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I Am

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2015 6:00 am

I Am

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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Good morning Summit Church, at all of our campus locations across the Triangle, we are one church that meets in eight different locations around Riley Durham.

We have chosen to pursue what we call a multi-site strategy because we believe that is more effective than building one big gargantuan Six Flags Over Jesus type of building somewhere in the middle of the Triangle and asking people to drive 45 minutes to it. Plus we have learned over the years that it is easier for you to pursue things like community and mission, which is essential to being a part of a church, when the church facility is itself close by. So our motto has been and is stay where you are, serve where you live, let's be the church there in your community. Anytime we go outside of Riley Durham we always plant an independent church, not a campus, but at least to reach part of our city we have multiplied campuses here. And so we are constantly asking the Holy Spirit where He would have us put our next campus.

And so to that end I have got a big official exciting announcement for you, so drum roll please or there you go, make a sound in your mind, whatever. We are officially launching on September 27th the Alamance County Campus in Mebane as our ninth summit campus. So there are a handful of you from out in that area all across our church that are excited about that.

This area has increasingly become a place where people who work and do life in Riley Durham, where they live, in fact there are many of you that are listening to me today at one of our campuses who call that area home. Over the last few months a core group from Alamance County has been gathering to pray and to plan for this. They've met once a month and each time they have met the group has grown by 40%. At the last meeting they had over 175 and they baptized four new believers and they have not even launched yet. And one of my dreams as a pastor is that I would do more kind of following our members as they expand the kingdom of God and that's definitely been what it's been like this time.

It has been absolutely incredible to watch. So one more time at all of our campuses can we put our hands together and thank God for what we are seeing Him do. If you have a Bible now is the time to take it out and if you'll begin to open it to Exodus 34. Exodus 34, we are in the last week that we have been now for several weeks in a series on the name of God because to know God I've explained to you, you have to know His name.

Your name is important to you, God's name is important to Him. We have based our study in its entirety on Exodus 34 verses 6 and 7 where God declares His name to Moses. I've explained to you that this verse, Exodus 34, 6 and 7 was kind of like the Jewish people's John 3, 16. Exodus 34, 6 and 7 is the most quoted verse in the Bible by other Bible writers. Moses says to God, God I want to see your glory and God says to him, Exodus 33, 19, I will make all my goodness pass before you and I will proclaim before you my name the Lord. When God is going to reveal His glory, it's not through this image of brightness or anything like that, it's by declaring His name. Verse 34, verse 5, and the Lord then descended in the cloud and He proclaimed there to Moses the Lord, Yahweh, the Lord, a God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

But who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers and the children and the children's children to the third and to the fourth generation. Every week in this series we've taken one of those descriptions that is attached to the name of God and we've tried to unpack it. Today we're actually going to look at the name itself, Yahweh, or sometimes in English we say Jehovah. Whenever your English Bible has the word Lord in all caps, that's what it means is that it's the proper name of God. It is a very unusual name in Hebrew and as I'm going to explain to you, the fact that it's so unusual reveals so much about how you were supposed to understand and how we relate to God. God first revealed this name to Moses, not in Exodus 34, He first revealed this name to Moses back in Exodus 3.

So if you've got your Bible, flip back and say bye-bye to Exodus 34, we won't be there again today. Go all the way back to Exodus 3 because you're going to see that how God reveals this name to Moses is going to give you the ground rules for knowing Him and is going to show you what happens to you when you actually do know Him. All right, so Exodus 3, as you're turning there, I'll explain that Exodus 3 opens up with Moses as a pretty discouraged, defeated man. Moses had started out his life with a pretty good deal of confidence, evidently he was a good looking guy, looked something like Christian Bale I think, in a pretty high paying job. He was literally the prince of Egypt and so everything was going great but then he felt like God had wanted him to have a career change and to deliver Israel and he was just trying to obey but things went really bad. The Jewish people that he was supposed to deliver, they criticized him and they rejected him.

Then Pharaoh got angry at him and he ended up killing a man. That's a pretty bad day at work, right? Everybody hates you, your boss fires you and you kill someone on the way to the parking lot.

Well, needless to say, that all left Moses feeling pretty defeated and so for 40 years now as we come into Exodus 3, for 40 years, Moses has wandered around in the wilderness nursing that failure and nursing that failure and letting him feel insecure. I would guess that most of you know what it's like to feel insecure, to feel like you're not up to some particular challenge. Maybe you just got hired for a job and you're not sure that you can do it and what's even worse is everybody around you feels like you probably can't do it either and you can just kind of feel them looking at you that way.

