Underneath the Excuse

March 5, 2017

David Sorn

God calls us to do a lot of things, but most of the time we refuse. What’s underneath all of our excuses, and how do we turn fear into faith?

Underneath the Excuse

March 5, 2017

David Sorn

God calls us to do a lot of things, but most of the time we refuse. What’s underneath all of our excuses, and how do we turn fear into faith?



Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

You and I have an excuse for everything.

If it’s something we’re afraid to do…or don’t want to do…or we think will result in any sort of discomfort…we’ve got an excuse.

I read an article this week about some of the lamest excuses people have ever given. Here are just a few:

In breaking up with her boyfriend, a woman said: “I just need to spend more time with my dog”

Someone who couldn’t pay their rent said: “We knew we wouldn’t be able to pay next month’s rent, so we decided to not pay this month’s either”

Someone who was caught w/ a speeding ticket: “I’m really low on gas, so I wanted to make sure I had enough speed to coast to the next gas station if I needed to”

But what’s underneath all of our excuses?

And do we ever give excuses to God?

As we continue our Rescue series today on the Book of Exodus, we’re going to see that Moses is going to give God…a whole lot of excuses.

If you’re visiting for the first time today, let me get you caught up on where we are in the book of Exodus (in the Bible) quickly.

Moses’ people, the Israelites are being held in slavery by Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

Moses, escaped Pharaoh’s edict to kill all the Israelite baby boys when he was spared, as a crying baby, by Pharaoh’s daughter.

At age 40, Moses tried to start rescuing his people (in his own strength), and it failed miserably.

He fled into the desert, and has lived there for the last 40 years at this point in the story.

Last week, we took a look at chapter 3, where God began to speak to Moses from a Burning Bush, and began to call him to go back into Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go!

This week, we’re going to get a long list of excuses from Moses on why He can’t obey God.

But before we even read the text this week, I want us to already begin applying it.

Let me ask you an important question:

Where is it, in your life right now, that God is calling you to do something (whether that be something unique to your life…or maybe even just to be obedient to something in His Word (the Bible)…

Where is it that God’s calling you to obey…but you haven’t yet…and you even have an excuse for why you haven’t?

Keep thinking about that…


What I want to do this morning is look at 3 of Moses’ biggest excuses…and then try and discover what’s underneath them.

Because I think if we can uncover that, maybe we can get underneath our own excuses…and thus walk away from them.

As I said last week, chapter 3 and 4 kind of blend into each other.

It’s all one conversation between Moses and God.

(Page 46)

(Renovation App)

And so, to see Moses’ first excuse, we’ll actually have to go back to Chapter 3.

(Exodus 3:10-12) – NIV

10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

So Moses gives his first excuse:

Moses’ Excuses

#1: Who am I to do this?

“Who am I to talk to Pharaoh?”

“I’m a nobody now.

“I’m the guy who disappeared into the middle of nowhere and has been gone 40 years…who am I to talk to this new Pharaoh?”

Moses is using an excuse that you and I use all the time.

What’s underneath this particular excuse??

It’s: “God…I know you’re calling me to something greater…but look at me…who am I to do that!

We try and use our own insignificance as an excuse.

I’m too old

I’m too young

I’m too sinful

I’m not smart enough

I’m not a leader

I’m not….

Who am I to??

And God says to Moses, “Yep. You are old. And you’re probably not smart enough. And you’re pretty sinful…remember that guy you killed, Moses?”

But God is saying, “when I call you to do something…it’s not about who YOU are…but who I am”

Moses is looking at the wrong person.

He’s saying, “Who am I compared to the most powerful person on earth, Pharaoh?”

When he should be saying, “Who is Pharaoh compared to the most powerful person in the Universe, God?”

This is the thinking David was able to use when he fought Goliath.

“Giant?! There are no giants to God…only big and small ants”

And too many of us keep comparing our problems to ourselves when we ought to be comparing our problems to God.

I did this all the time when we started this church.

I was just 27 years old when I started Renovation Church.

