Recorded on October 29th, 2018
God wants a relationship with you. Even when you run, hide, and sin your life away, he’s there waiting to love on you.
Transcript of Sermon:
[Music] today’s scripture is from Exodus 3 3 through 10 now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law the priest of Midian and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Orab the mountain of God there the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up so Moses thought I will go over and see this strange sight why the bush does not burn up when the Lord saw that he had gone over to look God called to him from within the bush Moses Moses and Moses said Here I am do not come any closer God said take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground then he said I am the God of your father the God of Abraham the god of Isaac and the God of Jacob at this Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God the Lord said I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and I’m concerned about their suffering so I’ve come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of the land into the good and spacious land a land flowing with milk and honey the home of the Canaanites Hittites em’ly rights parasites hobbits and Jebusites and now the cry of the Israelites has reached me and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them so now go I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt the Word of God for the people of God thank you I gave her the hardest Scripture had all of the really hard names in there you did a great job right I did tell her the the pastor secret and the pastor secret is if you say it wrong just own it because pretty much nobody is really going to know if you’re saying it wrong or not so don’t trust my anyway you got the point so I’m wondering if we’re headed towards we’re almost through Halloween which means that it’s gonna be Christmas because there’s no such thing of Thanksgiving anymore we go straight from how we actually we go from 4th of July to Christmas if you ask Hobby Lobby and any of the other stores that have Christmas stuff but during the Christmas season it’s funny being a parent how you can kind of see yourself reflected in your children because they start getting excited just I mean when they sense the smallest scent of Christmas coming near our oldest son asked me the other day if we could listen to Christmas music during dinner and I said you know maybe we’ll wait just a little bit longer for that just a little bit but I remember when I was younger as a kid Christmas had this magical feeling to it now unfortunately I did not grow up in a Christian home so I didn’t have a magical feeling because of Jesus but it did teach me about that anticipation that comes with Christmas that sweet anticipation of hoping and wishing for something and then on that morning being able to see whether or not you’ve got that thing that you were hoping and wishing for I’m guessing that we’ve all had at least one thing in our lifetime that we really hoped and wished for that we would get for Christmas now when I was thought about that for me really the only thing I could think of was something when I was a child there was this one year and I grew up in the 80s so really big during my lifetime in the 80s as a girl was a Cabbage Patch doll now when they first came out Cabbage Patch dolls were really hard to find number one because they were so popular but then also extraordinarily expensive and I grew up with a single mom so it wasn’t something that I knew would be in our budget and my mother had no less than said these words to us that please don’t count on getting a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas now I’m the oldest of three girls that grew up in the same house together but there’s only three years in between us so we’re really very close to the same age and all three of us have really hoped and wanted a Cabbage Patch doll but we didn’t think we were going to get one at the same time the hope of Christmas always springs eternal right no matter how much somebody tells you you’re not going to get something there’s still this piece of you that thinks well maybe possibly it is Christmas now I don’t remember what age this was exactly so I don’t know if Santa was still on the table but I know there was a part of me that was really hoping that we would get a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas and then you know how when stuff gets started putting under the tree and you start trying to wonder what that is as each one goes in and my kids will do this still to this day a stuffed dough starts going under the tree they start like climbing like Mount Everest through the presents trying to see which ones are for them and then trying to guess each little present that’s under the tree and I know I did the same thing but one day this very very large box showed up underneath our Christmas tree just gigantic it was probably half my height and about this wide it was just a really big box and it didn’t have a name on it it didn’t say who it was for and we pestered my mother and pestered her just asking her who this box was for and she wouldn’t tell us and on Christmas Eve our family had this tradition of that’s where we did our all the family got together the cousins and the aunts and uncles and such and we got to open one present and when we got to that time my mom said well girls this is one present and you can open this one in this big box is for the three of you now given how I’ve set this up I’m guessing you can guess what was inside of that box sure enough when we opened it there were three Cabbage Patch dolls one each specifically for us one that looked like us mine had brown hair and a little gray running track suit and my sisters had my middle sister is blonde and so hers was blonde and I think I didn’t confirm this but my youngest sister I think hers might have been a newborn that didn’t have any hair but I’ll and my dog my little Cabbage Patch daughter her name was Corey Lori I’ll never forget it and that Christmas is the Christmas that I still remember to this day because of that anticipation that eternal hope that even though I knew I probably wasn’t going to get it there’s still that part of me that really we hoped it was going to come now if we translate this into adult life we live this way as adults not just around Christmastime in