Maybe you're dating someone new and you're not sure if you measure up to their family's expectations and every time you go to dinner you feel like you're being judged or maybe you've just embarked on some new phase of life and you've just become a mother or maybe you're living on your own now for the first time or you're going into retirement. You're just not sure that you have what it takes for this next stage of life. Maybe you're single again and many of our brothers and sisters at our campus that meets in Wake County Prison have told me that they feel this when it comes time for their release sometimes. You know, they're like, for 20 years I haven't lived in the free world and now I just don't know if I've got what it takes to thrive anymore in that kind of world. Maybe you feel like God has called you to a ministry and you just feel insufficient for it. I hear from our church planters around the world who say, you know, you preached a sermon and I got all inspired and I thought I'm going to go over and I'm going to take Jesus over here to the Middle East and I get here and I just feel like I don't know what I'm doing and I feel completely overwhelmed and it's your fault and so I'm talking to you right now.

Maybe you just feel overwhelmed by life, the condition that I like to refer to as parenthood. Every year I'll tell you guys I feel like I know less and less about parenting. Before I had kids I had these like several awesome theories on parenting and I taught them to everybody. I taught them here at the church.

Many of you took notes on them when I taught them. Now I have four kids and I've got no great ideas on parenting, not one, so I just feel less confident. You feel overwhelmed by it. Insecurity is a voice inside of you that whispers I am not blank enough. Here's a question for you. What is most often going in that blank for you?

What's most often going in that blank? I'm not blank enough. I'm not good looking enough. I'm not athletic enough. I'm not smart enough.

I'm not young enough, funny enough, spiritual enough. In the age of Periscope and Instagram these feelings of insecurity are heightened because no matter what you do it's always easier to find somebody doing it better. I never go on Instagram as a rule around Valentine's Day because no matter what I do there's always some guy out there putting me to shame. I got my wife a bracelet and I took her to her favorite restaurant.

Some dude got his girl a pony and took her backpacking through Europe. You know the feelings of insecurity. Here's a statement by A.W.

Tozer that we've looked at every single week that's sort of been a core here for our series. What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important and the most defining thing about us. The most determining fact about any man or woman is not what he or she at a given time may say or do but what he in his deep heart conceives of God to be like. The most shaping determining factor on the trajectory of your life, on your emotional stability on where you go and what you do is what you conceive of God to be like.

It's not how much you work out, it's not how much education you have, it's not even the family that is around you. It is what you think of God to be like. You're going to see that that phrase is especially true when it comes to how Moses is going to deal with these insecurities that he has. Exodus 3, let's begin in verse 3. Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father, stop for a minute, you see what I mean?

I mean, listen, when you are 60 years old and you are still living in your father-in-law's basement, that is failure in any culture at all. And he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and he came to Hared, the mountain of God. And there the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw, however, that though the bush was on fire, it didn't burn up. So Moses thought, I will go over and I will see this strange sight, why the bush does not really burn up. Verse 4, when the Lord saw that he'd gone over to look, key phrase, we'll come back to it, God called to him from within the bush, Moses, Moses. And Moses said, here I am. Verse 5, do not come any closer, God said, take off your sandals, for the place where you're standing is holy ground. Then he said, I am the God of your father, I'm the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and Jacob. At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. And then the Lord said, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt.

I've heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and I'm concerned about their suffering. That's a whole sermon series right there, isn't it? God has heard the cries of your suffering. Verse 8, so I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and I will bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land that is flowing with milk and honey. So now you go, I'm sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people and the Israelites out of Egypt. But Moses said to God, wait a minute, what?

Who am I? When did the subject switch to me? We were talking about you coming down to deliver the Israelites and that sounded really cool when I was going to have a front row seat for that, it sounded awesome. But then you all of a sudden switched to me doing it and that is not cool because I tried that once and I killed a guy and Pharaoh doesn't like me and they criticized me and I ain't ever doing that again. Verse 12, and God said, I will be with you. Notice how God, by the way, deals with Moses' insecurities. He did not reinforce Moses with positive thoughts. He did not say, Moses, you've underestimated your talent, Moses, here's a mirror. Look into the mirror and repeat after me, my name is Moses, I am a bad man. Now close your eyes, Moses, and visualize yourself walking into Pharaoh, experience the feelings of taking Pharaoh down, none of that pop psychology garbage. Simply, I will be with you because real confidence in life comes not from competence, real confidence in life comes from the assurance of God's presence.

