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I Am

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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August 10, 2022 9:00 am

I Am

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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August 10, 2022 9:00 am

Throughout history, people have invented and named mythological gods. But the God of the Bible was not invented by mankind. And unlike Zeus or Thor, he chose his own name.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. 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. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Throughout history, people have invented and named mythological gods. But the God of the Bible was not invented by mankind. And unlike Zeus or Thor, He chose His own name. Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. describes how knowing the name that God chose for Himself will change our understanding of Him forever.

It's part of our powerful teaching series titled The Name. And if you've missed any of the previous messages, or if you would like to get our new prayer resource, visit us online at But for now, grab your Bible. Pastor J.D.

titled this message, I Am. We have based our study in its entirety on Exodus 34, verses six and seven, where God declares His name to Moses. I've explained to you that this verse, Exodus 34, six and seven, was kind of like the Jewish people's John 3 16.

Exodus 34, six and seven 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. Chapter 34, verse five, 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 got your Bible, flip back, 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 He's 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. Now 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.

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. 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 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 has most often gone in that blank for you?

What's most often gone 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. So 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 kind 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. 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, well, 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 never doing that again. Verse 12.

And God said, I will be with you. Notice how God, by the way, deals with Moses's 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 him? 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. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. We'll return to our teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to quickly tell you about our featured resource this month. It's a bundle of resources that help make praying regularly a little easier. Three books each called Five Things to Pray. It includes ideas for praying for our parents, praying for our kids, and praying for our community. The set will enlarge your vision and equip you to pray passionately and powerfully for those that you love and for the renewal of your city. There's nothing we need more in this country than a return to Jesus. So let's continue to lift up those dearest to us and pray not only for their physical wellbeing, but for their spiritual growth and maturity.

Dig deeper by giving us a call at 866-335-5220, or check it out at Now let's get back to the final few minutes of today's message. Here's Pastor JD. The word in Hebrew for I am is the word hayah. Wherever you see this, I am, or Lord in all caps, that's the word. Hayah.

It's from the verb to be. In fact, you want to learn a Hebrew word? You want to say it?

It's a fun word to say. Hayah. Say it.

If you didn't get a little bit on your neighbor and 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 see a light year and 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, 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 six at a deer, the bullet travels at just a little over half a mile a second. It feels instantaneous, right? So 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 six bullet. And it took nine years to get to Pluto, nine years traveling more than 20 miles a second.

And that 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 at all. He's been there before at 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, 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 going to show you three vitally important things about your relationship to God. First, I'm going to 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 is going to be a little bit philosophical, but what I want to 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 going to 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 going to 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, like 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. 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. Now again, if you're not into philosophy, you don't realize what a huge deal that is.

I'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 abandoned my worldview in order to hold such a view.

That's a burning bush that asks 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 to this happened from Steve Jobs. The last interview he gave before he died was on 60 Minutes.

60 Minutes, the interviewer asked him right toward the end of the interview, I watched it. He said, do you believe in God? And Steve Jobs said, in fact, let me quote, I rewound 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 had sometimes referred to, she was a 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. Cause 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, she said it was haunting. I felt like I was being pursued rather than the one who pursued reminded me what Peter Crave, 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 rest 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. Do you sense that longing in your own heart?

Questions that the world can't answer? Those are the burning bushes that point you to God. You're listening to summit life, the Bible teaching ministry of JD Greer, pastor JD leads the summit church, a growing multi-site church in Raleigh, Durham, North Carolina. So JD, our current teaching series is all about learning the character of God. So then why is the resource we are offering this month on prayer?

Yeah. You know, whenever you learn about who God is, that's what prompts prayer. The more you know about who God is and who you are, the more natural prayer comes. This series will show us that there's a God who is both more awe-inspiring and worship deserving. And at the same time, more intimate and more aware of our needs and more willing to help than we ever imagined.

Yes. If you look at anybody's Christian life, who is fruitful and flourishing, you're going to find a vibrant, vibrant prayer life, which is why we're giving this bundle of three books as our, just as a discipleship tool that will help you. Now you reach out to us at JD There's five things to pray for your kids. Five things to pray for your parents and five things to pray for your city.

I use these books in my own personal quiet time, which is why I'm excited to commend them to you, help give some structure to a part of your Christian life that a lot of people struggle to thrive in. We thank the Lord every single day for the faithfulness of our Summit Life family. The good news of the gospel has reached all across the globe thanks to your generosity. We truly could not do this work without you. Join the mission with us right now when you give to Summit Life and remember to ask for your five things to pray bundle. Call 866-335-5220 or give and request the books online at JD I'm Molly Vidovitch and I'm so glad that you joined us today. Be sure to listen again tomorrow when we'll conclude this short study called The Name. See you Thursday right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 10:48:10 / 2023-03-13 10:59:48 / 12

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