Broken Pasts, Limited Futures, and New Life

1310598_43430592On Sunday we explored the story of Moses but looked at it from a different angle. We looked at it from a failed past angle. Moses was surely thought to be the man to bring salvation to his people. His story from the very beginning seems  destined for greatness. He was miraculously saved in an ark, grows up in Pharaoh’s court, and seems to be a man of limitless potential whom God will use to save his people.

Fast forward to when he is older, and ready to step up and be the hero. The story in Exodus 2 jumps to his moment when we think he will save his people. But what ends up happening is that Moses makes a rash and impulsive decision and kills an Egyptian burying him in his sand. This leads to Moses fleeing from Egypt leaving behind his destiny to live in the desert.

It’s at this place that we catch up with Moses, a man whom we must assume has many regrets. He was raised in the lap of luxury, and is now a man alone watching sheep as a shepherd in the desert. My guess is that if we were to ask Moses what his future was like he would say dim. That he would assume that his past is limiting what God can do with him in the future. That even though he once had potential his failures define his future.

But what I love about God is that our past is never ever wasted with him. That our past never defines our future. Our God can even transform our pasts into new futures for us.

So God comes to Moses and says, “go to Pharaoh and speak to him and save your people.”  This is amazing because Moses is probably the only Israelite person in the world who can actually get to Pharaoh. It’s like you or me trying to get a personal audience with the President of the United States – it’s just not going to happen. But Moses grew up in the court, Moses might have even grown up with the current Pharaoh, Moses knows the ins and outs of political landscape. He can get to see Pharaoh.

And so Moses thinks that his future must limit God, but God wants to use Moses precisely because of his past. His past doesn’t limit God, but actually allows God to do something amazing through him.

And I think this is true of all of us. Our pasts with God are never wasted, instead God can use them, transform them, and build on them to accomplish something amazing through us. Through Moses and his checkered past God saves all the Israelite people. And through us no matter what our past is like, God can use us as well.

The question is this: do you believe that God can use all of you?

Do you honestly believe God can use all of you?

Because this story points to the fact that your past doesn’t limit God. Your poor decisions, awful events, hurtful encounters doesn’t stop God. In fact, God can use your past to bring about a new future for you and for others.

So the question is “do you believe that God can use all of you, no matter what you’ve done? And if so are you willing to be used?”

We ended up on Sunday with the challenge for each of us to carve out some time and go to God and give him all of ourselves. To offer to him all of us, broken pasts and everything, and invite him to use us. I think it’s the right way to start. Moses encounters God in the burning bush and everything is changed. So today why not go and encounter God and discover that he can change and transform your past and your future. Because that is how great our God really is.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Your past is never wasted

Take Aways…

  • We don’t drift into making a difference
  • One of the single biggest obstacles to finding God’s future is often our past
  • We have an assumption that God works best with perfect people
  • Moses is gifted with amazing potential
  • In Moses we see someone with unlimited potential, falter and fail
  • We end up rehearsing and regretting our failed decisions
  • For many of us decisions in the past decide and determine our future
  • Our God can change the past
  • We often feel like our past limits God’s future for us
  • God chooses Moses because of his past, not in spite of it
  • Your past is never wasted
  • Will your story be one of regret or transformation?
  • Do you believe God can use all of you?
  • Give God all of yourself

Adult / Group Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it?

Have you ever deeply regretted a decision? What happened? How come you regretted it? Have you ever felt like you were destined to do something important? In the sermon could you relate at all to Moses regretting an impulsive decision?

What in your past have you wished you could let go of? How might God be wanting to redeem and use your past for his good? How might God want to transform your past, so that you might transform others today?

Do you believe God can use all of you? Share your thoughts on this question.

Plan a time to spend with God giving him all of your past

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take sometime to talk with your kids about how with God he heals our past. Ask your kids if there has ever been a choice they regret or something that really hurt them. Talk to them about how with God he can heal our hurt pasts. Talk to them about how we can go to God with all we have in us and find peace. Spend some time with your kids praying, and bringing to God anything they have.

Challenge for this Week: Give God all of Yourself

The Bushes are Burning All Around Us

1359634_44238885On Sunday we explored Moses’ encounter with the burning bush and God. The honest truth is if we are in a difficult, dry, or desert place the only way we ever leave that place is through God’s leading.

The difficulty is that when we are in a desert place God often seems so distant. We are often calling out for God but can’t seem to find him. Through this story we realized a few ways that God seems to work when we are in a desert place.

The first is that he places something in our regular, everyday life, that while intriguing isn’t interrupting of our life. For Moses there was a burning bush placed in his path. This certainly was intriguing but wasn’t interrupting in his life. It’s easy to come up with plausible  explanations for a bush on fire in the desert. So rather than interrupting Moses’ life God seeks to lure Moses’ attention towards him.