You want to know how you can go confidently in the next phase of your life? It's not that you're uber awesome, it's that God is omnipresent. Verse 13, Moses said to God, suppose I go to the Israelites and they say, I say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say, well, what is his name?

What will I tell them? Verse 14, God said to Moses, I am who I am. That's what you're to say to the Israelites, I am has sent you. The word in Hebrew for I am is the word hayah, hayah, wherever you see this, I am, or Lord in all caps, that's the word, hayah, it's from the verb to be, just means, in fact, you want to learn a Hebrew word, you want to say it? That's a fun word to say, hayah, say it, if you didn't get a little bit on your neighbor, you didn't say it right, okay, hayah, hayah, okay, I am, it just means God says I am, he is, I do not have a beginning or an ending, I didn't come from anywhere, I'm not going anywhere, I am the same all the time, forever, I am, God, now you see why he chose the image of the fire and the bush, because he's like that fire, fires need fuel to burn, but the fire that Moses saw was self-sustaining, the bush that it was in did not burn up, right, it was self-sustaining, well God, the eternal I am needs no external fuel, nothing preceded God, nothing created him, he needs nothing, he doesn't require anything to be complete or to be happy, he is self-sustaining, he is eternal, he is unchanging, he is always and forever the same, everything that has ever existed had its beginning in him, he was there before it started, if you could go back to the beginning of the universe, however it began, you would see that he would be there, he is eternal, he is unchanging, he is always and forever, he is the source that gives life to everything else, he is there in the middle of it, holding it all together, and he will be there when it all ends.