our lives we have these things that we really hope for and that we want whether it’s for a child to come back home again for a wayward trial it’s a child to find their way back to God or back to a life that’s healthy whether it’s for health for ourselves or somebody that we love or maybe just that we can make our house payment this next month we have things in our lives that we hope for and we anticipate and there’s a part of us that doesn’t really think that it’s possible that this thing will happen because it seems so far off or so impossible of a task but then there’s that other piece there’s that hope there’s that twinkle that just doesn’t die today we are starting a new series it’s a series on the book of Exodus which before I really got into it I don’t really think I understood the importance and the incredible depth that comes in the book of Exodus in fact if you took all of the Bible maybe all of the Old Testament this might be the one book that we need to really know and understand as believers still today because the Old Testament is rich for us too and we are going to be talking about a people who thought there was no way possible that the thing that they wanted the most the thing that they needed the most could ever happen a people the Israelites God’s chosen people suffered under oppression that was incredibly incredibly stifling and the deepest parts of the insides of them wanted freedom wanted to be out of this regime but there was no way that that was possible it would be like taking the smallest little tribe from Haiti and putting them up against the United States Army and that little tribe thinking that there was some way possible that they could find freedom for themselves it just wasn’t going to happen yet there there’s this lingering hope inside of them and this is the place that God enters into when he comes to speak with Moses at the burning bush which is the scripture that Janet read to you and this is where we are going to begin and over the next five weeks all the way to Advent we are going to be digging into Exodus and understanding what is happening here because Exodus is really the first time in scripture where God really deeply shows us who God is the character of God and also on the other side of that who we are in relationship to God so as we begin this journey for that today and then also for the next few weeks let us go to God in prayer God we ask you today that you would show us who you are in a new way in a fresh way in a way that reaches those places inside of us that are longing for hope that are longing for freedom that are longing for your presence God may we see you afresh today and each week as this journey goes on may we see you with the hunger and the excitement and anticipation that the Israelites had as you came to them God we are so thankful that we get to be your children it’s in your name we pray amen so what I’m gonna do today is I want to give you a little bit of history that goes leads up to Exodus I want to tell you a little bit about Moses who is really our main single character other than God in the book of Exodus and really throughout a lot of the Pentateuch which is those books of the law in the Old Testament and we’re going to take that and we’re gonna match that up against what God does as he meets Moses before the burning bush now when we come to Exodus in the very beginning of the book you find the Israelites in Egypt so if you don’t know or I actually think we all know but we don’t really remember the series of events that happens from Jesse Genesis Exodus is only the second book of the Bible and so you have Adam and EU have creation and then you have Adam and Eve and then you have God coming to Abraham well then you have the flood because people just got really messed up after that so that was kind of a mess sorry God and then you have Abraham who God says okay I’m going to use you to begin this process right Adam and Eve messed up and I’m going to come to Abraham and I’m gonna use your people your descendants and I’m going to make them as much as the stars in the sky and so with Abraham he has his son Isaac and then Isaac has his son Jacob and Jacob and we’ve talked about these people over the last few weeks right over the last few months and then Jacob has his son named Joseph and Joseph is the son who was by his brother sold into slavery remember and Joseph is sold into slavery and sent to Egypt and in Egypt Joseph becomes the right hand of Pharaoh after a long hard-fought journey but at the end of his journey he becomes the right hand of Pharaoh during a time when there is a famine across the nations and the only place where there’s really food and the kind of things that you need to live is Egypt where Joseph is and that’s how Joseph Abraham Isaac and Jacob the whole descendants of Abraham end up in Egypt is because Joseph is sold to Egypt in slavery is that not crazy so the Israelite nation ends up in Egypt because of this and they flourish for many many years for decades they grow and they thrive they become an entire nation instead of just being the twelve tribes of Jacob these children having children they become children having children having children having children so much so that by the time we get to Exodus Pharaoh who is really just the king of Egypt so it’s not one person when you say Pharoah it could be any one of the many kings of Egypt but this particular pharaoh is a little bit worried about the Israelite nation because they are have gotten so big so numerous that he’s worried about their presence and so he makes sure that they are in slavery he makes sure that their life is hard he makes sure that their life is difficult he also goes to the step of in the beginning of Exodus saying to the midwives that they need to kill the male children of the Israel because that will help lessen the population so Pharaoh has Israelites under his thumb and they are deeply oppressed they go from being a people who are thriving to a people are hurting who need the presence of God and who need freedom and this is where we first meet Moses the very first time we meet Moses in Scripture he’s in a little basket floating down a river because his mother trying to save him from being killed takes the biggest leap of faith she could think of and tries to save him by putting him in a basket and floating him down a river and Moses is saved by guess what