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Yes You Can!

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Yes You Can’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 5/3/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here:

Your Purpose

God has a unique purpose for your life. He knew you before He formed you in your mother’s womb, and sanctified you before you were born (Jer 1:5). He called you before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), and chose you to become like His Son (Rom 8:29).

If God says it, it’s going to happen. If He has communicated His plans for you, they will come to pass: no matter what the haters say. In fact, they will even come to pass if you doubt them yourself!

My message this morning is simple: Yes, you can. You can do what God has called you to do. You can be the person He has called you to become. You can go out and change the world in the manner in which God has called you to change it! Whatever anyone else says doesn’t matter; what God says overrides the rest.

He Almost Fleeced Himself

Gideon was one of the greatest warriors the people of Israel had ever seen. He delivered them from the oppression of the Midianites, and the nation of Israel had peace for forty years (Judges 8:28). But Gideon was not always full of faith:

Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. – Judges 6:11

When God first came to Gideon, Gideon was scared. We see the condition of his soul in the verse above. He was threshing wheat in the winepress. He was so scared of the people who kept Israel oppressed that he was hiding his grain harvest from them, so they wouldn’t take it away.

At first, Gideon had no confidence in God’s ability to deliver. In fact, he started to question if God even existed:

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” – Judges 6:12-13

Life had defeated Gideon. All the odds were stacked against him, and it seemed like the house was winning.

When God dropped in, Gideon was so busy complaining that he almost missed him! The Angel of the Lord told Gideon, “You are a mighty man of valor!” But Gideon replied with indignation: “Why then has all this happened to us?” He called God “my lord” (not Lord), which indicates that He didn’t even recognize the God of the universe was in his midst. Have you ever experienced being so wound up in your own problems, and so busy complaining, that you can no longer even recognize when God is at work right in front of you?

Gideon sounds like a modern New Yorker: full of healthy curiosity, but teetering on the edge of unhealthy doubt. If God is so good, then where are all the miracles He promises in His word? If God is so good, why are there riots on our streets? Why do entire communities feel oppressed and marginalized by the police officers who have sworn to protect them? And why do police officers feel threatened and uneasy around the very people they have sworn to protect? If God is so good, why is there so much sin in this city?

Current events – disasters and atrocities that take place in our communities and in the world – are not a call for us to doubt God. They are a call for us to pray all the more earnestly. They are a reminder that we contend against an adversary whose will it is to convince us that God is not alive! We must take current events as a personal burden to stay current in our prayers!

God reminded Gideon who he was:

Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” – Judges 6:14

Gideon was the man who would set God’s people free! But immediately, Gideon doubted Him. “You can’t possibly be talking about me,” he thought. “You have the wrong guy.”

So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” – Judges 6:15

But God replied, “Yes you can.” He reminded Gideon that he would become everything God had called him to be. It didn’t matter what was going on around him. God doesn’t value the opinions of others, and He doesn’t allow our own self-doubt to compromise His purpose. He told Gideon to press forward, in full confidence of the future God had given him.

And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” – Judges 6:16

So Gideon did. He took God at his word, destroyed all the idols that had been set up in the Kingdom of Israel, and delivered the people of Israel from their oppressor.

In Judges 7, we see the magnitude of the calling on Gideon’s life. Gideon went to war against the Midianites with 22,000 men; but God told him that was too many:

And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ – Judges 7:2

Gideon whittled his army down to 10,000, but God said it was still too many. Gideon had to reduce the size of his army down to 300 men before God gave His stamp of approval for Gideon to go into battle. God needed to Gideon to know that even if he lacked a support system, He would conquer every enemy. Even if he was stripped of all resources, God would bring him to victory. And with those 300 men, Gideon overran the entire Midianite army.

God’s word is true. What He has said about you will come to pass. What is God calling you to do?

A Royal Pain

We see God call Moses to his destiny in Exodus 4. It is important to remember that Moses was royalty. He had the best education money could buy, having been raised in Pharaoh’s palace (Ex 2:10). He knew the in’s and out’s of the Egyptian monarchy. He was Pharaoh’s surrogate grandson, so making a request to Pharaoh should have been no big deal.

But Moses questioned the call God had put on his life. When God called him to deliver the people of Israel from Egyptian oppression, Moses answered and said:

“But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’ ” – Ex 4:1

At first, this was acceptable curiosity. We have the right to ask God for specifics when He calls us into the unknown! But we will see later that Moses’ acceptable curiosity gave way to unacceptable doubt.

So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. – Ex 4:2-3

Notice that God began to cultivate Moses as a mighty man of God by simply asking, “What is in your hand?” Moses didn’t need to go to Bible school before walking out his calling. He didn’t need to go on a missions trip, or fast for forty days before getting to work for God. He simply acknowledged what was in his hand, and God used it for His glory.