People would ask me, weekly, “How old are you?”

Every time someone would ask me, “What do you do?”

I’d say, “I’m a pastor at Renovation Church,” they would say, “The youth pastor?!”

And I started to just think, “I’m too young to do this…”

And I developed a growing insecurity about it.

But eventually, I had to come to the realization that God called me to start this church.

And if God called me, my age didn’t matter.

God was wise enough and old enough for the both of us

And so how does God answer Moses’ excuse of “Who am I to do this?”

It’s all over chapter 3.

“I’m sending you, Moses!

“I’ll be with you, Moses!

Moses’ Excuses

#1: Who am I to do this? (You’re called by God!)

And so answer yourself this way this week.

When you’re going,

“Who am I to talk to my family member about this?”

“Who am I volunteer for this?”

“I’m a person called by God…

“My God will be with me…and the rest of the details don’t matter!

Ken Davis says it this way:

“God is not looking for extraordinary people. God is looking for ordinary people who will trust an extraordinary God.” – Ken Davis


But for Moses, that answer from God (out of a burning bush no less!)…is not enough.

At the end of chapter 3, God essentially rehearses what He’s expecting Moses to do when he gets back to Egypt, and Moses’s knees probably start to knock together a little bit, so here comes Excuse #2:

(Exodus 4:1-9) – NIV

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

6 Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

7 “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

8 Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

Okay, so what was the second excuse?

It was in verse 1

Moses’ Excuses

#1: Who am I to do this? (You’re called by God!)

#2: What if they don’t believe me?

It’s not a crazy excuse or question…and that’s why God’s still talking to him at this point.

If the year was 1830, and an African Slave from the south had disappeared for 40 years to the North, but then came back to the South and said, “Hey everyone, follow me, let’s go talk to President Andrew Jackson and tell him to let us go….it’s gonna work!”

People would think that person was crazy!

On top of the fact that the whole “rescue mission” feels a little like mission impossible, Moses has some personal baggage here.

I mean, what is he supposed to say??

“Hey everyone, it’s me, the guy you all resented because I grew up in the palace…while you were slaves”

“Hey everyone, it’s me, the guy you don’t even think is ‘one of you’

“Hey, it’s me, the murderer…who abandoned all of you..40 years ago…follow me”

So what’s underneath this excuse “What if they don’t believe me?”

In many ways, Moses is using his past as a rationalization for why he can’t obey God in the present.

You ever use that one?

Maybe you think:

“I would start talking to my kids more about God…but I haven’t in the past, so they would think it’s weird.”

“I feel like I should bring up Christ more in my marriage…or at work…but I’ve been pretty unChristlike the past few years…so I’d just look like a hypocrite if I did”

And what we’re doing when we think that is…we’re using an excuse…

An excuse that says, “God, I know you’re calling me to do this right now, but I can’t obey you…because of my past”

But God graciously keeps speaking to us…showing more of Himself.

To Moses He says, “Here…drop your staff on the ground” J

Isn’t God patient with us?

We refuse, and He continues to graciously show us more of Himself to build our faith.

And God gives Moses some powerful signs to shows Moses that He need not worry about how others will react, He will be empowered by God!

Moses’ Excuses

#1: Who am I to do this? (You’re called by God!)

#2: What if they don’t believe me? (You’re empowered by God!)

And to you he says, “When you think that no one will listen…or this will never work...don’t forget…if God calls you…He equips you”

That’s part of the package deal.


But the snake miracle…and the leprosy miracle…and even the water into blood…still isn’t enough for Moses.

He knows that this journey back to Egypt and walking right up to Pharaoh’s throne is going to be terrifying.

So he comes up with a third excuse.

(Exodus 4:10-12) – NIV

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

Now Moses says, “I know you’re God…I know you gave me these cool signs…but what about the speaking part?! I’m always stumbling over my words!”

And God says, “Who gave you your mouth?! This isn’t going to be a problem Moses!”

“And….You’re starting to reach! Your excuses are getting worse each time!”

