When God called Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, Moses gave excuses why he was not the right man for the job. But God told Moses, “I will be with you.” God proved to Moses He could be trusted and promised him he would not be on his own. God was essentially saying to Moses, “You have nothing to be afraid of Moses. I will be with you.”
Whenever God calls ordinary people like you and me to do extraordinary things, he gives this promise, “I will be with you.” God says, “Don’t be afraid because there’s nothing we can’t handle together.”
When people in Scripture and people in our day live in this truth, it changes lives. God wants us to know that whatever we’re going through, there is no power on earth that can separate us from his loving care and protection.Read More
Full Sermon Script
Welcome, I’m Matt VanCleave, one of the Teaching Pastors at Blue Oaks.
If this is your first time at Blue Oaks, I want to say a special welcome to you. I’m glad you decided to join us. 
Today I want to talk about how we respond to God when he speaks to us.
You may think, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never heard God speak to me.” Well, I haven’t heard him speak to me in an audible voice either, but he speaks to us in a number of ways that we’ll get into in a little bit. 
I want to start today by looking at Exodus chapter 3: >>>>>
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 desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.
> Okay, so the writer of Scripture says Moses is out in the middle of this desert, alone, and all of a sudden this bush begins to burn.
Now, some people may think that because Moses was called by God and he was such a remarkable man in Scripture that he must have turned to the bush and said, “Behold, a bush that burneth.” 
We sometimes think people in the Bible responded that way. When God called them, their answer was always the same: “Verily, whatever Thou sayest, I wouldst do.” 
Well, that’s not true, as we’ll see in the story today. 
Okay, so the bush spontaneously burst into flames. Why? 
I think it’s because God wanted to get Moses’ attention. And that’s not a bad way to do it.
And God did get his attention.
And Moses didn’t look at the bush and go, “Verily, a bush that burneth.”
There’s no record of what he said. The writer says, “Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.” 
Now, if a bush were to be set on fire. How long do you think it would take for it to burn up?
Maybe a few minutes at most.
The interesting thing is, for Moses to notice that the bush was not burning up, he would have had to stare at the bush for a few minutes.
Yeah, not much going on out in the wilderness. 
It’s interesting that it’s after Moses stands there for a few minutes and realizes the bush isn’t burning up that God speaks to him. 
Like I said, I’ve never had one of these experiences where God speaks to me in an audible voice.
God has spoken to me in a number of ways though:
*Through the Bible.
*Through other people.
*Through aligning the circumstances of my life in a direction.
*Through wise counsel.
*Through my spirit and my mind… giving me thoughts and ideas.
*Through a peace that I receive in prayer.
He’s never spoken to me in an audible voice. 
But God speaks to Moses.
But it wasn’t until he stood there long enough to realize the bush wasn’t burning up.
God chooses someone who is not distracted. 
Some scholars think the burning bush wasn’t meant to be a miracle, but rather a test. God wanted to see if Moses could pay attention to something for more than a few minutes. When Moses did, God spoke. 
So the idea is for us is to pay attention to what’s going on around us long enough to hear God speak. 
*You probably have a computer.
*You probably have a cell phone.
*You probably have a TV.
*You probably have a stereo system in your car.
*You probably have a video game system.
*You’re probably on social media.
*You probably have cable TV, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime or a number of other platforms to be distracted.
*And you probably feel, like I do a lot of times, that the voice of God isn’t loud enough. 
God wants to get our attention when we slow down enough to see him. Maybe the reason God can use Moses is he finds someone who has slowed down enough to notice he’s there.
Maybe there are burning bushes all around us.
Maybe God is waiting to give us direction and to speak to us and to become real to us, but we’re moving so fast that we don’t even pay attention to God when he’s there. 
So what does Moses do? Verse 3: >>>>>
So Moses thought, “I will go over and see…
> I want to focus on this little phrase for a minute, “I will go over and see.” Because Moses didn’t have to go see. God didn’t force him to go over and see. He could have focused on tending his sheep.
*Except he would have missed his call.
*He would have missed the Exodus.
*He would have missed the reason for his existence.
*He would have missed knowing God.
The world was never the same, because Moses went over to see. But he didn’t have to. 
So the question here is, when God wants to speak to you:
*How well are you doing at going over to see?
*How hard is it for God to get your attention?
