Speaker: Jim Jensen
Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15

From the series Are We There Yet?

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Are we there yet? You ever heard that one? I’ve heard it a few times myself. Well, welcome to Shepherd’s Gate. So glad you’re here. Whether you’re in person watching online or later on demand. Hope you had a great 4th of July weekend. Maybe it’s still ongoing for you. That’s wonderful. We had some family over and some some friends over on the fourth. It was a lot of fun. I am a little confused, though, because last week we celebrated vicar, been our pastor and training becoming associate pastor Ben. And there he is right there. Give him a hand. So, yeah, but he’s here today. But I’m speaking. So what happen? I feel like I got the, I’m now relegated to the, you know, the holiday weekends or something like that. I might have to have a staff meeting about that next week or something. Yeah, No, 

I’m just kidding. I’m glad to be here. Glad to be with you today. And I’m sure Ben is glad for the break, but he is going to lead us through the communion time later, which is really exciting. So we’re going to get to that just a minute. We’re in this series. Are we there yet? This is the first week and we’re just going to talk about life’s direction, life’s purpose. We’re to look at three different Bible characters about how God help them with their life purpose and direction. Today, we’re going to talk about Moses. And when you think about direction, the first thing that came to my mind was that I can’t really get anywhere anymore without Google Maps on Is anyone with me on that? Or maybe Waze? Do you like Waze or Apple Maps or some other summer app that keeps you? But let’s roll this back a bit and see if we can remember. So does anyone remember MapQuest when, you know, you could get it on your home computer and they had to print out the map and then you had to go or let’s roll it back a little bit more.

Does anyone ever remember using an actual map? There we go. Some of you are still doing it. Yeah. Yeah. You’re the troopers. Yeah, I’m just going to roll it back one more. Anyone ever use one of these? I asked our worship team, some of our younger members of our worship team this morning if they had used it. No, they have not. They. But they knew what it was. What is this, a compass? It helps. It points north and so you can get your direction from it. And just just to see where we are today, where is north right now? Point to north if you know where it is. Yeah, that’s that way. That’s right. You know, here around Detroit, it’s easy because our our roads go east, west and north south. We’re in a little bit of a grid. I’ve heard that men have a different sense of direction than women. I’m not going to comment more on that. Just putting it out there, I don’t know. So maybe you’re you’re in church today or you’re watching online or something and you’re like, well, you know, part of what I go to church for is to get direction, not the compass directions, of course, but direction in life.

What is my purpose? What am I here for? And, you know, we ask questions about that, and maybe you’re asking questions like, I’m not sure about my purpose or I thought I knew, but things have changed or why this God seems silent about the direction of my life. How come I don’t feel like he’s talking to me more about that? And you know what? Those are good questions. And Moses had those questions, too. We’re going to look at his story, a part of his story, and see the lessons that we can learn about direction life. So you ready? Here we go. This is from Exodus. 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 Horeb, 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’ll go over and see the strange sight. Why the Bush does not burn up. 

There was a lot about Moses in the Bible. We can’t cover his whole story. There’s a lot there. But just the highlights. To understand this moment right here. Moses grew up in Israelite in Egypt. He grew up though in in Pharaoh’s Palace. He was kind of a prince. The rest of the Israelites were slaves. When he became an adult, he kind of saw this disparity and he saw an Egyptian mistreating Hebrew slave, and he killed the Egyptian. He he just he murdered him. And fearing the reprisals of the Egyptians, he fled Egypt into the desert where he met a man named Jethro, became a shepherd. All of that was 40 years ago. And here he is today. You have to look carefully at this, Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father in law. It’s not even his flock 40 years, and he doesn’t even have his own sheep. It’s a rental. Yeah. And you know, notice he’s going to the far side of the wilderness. So it’s not just good enough to spend 40 years in the desert. He’s going all the way to the other side, not just away from Egypt, away from everything, away from his family. Classic signs of depression. Moses is in a bad spot.

I think this is the first thing that we can kind of learn from Moses the story. Most of us don’t serve God well in the present because we’re living in the past or we’re worried about our future. Does that resonate with you at all? You know, Moses was worried about his past. I worry about the future. I’m a I’m a future where it comes out in the summer with vacations. We like to vacation as a family. We took a vacation to Chicago a couple of weeks ago, was a lot of fun. I planned that vacation. I knew where we were driving. I knew where we were staying. I did all the museum reservations and ticket reservations in advance. I even looked at the map and saw which direction Uber might go. As we went from one place to the next. I’m just a planner because if I don’t do that, then in the moment I don’t enjoy the vacation. I’m just worried about the next thing. Anyone with me on that I fellow planners in the room, if you ask, the rest of you are just enjoying it. Stick with that. It’s better.