I've told you every once in a while, we just need to try to wrap our minds around, even though we can't do it, try to wrap our minds around the size of God, and I believe that God not accidentally gave us an open theater where we could think about it every single night, you know, one of my watches that I own, not this one, but one of them has a little clear back on it, so you can look into it and just see the, you know, all the awesome, you know, engineering that goes in, they're making a watch, you're looking at it and you're supposed to be amazed, well I think God did that with the universe every night, he just kind of made it this open theater where you just walk out and you just get overwhelmed at the size, not of the universe, but of the God who just spoke it into existence, you know they say the light from the closest star is four light years away, which, we just hear the light year, we don't even have any, you know, it's hard to get your mind around that, light travels at 186,282.2 miles per second, seventh grade science class, got a hundred on that quiz, so that's how fast it travels, every single second, and it takes four years to get just to earth, again it's like, goes right over our head, right, if you fire a 30-alt-6 at a deer, the bullet travels at just a little over half a mile a second, it feels instantaneous, half a mile a second, right, so the New Horizon deal that just went up to Pluto and shot back the images to us, traveled at 20 miles a second, 40 times faster than a 30-alt-6 bullet, and it took nine years to get to Pluto, nine years traveling at more than 20 miles a second, and we're not even out of our solar system yet, and then you keep going, you up the speed to 186,282.2 miles per second, which is the speed the Millennium Falcon goes when it goes into warp speed, if you travel that speed for four years, you'll come to the first star, and if you want to get to the edge of the universe, you got to travel that speed for 91 billion years, and then if you got there, when you finally got there, there would God be saying, I've been here the whole time, and if you got all the way to the other side of the universe at the same time, somebody else went over there, he'd be there too, he was outside it all, he's been there before it all, he's big, that's kind of the whole point, he's bigger than big, he's bigger than all the words we use to say big, God is not just huge, gigantic, humongous, or gargantuan, he is beyond words, this God, this God says to Moses, think about that, Moses is having a conversation with that God, say to the Israelites, the I Am, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, that God has sent me to you, this is my name forever, this is the name you shall call me from generation to generation, you ever just call God I Am? Hello is, you are, you will be, you always are, Moses said to the I Am, but I Am, I've never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant, I am slow of speech and tongue, we have this image of Moses being like Charlton Heston or Christian Bale and he speaks with a deep Val Kilmore-esque voice, that is not true, that either means that he had a speech impediment, he stuttered, or he had a really small mousy voice like Pee Wee Herman for you children of the 80s, it was not impressive, and the Lord said to him, who gave human beings their mouths, Moses, who makes them deaf or mute, who gives them sight or makes them blind, is it not I? The I Am, the revelation of God's name is I Am, is gonna show you three vitally important things about your relationship to God, first, I'm gonna explain it, it shows you how you encounter God, and let me just warn you, this section, when I talk through this at first here, it's gonna be a little bit philosophical, but what I wanna try to show you is that burning bushes still exist all around us, you see, we see the burning bush, we're like, oh, you know, I've never seen that, and you probably haven't ever seen that, but I'm gonna show you that if you see the burning bush as a metaphor, which it's supposed to also not just be an actual burning bush, but a metaphor, you'll see that actually God does the same thing today, and he still speaks to people in the same way, I'll show you that, and the second thing is the I Am, the name I Am is gonna give you a ground rule, an important ground rule, it's very counter-cultural for Americans, and how you know God, and then the third thing is I Am shows you what knowing God will actually do to your sense of self-identity, okay, number one, I Am shows us how we encounter God, typically, we do not encounter God through a lifetime of philosophical reasoning, instead, we encounter God through an experience that we have where we're simply confronted by the fact that he is, and that he is speaking, he just is, many times, that encounter begins, as it did with Moses, with an unanswered question, Moses had it with the burning bush, he turns aside, it says to investigate it, God did not resolve the mystery of the burning bush, instead, God spoke out of the bush and says I Am, alright, a burning bush today is an unanswered question that leads you to ask questions out of which God begins to speak and say I Am, for some people, it's the mystery of the cosmos, Antony Flew, if you're not into philosophy, that name probably doesn't mean a lot to you, but Antony Flew was one of the primary agnostic atheist men of the last 50 or 60 years, right before he died, right before he died, atheist Antony Flew comes out and says, hey, I have decided there has to be a God, and again, if you're not into philosophy, you don't realize what a huge deal that is, that'd be like Coach K coming out and saying I'm actually a Carolina fan, have been the whole time, it was a big deal, it was a big deal, and he said the reason is because I just can no longer put my head in the sand, I have to acknowledge that with the intensity and the complexity of design that is evident in the universe, you can't just say that it's all one big cosmic accident, Thomas Edison said there's no way that you can look soberly at the complexities of our world and deny that there's got to be a captain on the bridge somewhere, for Albert Einstein, that unanswered question was the enigma of the depth of evil in the human heart, he said that points to realities that are beyond biological and beyond just evolution, he said it is easier to denature plutonium than it is to denature the evil spirit of mankind, I read one atheist who very candidly, and this is not common, who said that the most troubling thing for him was the problem of universal human rights, he says why is it that we believe in universal human rights, let me use his words, I'm an atheist but I believe in universal human rights which is problematic because I believe we got here by trampling on the weak, those of us with stronger genes dominated those with weaker genes, that's why we survive, so why would we give people rights now, some of my atheist friends say that the will of the majority grants people rights, but what if the majority says that we can oppress a certain kind of person, what if the majority decides that a certain characteristic needs to be eliminated from the gene pool, is there not a standard above the will of the majority to whom the oppressed can appeal, his conclusion, I don't know why human universal rights exist, but I know that they have to, thus I temporarily abandon my world view in order to hold such a view, that's a burning bush that ask a question that you then go to, it's not enough in itself, but it leads people to ask a question that God then says I don't necessarily resolve the issue, but I'm going to tell you I am, for other people the question is less philosophical, it's more a longing they feel in something like the birth of a child, and you look at that and you say that's not just a group of colliding chemicals, it happens in a yearning that you experience when someone you love dies, and something inside you tells you there's more than just biology and atoms and science going into this, one of the most fascinating testimonies