Pharaoh’s daughter there is no coincidences my friends Pharaoh’s daughter finds this baby knows that it’s an Israelite but decides to take this child as her own decides to lack of another word adopt Moses as her child so after he gets a little bit older he goes to live in the palace with Pharaoh’s daughter with Pharaoh and he grows up knowing that he’s an Israelite but living a life of privilege with the Egyptians can you imagine how difficult or how weird that must have been for him and we know that this was difficult because one day Moses sees his people a person a Hebrew an Israelite being hurt by an Egyptian any murders that person and then he has to flee so Moses thinking that he was doing what he could to be a ripe Israelites who really help his people to to stand up for that part of him that he doesn’t get to experience much in his life because he lives in the Egyptian world takes matters into his own hands and take somebody else’s life and he has to flee it ends up having to go to Midian having to be far away and he gets married and he becomes a shepherd and when he leaves Egypt acts tells us he’s about 40 years old by the time we find him in the scripture for today in Exodus 3 he’s about 80 years old which is something that I don’t think I ever really just reading through scripture because scripture just takes out little pieces of somebody life and puts them all together and you could he could be 18 years old for all we know but he’s not he’s lived a lot of life and so Moses this person who who really has failed in life who have struggled in life is tending a sheep one day and the next thing he knows he’s walking and he sees a bush that has a fire in it but it’s not being consumed so it’s burning but it’s not burning and he wonders he’s curious and his curiosity and his willingness to follow that curiosity leads to God calling Moses to become the person who leads the Israelites from the oppression of the Egyptians a murderer now there’s so much we need to know and learn from the from the life of Moses and from his journey both about Moses and and about God because God came to Moses in a bush God lowered himself to this lowly little plant on the side of the road he didn’t come to him as a fighting warrior he didn’t come to him as a glowing angel he came to him that’s as something that Moses was willing to approach because do you notice in the scripture that before Moses knows that it’s God he approaches it and then as soon as he realizes that it is God he’s afraid right and so God had come in a way that was off-putting that a way was very dynamic Moses might not have come forward might not have checked it out Moses may have been fearful from the beginning and gods like that with all of us God doesn’t sit up on a throne as a high rule II holier than thou ruler like Pharaoh did which is what people were used to in that time and in fact that’s what I feel like our rulers are like sometimes I’m better than you you need to act accordingly God came to Moses in a very approachable manner and Moses as God calls him says here I and Here I am Lord so the Israelites have been all these years without really having a life of worship and a life of living with God but they knew who God was because of Abraham Isaac and Jacob so Moses knew of this God Moses was willing to participate with God but Moses was also terribly uncertain of what God was calling him to do we see in the scripture God says to Moses don’t come any closer take off your sandals for the place you are standing is holy ground now it wasn’t holy ground to begin with it became holy ground when God showed up when God shows up that space becomes holy and that’s the same in your life and God says I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and I am concerned about their suffering your God your God our God God our Father is concerned about your suffering he is concerned about the suffering of those who were in your life he’s concerned about the suffering of this world he’s concerned about the suffering of those who lost their families in that shooting at the synagogue yesterday God is concerned about suffering and God wants to do something about the suffering of his people his people in the Old Testament of history and his people here today and what does God do to answer to enter into the suffering of his people God uses human beings and a relationship with humans to answer the suffering of this world and now if you think about that it’s an incredibly an incredibly ah inspiring move because God is powerful enough to do all of this work himself yet instead he chooses relationship with you and I to do his work on this or on this earth he comes down and asks for Moses to participate in this relationship to be a part of bringing Israelites out here’s what he says so now go I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt now Moses his response was probably much like yours and mine would have been Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh like he’s asking remember a little guy from Haiti a little island off of nowhere which nobody really knows about to go to Pharaoh the President of the United States or somebody you know the President of Russia and say hey sir excuse me could you please let all of our people out of captivity baby right that’s what he’s being asked to do Moses an 80 year old murderer is being asked to go before the most powerful person in the entire world who’s not God and say hey I got it I got a request a suggestion that would be so hard to understand of course Moses says excuse me no I don’t think you have the right person regardless of his credentials I think most of us would say I’m so sorry I don’t think you have the right person and what is so interesting about this dialogue between Moses and God is that Moses it enters into you this dialogue without a lot of he doesn’t say yes you’re so holy I will do whatever you say he says um can we rethink this for a minute and God listens God your father is in relationship with you he doesn’t just come with a whole bunch of rules and regulations and shouts at you to do something instead God comes invites you into Mission because whether or not you know it every single one of you is being invited into Mission with God you may not be asked to go and do something as huge as Moses is doing but whatever God is asking you to do it is big in the kingdom and when we don’t do what