Monday, July 30, 2012

Responding to a Faith Crisis

When the Israelites left Egypt in the Exodus, was about a year's journey to Kadesh Barnea - the edge of the Promised Land
Num. 13:1-3, 17-21 - 12 explorers - checked out the land for 40 days.
Num. 13:25 - 14:25  -  report:  2 in favor of going in and taking the land (Joshua and Caleb), 10 against.
Num.14:39-45 - "the Lord is with you now"

Question:  Is there something here for us?
Answer:  1 Cor. 10:11-13 (a) - "common to man" - be careful you don't fall.  We can look at these people because God hasn't changed and mankind hasn't changed either.

So.... Responding to a Faith Crisis
A serious point of decision (call) - life is full of these faith crises.
You have three choices:  Move forward?
                                      move backward?
                                      wander about?

(Similarities and differences)

Differences - (for them)

1.  Kadesh Barnea was life defining (they had to decide whether to go forward, go back, or wander in the wilderness) - Your decision may not be life defining.  BUT IT WILL BE LIFE AFFECTING

2.  K B was irrevocable - that was IT!   That generation could not repent of their decision.
You may have many chances.  However, you never know!!  ( you have no guarantee you will have a second or third chance)
NOTE:  God did not abandon them!!!   He cared for them 40 years in the wilderness.

3.  K B was a group decision.  Yours - personal/individual
NOTE:  It's easier to make a right faith decision if you hang with the faith crowd.  We are affected by peer pressure.


1.  This is not a crisis of confusion.
ie:  they knew God's will - may be a difficult decision, but it is NOT complex!  No question of what should do.

2.  This is not a sudden decision  - just have to decide whether or not to do it.
They had been  (A) - adequately prepared - had plenty of time and plenty of miracles confirming that God was with them, leading them, etc.
                       (B) - Divinely led.

3.  This is more than a test of faith.
It is a step in progress (growth) - life building, successive.

4.  Fear is natural (Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Paul)
But is also easily exaggerated  - sometimes it's selfishness, but that's many times a part of fear.
Faith is not that you don't fear, but in spite of that fear do what supposed to do.
A big portion of things we fear and worry about never come to pass.

5.  A proper response is no guarantee of ease.  2 Tim. 3:12
Example:  2nd generation Israel and the conquest of the Promised Land - lots of pain and suffering entailed in the taking.

6.  Your decision will affect others. - Num. 14:31-33
This is often repeated because (A) it's important - bears repeating
and (B) it's easily forgotten - overlooked and ignored.
Scripture says it over and over again.  Much of what God calls us to is not about us!!!  God is not concerned primarily with our happiness.

1 Cor. 10:11-13
In this case, the way out was to move forward!!
(God has given the land, you must go take it)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life Lessons from the Tabernacle

Moses --> the Exodus (great exit out of Egypt) ---> Sinai ---> Moses receiving the 10 words (commandments)/all the Law and the instructions for the Tabernacle  Ex. 25:1-9 - Vs. 8 - the dwelling place of God.
The Tabernacle:
1.  Courtyard - roughly 75' x 100 ' made up of the gate (only one gate), linen hangings, wood, bronze

2.  Tent (45 x 15 x 15)
Made up of the frame - acacia wood overlaid with gold
                        base -  made of pure silver - 100 blocks each containing 1 talent of silver (75 - 95 lbs)
                        covering -  (A)  linen embroidered with blue, purple, scarlet.... (cherubim)
                                       -  (B) goat's hair
                                       -  (C) Ram skins (dyed red)
                                       -  (D)  Badger? sea cow (manatee)?  seal?  porpoise? skins - not sure exactly what is referred to here.

3.  Furnishings
         Altar - wood overlaid with brass (bronze) - 7' square by 4' deep
         Laver (basin) - made of brass/bronze  (size unknown)
         Left side - Lamp stand - 7 branches made from 1 talent of hammered gold
         Right side - table - wood overlaid with gold  (3' x 1 1/2' x 27" high)
         Incense altar - wood overlaid with gold - 18" square x 36" high
         Veil dividing the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies
         Ark of the Covenant - 2' x 4' x 2' high - wood overlaid with gold  (contents = tablets inscribed with the 10 commandments, Aaron's rod that budded, a jar of manna)
         Mercy seat/atonement cover - made of pure gold with two cherubim on it - Ex. 25:22

The tabernacle was completed/inspected by Moses and God came to dwell on the mercy seat -
Ex. 40:34-38

Ex. 25:9 - "exactly like the pattern" - Why????  The tabernacle was much more that just a tent.
Heb. 8:1-2,5 9:23-24 - copy and shadow of what is in heaven.  Shadows don't tell the whole story but they tell something. far does the symbolism go?
Answer:  Don't know ... but...The most important lessons are also the most obvious.

#1.  The Approach to God's Presence - there is only one way to approach God.  You don't come the way you choose, but the way God chooses.

#2.  The Barriers to that Approach - the altar (for cleansing - sin nature), the laver - cleansing from daily sins.  We often overlook God's holiness - He is the LORD.

#3.  How Christ Destroyed those Barriers -
       a.  gate  - John 14:6 with Rev. 22:17 - on one hand there is only one way to God, however, whosoever (all) may come by that way.
       b.  altar - John 1:29      1 John 2:2       1 Pet. 2:24
       c.  laver - 1 John 1:8-9  ( John 13:10 )
       d.  lamp - John 8:12  ( John 1:9 )
       e.  table - John 6:35, 51
       f.  VEIL - Mark 15:37-38  ( Heb. 10:19-20 ) - veil torn in two from top to bottom when Jesus died - whosoever will may come through Christ.

#1.  Draw Near - He did it so we could come - His presence is not obtained by gazing from afar -
Heb. 10:19-22 (a)    Must enter.  We can choose to believe with our head & heart and not ever enter into His presence.  Just because you have access does not put you in His presence.

#2.  Go Far - 2 Cor. 5:18-20 (a)  - All this is from God and He gave us a ministry to go and make disciples.  We are Christ's ambassadors. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Life Lessons From A Tragic Death

(message developed after the tragic suicide of a 14 yr. old Christian young man from the  community)

#1.  Believers are not exempt form tragedy.  We are not insulated because we are Christians.
We live in a fallen world/we are part of fallen people  1 Pet. 4:12

#2.  Believers are not exempt from self-inflicted tragedy.
ie:  I accepted God's grace, therefore I can jump off this building and I won't get hurt because God will protect me.  We are not exempt from physical and moral laws.  Gal. 6:7-9

#3.  Poor choices result in poor outcomes.
"honest mistakes" vs. willful choice.
Don't be surprised when bad outcome results from bad choice.  Outcomes are determined by choices - either here or down the road.
This applies to small issues as well!!

#4.  Our choices matter beyond our self.  
Point being:  choose sin and it affects others!  It's not just you - ever - never.  It will affect other people.

#5.  Jesus heals and forgives.  1 John 2:1-2
We need balance here.  On one hand, sin really matters - it affects you and those around you.
                                     However, He died for our sin(s)
We all make poor, sinful choices.  Our hope is in Christ.

#6.  God uses our failures.  Rom. 8:28 - essential to Christian hope.  Purpose in the suffering.
While this is a great promise - "life is more than suffer and wait".
However, it does not exclude us from proper choice, proper actions.

NOTE:  Lessons #1 - 4 are general promises.  ie:  could apply to all people.
             Lesson #5 is a conditional promise - if you allow him, receive Him, accept Him.
             Lesson #6 is a specific promise - to "those who love Him" - will submit to Him as Lord

So decide..... how many you want to apply to your life?
The first 4 apply regardless.  #5 = your decision.  #6 = specific for those who love Him.

1 Pet. 1:3-9, 13

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lesson of Moses

Two weeks ago:  Joseph died.  Gen. 50:26  (1800 BC)

Approximately 300 years later .... Ex. 1:6-14 - once favored nation - now slaves

Enter..... MOSES - born to Levites (1536 BC?)
                            - adopted by Pharaoh's daughter
                            - raised in Pharaoh's court

BUT, Moses was Hebrew (not Egyptian) - Ex. 2:11-12, 15 - about 40 years old at this time.

He flees to Midian (150/200 miles east) - Acts 7:23
These people were distant kin - from Abraham and Keturah - Gen. 25:2

In Midian, he settles down, marries, has family, keeps flocks for Jethro, his father-in-law.
Moses was probably content in an unsettled way.
On one hand, he was a foreigner (secure but out of place)
However, where was home?  his people?

At age 80 - the burning bush - Ex. 3:1-12 - Moses:  "Go",  God:  "I will be with you.", the call, the return, the Exodus.
Then.... Sinai - the 10 Commandments - Kadesh (turning back) - wanderings (40 years - between Egypt to the South and the Promised Land to the North)

At age 120 - Return to the border of the Promised Land
                  - Passing the baton to Joshua
                  - Death - Deut. 34:4-7

A Lesson from the Life of Moses:   God uses Seriously Flawed People
(ie:  sinners) to accomplish His purpose.  Even if we don't perhaps want to be used by God in the fullest sense, deep down we all want to know that our life matters on and on.

Example:  Moses - He was an incredible person.  Deut. 34:10-12
However, he was seriously flawed (sinner)
         - killed an Egyptian, abandoned his people, hid out for 40 years, resisted God's call at least 5 times, entertains doubts - Ex. 5:22-23, is self-centered, impatient, easily discouraged, self-righteous, often angry (which kept him out of the Promised Land)
NOTE:  Moses is not alone.  Compare:  David, Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist.....
This is not just Moses.  It is the human condition.

Question:  Why does God use such people?
Answer:  1) That's all He has!!  There are no other kind!   James 5:17 - Elijah was a man just like us.
(He could do it without us...BUT chooses not to)
               2)  This way HE gets the glory.   However, He doesn't need our praise.  He is perfect, complete, lacking nothing.
"The Exodus" - was this what Moses did?  or God did?
If Moses gets the glory, the people are followers of Moses.
If God gets the glory, the people are followers of God.  John 12:32-33 - we're to connect people to God, draw people to Him.

POINT:  This is good news for common people.  (you and me).  It does not mean that:
           A)  you can be a prophet, miracle worker, great leader, whatever you want to be.  It means you can be an instrument in His tool bag at His discretion - when and if He decides to use you.
          B)  does not mean sin is irrelevant.  James 5:17, 16 (doesn't mean sinless/perfect.  does mean righteous)   Can't take license with your flaws.
          C)  Does mean God CAN use you (will use you)

3 Common elements found in God's prophets, apostles, you & I  (God's instruments)


#1.  Admission - of flawed character, inadequacy
"who am I?" - This question not all bad.

#2.  Submission (surrender)
         OF self - (more than your goods, talents, time, future) - but of your being.
         TO God - ie:  to - a) the Person of God  - "Lord"
                                   - b) the known will of God

#3.  Action (obedience) - "go... and I'll go with you"
1 Pet. 4:10 - USE / SERVE / ADMINISTER God's grace.  No prophet was ever a prophet without using his hands. 

NOTE:  Reluctant submission is still submission.
             Imperfect action is still action.           Matt. 21:28-31 (a) - "wanted?" 
God has never had a perfect actor except Christ.

This is where the Christian walk begins  (Admission, submission, action)
This is how the Christian walk continues - Col. 2:6    

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Believer's Response to Roller Coaster Life

Last week we looked at Joseph:  A study in ups and downs!
ie:  favorite son --- sold --- Potiphar's steward --- prison --- Pharoah's house

This is true of individuals:/ it is true of people groups:
Israel:  famine -- favored in Egypt --- slaves --- Exodus ---- wandering ---- conquest

Point being:  life is not a steady incline (nor decline)
It is a roller coaster.  Up/down, joy/sorrow, loss/gain, etc.

QUESTION:  What should be the believer's response to this?
(partial answer:  simplistic but true and applicable)

In the  GOOD TIMES, we should:  A. Praise God - give recognition/praise/thanksgiving
                                                        B.  Enjoy - take pleasure in the blessings
                                                        C.  Employ - make use of the blessings

In the BAD TIMES, we should:  A.  Praise God
                                                    B.  Endure - hang in there - don't give up because we're down
                                                    C.  Employ - make use of the situation

I.  In the Good Times we should:
A.  Praise God - Deut. 8:10-18 - passage so applicable to America today.  Very easy to forget in the good times.

B.  Enjoy the Blessings - God provides them for us.
1 Tim. 6:17   Eccles. 3:12-13 - gift of God

C.  Employ the Blessings - (make use of)
1 Pet. 4:10 - context - spiritual gifts.
                  - concept - use gifts to serve, bless, build up, encourage, and  ultimately build the kingdom.

II.  In the Bad Times (hard times) we should...
A.  Praise God - 1 Thess. 5:18
Two reasons:  1.  He hasn't changed (was he worthy yesterday?)  Then He's still worthy today.
                        2.  There's always blessings amidst the trial

B.  Endure the situation  (Make good use of it).  Rom. 5:3-4 - "produces"
                                                                              2 Cor. 4:17
                                                                              James 1:2-4

SO................  GOOD TIMES                         BAD TIMES
                       Praise God                                  Praise God
                       Enjoy                                          Endure
                       Employ                                       Employ

Observation:  It's always right to Praise God and Employ.
But, it is also always right to enjoy and endure

In the midst of  good there's always some bad.
In the midst of bad there's always some good.

I.  It's always right to Enjoy - even in the bad times.  (don't have survivor's syndrome where you think life should not be lived and enjoyed because of the bad situation)

II.  it's always right to Endure - even in the good times.  Endurance is not just for the bad times.
Example:  the seven churches of Revelation - mostly they were encouraged to endure.  (trials, persecution, etc.)
Contrast Laodecia - Rev. 3:15-17 - "endure in the face of blessings!!"

Summary:  It's always right to:
                A.  Praise God
                B.  Employ - the situation - make use!  (don't waste sorrows, don't waste blessings)
                C.  Endure - be faithful in the good times and the bad times
                D.  Enjoy  - the many blessings

These past few weeks have been Old Testament oriented, but don't lose your focus on Christ.  John 15:5
This is not a generic religion.  It is focused specifically on Christ, His work, etc.