of this happened from Steve Jobs, the last interview he gave before he died was on 60 minutes, 60 minutes it was the interviewer asked him right toward the end of the interview, I watched it, he said, he said is, do you believe in God, do you believe in God, and Steve Jobs said, in fact let me quote, I rewind it and wrote it down, throughout my life sometimes I have believed in God, sometimes I haven't, but ever since I found out I have cancer, I find myself believing a bit more, because I want to believe in an afterlife, when you die it can't just all disappear, the wisdom we've accumulated as a race, somehow it lives on, it can't be like an on-off switch where you just click it and then you're done, incidentally he said that's why I don't like putting an on-off switch on Apple devices, which if you've ever had an Apple device, you know how hard it is to figure out how to turn it off, he said that's intentional because I don't like to just be able to turn something off, I don't like the concept of it just ceasing, that is a burning bush, for other people it occurs through reading the Bible and experiencing the fact that there's somebody living and moving in that Bible, Anne Rice one of my favorites that I sometimes refer to, she was an atheist writer who wrote all these vampire novels, she said my biggest work I ever did was going to be on what happened around the birth of Jesus, because I knew that the real Jesus the Christians believed in, that definitely wasn't the right guy, and so I was going to figure it out, she said I knew that when all my study I was going to come up with a gay Jesus or a communist Jesus or something like that, she said after 10 years of study, she said there is no possible way anybody with an open mind looking at the evidence could conclude that anything else happened except for the man rose from the dead, and she says I didn't want to believe it, she says but there's just no way, she says I encountered the most biased scholarship I've ever encountered in my life by people who find some way to twist the evidence to pretend that he didn't actually raise from the dead, she said what was even weirder to me is the more I got into it and the deeper I studied it, it felt like I wasn't just studying someone, it felt like somebody was studying me, she said it was haunting, I felt like I was being pursued rather than the one who pursued, reminded me what Peter Crafe the professor of philosophy at Boston College always says when he began to read the Bible, he said it was like looking through a keyhole into a room and then suddenly finding somebody to look back at you, that's a burning bush that suddenly he speaks and says I am, here's my question for you, have you had this kind of experience? Maybe it wasn't this dramatic, but see the book of Ecclesiastes says that God has put eternity in your heart, which means he's put a restlessness, he puts unanswered questions, those feelings of restlessness, those questions, they're burning bushes, you look upward and you have questions, you look inward and you sense longing, that's him and you know there's more to life than just in love and consciousness and just biology and colliding chemicals, when you turn aside like Moses did and you listen, you'll find him, the great I am speaking out of that, so it shows you how you encounter him, he is and he speaks, here's the second thing, I am, the name I am gives us the ground rule for knowing God, it gives us the ground rule for knowing God, I am who I am means, by contrast, I am not who you define me to be, I am who I am means, this is who I am, I'm not who you think you want me to be, theologians talk about the difference, hang with me, I know this is a tad bit nerdy, but theologians talk about the difference in the theology from below and the theology from above, the theology from below is philosophical speculation where we put the brightest minds together and we come up with what God must be like, it can be debated, it can be challenged, your ideas, my ideas, we argue about them and we see what explains things the best, right, the theology from above is the understanding that our beliefs about God did not come up from smart minds below, but was actually delivered to us from above, the characteristic of theology from above that shows if you believe it is you don't argue with it, it has to be received or rejected, but it cannot be debated or reshaped because if it comes from God then you just accept it for what it is, right, okay, one more philosopher, this is the last one I promise and I only do this like once a year for the handful of nerds in our congregate just to show them I got game too, alright, here we go, Plato, Plato talked about the theology from below, he didn't call that, but in his book The Republic, he said essentially philosophy is like a group of men sitting in a cave staring at the back wall and there is the light from the sun behind them coming into the cave creating shadows on the wall, they can't turn around because they're chained up and they can't see what's actually outside of the cave so based on these shadows they start to speculate, he said that's what philosophy is, we just get dim shadows but we can never actually see what's there, right, and then later, not in The Republic but in a later book, Plato reflected on that, he says if only, if only somebody from outside could actually come in and then explain to us what's out there then we could see with clarity, what he is talking about is the difference in theology from below and theology from above, Christians of course believe that that one who came into the cave was Jesus Christ of Nazareth who didn't come with good ideas about God, he came with the actual revelation of God and the sign that you believe in it is that you don't edit it and you don't reshape it, you just either accept it or you reject it, here is my question for you, which theology do you believe in, do you believe in the one from below or the one from above, most of you would say well I believe in the one from above, the fact that you want to edit it and reshape it and change it shows that you don't really believe that it's from above but you still hold to the one that's from below because it either is from God or it's not from God, well you know I don't really like that part of the Bible, I'm just going to change that because my God would never be like that, you don't get your own personal God because he is who he is, not who you want him to be and all you've got for many of you is just a figment of your imagination, a deified version of yourself and that's no God at all, Tim Keller describes it, he calls it the Stepford Wives God, I've never seen the movie Stepford Wives, I think it's an old movie so if you're over 50 maybe you've seen it but basically the gist of it goes like this, again I've never seen it but it's a group of men decide that their wives are annoying because they contradict them and they make them mad and don't do what they want them to do and that's why I don't see this movie because I don't relate to it at all and so they create this like robot race of wives who essentially do exactly what these guys want them to do and at first it feels awesome, it's just awesome but then it's very unfulfilling because they don't actually know a real person, they just know a projection of themselves and Keller said that's a picture of how a lot of people are with God, they don't like the real gods or they reshape God into what they want him to be and they think well this makes me feel good but it's just a figment of your imagination and you might as well give up the charade, that's what kids do, my daughter, my second daughter is of the more imaginative variety let's say and when she was five or six years old she had, we always called it Allie's World because at any given point she was just you know kind of, and in her world everything was perfect, in fact there was a guy over at our house and he was kind of messing with her and he says hey I'm in Allie's World and she's five years old, she looks up and she says how did you get in here?

