, first, had the courage to do what others would not do regardless of the what was present. It took courage for Abraham to leave his family and follow a God that no one knew. It took courage for Sarah, his wife, to say, "I'll go with you".
Think about that. We're going to sell the house and move. Where are we going? I don't know. Why are we going? Uh, he calls himself Jehovah. Where is he? Never seen him. What's he promising? The whole world. Okay, let's go. Tell me that didn't take courage. It took courage for Joseph, who was a prisoner, to tell Pharaoh that he could interpret a dream. It took courage for Esther, when she was just a young girl, to believe that she was born for such a time as this and intervene on behalf of the people of Israel, and spare them from Haman's evil plan. It took courage for Daniel to continue to pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob even when he knew it would cost him a night in the lion's den. It took courage for Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego to remain standing when Nebuchadnezzar had said, "If you don't bow, you will burn".
It took courage for Elijah to pour 12 barrels of water upon a sacrifice that he wanted God to consume with fire. It took courage for job to bury his children, to lose his business, to lie on his sick bed, and look up at heaven and declare, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but blessed be the name of the Lord". It took courage for Mary to hear an angel say that, "You are with child, and that which is in you is of the Holy Spirit," and still declare, "Be it unto me according to your word". And then tell the world, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit does rejoice in God my Savior". She was magnifying the Lord who had invited her into such a scandal that people are still trying to disprove the virgin birth to this day. It took courage for 12 fishermen to forsake everything that they had and follow a rabbi from Nazareth and believe that he was the son of the living God.
It took courage for Peter to get out of the boat and walk on water. It took courage for the apostles to face death just to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you know what it's going to take for you to succeed in your life? Say it with me. Money won't buy you success. Education will not ensure your success. Your family pedigree will not promise you success. But if you have courage and you allow that courage to build your faith in God, faith in God will not fail, because our God can do the impossible! He is the God who makes a way where there seems to be no way. He's the God who closes the mouths of lions in the den, and he shows up in the flames of fire when you're persecuted. He's the God that when your sacrifice is saturated, he still sends fire from heaven. He's the God who takes your enemies that come at you one way, and scatters them seven directions. He's the God who said, "I'll prepare a table before you: that in the worst of times, you'll have the best of things because you are my child and I am your provider".
And in your life, there will be times when the most important kind of courage to have is the courage to try again when you miserably fail. That's where we find Moses in Exodus 3. He needs to try again, because he's miserably failed. Have any of you ever told yourself, "I'll never do that again"? That's really the summary of the conversation that God and Moses are having. Even though the Lord is speaking to Moses out of a burning bush, "I'll never do that again". Even though his staff has turned into a cobra, "I'll never do that again". Even though his hand that was healthy is stuck in his cloak and it becomes leprous, and he sticks it back in and it becomes clean, Moses is still telling God, "I'll never do that again! I tried to help those Hebrews down in Egypt. They didn't want me 40 years ago, and they're not going to want me now".
The problem was the first time Moses did it, he did it on his own. He did it in his time. He did it in his way. And now God is asking him if he has the courage to go back and try it with God. Because the Bible doesn't say, "If you really want it bad enough, all things are possible". The Bible says, "With God all things are possible". Your job is just to believe in the God with whom all things are possible. How do we know that Moses is in such a bad situation? Because when you read Exodus 3, Moses tells God, "Who am I that you would use me"? That sounds humble but it's really not. It's fear.
Have you ever seen somebody hide behind their fear, using humility? That's where Moses is at. "Who am i? I'm just a stuttering, stammering, stick-toting shepherd. I don't have any skills". But when you open the Bible to acts 7, beginning at verse 20, you find a set of verses that describe Moses in a totally different way. Acts 7:20, it says that Moses was born, and well pleasing to God: and he was brought up in his father's house. And then it says, "He was set out, and Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son". So Moses was raised as part of the richest and most royal family on the face of the earth. At the age of 40, when he thought he really knew some stuff, he decided that he was going to do a good deed. For 39 years, the only thing that Moses was concerned about was Moses. But suddenly, on his 40th birthday, he decides that he's going to go out and visit Pharaoh's slaves. He thinks, you know, I'm going to start some social justice reform. I've lived a very privileged life. I've been entitled to all kinds of things. It's now time for me to do something with myself.
Does that sound familiar? Never earned anything, given everything, and now they want to act like they know everything. So the Bible says that Moses went out to go see Pharaoh's slaves. And in Exodus 2:12, it says that when he saw one of the task masters beating one of the children of Israel, he looked this way and that way. And when he saw no one, he killed the slave master and buried him in the sand. Now let me give you some free friendly advice about any area of your life other than crossing the street. If you have to look this way and that way before you do it, you probably shouldn't do it.