*Do you regularly go over and see? That is, do you take moments to listen to God? Because God really does speak. 
You know, I wonder how many times there have been little bushes on fire, but great callings were missed because someone didn’t go over to see. 
Well, Moses goes over. The whole story hinges on that. If he doesn’t go over, there’s no story. He just dies in the desert. >>>>>
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.”
> Now think about this. If you’re standing in the middle of the desert without matches and a bush bursts into flames, and that doesn’t get your attention, and then you walk over and you see that the bush is burning, but it’s not really burning, and that doesn’t get your attention – if the bush talks to you, I think that’s going to get your attention.
Verse 5 >>>>>
“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 am concerned about their suffering.
So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey-the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites 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.”
> God says to Moses, “Go, I’m sending you to Pharaoh.”
Now, we would expect Moses to respond like a righteous Bible person: “I shall go indeed.”
Listen to what Moses says:
“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Moses says, “Who am I? I’m just an ordinary person.”
And God said, “I will be with you.” 
Moses says, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh? That doesn’t really sound like a great idea to me. What if the people don’t listen?”
Later on Moses says, “I’m slow of speech. I’m not eloquent.”
And I’ve said those words, and you probably have too: “I can’t do it, God. You’re asking the wrong person.”
And God says to Moses what God says to you and me: “I know who you are – it doesn’t matter! It’s irrelevant – for I will be with you. Your sin and your guilt, your limitations and your shortcomings, are no longer the ultimate truth about you.
“For from this day on, I will be with you,” God says.
And this really is the promise of grace.
And the reality is, for some of us today, we haven’t been living in grace. We’ve been beating ourselves up. We live in guilt or shame over something from the past.
*“I’m a liar.”
*“I’m an adulterer.”
*“I had an abortion.”
*“I broke some serious promise.”
*“I’m a failure.”
*“I’m a sinner.”
And you need to hear God say to you, “I know who you are – it doesn’t matter!”
The cross has made all of that irrelevant. Your sin and your guilt, your limitations, your shortcomings, are no longer the ultimate truth about you.
God offers grace. 
Some of us have people in our lives, and they’re waiting for us to share grace with them. Like Moses’ people, they’ve been in the desert for a long time; they’ve been running away from God.
And maybe you need to say a little prayer today, and ask God for an opportunity. Tell God you’ll be faithful; you will share what He wants you to share.
Some of you are sensing God’s leading, and you’re going to be the fire through which someone else meets God.
God says, “Live in grace, Moses. I’m going with you.” 
And when God comes to you and touches your heart with something that you need to do to make a difference in this world – it might be teaching, it might be leading a movement, it might be serving, it might be changing a career, or changing a relationship, or changing a diaper.
No matter what it is, no matter what he’s saying to you right now, he’s not asking you to go alone. He’s saying, “I will go with you.”
God says, “It Doesn’t make any difference who you are. I will go with you.” 
God always does this in Scripture. He calls ordinary people to something extraordinary; and he says, “Don’t be afraid! I will be with you.” 
You know, whenever God gives this command, “Don’t be afraid,” he always gives a reason why we don’t have to fear.
It’s what he says to Moses.
He says, “I will be with you, Moses.” 
An author by the name of Susan Jeffers says:
“The ultimate fear – underneath all of our other fears of loneliness or rejection or failure or so on – the ultimate fear is, I can’t handle it. Something really bad is going to happen to me, and I won’t be able to handle it.” That’s the ultimate fear.
And the ultimate promise of God is – there’s nothing you and He can’t handle together.
I’m telling you, when people in Scripture or people in our day get a hold of this truth, it’ll change their life. 
Look at Moses’ response in Exodus 3, verse 13. >>>>>
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
> Now when Moses asks for God’s name, he’s not looking for a label, for a piece of information, for identification purposes. A name is much deeper than that.
A name, in the Old Testament, had to do with someone’s character. He’s asking here about God’s character, about God’s intentions.
Verse 14: >>>>>
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘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, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
> So God says, “This is my name. And it’s not just my name for the Old Testament.”
And Moses would have said, “The what?” 
You have to think about that one for a minute.
He says this is my name forever. 
You know, people have devoted their lives to exploring the mystery of that name of God. 
In Scripture, the word LORD is four capital letters. Capital L capital O capital R and capital D.