All God needs is whatever is in your hand. What resources do you have at your disposal right now? What has God given you the ability to do, that nobody else can do? How has He made you unique?

God will blow you away by taking what you already have, and making it supernatural. Moses was so scared by what God did with the rod in his hand that he ran away! What is in your hand?

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 5 “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” – Ex 4:4-5

But God didn’t stop with what was in Moses’ hand. He took one step further. He made it clear that even if Moses had nothing in his hand, God’s purpose would still come to pass!

Furthermore the Lord said to him, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign.” – Ex 4:6-8

If you have nothing in your hand to use, God will use your hand itself! Then, God promises Moses a third sign:

“And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. And the water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.”

– Ex 4:9

But despite everything Moses had just seen, he still did not believe. He crossed over from acceptable curiosity to unacceptable doubt:

Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” – Ex 4:10

Moses said, “God, I can’t do this! You’ve got the wrong guy. Surely you can’t expect the entire nation of Israel to listen to me!” But God was not impacted by Moses’ doubt:

So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”– Ex 4:11-13

Moses expressed his doubts, and aired his grievances with everything God was calling him to do. But God reminded him that He was in control. God reminded Moses that He would be working through him, every step of the way. All Moses had to do was trust in His word, and take a step out in faith.

Even when we have nothing to say, God will fill us with speech. Moses’ speaking ability represents that part about ourselves that we doubt the most. We don’t have to compensate for our weakness by developing other areas of strength. We adjust for our weakness by trusting God all the more.

I’m not saying that Moses shouldn’t have signed himself up for a public speaking class. I’m all for adequate preparation. However, I am not a proponent of unnecessary doubt and anxiety. Moses’ job was to trust in God, and to pray: to deposit himself into situations that seemed impossible, and watch God deliver him.

Our task is exactly the same. We are to make ourselves available so God can use us as He sees fit: even if it makes no sense to us.

God’s Holy Spirit

Moses and Gideon had one thing in common. They were both covered by God’s Holy Spirit.

Before Gideon was ready to go into battle, God’s Holy Spirit fell on him:

But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him. – Judges 6:34

Gideon could not lead without God’s Holy Spirit. He could not fight without God’s Holy Spirit. When the Spirit “came upon” Gideon, Scripture uses the Hebrew word, labash (Strong’s #3847), which means to clothe. Gideon was clothed in – completely covered – by God’s Holy Spirit.

We see exactly the same evidence in Moses’ life:

So the Lord said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.” – Num 11:16-17

Moses was a powerful leader: not because he was so clever, or so strong – but because God’s Holy Spirit was upon Him.

As New Testament Christians, we are filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation (Eph 1:13-14). So, if Moses and Gideon were assured of their promise because the Holy Spirit rested on them, how much more are we assured of God’s promises because the Holy Spirit lives in us! Moses and Gideon only experienced the shadow of God’s promise; but we get to experience the Promise fulfilled!

Every believer (see Rom 10:9) has a God’s potential inside of him or her. At the moment we give our lives to Christ and are filled with His Holy Spirit, we are saturated with the potential for miracle-working power. But not all of us know how to activate that potential.

Paul is our New Testament example of what it means to go out and live our lives in light of the reality that we are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Paul’s shadow healed the sick (Acts 5:15). Here was a man who knew about activating God’s potential for miracle-working power. So how did he do it?

And [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Cor 12: 9-10

Paul understood that they key to unlocking God’s miracle-working power is humility. Paul understood that alone, he was weak; but in God, He was strong. He enjoyed putting himself in situations where he knew God would have to show up. And guess what? God always did!

When I received my call into full-time ministry, I was wholly unprepared. God called my wife and I to start a new service at our church. I had enjoyed a career in finance for five years, and I didn’t like the idea of changing my life to accommodate God’s call. But He had bigger plans for me.

I remember walking and talking with God. I confessed to Him that there was no way I could accomplish what He had put in front of me to perform. I hadn’t been to Bible school. I had never even worked at a church. I was only trained for finance! How could I possible step up to the plate and perform what He was asking me to do?

As I confessed my weakness to God, I heard His voice. He told me that the very fact that I didn’t feel prepared meant that I was qualified. I was in a place where I needed to rely on God. His mission for my life looked crazy on earth, but it made sense in heaven.

God doesn’t need you to be the smartest man or woman in the world. He doesn’t need you to be wealthy, or to have multiple advanced degrees. He simply needs you to rely on Him, and He will take care of the rest. Because His Holy Spirit is in you: Yes, you can!

– by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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