Moses’ Excuses

#1: Who am I to do this? (You’re called by God!)

#2: What if they don’t believe me? (You’re empowered by God!)

#3: What if I don’t say it right?

If you step out in faith and you listen to God…He will give you the words.

That’s exactly what he promises to Moses.

And even if you somehow still feel like you didn’t say it right, if you stepped out in faith, God will use it.

There are times when I step off this stage and I think, “That didn’t feel like I made a shred of impact. I just couldn’t ‘say that’ like I wanted to”

And yet, those tend to be the weeks I get the emails where people say, “Man, God just spoke to me this week!”

Listen, even if you don’t say the right words, the Holy Spirit can change a message in someone’s heart.

Even if the words are met with objections and anger, if God called you to say it, He’s using it.

When Moses starts speaking to Pharaoh in the next chapter, Pharaoh is not going to fall over at Moses’ words, and yet, God is using them for a purpose!

Moses’ Excuses

#1: Who am I to do this? (You’re called by God!)

#2: What if they don’t believe me? (You’re empowered by God)

#3: What if I don’t say it right? (God will help you say it!)


And so God has countered every single one of Moses’ excuses.

And now, all Moses is left to do…is reveal his true heart.

(Exodus 4:13-17) – NIV

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

The truth comes out…the excuses (once answered) have been revealed to be just that: excuses.

The truth is: Moses just doesn’t really want to go.

His fear is dictating his actions. Not his faith.

It’s the same for us.

Our excuses are just cover-ups for our deeper fears

“God if I invite someone at work to Easter, and HR finds out about, what then? If it makes our friendship weird, what then?”

“If I go to my step-mom and ask for forgiveness like you say, what happens if she just goes off on me? What then God?”

This exactly what Moses is doing with his excuses.

“God, What if they don’t believe me when I talk to them? What then?? Did you think of that one God?!?!”

Underneath every excuse is a statement of fear.

“Yeah, but then this could happen.”

And that fear is what???

It’s a lack of faith in what God can do.

Underneath all of Moses’ excuses is a fear that God wouldn’t be able to figure out the challenges that will surely come if Moses obeys Him.

And I feel like SO many of us get stuck right here.

We tell God we can’t obey right now…because of “x” that would happen if we did!

And that part of the excuse…that fear…should be a warning light for the precise location of where you currently lack faith.

Of where you’re saying, “God, I don’t think you could handle “this” though”

Let me give you an example of this:

I feel like God has been laying on my heart to reach out to an old friend that I haven’t seen in almost 15 years.

Get together…maybe even share Jesus w/ him.

But I haven’t…haven’t reached out.

Haven’t obeyed.


Let’s look at the excuse (here’s how you do this exercise)

My excuse is: “I’m SO busy right now…w/ land and Easter and …”

And so what’s the fear (what’s underneath): If I reached out, my schedule just couldn’t handle it… something would fall apart, etc.

But where’s the lack of faith:

I’m saying, “God, if I obeyed you, surely you couldn’t handle my schedule”

Do you see it?

If we ever want to starting trading our excuses of fear for an exciting life of FAITH…then we need to start obeying in faith…even if the details look quite challenging.

Ray Pritchard says it this way:

“To obey means you say, ‘Lord, I’m ready. Now you work out the details.’ To negotiate means you say, “Lord, you work out the details and then I’ll obey.” Get it straight. As long as you are negotiating with God, you are not obeying Him. You are just stalling for time.” – Ray Pritchard

God is not obligated to give us assurance when he calls you us to do something.

We’re His servants, not vice versa.

Friends, let’s be bold…be brave…and DARE to look underneath our excuses for why we can’t do what God’s calling us to do.

And if we look hard, we’ll will find fear.

And fear…is just a lack of faith.


But what if you boldly start to look under your excuses this week for why you can’t do what God is calling you to do…and you want to start to trade in fear for faith?

How do you do that?

You have to leap…start taking leaps of faith…even little ones.

You have to trust that God is who He says He is.

And if you leap…and realize that you’re still okay…in fact, you’re more than okay….