This name is actually four Hebrew letters – Yode Hey Vav Hey.
What’s interesting is the Hebrew language doesn’t have vowels, but the closest thing to a vowel in Hebrew is Yode, Hey and Vav.
These four letters in the Hebrew language are barely pronounceable.
One writer said these letters are actually sounds of breathing.
Yode Hey Vav Hey
Some scholars believe that when God gives Moses this name, the name we pronounce as Yahweh, they believe that it was actually unpronounceable. God gives Moses this name for himself that is the sounds of breathing.
Yode hey vav hey – the sound of breathing. It’s like God was saying to Moses, “I am the very breathe you take. I am the breathe of life.”
Which is interesting because in the book of Genesis God created Adam from the dust on the ground and the Bible says, “God breathed life into man… and it’s then that man started breathing.”
Think about this for a minute:
When a baby is born, what does it have to do in order to live? Breathe. Or say the name of God.
The last thing you do before you die is take your last… breath. Or is it when you are no longer able to say the name of God that you die?
Is it possible that you could be sitting with an atheist who is saying, “there is no God” – Yode Hey Vav Hey.
They’re saying “there is no God” while there actually saying the name of God with each breathe they take.
The name of God is the sound of breathing. 
Well, I believe partly what God is saying to Moses by giving him this name is:
*I am the God who created you and sustains you.
*I am the very breath you take.
*I am the God who cares for my people.
*I have seen the misery of my children, when they thought I was not looking.
*I’ve heard their groans when they thought I was not listening.
*I’m the God who saw you in the reeds, when you were hidden as a baby.
*I’m the God who saw you in the desert, when you fled as a fugitive. 
And this becomes a defining moment in the history of God’s interaction with human beings.
God says to Moses and to all of His children, “I want to be known.”
“I want you to know Me by name,” God says. 
Look at how Moses responds in chapter 4, verse 1. >>>>>
Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?”
> “What if they don’t believe me?”
Can you relate to that?
And God’s answer to you and me is, “That’s not your job.”
It’s the most freeing truth in Christianity: It’s not your job.
Your job is not to convince or persuade or twist people’s arms or to be such a clever communicator that people come to know Christ.
Your job is not to solve the problem. Your job is only to be obedient in what God is asking you to do. The rest is his job. It’s God’s job.
Verse 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.”
> I love this. God could have just told him. He could have explained it in big theological terms, but he says, “Throw your staff on the ground.” >>>>>
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.
> Serpents were worshiped in Egypt, and they were considered to be poisonous – highly dangerous.
Now, God is a God of love. And God is a God of justice. But here, God is a God of humor. He turns this stick into a snake. >>>>>
Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.”
> Moses was probably thinking, “You take it by the tail. You’re the one who turned it into a snake.”
Now picture this scene. Think for a moment. On the odd chance that you were going to pick up a poisonous snake, where do you think you would grab it?
If you had to do it, you’d grab it right behind the head. Because, to pick it up by the tail puts you in a very dangerous situation – it leaves you exposed to the snake’s fangs.
You see, this story is about trust. It’s all about trust.
God’s trying to teach Moses that he can trust him. And the writer tells this so artfully. >>>>>
So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “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.”
> God must have sensed that Moses didn’t get it. Look at verse 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, it was leprous, like snow.
> Now something interesting to understand here is Moses just received his death sentence. Leprosy was a fatal disease. There was no cure.
Even worse than that, he would be despised, rejected and never have social contact again because of how contagious the disease was.
Verse 7 >>>>>
“Now put it back into your cloak,” God 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.
> God says, “Moses, take a few simple possessions:
*Take your staff that you use to heard sheep.
*Take your hand, part of the body that I made and gave you.
“Give them to me, and I will do amazing things with them… if you trust Me. You don’t have to trust me perfectly – just trust me enough to give me what’s in your hand.” 
And I believe God says the same thing to you and me. 
*What’s in your hand? … a few loaves and a few fish. And when they’re given to God, they feed 5,000.
*What’s in your hand? … and 2 talents become 4. And 5 talents become 10.
*What’s in your hand? … and a little seed bears fruit a hundredfold.
God says, “Don’t worry about what you cannot control. Give me unhindered access to what you have.’’
To you and me, God is saying, “What’s in your hand?”