Yeah. So I’m worried about the future. I just actually a couple of weeks ago, my daughter’s car took a turn for the worse. It actually the engine imploded and it’s it was done suddenly. And I got into that worry mode. Then, too. I’m like, we don’t have a car. How are we going to deal with this? Can I get a better car this time? How are we going to do the logistics of having four people in my home that are all working this summer and we only have two cars left? How’s that going to happen? I don’t know. I’m just a planner, so I worry about the future. Moses is stuck. In the past. It’s been 40 years now. Granted, he made a big mistake. I mean, murder. That’s big. A big mistake. But he’s stuck. He’s. He’s letting his past circumvent and sideline his present and his future. But there’s one thing that Moses has going for him. He’s. He’s wanting to be alone. He’s on the other side of the wilderness. He sees something unusual, and he’s like, I got to check that out.

He’s still curious about life. He hasn’t given up on life. He may have given up on a lot of dreams and plans that he had, but he hasn’t given up on life. Are you still curious about something unusual that happened? So let’s continue with the story. 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 were 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 hit his face because he was afraid to look at God. Now I wonder if you’re thinking what I’m thinking when I read this passage. How come? And God talks to me? I don’t get a talking flaming shrubbery right? I mean, wow, what a sign. Like, it’s so dramatic. So obvious. How come it’s not as obvious in my life? I mean, come on. That’s what we think, right? It’s true. But what can we learn from this? How do we recognize when God is calling us? Well, one thing we need to recognize is that even though Moses saw the burning bush, he didn’t know that God was speaking to him. At that point. He was just curious about something. He was just curious about something unusual in his world. And he went to look at it.

I think there’s a pattern here. God doesn’t speak to us. I don’t believe with burning bushes anymore. Maybe he has. I’m not going to, you know, God can do anything. But I think in my life and probably in your life, that hasn’t happened. But has he’s spoken to you? Has he called you? Has he gotten your attention? I think it’s important for us to be eyes open on that, just like Moses was looking for something unusual, a pattern that’s broken. Maybe it could be as easy as someone invites you to church. And you here today. Something unusual. Maybe you haven’t done that much before. Maybe you read the Bible regularly, but a verse jumps out at you and you’re like, It’s almost like you’d never read it before. And it has like such a deep meaning. It’s unusual the way that it happens. Maybe God is speaking in that moment. It could be a crisis, something in your life that’s painful, difficult, a transition, anything out of the ordinary. God often uses those moments to speak to us. You know, maybe the question we should ask is not whether is God speaking to me, but am I listening? I think we can get on autopilot.

I think maybe Moses was on autopilot for decades in the wilderness tending sheep. I commute to work like many people, and the road that I go on is a road that has many other places that I’ll go if I’m not working. Okay, So I know this happens to you, but when I’m when I’m not commuting to work, but I’m going to say the grocery store or Home Depot or something to that, I’ll miss my turn because I’m on the road to work and I do that so often I just go, I blow right past it, and then I have to do like a michigan left where there is no Michigan left and get back.

You know what I mean? You know what I mean about that. So. yeah. You know, sometimes you just get on all autopilot and we and we miss things. We need to be like Moses and look around. You know, when the I mentioned that a car died, one of our cars died. It was my daughter Julia’s car. But Haley, my youngest daughter, was driving at the time, and I kind of went into autopilot mode.

You know, my first thoughts were, what am I going to do? And how am I going to deal with this situation? And a better call, a tow truck. And I wonder if the car’s ruined and it was or like, how can I get a new car and how, how long is that going to take and how much money is that going to be?

And can we afford that? And it was just kind of like on autopilot. And then I had this thought that kind of came out of nowhere and the thought was Haley’s safe. And it just interrupted me. It interrupted my autopilot. And I’m like, Right. My daughter was driving this car when the engine imploded, but she’s fine. And it could have happened other places. It happened less than a mile from her home. I was there quickly. And, you know, we could have been on the highway. There’s a lot of construction this time of year. You know, the cones are out and it could have been in a place where there was no where to get off. It could have been much worse. But Haley was safe.

