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“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

Here is Moses full of self-doubt.  So what does Moses need?  Ask anyone today and they’ll tell you: the solution to self-doubt is self-confidence.  That’s the modern cure-all for whatever ails you.  Have more confidence in yourself.

That’s what the world says.  What does the LORD say?

Verse 12: I will be with you

Do you see what the LORD is doing?  Not trying to instill self-confidence, but God-confidence.  “I will be with you.”  The LORD doesn’t say “Moses, don’t do yourself down.  You were such a beautiful baby, and a powerful prince, and you’re in my top three all-time shepherds.  I think you’ve got what it takes.”

The LORD doesn’t turn Moses’ eyes back on himself.

Do you ever do that when someone’s full of self-doubt?  We often say, “Have more confidence in yourself, you’re so talented, you’re brilliant…”   But if someone’s fishing for compliments, how many compliments are enough?  The WORLD is not enough to fill our need for affirmation.  Just speaking for myself: the WORLD could not satisfy my black hole of self-obsession.  If you get me started, I’ll never be satisfied.

Which is why God does something very different.  He fights self-doubt with GOD-confidence.  Essentially the LORD says, “Who are you??  Who are you??  That’s not the point Moses.  I will be with you.”

There used to be a saying in tennis that the greatest doubles team imaginable was John McEnroe and anyone.  John McEnroe and anyone could win Wimbledon.

Well imagine if you were that anyone.  Imagine if you were John McEnroe’s partner going into the Wimbledon final and you spent the whole pre-match press-conference saying “Who am I to win a tennis match?  Who am I to win Wimbledon?  I am not a brilliant tennis player!!”

What would John McEnroe say?  Apart from ‘You cannot be serious?’  He’d say, “I will be with you.  I will be with you.  Enough about yourself, really it’s irrelevant.”…

…In a deep sense Moses is going to be just like that staff in his hand.  The staff by itself is nothing.  We call it a staff, that’s just fancy name for a stick.  But through that stick, miracles would be wrought.  Through that stick the plagues would fall.  Through that stick the Red Sea would be divided.  By that stick the Rock would be struck and the waters would come out.  Why, because it’s such a great stick?  Because the qualities inherent in the stick can call forth the powers of heaven??  No it’s nothing to do with the stick and everything to do with the eternal I AM who uses the stick.

He can use a stick to unleash the powers of heaven, He can use an octogenarian shepherd to defeat the most powerful man in the world.  Later in the bible He uses a bunch of fishermen to turn the world upside down.  Because where does the great I AM really show His power?  On the cross.  (John 8:28)  The great I AM bleeds and dies on a rugged wooden cross, and that’s the power that saves the world.  Can He deal with weakness?  Can He use weakness?  That’s His speciality.  2 Corinthians 12 verse 9, the Lord says to a weakened Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Full script below

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Titus 1:9 in my amplified translation:

[An elder must be] Continuing to hold fast / grasp / embrace / protect the word of faith according to The Teaching, so that he is able, on the one hand, to encourage in healthy teaching and, on the other, to prove to opponents their error.

The word for ‘holding fast’ is elsewhere translated “grasp” (Dt 32:41); “embrace” (Prv 3:18) “protect” (Prov 4:6); “hold fast” (Is 56:2,4,6); “make refuge in” (Is 57:13); “be devoted to” (Matt 6:24). 

Interestingly enough the teaching which we are to embrace is (Rom 6:17) the teaching which embraces us.  We hold fast this gospel and at the same time it is this gospel over to which we have been handed.

The Christian’s (especially the Christian teacher’s) relationship to the gospel is portrayed in almost marriage terms of mutual cleaving.  We serve, honour and protect it – and it serves, honours and protects us!

But why?  My almer mater’s motto was “Be right and persist.”  Not the warmest, fuzziest motto you’ve ever heard!  And even if you agree with the sentiment, why be right?  For the sake of doctrinal precision itself? 

Titus 1:9 continues… To what end do we ‘cleave’ to the apostolic gospel?  So that

1) we can encourage with healthy teaching and

2) we can prove the error of those who would corrupt it.

William Taylor, speaking on this verse, gave a striking illustration of both the gospel’s health-giving quality and the need to guard against all corruptions.  I have adapted it a little:

Imagine you get a job as a courier for a pharmaceuticals company.  And one day you are called to the lab to pick up a very special delivery.  You arrive at the lab and you are told ‘We have discovered the cure for AIDS.  Here it is in this vial. We want you to take this immediately to Africa so they can duplicate it and save the lives of millions.’  Well you take hold of this fragile vial which is covered in yellow tape saying ‘Do not open’ and ‘Do not break the seals.’  And you get on the next flight to Johannesburg. 

But imagine sitting on the plane and thinking: this cure doesn’t look very promising.  I’m not sure it’ll be attractive to the folk in Africa.  So you think ‘I’ll spruce it up a bit.’  You tear off the yellow tape, break the seals, open the vial and decide to pour in the rest of your drink.  You stir your Coke in and put some sweetener in for good measure.  Shake it up, lose a bit.  Doesn’t matter, you’ve made the whole thing much more tasty.

As you arrive in Johannesburg you’re met by a scientist desperate for this cure.  She sees that the seals have been broken and her face falls.  You’ve turned the health-giving cure into a toxic poison- and lives are lost.

That scenario is just unthinkable isn’t it?  And yet many people entrusted with passing on the gospel tamper with it in just this kind of way.  They add or they subtract or they sweeten according to their own tastes.  They feel it is their job to concoct their own elixir, rather than pass on the bona fide cure.  But no!  It is the job of the elder NOT to mess with the bible’s teaching.  It is the job of the bible teacher to simply embrace it, rejoice in it, protect it, and deliver it unadulterated.  The bible teacher must be absolutely and utterly unoriginal.  We must treat the good news about Jesus like the health-giving cure for AIDS – embrace it, rejoice in it, protect it, and never, ever change it!  And if you see anyone else changing it you say ‘In the Name of Jesus Christ stop.  Return to the original, life-giving message!’  Because the gospel saves people from a fate far worse than AIDS.

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This is adapted from a sermon on Titus 1:5-9 I preached yesterday. 

Audio file hereRead it here.

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