You may have people in your life that are in crisis mode, and they would benefit enormously if you just took the time to care for them. 
“What’s in your hand?”
You may have talent that God wants to use to help other people.
You may have money that you need to hold onto less tightly so that God can use it to bless others. 
“What’s in your hand?”
You may have time. And God could use you to serve.
Maybe it’s your career. And God wants you to give it to him because he’s calling you to something different. 
“What’s in your hand?”
Maybe it’s success. And God’s calling you to redefine what success is. How do you become successful in God’s eyes?
Maybe it’s a possession… and God is inviting you to this adventure to just give it away. Give it to him and see what happens. 
Are you willing to give him what’s in your hand?
This really is a trust deal. That’s what it was for Moses.
God is calling you to trust him with what’s in your hand.
Just give it to Him.
Look at verse 8 >>>>>
Then the LORD said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. 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.”
Moses said to the LORD, “O 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.”
And God’s response to you and me is the same as it was to Moses when we say:
*I’m not smart enough.
*I’m not attractive enough.
*I’m not a strong enough leader.
*I’m not quick on my feet.
*I’m not talented enough.
*I’m not capable enough
*I’m not confident enough.
*I’m slow of speech and tongue.
Do you realize there is no other person on the face of this earth like you?
God created you unique. You’re a unique masterpiece. You are his design. He created you perfectly for what he wants you to do. 
Verse 11 >>>>>
The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
God says, “I will give you an ability far beyond your own human ability. I will put the power of my Spirit on you, and you will be gifted to speak prophetic words for the sake of my people.
“For I made your mouth, and I am perfectly capable of operating it,” God says. 
You would think that would be enough, after all that Moses has been through.
*He’s experienced grace.
*He’s invited to know God by name.
*He’s taught that he can trust God with what’s in his hands, with his resources.
*He finds out that God is going to gift him.
But still he doesn’t want to do it. Verse 13: >>>>>
But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”
Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses.
> This is one of the few places you’ll find that God burned in anger toward Moses… because he kept making excuses. 
We do this don’t we?
*“I’m a nobody.”
God says, “I’ll go with you.”
*“I don’t know what to say.”
God says, “I’ll tell you.”
*“What if they don’t believe me?”
God says, “It’s not your job.”
*“Look at me.”
God says, “I know, I made you.”
*“Send someone else.”
God says, “No, I’m sending you.” 
When God speaks, we have no excuses. 
So the question is:
*What is God speaking to you about?
*What is God telling you to do that you feel inadequate about?
Think about that… because you have no excuse.
“I will be with you,” God says. 
Now, look at the next verse. Even in God’s anger he’s so merciful. >>>>>
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 his heart will be glad when he sees you.
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.
> God, in His mercy, tells Moses that he doesn’t have to carry out this mission by himself. He can do it in community, and He gives him his brother, Aaron, so they can team up together.
God says, “Aaron is coming, and when he sees you, his heart will be glad.”
What a wonderful thing… to have that kind of community. 
That’s one of my great hopes for our church. That we make such deep connections in this church that when we see each other, our hearts are glad. 
I felt that last week when I saw someone from Blue Oaks, that I haven’t seen in four months, at the store. My heart was glad. 
So here’s the question on this one: who is your Aaron? Who, when you see them, makes your heart glad? 
And another question is: Who are you being an Aaron to? Who are you investing in, and supporting, and loving, and praying for, and encouraging? So that when they see you, their heart is glad?
*Who are the Aarons in your life?
*And who are you being an Aaron to? 
If you’re new to Blue Oaks, maybe God will call you to a deeper level of community. You can find an Aaron here at Blue Oaks. You can be an Aaron to someone else in this church.
Maybe you’re not in a group and God may call you to that. That’s the best place to find this kind of relationship. 
As I close this message, I want you to notice something about this passage.
We never find out what happened to the burning bush.
*We find out what happened to Moses.
*We find out what happened to the children of Israel.
*We find out what happened to Pharaoh and his soldiers.
We never find out what happened to the bush.
I think it’s because it’s still burning. I think God is still waiting for people to “go over and see.”
I think God is waiting… right now… for you and me.
What is God calling you to?
Alright, let’s pray as Michaela comes to lead us in a closing song.
Blue Oaks Church