…the more able you are to take another leap of faith next time.

You can grow a lot if you walk this process.

If you have the guts to label excuses as “excuses” and trade in your fear for faith…you will grow a ton in your faith.

Here’s why:

Faith leads to obedience…which leads to blessing of seeing God’s power.

I encourage you to read the rest of chapter 4 tonight, or tomorrow morning, and you’ll see that Moses does eventually go.

And He’s going to see amazing things!

What happens when Moses obeys and throws down the staff?

Faith leads to obedience, which leads to the blessing of seeing God’s power!

Even more so when he does the scarier thing and picks the snake back up!

When Moses does the scariest thing of all, and goes back to Egypt…faith…leads to obeying God’s call…which leads to seeing even more of God’s power and blessing.

Every time you bravely label your excuses as fear…and trade them in for faith…you will grow.

Your obedience will lead you to see God’s power…which will grow your faith, so you can take a bigger leap the next time!

Or, you can continue “what if” God and to give him your excuses until the day you die, but if you do that, you are simply assigning yourself to a life of fear…with little change.

As Caesar says in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “A coward dies a thousand times before he dies, but the valiant taste of death but once.”

What if you traded in the fear you found underneath your excuse…for faith?

What would happen?

You’ll come more alive…because you’ll see God alive.

Let me give you an example of this that I see played out in our church a lot:

A couple times a year, we make the to see who will go with us to bring the Gospel to the nations.

And I KNOW…that the Holy Spirit is nudging way more than you than the 10-15 people who go on every trip.

I’m not saying that it’s all of you…so please don’t take this as a knock on every single one of you that doesn’t go.

However, I CONSTANTLY talk to people who say, “I really feel like I should go to Haiti…or Africa…but I just….can’t…because “x”

And let me tell you what I’ve learned about these two separate groups of people (those who are called and go….and those are called and don’t go)…because this is a principle that applies to so many areas of our lives.

Underneath the excuses…is usually fear.

People worry…if I go…then…

What about my job?

“My boss will be disappointed with so much time off.

Can God not handle that?

What about my vacation time?

“I’m not sure I’ll be happy if I give up that time I was going to go to the West Coast?

Can God not handle your happiness?

What about my kids?

“If I go and serve 50 kids who don’t even have a mom and dad…what about my kids…will they be okay?

Can God not handle that?

Underneath our excuses…is usually a fear that God CAN’T do something.

And here’s the principle I’ve learned: I’ve found, IRONICALLY, it’s the people who ignore God’s call (because they don’t want to suffer) that end up suffering more anyway

The ones who ignore his call continue to live in fear because they don’t start taking leaps to get out of it.

The ones who ignore His call continue to prioritize earthly things over spiritual things…because they’re not teaching themselves otherwise

And hear me…each time you ignore a call of God…his voice gets duller and duller to you.

But the people who risk suffering, and they go because they feel God calling them to…even though it sounds kind of scary.

When they sign up to go to Africa… and in faith, raise a bunch of money…when they set foot on African soil, and someone says, “Okay now, it’s your turn. Go share your testimony in front of these 500 people…”

Are there knees not knocking??

Of course they are!

To a lot of people…that feels like walking right up to Pharaoh’s palace.

But those people that said yes to God’s nudging, and boldly shared their faith anyway…do you know what they get to see?

Ask some of them!

They get to see…60 minutes later…in part because of their testimony……whole crowds of people walking down the hill, with tears in their eyes, surrendering their lives to Jesus”

Those people…because they looked under their excuse, called it fear, and traded it in for faith…


So when you leave this place today…I want you to dare to start looking under your excuses on why you can’t do what God’s calling you to do.

And I want you to pick at least one area…where you can turn your fear into faith.

And go ahead and pick something small.

Even a small leap will create the momentum to take a bigger leap once you experience God’s power through your obedience.

Trust God.

Yeah, sometimes it’s scary.

But it’s ALWAYS, ALWAYS, worth it!

Let me pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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