“How God Changes Us”

Exodus 3:1-14


          What do you want to change in your life? Maybe a bad habit? A bad relationship? A bad attitude? A bad situation? Or maybe a bad decision? What is it that you look at and say, “This just isn’t right. It’s got to change!”?

          We live in a society that offers instant change. When we watch TV and want to change the channel, we no longer have to get up and turn the dial, we grab the remote. We look at our phone and what to change the screen we just swipe. We want something to eat, we stick it in the microwave or swipe on our phones and have it delivered with DoorDash. Because we change channels and screens and food so fast … we think we should be able to change our lives just as easily.

          On Wednesday night, we started this new sermon series on the book of Exodus. In our lesson this morning, we are going to focus on how God changes us. As with us, God uses the same process with Moses. Now notice, I said process. Change, godly change, is not something that happens instantly, it doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process. Godly change takes time!

          First, a little back story leading up to Moses’ encounter at the burning bush. Exodus 2 tells us that one day, when Moses was forty years old, he went out to see his own people. There he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite. What does Moses do? He kills the Egyptian. When Moses goes out the next day, he says the same Israelite man. You’d think the man would say “Hey! Thank you for saving my life yesterday Moses!” But nope. Instead the dude is angry with Moses. He even asks him, “Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14b). Moses knows the word is out and knows that it will eventually get back to Pharaoh. So to spare his own life, Moses jets out of there and ends up working for Jethro, who will be his father-in-law, for forty years.

          This is where our reading from Exodus 3 picks up. “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law” (3:1a). For forty years, all Moses sees is sheep. For forty years, all Moses hears are sheep. For forty years, all Moses thinks about are sheep! Sheep, sheep, sheep! Talk about getting stuck in a rut! Moses may very well have been thinking, “This just isn’t right. It’s got to change!

          That happens to us too, doesn’t it? We get stuck in ruts. So what kind of rut are you in? Are you overly critical of other people? Is your spending out of control? Have you lost ambition to study the Word of God, to live a life of integrity, to follow hard after Jesus? Just like Moses, we say, “This just isn’t right. It’s got to change.” But how?

          The process, there’s that word again. The process of change begins with God’s presence. “There the angel of the LORD appeared to {Moses} in flames of fire from within a bush” (Exodus 3:2a). This angel, He’s no ordinary angel. This is Jesus before He was born in the little town of Bethlehem. And this fire, it’s no ordinary fire. This is the fire of God. The fire of God, it appears also when God calls Gideon and Amos. The fire of God appears when God calls the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus even says that we’re baptized with fire. We’re baptized with the fire of God! By why fire, why is God present in the fire? Wherever there is fire, you can bet that something happens, every single time. And what is it that happens? Change!

          What does Moses say? “Here I am!” (Exodus 3:4). “Here I am”, Hinanee in the Hebrew. Hinanee means, “God, I’m at Your service.” Hinanee means, “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee.” Hinanee means, “Lord, I’m ready to change!

          “Then the LORD told {Moses}, ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I know their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them’” (Exodus 3:7-8a NLT). “I know their suffering.” You see, God loves us right where we are. “I have come down” He said. God loves us way too much to leave us where we are. He comes down with fire, with the power of His Word, even today! He does so to fire us up with devotion and passion and love for Jesus!

          The process of change continues with God’s plan. “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” (Exodus 3:9-10). Moses at the age of forty in Exodus 2, sure, he could handle that. Moses at the age of eighty here in Exodus 3? Uh…. not so sure about that.

          Moses replies, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). Notice, God doesn’t say, “Moses, where’s your confidence? Moses, where’s your get up and go? Moses, don’t you know you can do anything if you set your mind to it! Come on Moses?

          God doesn’t say any of that. Why? Because “Who am I?” is always the wrong question to ask. When we want to change, “Who am I?” is dead wrong, every single time. What’s the right question? “God, who are you?

          Who is this God? He is the God who changes us through a process, asking us to live by faith. God says, “And this will be a sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you {all} will worship God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12). “You all will worship God on this mountain.” But we don’t need a sign in the future to convince us of God’s plan. We need something right now! Ah ah ah, remember … change is a process! One step at a time.

          God say, “You will see my plan unfold when you keep saying, ‘Hinanee! Here I am!” God calls us to keep taking steps toward getting our finances straightened out. Keep taking steps toward repairing that relationship. Keep taking steps in getting serious about the words we use, being more humble and loving. We will get to the mountain.

          This may seem random, but every pick up a piece of plywood that has been laying on the ground? You lift it up and bugs go running and you see all kinds of strange life forms. Things like snakes and lizards. Wat do we usually do? We throw the plywood down and run!

          Change often looks like that. Ugly and scary with all kinds of strange life forms! Things we don’t want to deal with so we run away from them and settle with a life of just saying, “I’ll stick with stupid and smelly sheep!

          Moses, afraid of this change, starts giving excuses as to why he won’t change. He first tries, “But … I don’t know your name” (Exodus 3:13-22).  God says, “I AM” (3:14). Jesus is the great I AM. “I am the Bread of Life. I am the Light of the World. I am the resurrection and the life.”

          Moses says that “Israel’s leaders won’t believe me” (Exodus 4:1-9). God then gives Moses two miracles. First God changes Moses’ rod into a snake and back into a rod again. God also makes Moses’ hand to contract leprosy and then heals it again.

          Moses says, “I’m not a fluent speaker” (Exodus 4:10-12). God give Moses Aaron. Moses says, “Somebody else can do it better” (Exodus 4:13-17). God says, “Nope … you’re the man Moses!

          So what are your excuse. “God, I’m too old. God, I’m too young. God, I’m too messed up. God, my train left the station. My ship sailed. God, it’s too late!” The voice from the burning bush is the voice of the Lord’s Messenger, Jesus. Jesus says to us “I love you! I shed my blood for you! I’m not finished with you. There’s work to do!

          In the early 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte was in the middle of a huge battle. His officers said to him, “If we don’t retreat now, we’ll be annihilated.” Napoleon called his bugler and ordered him to sound the retreat. The fourteen-year-old bugler began to cry. Napoleon commanded him again to sound the retreat. There was only one problem. The boy told Napoleon, “I was never taught how to sound a retreat. I was only taught to sound an advance.” “In that case,” Napoleon commanded, “Sound an advance!” The bugler sounded an advance, and history records that Napoleon won the battle.

          You may be calling on God to sound a retreat … but He only knows how to sound an advance! It’s called the fire of God! God is determined to change us through His presence, His plan, and His loving provisions. Do you see it? It’s the fire of God! And what shall we say? How about saying this: “Hinanee! Here I am!” Amen.

          The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.


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