- Sermon Notes
The Great I Am
When Jacob and his sons went to Egypt, there were 70 people counted among them. God was preserving them as a nation in Egypt and providing for them during a severe seven-year famine.
When we come to the book of Exodus, it’s 400 years later. They have grown from 70 to more than 2 million people. The favor which Pharaoh had shown when they first arrived in Egypt did not last. As other Pharaohs came to power, they became concerned of how Israel was growing so great in number. In fear, Pharaoh gave orders to enslave the Israelites and to make life difficult for them. But the more Israel suffered the more they grew in number.
God chose Moses to deliver the nation from the bondage of their slavery.Moses was a miracle baby.Pharaoh gave orders that every son who was born was to be thrown into the Nile, but Moses’ parents hid him in a wicker basket and set him amongst the reeds of the Nile River. They entrusted Moses to the mercy of God.
Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby Moses in the basket and decided to raise him as her own.Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s home with all the privilege and accoutrements of wealth and status.When Moses had grown to be a man, he saw the hard labor of the Hebrews and it troubled him.
One day he saw an Egyptian slave master beating a Hebrew.He looked this way and that, and when he saw no one, he struck down the Egyptian, killed him and hid him in the sand.
But the matter became known and when Pharaoh heard of it he tried to kill Moses, so Moses fled into the desert and came to the land of Midian.There he became a shepherd and stayed in the desert 40 years.
In Exodus 3, Moses had an encounter with God, but God has been working on him for more than forty years. It is here that we come to understand more of who God is and who God desires to be in our lives.
I. Let God be the Fire in Your Heart
- God appeared to Moses in a blazing fire.The bush was burning but was not consumed.Moses came closer to see how this could be, but there’s a message in it as well.
- Sometimes I see people who are bored with life, there’s no fire. If you are filled with the fire of godly passion, you will not be bored.
Romans 12:11, Never be lacking in zeal, but be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
Illus – An organization I once knew was about to hire a leader and asked if I would interview this person and give an opinion. After I talked with him, I responded, “Here’s my concern, there’s no fire in the belly.”
A.God is a non-consuming fire
- When Israel was being led through the desert after they left Egypt, God used a pillar of fire to indicate His presence was there among them.
- God’s presence in our lives can be represented by a fire that burns within us.
App – the fire that burns within us can be seen as the passion within our hearts.Many people are filled with worldly passions, but when the Holy Spirit fills the heart we have a new passion that burns within our soul.
- But it’s a fire that doesn’t consume. God’s presence adds the passion, power, glory and honor of God, but does not consume.
- Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that the fire of God will touch everything. “Everything will be tested by fire.” Some things will be burned up, consumed, and some things will remain.
- What’s the difference?
1 Corinthians 3:12-16, If any man builds on the foundation of Christ with gold, silver, precious stones, or wood, hay, or straw, each man’s work will become known; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.If any man’s work which he has built remains, he will receive a reward.If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
- The results of a person’s life will either be burned up, consumed, or it will remain, eternal and glorious.
- When you live by God’s fire in your soul, the blessing, the favor, and the power of God are on what you do.
Illus – Did God look at all the bushes on the mountain and say, “Ah, now that’s an amazing bush, I couldn’t find a better bush in all the deserts of Arabia!It’s perfect for making my power known to Moses!”No, not at all.The bush had little to do with it.Frankly, any old bush would do.It was the fire of God’s presence that made the bush glorious.
The same is true in our lives.Some people are convinced that God only uses special people with special gifts.But they’re wrong.God will use anyone who will open his heart to the fire God.It’s not the bush that matters, it’s the fire of God. That makes all the difference in the world.
- By the way, if you’re burned up or burned out, that’s not God either.Let God reignite the passion within your soul and He will fill you with His power again.
A.God is also a consuming fire
- God is both a consuming fire and a non-consuming fire.
- If God’s presence is a fire that burns within, then by that same fire God will consume those things in our lives that need to be burned up.
- In other words, the things which are eternal in our lives will remain. What God is doing is eternal.God is building his character into our lives; that is eternal.
- But those things which are temporal or worldly, those things are consumed when the passion of God, the fire of God, burns within our soul.
- This is a key to spiritual victory and spiritual power in our lives.Many people do not experience the power of God in their lives because they have not understood the importance of their desires.
Illus – “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
B.Don’t light your own fire
- Another scripture that gives insight is found in the book of Isaiah where God says to be very careful not to “light your own fire.”
- In fact, and this is very important; the passions of the world will also consume.