Everything in her world is like she wants it to be but it's what a kid sees, it's not real, it's not real, you are kind of like that with God as you've got this God that makes you feel like oh I'm comfortable but it's not real. The theology from above means I am who I am and that God who is cannot be reshaped or edited or debated or refashioned, you either receive him for who he is or reject him. Alright third, knowing God's name, knowing God's name as I am, number three, transforms your identity. As I mentioned to you, Moses was really insecure, he had personal disabilities, he had a speech impediment, he had personal failures, he killed an Egyptian and been rejected. Because of those things he had a lot of personal doubt, in fact scholars say that when Moses says in verse 11, who am I, they say that in Hebrew you can see that that is a reflection of the same question that the Jewish people threw back in his face in Exodus 2 the first time he came to deliver them. When he showed up they were like who are you Jack, what are you telling us what to do? And so their doubts about him when he repeats that question shows that the doubts they have put upon him he has now taken into his own identity.

Because somebody criticized you for so long that you've actually started to believe it about yourself, maybe it was a mom or a dad, maybe it was a sibling, maybe it was a boss or a friend, but you started to believe it and so you are someone who feels I am incapable and I am insecure. Interestingly Moses' insecurities kept him from seeing that God actually had prepared him quite well for this task that was in front of him. I mean think about it, Moses had spent the last 40 years in the wilderness leading sheep. That was the same wilderness he was going to lead the children of Israel through and they were going to act like sheep.

And he was going to know every water hole and every danger and he knew the place like the back of his hands. Plus he'd spent all that time in the Egyptian palace which meant he knew about laws and codes and obviously knew how to read and write and that's how we get the first five books of the Bible. God had done a pretty doggone good job of getting Moses ready. But Moses couldn't see that because he didn't realize that the I am God had been with him every step of the way. There are some of you that are so consumed with your failures and your disappointments and doubt and because you're not sure that God has been with you that you can't see that God has actually worked very carefully in your life in every disappointment, every pain, every tragedy because he's been preparing you for something. And my challenge to you is what if you just look back through the rest of your life and said everything that happened for good or for bad whether it felt wrong or right that there was a God in that who was shaping me for something he had prepared me for. You would find it would change you but here's what's interesting. God doesn't use that line of reasoning with Moses.

It's true. He just doesn't bring that up. All God says to Moses when Moses says, but God who am I? God just looks at Moses and says, who are you? It doesn't matter who you are. It matters who I am. Moses said, but I'm not eloquent. I'm not smart.

I'm not successful. And God says, I got enough of all those things for the both of us. I didn't choose you because you were those things. In fact, I don't really want the guy who says, oh, I know why God chose me because I'm awesome.

Because you're just going to clog the line. God wants an open vessel that he can pour his power through and an open vessel that will give him the glory. So he chooses people that are broken. He chooses people who feel insufficient because they're the ones who will allow him to work through them and they're the ones who will give him the glory. God would rather have a pipe that was clean and empty than he would have one that's all jumped up with your sense of how awesome you are. So that's why Paul said in the book of 1 Corinthians, it's not many mighty, not many wise, not many strong, not many wealthy that God chose to build his kingdom through. Because if he chose the mighty and the wise and the strong and the wealthy, when it was all done, they'd say, look how awesome we are and look at what we did for God. And God said, I ain't having none of that.

I want somebody who's going to give me the glory. So I am the God of very unpromising material. Being inadequate is a prerequisite to being used by God, which means you feel adequate. You feel awesome. You feel like I'm confident.

Hey, congratulations. You just earned yourself a seat off of the bus of the people that God is going to use because God chooses the weak. He chooses the unpromising material. You may not be, but he says, I always am. And my amness will overcome your notness, but God, I'm not very good. I am God. I'm not very skilled. I know I am God. I'm not sure.

I'm not confident or a steady person. I know I am. Oh, but God, I'm not able to live a victorious Christian life. I didn't ask you to. In fact, there was only one person in history who ever lived a victorious Christian life and he was so good.