To be honest we’d love God to interrupt our daily lives and lead us to his Promised Land. The trouble is that doesn’t seem to be how God seems to work in the Bible. God seems to wait, to lure, to linger, and hope that we follow. But God does not coerce, he does not seem to demand, or to force us to follow. So Moses notices the bush, and then he must spend a long time watching the bush, because how long would it take you to realize a bush isn’t burning up? A long time. So his interest grows, and so does his attention. So we read in Exodus 3:4 “When the Lord saw that he had caught Moses’ attention, God called to him from the bush”. Isn’t that true? That once God has our attention he speaks, he calls, and he promises. This is how our God works. He works in partnership with our attention, willingness, and participation.

So the question is if you are in a desert place and want to leave how much attention does God have? Because there is a possibility that we’ve been walking past burning bushes – holy nudges, and luring by God – and missing him. So the question is how can you this week give God your attention and awareness?

That’s the question we pursued on Sunday, believing that once God has our attention he speaks and leads. To leave the desert God needs our attention to lead us. So this week I think the challenge is this: give God your attention, in everyway possible. Be open to his leading, his speaking, and trust that when he has your attention he will speak. Because God doesn’t leave us in the desert, he walks us through it. But to be led, we have to first be willing to hear.

Sermon Notes

Big Idea: Give God your Attention

Take Aways…

  • Many of us know what it is like to be in the desert: a dry, deserted, and difficult place
  • How do you leave a desert place?
  • When we are lost and hurting we need God to speak
  • The ground doesn’t change Moses’ perception and awareness of the ground changes
  • Sometimes God doesn’t change the world around us, he changes us to see a changed world
  • When we are wasting away in the desert we God’s promises of new life and a new future
  • The only thing that gets us out of the desert and difficult times, is God’s voice and his leading.
  • How long does it take a bush to burn up?
  • God placed something intriguing in the path of his everyday life, to call him to an extraordinary life.
  • God speaks when he has our attention
  • To leave the desert means giving God your full attention.
  • How much attention did God have this week?
  • If we want to leave the desert or difficult places it starts with us giving God our attention in our everyday spaces.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What was new? Has God ever spoke to you through a burning bush like encounter? Do you think its possible you’ve ever missed God’s attempts to get your attention? Have you ever been in the desert before or even now? What was it like or is like? How might God be trying to get your attention today? How might you give him you awareness and attention this week?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and talk about your kids about today’s sermon. Talk to them about how just like how you kids often won’t really talk with us as parents, until you have our full attention, share that God is similar. Sometimes he doesn’t interrupt us until we give him our attention

Challenge for this Week: Give God your attention this week

Learning to Leave the Desert

1412359_51543500How do you leave the desert?

I mean honestly. When your life is feeling dry, distant, and you feel alone – how do you leave that place? When you feel like you are wandering around in circles, when life has passed you by, when you look back and regret decisions wondering – how did I end up here? How do you leave “here”? How do you find a place with life, hope and grace? How do you leave the desert?

I don’t know if you’ve been there but I have. I have been in a place that once was good but got drained of life and was draining me. I have been in a place where all of a sudden I felt alone, distant from God, and wondering where I was. I have been in a desert staring at the empty world around me wondering how I will ever find my way out. And maybe you’ve been there too. It is a difficult place to be. The trouble is that life seems to take us to the desert.

The question is how do we leave? How do we find new life again? How do we find hope again? How do we find a land flowing with milk and honey?

That’s what we are exploring on Sunday how to leave the desert and find new life. We are going to be exploring a pretty well known passage with some pretty not-so-well-known conclusions.

Come Sunday we’ll explore how to find your way out, which not so surprisingly, begins with God finding you.

But that’s Sunday, what about today? What if your desert is so difficult, and oppressive that you can’t wait till Sunday to start leaving it?

Well I’ll give you a hint of where we are going on Sunday. It doesn’t begin with you. It doesn’t begin with you forcing or finding your way out. It begins with God finding you and leading you out.

So today why not make yourself easy to find. Why not take some actual time, sit in space with God, ask him to direct, and to wait on him. Give him time to speak to you, give him your attention, and wait patiently on him. This, of course, isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier than languishing in the desert.

So come Sunday we’ll explore how to find your way out in more depth, but it does begin with God. So no matter how your life has been these past few weeks, days, or even years why not let yourself be found by God. Don’t fill your weekend so full of noise, business, and stuff that he can’t break through to you. Sit still, stop, and listen. And who knows maybe God will show up in a burning bush and lead you out…