Isaiah 9:18, For wickedness burns like a fire;
John 10:10, The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy…
- The enemy would love nothing more than to destroy your relationships, he’ll destroy your business, your honor and your integrity.
- He’ll burn up your life by wasting your life. In the sixties, the hippies would get high and say they were ‘wasted.’ What a good word for it.
Illus – When the prodigal son took his inheritance, he spent it on worldly living. When he had spent it all, a famine hit the land and he couldn’t even find a job. Finally, he was hired to feed pigs. He became envious because the pigs had food to eat and he had none. Then, the scripture says, he came to his senses and decided to go home to his father.
II.Practice the Presence of God
- Moses is fascinated by this amazing sight, why the bush was not consumed, so he approaches and then hears God call to him from the midst of the bush.
- It is here that Moses had an amazing encounter with God. It is also here that, for the first time in the Bible, we learn the name of God.
- When Moses asked God’s name, God responded by saying, “I am, that is my name.”
Illus – When I was in Russia, we had an outreach event one evening and a man came in from the snowy and icy street wearing only a white robe and bare feet. One of the team members said that he wanted to speak with me. “Who is he?” I asked. “He says he’s God,” came the reply. I asked the man if he believed he was God; he said yes, he was. I then asked his name and he said, “The action.” “No,” I answered, “God’s name is ‘I am.’”
- God’s name is translated “I am,” but means literally, “All that I am I will be to you.” In other words, it’s personal.
A.All that God is, He is to you
- YHWH is called the tetragrammaton. We pronounce this as Yahweh, though no one really knows how to say God’s name. Some have taken the vowels from ‘Lord’ (Adonai) and placed them into the four letters to make the name Jehovah, but that is not right either.
- The point is that this is God’s name. It’s very personal. God is a title, but YHWH is his name. We can refer to him by both title and name, but his name is most personal.
Illus – When someone calls out “Rich” in a crowd, over an intercom in a store or in a hospital, I perk up. When someone says, “dad” all the dads in the room perk up.
- “I am” also refers to the fact that God is eternal, there is no beginning and no end; He is outside of time.
Illus – Isaac Newton believed space and time were absolute, but Einstein brought a revolution of thought when he said that time and space are relative. Today we know that the atomic clocks aboard the space shuttle run slower than the atomic clocks on earth.
- Jesus shocked the Jews of his day when he claimed to be outside of time.
John 8:57-59, So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore, they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
- God’s name reveals His nature. “All that I am I will be to you,” His nature and character are applied to our lives as well.
Illus – When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are to pray consistent with his name, His nature and His character.
We shouldn’t pray, “Lord, I’m really angry with so and so, make him have a really bad day. Get him, Lord – in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Matthew 5:44. Jesus said, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
App – Jesus said, “I am” in many ways and they all apply to our lives.
I am the Living Water…
I am the Bread of Life…
I am the Light of the World…
I am the Good Shepherd…
I am the True Vine…
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…
A. It’s who God is that matters
- Moses is then told by YHWH that he has seen the affliction of the Hebrews and he has heard their cry, and that he knows of their suffering.
- In other words, God sees, God hears and God knows what is happening in our lives.
- God then told Moses that He was going to send him to Pharaoh so he would lead the people from their bondage.
- “Who am I?” Moses replied. Moses was probably very pleased to hear that God saw the affliction of the people, but not pleased at all that God wanted to send him to lead the people out of slavery.
- What an interesting contrast – Moses appeals to God that he is a nobody and then God told Moses that He was everything.
App – It’s not who you are, but who God is that really matters in this life. “It’s not who you are Moses, it’s who is with you that matters.”
Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
App – He’s not the Great “I Give,” He is the Great “I am.”
It’s not something we need; it’s some one we need.
- “Take the sandals from your feet, for you are standing on Holy ground,” God said to Moses.
- Without shoes, we cannot go on.Without shoes, we are powerless, we are humbled, we are weak and incapable.A soldier cannot fight without his boots, a farmer cannot plow his field, a traveler cannot travel far.
- Put your feet on this ground, completely dependent, completely humbled, but completely thankful that God has invited you to meet Him here.
Exodus 3:1-16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Burning Bush
3 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the [a]west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of [b]a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “[c]I must turn aside now and see this [d]marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
7 The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8 So I have come down to deliver them from the [e]power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 9 Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
The Mission of Moses
10 Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall [f]worship God at this mountain.”
13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “[g]I AM WHO [h]I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘[i]I AM has sent me to you.’” 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name [j]to all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “[k]I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.