We named it for him. And now that one has come to take up residence in you and it's not about you living it for him. It's about him living it through you. It's not about who you are. It's about who he is. I know that you bring into this place all kinds of inadequacies and deficiencies and worries and insecurities and scripture says, yep, and you know what, you don't even know the half of it.

Oh, yeah, you don't even know the half. You're so weak, you cannot even guarantee that you'll be around tomorrow. So weak and so small and so frail, the book of James says, that it's a sin for you to speak over confidently about tomorrow because you're like a wisp of smoke, James chapter 4. You're like a blade of grass, James chapter 5.

The slightest shift in wind direction, the slightest change in temperature and you're gone. In the scope of the universe, you are so small and insignificant and frail and pitiful that you don't amount to a grain of sand on the ocean floor. I know you're thinking, man, I am so glad I came to this talk. Man, JD, thanks for making me feel like nothing. Thanks for making me feel small. I'm not trying to make you feel small. I'm trying to tell you that you are small, okay?

And that's a big old difference. And any preacher that stands up here and tries to motivate you by making you feel big is actually being against what the gospel tells you. He doesn't want you to see that you are. He wants you to see that he is, and that's why he said, my name is I am, not you're going to be.

It also means you don't need to sweat anything because the one who's calling you is named I am. Who could possibly be smart enough to figure all this out? I am.

How am I supposed to know which way to go? I am. Who can I trust? I am. I'm not really sure who's on my team. I am. Nobody's listening to me. I am.

My marriage is crashing, and I don't know where to turn. I am. I had always hoped for a marriage and kids and a family by this point in my life, but it seems like that time has passed me by. I am.

I'm 50 years old, and I feel like I'm starting all over. I am. Everybody thinks I can't do it. I am.

What if I fail again? I am. I'm not sure I believe anymore. I am. I've given all I can give, and it's not enough. I am.

I'm pouring into everybody, and nobody's pouring into me. I am. I can't hold on. I am. I'm tired. I am.

I quit. I am. I need a drink. I need a fix.

I need a hit. I am. I need a lover. I am. I need a fresh start. I am. I just need somebody to hold me and tell me it's going to be okay. I am.

I am. In the Gospel of John, you see Jesus do the most curious thing with the name I am. He takes it. He starts applying it to himself in all these strange ways.

He makes things that it only makes sense. Before Abraham was, I am. But then throughout the Gospel of John, he takes that same name, and he starts declaring it whenever we have a point of weakness, and he starts attaching something to it. So to those who feel in darkness, he says, I am your light. To those who thirst, I am the living water.

To those who feel lost, he would say, I'm the way. To those who feel confused, I'm the truth. To those who feel under the curse of death, I am the life. To those who feel insufficient, I'm the good shepherd.

To those who need a fresh start, I am the door. To those crushed by guilt, I am the resurrection and the life. And so to the unrighteous, he says, I am your righteous covering. To the powerless, he says, I am your defense. To the empty, I am your fullness. To the dead, I'll be your resurrection.

And to the defeated, he says, I'll be your hope. Now, listen, knowing that you know now what God's name means, knowing what it is, I want you to think about a command, one of the 10 commandments that you've always known, but you probably never have applied in the full sense of which God wanted you to apply it. It is the third commandment where God commands us not to take his name in vain. That was always taught to me growing up as, don't say, oh my God, or don't write OMG because we know what that means. Don't say good Lord, or don't say Jesus Christ as an exclamation, and that's true. But a friend of mine points out that this is not just a command on how to use God's name. The command specifically is about how to take God's name.

And here's the example. In times past, there was a girl named Veronica Marie McPeters. And on the greatest day of her earthly life, she became a career. And when she took my name, she became a part of me. She became one with me. When everything that I had became hers, all the possessions I had became hers, my future became hers, my earning potential or lack thereof became hers. My future family became hers. Everything that was mine by past, my present, my future became hers, so there was no more your and mine, it was simply ours. When you became a Christian, think about this, you took God's name, I am. Which means the properties of the I am became yours, because you became one with him. And that meant that what he has, you now have. You became literally, Peter says, a participant in the divine nature itself.

That nature is now inside of you. You became, the apostle Paul said, an inheritor of all the divine promises, all the promises of God, Paul said, are yes in Christ Jesus, because Jesus earned them all, and he became one with you, which means they all became yours. And that means that when you feel fear, and when you feel insecurity, or you say no to God, or falter in obedience, or cower before an assignment, because you think, but I am not blank, you are taking his name in vain, because though you are not, he always is, and you are one. And when you say, but I, God, I'm so stupid, God, I'm a loser, God, I'm such a failure, God, I know I'm a terrible mom, God says I'm not any of those things.