Do you ever met anybody who's proud of their humility? How do we know that he's proud of himself? Because the next day, he goes back to the scene of the crime. And as he's walking amongst the slaves on day two, trust me, as the son of Pharaoh's daughter and the grandson of Pharaoh, he's got guards around him. He's got people that are watching over him. So it's not like he's out there sweating in the brick pits. He sees two children of Israel fighting against each other, two Israelites that are fighting one amongst the other. And he tries to intervene. Now, gentlemen, i, Moses, the mediator of all things righteous, would seek to suggest that you would choose a different path in life. And rather than accept his counsel, rather than shower him with adoration, they point their finger in his face and say, "Who made you Lord over us? Are you going to kill us like you killed that other guy"? "Yeah, we saw you, Moses. Who do you think you are"?
And with these words, the last thing that anybody sees of Moses in Egypt for 40 years is that little speck of dirt that's running over the horizon, as he flees to the backside of the desert. And for 40 years, he lives with Jethro the Midianite. And for 40 years, he tells himself, "I will never do that again. I'll never try to help anybody again. I'll never amount to anything ever again. I'll never achieve much in this life. I'll never set any kinds of goals. It doesn't matter what kind of good deed you try to do, no one will appreciate it. Out of all that I learned in Egypt, the one thing I learned is whatever you do, don't do that again". Many of you in this sanctuary know exactly how Moses felt. Right where you sit, some chapter of your life ended in failure. And that failure has left you feeling so empty and so desolate: that just like Moses found himself on the backside of the desert, you yourself feel like you're in an isolated and lonely place.
Maybe the surroundings didn't change. May you've got the same mailing address. Maybe you still go to work at the same job. Maybe you're sitting next to the same family. But the one thing that's changed is you. You used to believe that there was a reason for hope. Now you look at life with despair and pretend it's hopeless. You used to interact and speak with people. Now you're isolated and alone. You used to smile. Now all you've given into is sorrow. You've allowed failure to redefine you, just like Moses did. Think about it. If I would have gone to Jethro's camp with acts 7 as your description, you wouldn't have identified Moses. If you would have said, "Jethro, I'm looking for Moses". And Jethro says, "We've got a Moses". "Awesome. I'm looking for Moses who's mighty in word, who's mighty in deed, who was raised in a royal family, who knows how to handle money, and who was the top of his class". Jethro said, "Well you ain't looking for our Moses. Our Moses chases the sheep around. As a matter of fact, he's quiet. He don't talk much".
What happened to Moses? How did he end up this way? He failed. And in his failure, he said, "I'll never do that again". And he allowed failure to redefine him rather than recognize that failure does not define you when God has created you. Some of you in this place have drank from the same bitter cup. You failed. You failed in a marriage. You failed in a business. You failed in something that you thought would turn out for wonderful things and it was anything but. And now you sit here judging yourself, believing that this one dark moment in your past has cost you your entire future. Listen to me very clearly. Do not allow failure to define you. You redefine failure and recognize it's nothing more than a steppingstone. Because God has promised you, "All things are possible to them that believe". God has promised you, "Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world". You sit here today, and you say, "Pastor, that's impossible. You don't know where I am. You don't know what I've gone through. You don't know how far the situations in my life have gotten out of control".
Listen to me! Moses is at the backside of the desert. And do you know what he finds at the backside of the desert? The mountain of God. He didn't find it at the frontside of the desert. He had to go through some stuff before he found God again. I don't care how far you've gone. I don't care how off the path you believe you are. When you get to the dead end that you've been walking down, what you're going to find there is that our God is a refuge, and our God is a strength, and our God is an ever-present help in a time of trouble. You may be in a desolate place, but that's where my God likes to show up. Your marriage may be desolate, but he's there. Your physical health may be desolate, but he's there. Your heart may be broken and desolate, but he's there. Because my God has promised that he'll move a mountain. He'll make a way. He'll open a door. He'll meet your need. No matter what you're facing, he is your provider.
If you're sick, he's a healer. If you're burdened, he's a burden bearer. If you're in fear, he is the Prince of Peace. He's a shield. He's the buckler. He's the glory and the lifter of your head. Stop looking at your circumstances and start looking to your Savior who is Christ the king! Moses is walking in the backside of the desert. And the Bible says, he sees a bush that's burning, but it's not consumed. There's something fascinating about that fire. God does all kinds of things to get your attention, whether you know it or not. For most of us, every morning, it's a sunrise. He says, "My mercies are renewed every morning". Every morning when you see the sun come up, you ought to thank God for his handiwork. Moses knew the power of fire. Living in the desert for 40 years, he recognized that if you're cold, it will heat you. If you need food cooked, it's there for you. But if it gets out of control, it can kill you. And when Moses sees this sight that the fire is burning in the bush, but the bush isn't turned to an ash, he says, "I will turn aside and see this thing".