Julia was safe. And in that moment, I paid attention to that thought. And I thought, you know, there’s two ways I can react to this. I can get all upset about the future, which is the thing that happens to me. Or I can just be thankful my daughters are okay. And it was like God was talking to me and saying, You know what? My direction is for you right now. Just be thankful. We’ll take care of the car. Your daughters are safe. I took care of them. It made a big difference. It made a big difference in the last couple of weeks for me. How do we recognize when God is calling us? Sometimes we just have to pay attention to those unusual things in our lives. Let’s see what happens with Moses. The Lord said, This is talking to Moses. Now. 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 bring them up out of the land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

The home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Emirates peasants activites and Jeb sites. 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 the people, the Israelites out of Egypt. This is Moses. His call. God is giving him his his call. He’s speaking to him. I think the next logical question, how do we know when God is calling me? Maybe we can find that out. But when can we expect to hear from God? When is he speak? Under what circumstance? Answers. I think that a lot of times we want the details. You know, we want everything figured out. I know I do. Sometimes it just doesn’t come. It’s just the direction. And I think God wants us to trust him in that moment. This is what Proverbs 16 nine says in their hearts. Humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Isn’t that an interesting verse? Humans like to plan their course. You know, I like to know when we’re on a vacation where we’re going, you know, so where we’re staying, where we’re going to eat, what the transportation is going to be like, what activities we’re going to do.

That’s not wrong. That’s just the humans like to make plans. But what’s the difference then? The Lord establishes their steps. Well, steps are just one foot in front of the other. What is this? It’s just a direction God doesn’t always give us the details of everything He does Give us a direction we have to trust in that. God gave me a heart of thankfulness in that moment that my daughters were safe with that car.

And that’s not the details he didn’t say. And now I have a car just for you, just for your daughters. He may. He probably does. He hasn’t given it to me, but he did give me what I needed, which was the direction you’re going to be thankful. And you’re just going to walk through this without worrying about it, because I protected the most important things. Your daughters. That’s the direction. Sometime that’s sometimes that’s all we that’s all we get from God. I will say this, though. Have you ever looked back at a situation where the details were unclear, but you clearly saw looking behind it after it, God working. Yeah, that has happened. We don’t want to discount the fact that even if God doesn’t give us all the details, he is still in the details.

He’s working out. Don’t forget to look back. Look back at your life and thank God for the details, for the way he’s worked everything together for our good. You know, it reminds me of my career choice. A lot of us, when we think of direction, we think of our life choice of career, because as Americans, we’re tied up in that idea, identity of what we do. And I felt the call to ministry in the church, and that’s what I’ve been doing full time ministry for over 25 years. When I first started it, though, I did feel God confirming that I was called the ministry. It was first my mom said, You know, I think you’re going to be in ministry someday. And I was like, Forget about it. That’s not going to happen. But it did. It totally did. She was right. But other people also confirm that, and I was given opportunities to minister, even though I wasn’t in full time ministry at the time. But I was feeling pulled to that. And so I did feel called, but I didn’t have the details. I didn’t know exactly which church, I didn’t know how long I’d be at any particular church.

I didn’t know what state or region that I would live in. I didn’t get those details that God didn’t give them to me. Sometimes we just have to trust him. With those looking back, I can see it. I can see that God was directing my steps even to this church and the role that I have here at Shepherds Gate.

But we don’t always get that. We have to walk in the direction that God is sending us, even if we don’t have the details. When does God speak to us? I also think He speaks to us when we see in alignment with what he has already given us. Think about Moses for for a moment. He did make a mistake, but he had the passion. What was his passion for? His passion was for his people. His people were enslaved free. He wanted to release them from that slavery. That was what motivated him. He made a mistake and he was sidelined for that for 40 years. But that was his passion. Where did he get that passion? God gave him that God was working in his life. Even then, often the plans and the direction that God has for us is in alignment with what He’s already given us. This is what, when he calls to Moses from the burning bush, he’s like, Now’s the time. Now go bring my people out. Often God’s direction is in line with what He’s already doing. Let me ask you, what has he given you?

What are your passions? What are your talents? What are your abilities? What are the things that you enjoy doing? What are the things that you’re good at? God never wastes anything. It’s him. He’s the one that’s working in our lives from the very beginning. And so when will God speak to us? When it’s aligned, When it’s aligned with his plans for us? What he’s put into us. But let’s move on. Moses said to God. But I should say, But. But Moses said to God, it’s important word. Who am I? That I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? And God said, I will be with you and this will be the sign to you that it is I who has sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain. Moses said to God, Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers have sent me to you. And they asked me, What is his name? Then? What shall I tell them? God said to Moses, I am who I am. This is what you ought to say to the Israelites. I am has sent me to you. Well, Moses hedging his bets a little bit here, and we’re not going to go on in the passage. But he he does this a couple more times with God. What’s going on? Well, we live in a fallen world, and Moses was afraid.

Moses was insecure. 

He messed it up before. He’d been living with that mistake for four decades. It was deep in his heart. Who am I? He says? Who am I that I could do this? Sin gets in the way of God’s direction by distracting and confusing us from His plans and direction for our life. In fact, sin distorts reality from God, showing us clearly who He is and where he wants us to go. We live in a fallen world. We have sin, whether it’s pride, greed, anger, doubt. For me, it’s fear. When I began my career in full time ministry, I had some fears. I resisted it for a little while, and I wondered if I could provide for my family if I was in full time ministry. I wondered if would burn out, if I would work too hard. You work hard in ministry? I wondered. I wondered if I I’d burn myself out. I had fear that held me back. What is it to hold you back? I think it kind of brings up the final question. What information do I really need to know? What do I need to know from God? This is what Moses is trying to get at first.

