How God Changes Us
Midweek 2 – 2020 Here I Am Lord
Text – Exodus 3:2-4
The Messenger of Yahweh appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. He looked, & behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
HOW GOD CHANGES US
What do you want to change in your life? Is it a bad habit? A bad relationship? A bad attitude? A bad situation? A bad decision? What is it that you look at & say, “This just isn’t right; it’s got to change!”? We live in a society that offers instant change.
We watch TV & change the channels just like this – click, click, click! We look at our iPhone & change the screen just like this – tap, tap, tap! We put food in our microwave & it’s ready to eat just like this – zap, zap, zap! Since we change channels & screens & food so fast it’s easy to think we should be able to change our lives with just a click, a tap, or a zap!
Tonight, in this series on the book of Exodus, we consider how the Holy Spirit changes us. God used the same process with Moses. Note that word process. Change, godly change, is a process. Godly change takes time!
Exodus 2 says that one day, when Moses was 40 years old, he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite. What does Moses do? He kills the Egyptian! The next day Moses sees the same Israelite & thinks he’ll say, “Thank you Moses! You saved my life!” But he doesn’t! Instead the Israelite is angry. He asks Moses, “Will you kill me too?”
The word is out! Pharaoh finds out! Moses knows he’s going to be taken out! He hightails it out of Egypt & ends up working for his father-in-law, Jethro, for 40 years. That’s where we pick up in Exodus 3:1, “Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law.” For 40 years all Moses sees are sheep. For 40 years all Moses hears are sheep. For 40 years all Moses thinks about are sheep! Talk about being stuck in a rut! Sheep! Sheep! And more sheep! Moses has to be thinking, “This just isn’t right. It’s got to change!”
That happens to us, too, doesn’t it? We get stuck in a rut. What is it for you? Are you overly critical of other people? Is your spending out of control? Have you lost your ambition to study the Bible, to live a life of integrity, to follow hard after Jesus? We say, “This just isn’t right. It’s got to change!”
But how? Remember process! The process of change begins with God’s presence: “The Messenger of Yahweh appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush” (Exodus 3:2). This is no ordinary Messenger. It’s the Son of God before He was born in Bethlehem! And it’s no ordinary fire. This is the fire of God!
That fire appears when God calls Gideon & Amos. That fire appears when God calls the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus says that we are baptized with fire, with the fire of God! Why is He present in fire? Wherever there is fire you can bet something happens every single time. And what is that? Change! “Here I am!” is how Moses answers the bush (Exodus 3:4).
The Hebrew word is Hinanee, meaning, “God, I’m at your service.” Hinanee is, “Take my life & let it be; consecrated Lord to thee.” Hinanee is, “Lord, I am 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 3:7–8).
“I know their suffering.” God loves us right where we are in our suffering. “I have come down.” God loves us too much to leave us where we are. He comes down with fire – the power of His Word – even today, to fire us up with devotion & passion & love for Jesus!
The process of change continues with God’s plan: “The cry of the Israelites has reached
me, & 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 age 40 in Exodus 2? Ok! Moses at age 80 in Exodus 3? No way! Moses replies in Exodus 3:11: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh & bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God doesn’t say:
“Moses, where’s your confidence? Moses, where’s your get up & go? Moses, don’t you know you can do anything if you just set your mind to it? Come on Moses – beat ‘em, bust ‘em, make that your custom!” God doesn’t say any of that. Why? Because, “Who am I?” is always the wrong question. When we want to change, “Who am I?” is dead wrong, every single time!
And the right question? “God, who are you?” Who is this God? He’s the God who changes us through a process, asking us to live by faith. He says in Exodus 3:12, “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 [all] will worship God on this mountain.”
“You all will worship God on this mountain.” Seriously! That is appalling! We don’t need a sign in the future to convince us of God’s plan. We need something right now!
It’s then we need to remember that change is a process! One step at a time! God says, “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, repairing that relationship, getting serious about the words we use, being humble or more loving. We’ll get to the mountain!
It’s like picking up a piece of plywood that’s been lying on the ground awhile. You lift it & you see bugs running in every direction, maybe even snakes & lizards! What do we do? Throw the plywood down & run! Guess what, change often looks like that. Ugly & scary with all kinds of strange life forms – even snakes & lizards!
We don’t want to deal with it so we run away & settle for a life of plain vanilla. “I’ll
stick with the stupid, smelly sheep! Come weal, come woe, my status is quo!” Then comes God’s provision. Moses has four excuses why he won’t change;
(1) “I don’t know your name” (Ex 3:13–22), so God gives Moses His name, “I AM.” Jesus is the great I AM. “The Bread of Life; the Light of the world; the resurrection & the life!”;
(2) “Israel’s leaders won’t believe me” (Ex 4:1–9). God gives Moses two miracles; the rod that turns into a snake & a leprous hand that heals;
(3) “I’m not a fluent speaker” (Ex 4:10–12). God gives him Aaron;
(4) “Somebody else can do it better” (Ex 4:13–17). God says, “Moses, you are the man!”
What excuses have you been using? “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 bush is the voice of Yahweh’s Messenger – Jesus! Messiah 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, “If we don’t retreat now, we’ll be annihilated.” Napoleon called his bugler & ordered him, “Sound the retreat,” but the 14-year-old bugler began to cry. Napoleon commanded him again, “Sound the retreat!”
The bugler replied, “I was never taught how to sound a retreat. I was only taught how to sound an advance.” “In that case,” Napoleon commanded, “Sound an advance!” The bugler sounded an advance, & 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! Yahweh is determined to change us through His presence, His plan, & His loving provision. Do you see it? It’s the fire of God! What shall we say? How about this? “Hinanee. Here I am.” Amen.
I the Lord of sea & sky, I have heard my people’s cry. All who dwell in dark & sin, my hand will save. I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright, who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send? I the Lord of snow & rain, I have borne my people’s pain. I have wept for love of them, they turn away. I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone I will speak my words to them. Whom shall I send? Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet