Sermon:  At the Burning Bush


Summary:  We at times experience "holy moments," those times when God is leading you to renewal, service, greater devotion, or insight.  Dangers associated with these moments include the failure to recognize it, or over-analyzing it away, or enshrining it.  We need to realize that we ourselves are holy ground and that holiness is not just a moment, but also a way of life, making every moment an opportunity to draw near to God.


Text:  Ex 3:1-5


Scripture Reading:  Heb 10:19-22



1.  Have you ever been to or seen pictures of the holy land?

            a.  What is the holy land?  Why do they call it that?

            b.  World is full of so called "holy places"

            c.  Certain behaviors are required at many of these holy places

                        - Cover head, wear certain clothing, take off shoes, walk on knees

                        - Bow, avert eyes, Soles of feet never to face altar

                        - Some have prescribed rituals before you can enter

                        - Some Cathedrals have security officers at door to ensure this

            d.  What have in common - Holiness to be shown respect proper decorum

2.  Text:  (Ex 3:1-5) - Moses encounters holiness at burning bush

            a.  God tells him to take off his sandals

            b.  It was holy ground

3.  Have you ever had a burning bush moment?

            a.  May not be like this

                        - Tommy in garage, sees hood open, car burning, but not burn up

                        - From the engine, voice says - "Tommy! Tommy!"

                        - But can have awesome moments when can really sense God's


            b.  Remember at Brattleboro when Vaughn Luster came to visit

                        - A couple came forward, shared intimately their struggle with sin

                        - Invite church to come and support, everyone did

                        - After prayed, Matt say, "Something really special happened today"

            c.  But those moments not always happen at church

                        - Maybe at a retreat, a camp, or something like that

                        - Maybe reading, and something grabs you

                        - Maybe going through difficult time, then sense God in it all

                        - Out in woods, desert, mountain, pray, sense God renewing you

            d.  Like Moses, we sense that we are on holy ground - it is awe inspiring

4.  As meaningful as these moments can be, there are some dangers with them

            a.  We are going to think about some of these dangers this morning

            b.  There are three


I.  Failure to Recognize the Burning Bush

            A.   For one reason or another, it passes us by and we not realize

                        1.  Maybe during a sermon that really can challenge and change us

                                    a.  We may be thinking - "Oh this really applies to so and so"

                                    b.  Mind may be someplace else

                                    c.  May be evaluating preacher rather than our heart

                                    d.  Worse, may be texting, reading a book, doodling

                        2.  May be some other burning bush moment

                                    a.  May come through something a friend says, or a card

                                    b.  Maybe see billboard with message

                                    c.  Maybe God try to get through to you

                                    d.  Instead of taking off our sandals, we continue on clueless

                        3.  May be so wrapped up in yourself, you miss it altogether

            B.  Did you know this happened with Jesus' disciples?  No.  (Mk 8:14-20)

                        1.  They completely missed the burning bush

                                    a.  Beware of leaven of Herod and Pharisees.  What is that?

                                                - Pharisees wanted signs, really not want to commit

                                                - Herod self absorbed, will not accept God

                                                - This leaven is blindness and rebellion

                                    b.  BUT - disciples began to discuss they have no bread

                                                - But did Jesus way beware leaven of bread?  NO

                                                - Their discussion about not having bread shows they

                                                   didn't get it

                                    c.  They completely missed the burning bush

                                                - Jesus just fed 5,000 Jews with 5 loaves and 2 fish

                                                - Jesus also fed 4,000 Gentiles

                                                - Text not say they marveled at this

                        2.  What did Jesus demonstrate in these feedings?

                                    a. He will satisfy all who come to him

                                                - With Jews, 12 baskets left over

                                                -With Gentiles, 7 baskets left over

                                                - 12 represents Jews, 7 represents all

                                    b. Jesus is the bread of life for all - Fed 9000 people

                                                - There were even leftovers, they were full

                                                - Jesus satisfies, brings life to body and soul

                                    c. And disciples say - We have no bread!

                                                - They had the bread of life in the boat

                                                - He is all they need!

                        3. They completely missed the burning bush

                                    a.  All of the holiness of God was right in front of them

                                    b.  The one who supply all their needs was in the boat

                        4.  Sometimes in all our activity, we miss the burning bush too

                                    a.  Do you believe God is still active today?

                                    b.  Some are practical atheists, they don't believe God acts

                                    c.  Will pray, but not believe God will do anything

                                    d.  If God active, then there are burning bushes all around

            C.  ILL:  Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a poet, wrote Aurora Leigh in 1864

                        1.  Here is an excerpt from book seven, p. 826

                        2.  "Earth's crammed with Heaven

                                    And every common bush afire with God

                                    But only he who sees takes off his shoes

                                    The rest sit round it and pick blackberries

                                    And daub their natural faces unaware."

                        3.  Burning bush appears in the ordinary more than you think

                                    a.  Heavens declare the glory of God, stars sing his praises

                                    b.  The rocks, streams, trees, declare God's praise

                                    c.  The whole earth sings an unwritten song to God

                        4.  We take off our sandals, and join in the song and worship God

            D.  What a blessing when you realize that the burning bush is in you!

                        1.  Bible says in so many ways that our Lord lives in us

                                    a.  Flame of the Spirit burns in your heart

                                    b.  You are a temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 6:19

                                    c.  Jesus said, "Surely I am with you always," Mt 28:20

                        2.  Sometimes in all our activity, we miss it. 

                        3.  What can we do?

                                    a.  Pray always, walk with God all the time

                                    b.  Ask God for discernment

                                    c.  Look for God in the ordinary and mundane


II.  Another danger - Analyze the Bush

            A.  We dissect it, study it as a specimen to be studied

                        1.  May think what is wrong with that?

                        2.  What happens when make burning bush academic topic to

                             dissect and study

                                    a.  Become a specimen under microscope

                                    b.  Becomes an academic subject for class

                                    c.  We are in control of the analysis

                                    d.  Can lose the wonder, glory, awe of it all

            B.  Similar incident (Jn 4:4-20)

                        1.  Woman at the well could have missed the burning bush

                                    a.  Jesus offered her living water

                                    b.  She ask - Are you greater than our father Jacob?

                                    c.  Jesus offer living water and never thirst again

                                                - In conversation, she realize he is a man of God

                                                - He knows things about her

                                                - This is a significant moment in her life

                                    d.  What does she do?  Try to get into analytical debate

                                                - We say worship here, you say worship there

                                                - She didn't remove her sandals

                                                - She missed the burning bush

                        2.  Fortunately, it didn't end there (v.25-29)

                                    a.  Woman finally saw the burning bush

                                    b.  (v.39-42) - She in awe, brought others, they see it too

            C.  ILL:  I had a friend ask, "Are we Pharisees in our church?"
                        1.  Why ask this?  He pointed out similarities

                                    a.  Emphasis on getting all the details right

                                    b.  No fellowship with those that not get it right

                                    c.  Think we the only ones that got it all right

                                    d.  Faith in the fact we get it right rather than grace of God

                                    e.  Sometimes display same spirit that Pharisees did

                        2.  Honestly, this was a challenging question

                                    a.  It was worthy of honest consideration

                                    b.  This question is always worthy of consideration

                        3.  Can get so focused on analyzing burning bush, we miss it

                                    a.  What color was the flame, how hot was the flame?

                                    b.  What kind of bush, how many branches, leaves, soil?

                                    c.  Did the flame need oxygen to burn?

                        4.  Get all these details right, then we think we got it

                                    a.  Not even realize we missed it altogether

                                    b.  Instead of removing sandals, we sit an dissect the bush

            D.  How do we avoid this trap?

                        1.  First of all is attitude - Humility

                                    a.  We are the creatures, not the creator

                                    b.  We know far less than we think we do

                                    c.  We have been corrupted by sin, need redemption

                                    d.  Only God can make us right, we cannot

                        2.  Read the Bible, not just study it.  There are two ways to read

                                    a.  Study it.  This is what I was trained to do

                                                - Analyze it in various ways

                                                            = Word studies, grammatical, syntax

                                                            = Literary features, cultural, historical, etc.

                                                            = Theological message, doctrinal formulation

                                                - Is this good?

                                                            = Of course it is good

                                                            = Huge aid in understanding difficult texts

                                                - Pitfall

                                                            = You come with pre-packaged questions

                                                            = Dissect the word and miss the big picture

                                                            = You are the one in control of the process

                                                            = Many tamed Bible this way, manageable

                                    b.  Another way to read is to just read it

                                                - Don't dissect, analyze, don't put under microscope

                                                - Let the word dissect and analyze you

                                                            = It is sharper than any two edged sword

                                                            = Let it take the scalpel to you, rather than

                                                               other way around

                                                - Hard to do for me with graduate education

                                                - May be hard for you, depending on how you taught

                        3.  So, read and let God speak to you

                                    a.  Remember it is living and active

                                    b.  So read, meditate, pray

                                    c.  Ask questions when you read, dialogue with it

                                                - What does this tell me about you God?

                                                - How are you trying to change me God?

                                                - What are you telling me here God?

                                                - What do you want me to do?  think?  feel?

                        4.  More likely to see burning bush and take off sandals this way


III.  Third danger - Enshrine the Burning Bush

            A.  Such an awesome experience, want to stay on the mountain

            B.  Disciples had burning bush experience on mountain (Lk 9:28-36)

                        1.  Can you imagine?  You are praying . . . then this!

                        2.  What did the disciples want to do?

                                    a.  Wanted to stay there and build shrines

                                    b.  Wanted to hang on to that mountain top experience

            C.  Have you ever had a mountain top experience?

                        1.  Maybe at a retreat, camp, campaign, a trip, in worship

                        2.  Campers say, "I wish we could just live here and never leave"

                                    a.  It was their mountain top

                                    b.  They saw the burning bush

                                    c.  They never want to leave

                        3.  My brother tried to live at camp

                                    a.  He would quit his job and spend all summer there

                                    b.  Nothing else seemed to matter

                                    c.  Camp over, he lived for the next year's camp

                        4.  Campers always dreaded having to go home

                                    a.  They knew things go back to way they were before

                                    b.  So they start to countdown for next year's camp

                                    c.  Did they enshrine the burning bush?

            D.  Man does not live on mountain top alone, but in every moment of life

                        1.  We don't live our life on the mountain

                                    a.  Jesus & disciples came off the mountain and served

                                    b.  Moses left burning bush and served

                        2.  On mountain, God empowers us, encourages us, renews us

                        3.  God does not leave us on the mountain, he prepares us there

                                    a.  God intends for us to come off the mountain

                                    b.  God intends for us to minister and serve

                        4.  ILL:  My great aunt had 1936 town car - I remember it clearly

                                    a.  She sold it to someone that wanted it

                                    b.  She got upset later - He restored it, now it sits in garage

                                         except for parades and shows

                                    c.  To her, car supposed to be used, not sit in garage

                                    d.  We not to stay on mountain, but go and serve




1.  Hopefully you have some perspective on those burning bush moments

2.  Remember that God is with you always

            a.  Sometimes it takes a mountaintop to remember

            b.  In fact, sometimes it takes a valley to remember

                        - Facing difficult time in your life

                        - Then you get a sense that God is right there with you

            c.  Even if we forget he is there, he will not forsake us or leave us

3.  Engage in spiritual practices - Reading, praying, meditating, serving

4.  Remind self the burning bush is in you, even if not feel it

            a.  God not dwell on Mount Zion or Sinai

            b.  God is in you

            c.  You are God's holy place, his temple

5.  Have you drawn near to God?  (inv)