And if I am in you, then you are not either. But I am, you now are, because you and I became one, and there's no more your, mine, it's just ours, and I'm not those things, so stop taking my name in vain. When you feel fear, when you feel insecurity, when you feel insufficient, you are violating the third command, because you are trampling on his name, and you say, I am not, therefore you must not be either. And God says, yep, you are not, that's why I chose you, but I am. You say, but God, I'm so dysfunctional, he says, yet, I am so complete. You say, I am so deficient, he says, but I am so sufficient. You say, I am so doubtful, he says, but I am so faithful. You say, I am so sinful, he says, I am so graceful. I am so weak, but I, he says, am so strong. Whatever you're not, whatever you need, whatever you didn't get from your parents, or your teachers, or your boss, whatever you're not getting from somebody else, he says to you, I am. And that means that when the pharaohs in your life say to you, who do you think you are? And you say, I don't think I'm anything, but I know the great I am, and when the haters in our own hearts whisper to us, you are not, we shout back, you are right. You are right, but he is, and now I am in him, which means that all the promises of God and all the possibilities are mine in Christ Jesus.

So my challenge to you is, name your insecurity, and write it out, I am not blank. But then you write right under that, but in Christ, I am blank, and you put the opposite of it. I am sufficient, I am fully supplied, I am more than a conqueror, I am undefeatable, I have everything I need for the task that is ahead. Which leads me to one final correction I want to make in this series on a statement I've given to you every week, we started this message with it. The statement that A.W. Tozer made that what you think about God is the most important thing about you. C.S. Lewis read that about 50 years ago, read that statement that A.W. Tozer made, and he said this, I'd never seen this, a friend of mine pointed it out to me, look at this. This is C.S.

Lewis, I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think about God. He's talking about A.W. Tozer's quote, because A.W. Tozer and him were born a year apart, so they were contemporaries. By God himself, it is not so. Not every day you get a C.S. Lewis, A.W.

Tozer smack down. Listen, how God thinks about us is not only more important, it is infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how he thinks about us. I'm not telling you that it doesn't matter what you think about God, obviously that's the whole series, but I'm saying the most important thing that you understand about God is not just who he is, but who he has become to you. The fact that he is glorious, not just in the heavens, but he is an I am that has given you all the things that belong to him and united himself with you. That when you were a sinner and you had no righteousness and you deserved to be cast out of the presence of God, he said, I will be your righteousness. And Paul said the same God that gave us his righteousness when we were his enemies will now give us the power that we need for every assignment he puts in our path.

Which means that if I'm not a great dad, it's okay because he is and he'll be that through me. It means that if I'm not a great moral Christian, it's okay because he's going to learn to live that victory through me. It means that if I'm not a great preacher and teacher, it's okay because he takes a willing and a weak vessel and he pours his power through it. The gospel is not that you are awesome, the gospel is that you are lost. And the gospel is that he is. And so his am-ness overcomes your not-ness because the two of you unite. What it means to walk with God is not that you become somebody that is superman, it means that you learn to yield yourself to the I am who begins to work through you. So Paul would say, even when I am faithless, he is faithful because he cannot deny himself because the work that he has started in me is his work and he will do it. And I'm not dependent on the awesomeness of Paul, I am leaning on the grace of Jesus Christ, the great I am.

Why don't you bow your heads with me at all of our campuses if you would. Every week, every week in this series I've given you a chance to begin a relationship with God if you don't have it. It begins through repentance and faith, it begins through repentance and faith. God I'm a mess, I acknowledge that I am what you have called a sinner and I surrender. I'm done with living my life the way I want to live it and I'm ready to follow you. And I receive, I receive your offer of forgiveness and salvation, I receive it right now. And I invite you to do that all over this church, campuses, all around the triangle. But I want us to end this series, those of you that are believers, I want you to end it just sitting and kind of soaking in the presence of the I am. An I am who is not a God that we worship from a distance, but an I am who has brought himself close and united himself with your frailty and your weakness. Would you just rehearse for yourself in these moments the gospel, I'm more than a conqueror, I am righteous, I am able because he is and I'm in him.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-04 16:01:30 / 2023-09-04 16:22:10 / 21

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