we’re asked to do when we are afraid to step toward that the world doesn’t change and the brokenness continues and horrible things like what happens yesterday continue to happen in this world because we’re not doing the mission that we were called to do even if it’s just sending a shoebox or going to work at our local homeless shelter or loving our neighbor when it seems impossible to love our neighbor we are all called on mission just be thankful you weren’t called to do Moses’s how about that we can do that together but we can see that when Moses says I really I just can’t do this God says don’t worry I will be with you and Moses goes no really you don’t understand I can’t do this God says well I will give you signs and Moses goes yeah yeah that’s all fine and good but I cannot do this do you not know not only are you asking me to go and talk to Pharaoh but I have a speech impediment I can’t do this and God says okay fine now he’s a little frustrated don’t get me wrong but God allows Aaron Moses’s brother to step up and do the work with Moses now that wasn’t God’s original plan that wasn’t God’s best plan but God worked with Moses because God is a relational God he is not a dictator sitting up on high who doesn’t want to have relationship with you so when you were called feel free to talk back I mean be nice but at the same time know that if you do it the way God asks you to do it’ll probably be the best way but he’s also willing to meet you where you are and help work you along the prize of the path as he does with Moses God says Moses I am Who I am and this is what you are to say the Israelites I am has sent you the Israelites know of this God they don’t know a lot about the character of God about this relational part of God and you’ll get to see as we continue on through the book of Exodus how God reveals himself to God’s people to the Israelites how it shows how loving God is and how God is willing to provide in all circumstances if we humble ourselves to be to receive whatever it is that God gives not just what it is that we want so Moses says okay I will do this and when I try and think about things in my life that have been hard because that’s a long time ago and we’re not going to be asked tough like that and so I’ve told you some about our adoption story and I can see Joe and I in this because when God first called it was like the the burning bush it was this curious thing I was having a conversation if you remember with my sister about adoption and inside my head loud as day was adoption is not just for those who can’t have children curious curious that’s interesting there’s this little thing over here that maybe I should pay attention to and so I’ve followed that curiosity and we all need to pay attention for those moments because that’s when we understand what our call is it doesn’t matter how young we are or how old we are we still have mission to do on this earth and so when we listen to those little things where it’s kind of like that’s interesting what are you trying to are you trying to say something to me God and so to figure out if it is God we walk toward the bush it’s just a little bush you’re gonna be alright we walk toward it and that’s where God meets you when you show willingness to step towards him he will meet you and he will he will share with you his plans now much like Moses Joe and I said oh no no I’m sorry I think you got the wrong people because we are not prepared to do this because Moses was not God did not come to Moses when Moses was prepared Moses didn’t have any hint that this was happening there was no preparation that came before that a lot made him worthy of this call and the same is true with Joe and I there was no preparation whatsoever that made us worthy of that call in fact we are still not worthy of that call but God with us right God with us prepares us makes us worthy gives us everything we need to follow the call in our lives and the same is true for you whether you’re being called to be kind to one of the hardest people to be kind to or whether you are called to make a difference that’s specific in your community where if that’s serving at a certain place or if that’s loving your grandchildren or your children through how some of the hardest times in their lives or loving your siblings which sometimes can be the hardest thing I so I’ve heard whatever it is you’re being called to do it’s okay that you’re not worthy of God knows it’s okay that you’re not ready because God knows all you need to be willing to do is to say Here I am God and let him work the rest out and imagine what this world would look like if we all started to be little Moses’s terrified out of our wits absolutely certain that we cannot do what God is asking us to do yet at the same time willing to try because we trust and we hope just enough that God will do everything that we can’t do because all we really are are vessels that God is using to do his work in this world and that’s a privilege and in honor if you’ve ever served anybody ever so you leave feeling better than the person that you’ve actually helped isn’t that crazy it’s not the goal it’s not why you do it but it’s a beautiful blessing on your life God is asking us to do that God was asking Moses to step up to try and to trust friends our God is a relational God he chose to be with us to be in relationship with us and to do his work through us not just in the times of the Old Testament but today today also so our call today is to leave here watching for the bush watching that curious thing and praying for the courage to step towards it and allow God to do the work in you and through you that he wants to do in this world that’s pray God we thank you for the courage of Moses although it was a weak courage it was just enough that we can stand before you today because we are all heirs of his courage of his willingness to say Here I am Lord and God we are the foundation for our future we are those people who need to say Here I am Lord so that this world can continue to grow and continue to change and continue to become a better place because without us saying Here I am there is no hope because for whatever reason you’ve chosen to do your work through us your people thank you for the privilege and the honor yes we’re scared but we’re also willing god help us in our unbelief give us courage and give us strength it’s in your name we pray amen