Yes. Who am I? And isn’t that what we ask of God? We may hear from God. We may see this direction, but we say, Look, really, how can I be the one to do this? How can I how can I be used of God? I mean, I’m just a normal person. I’m just living a normal life. I’m nothing special.

How can I do this? And besides, I know that I’m a sinner. I know that I have. I’ve made mistakes. Who am I? Moses needs to know. It’s an existential question. It’s interesting. God’s answer. God says to when Moses says, Who am I? God says, I will be with you. Which doesn’t sound like an answer. Who am I? I will be with you. But it is. It is an answer. What does God seem to Moses saying? You’re focusing on the wrong things. Who are you? You’re someone that God loves. You’re someone whom God is with. You’re someone whom God will support. I will be with you. That’s the important thing to know, isn’t it? God is with us.

He won’t leave us hanging. Who am I? Who are you? Your love, by God, that’s who you are. Then Moses said, Okay. But God, who are you? Who are you? And that’s the other fundamental question that we have to ask. Can I trust God? And God gives a very interesting answer. He says, I am who I am, which that’s how it’s translated in English Bibles. But what he really said to Moses was a name. The name of God. He gave himself a name, Yahweh. I am Yahweh. The translation on the 10th of the name is ambiguous. It means I am who I am. But it could also mean I was who I was. I am who I am. And I. And I will. I will be who I will be. In other words, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I am who I am. The name can also be translated. I am the God who exists. I’m actually there. I’m actually here. I am real. Moses is saying, Who are you? God? And God says, I am Yahweh. I am really here. I am really God. I was when you were in Egypt, I was with you in the desert and I will be with you as you go back to free your people. As we end the message today, I just want to throw this picture up. It’s kind of dramatic. It looks more like a tree than a bush, But okay, it’s a burning bush. Let’s just have a time of reflection. What is God saying to you? What does this mean to you? If you had a burning bush moment in your life.

have you heard God speaking to you about something? 


I know what it means to me. You know, way back when God spoke to me about what the direction of my career, the direction that my life should go. And I accepted that. I have trusted him for over 25 years, but it goes on even recently, even a year ago, when I moved from the worship side of ministry to the executive side. And that challenge that was presented to me and saying, God, are you still there? Are you still with me? Are you still supporting me? Yes. The direction is clear. Yes, I am still with you. That’s what it means to me. I continue to trust him. What does it mean to you? First of all, what fires you up? What is your passion? Do you know that God wants to align what He’s already given you with a future plan? With a future direction? Have you aligned your will with God? You know. The sin that confuses us. The sin that distorts the reality of what God has for us. That has been taken care of by Jesus. What do we have today that Moses didn’t have?

We had Jesus. He came. He died for our sin. He rose again from the dead. That’s the gospel. Our sin is taken care of. He’s given us his word. We can look in his word to see so much direction and clarity. And he’s given us the Holy Spirit that lives within us, that continually speaks to us of God’s direction.

Have you received that free gift? God has already done the work. Have you received the gift? Are you staying curious? Just want to ask are you on autopilot? It’s easy to get on autopilot. It happens to me all the time. Instead, are you looking to see what God may be saying to you even this week? Are you curious about life or are you looking for the things that God is showing you? Maybe he is speaking to us more than we think, but we’re just not recognizing the signs. God was always with Moses, and he’s always with you. He’s always with me. If nothing else today, remember, he is the God who is there. He is Yahweh. He exists. He loves you. He has a plan. You. He will support you. He won’t leave you alone.

That’s an encouraging thought for today. Let’s pray. God, Thank you for those burning bush moments. Thank you for speaking to us. Help us to have clarity. Help us to be looking for the ways in which you speak and help us to be ready to respond. I pray that even if we don’t get the details of everything, that we would trust you, that we would trust you with the direction that you’re sending us.

Help us to move forward in confidence and in this week, even help us to be open to what you are saying in our lives. And God as we move now into a time of celebrating communion. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for the clarity of the gospel. Thank you for your word. Thank you for increasing our faith in this moment. Help us to celebrate your involvement in our lives. Just as you were involved with Moses, his life. You are involved in our lives. And as we receive the elements today, Lord, remind us of that and increase our faith. Let’s spend just a few moments now reflecting. Just asking God to forgive any sin that might be in our life. Any way in which we have not measured up any way we have failed to trust him. Let’s ask God to forgive us sin, and to prepare our hearts