That's verse 3 of Exodus 3. "I will turn aside and see this sight". The thing that I think is amazing about God is that the second that Moses turns to him, towards the bush, God starts talking to Moses. Eighty years of living and this is the first time that Moses hears God's voice. Moses wrote five books of the Bible, and it took 80 years for the conversation to start. But here's the beauty of it. Eighty years, and the first time that Moses turns to God, "I will turn and see this thing," God starts calling to him. "Moses, Moses"! "Come closer, Moses". "Come here, Moses".
God was always with Moses. God was with Moses when Moses was born. Moses was born in a family that was under great persecution. It was a time when Pharaoh was taking male children and throwing them into the Nile. And God was there to protect Moses when the midwives came and they spared his life. God was with Moses while he was being nursed by his mother and hidden from the soldiers that were looking for Israelite boys. God was with Moses when his mother fashioned a basket and put him inside of it, and placed him in the Nile that was filled with death and violence, and led that basket down the current in the stream to the bulrushes, because the bulrushes were right next to Pharaoh's palace. And God was with him when Pharaoh's daughter saw that basket and wondered what was inside of it, only to find that it was a child that she found pleasing, and she took and she raised as her own.
For 40 years, while Moses slept in a palace, while Moses got a great education, while Moses ate the finest of foods and sat around the most powerful people of the earth, do you know who was with him? God was with him! God was with him the day that he decided to take matters into his own hands and killed an Egyptian. God was with him when he walked to the backside of the desert. God was with him through every moment of success, through every hour of sorrow, and through every detail of his failure. God was always there! What's the point? Many of you feel that, in your failure, God has abandoned you. I promise you, he has said, "I will never leave you nor will I forsake you". "I am there". "I am the friend that sticks closer than a brother".
In every situation and in every circumstance, in every setback, in every moment of promotion, in every opportunity, in every hour of devastation, in every moment of failure, in every sad situation, God has always been there! And some of you say, "Well, if he's there, how come I haven't heard from him"? Because you haven't turned to him. And what God is saying to some of you in this place today is, "If you will turn to me, I'll start showing you what I believe about you. I'll start telling you what I see in you. I'll start describing for you the glorious future we could have together, if you'll just have the courage try again".
So many people don't believe that God has any good plans for them. He promised you he has a plan for you, he has a hope for you, he has a future for you. Will you turn to him and listen to what he has to say? Moses turned to God, and God started speaking to Moses. And Moses didn't believe what God had to say. God said, "Moses, we're going to go right back to where you blew it. And we're going to lead everybody out". And Moses said, "Not me". And God said, "You're right. Not me, we. We're going together". You see, most of the time when God asks us to go someplace, it's someplace we've already been and we don't want to go back to. The problem was, the last time we were there, we were on our own. But this time, if you turn to him, he'll go with you. And when he goes with you, no one will be able to stand against you. Moses was asking God questions, and God had an answer for every one of them. "Who should I say sent me"? "I am".
I love that answer. "I am". Why is it such a powerful phrase? Because "I am" is literally a blank check from the throne of God. "I am". "And whatever you need, that's exactly what I will be. If you need food, I'll be the manna that falls from heaven. If you need water, I'll be the water that gushes out of the rock. If you need a way across the ocean, I'll be the God who parts it left and right, and gives you dry ground to walk across. If you're hot during the day, I'll be the cloud that keeps you cool. If you're cold in the night, I'll be the fire that warms you. It doesn't matter what you're facing, Moses. I will be all of that". Those of you who are here today and you're worried about how it's going to happen and when it's going to happen, you need to know that the same "I am" that was with Moses is the same "I am" that's in this sanctuary today. And if you're sick, he says, "I am a healer". And if you're in need, he says, "I am a provider". And if you're tormented, he says, "I am the Prince of Peace". And if you're looking for an answer, he says, "I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life". Give the Lord a handclap of praise in this house this morning!
All it takes to turn around the darkest day of your life is to pay attention to what God is doing to try and draw you to him. Maybe it's this message. Maybe it's a conversation. There's a multitude of things. But whenever that bush starts to burn, turn aside. And see what he's doing. Because in that moment, God will show you the plan that he's had for you all the days of your life. Maybe today you'll turn aside when you pick up his word and read it. Maybe you'll turn aside tonight. Instead of watching the news, you'll hit your knees and say a prayer. Maybe you'll turn aside tomorrow morning when you wake up and you see the sunrise, and say, "Thank you, God. That one's for me". You see, Moses didn't turn aside and come running towards the bush. All he did was just looked at it. And God said, "That's enough. I've got you". I don't know what it's going to take to turn your head towards God. Look at the world we're living in. He is shouting, "I'm on my way". But whatever he's doing to get your attention, turn aside and allow God to show you that with him, all things are possible. Give the Lord a handclap of praise in this house today. Would you stand to your feet? I want everyone in this sanctuary to bow their heads and repeat this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, today I thank you that you have never given up on me. I ask your forgiveness for the times that I've quit on you. Today, I have the courage to try again. And in faith, I believe in the God to whom all things are possible. Thank you for your word. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your mercy, in Jesus' name. Amen.