Follow That Angel! [Exodus Pt.23]

Follow That Angel!

Being a Christian is not just a choice. It is not just saying that we believe something. Being a Christian is a life of submitting ourselves to the authority of God and living in obedience to His commands.  NOT as a means to GAIN His favor, but as a RESPONSE to His favor FREELY GIVEN, though not deserved. There is no covenant relationship to the God of the universe that does not include submission to His authority and obedience to His commands!

Follow That Angel – SERMON AUDIO

And I can hear the cries now, “Don’t go all leagalist on me!” “You think you can earn God’s grace!?” And yet, I read in the New Testament as the Apostle John writes to the Believers in Ephesus and tells them how to know whether or not they are in Christ. He says;

1 John 2:3-6  Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  4  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  5  But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.  6  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

What is your gut reaction to hearing about or thinking about rules in your relationship to Christ? Most of our culture (in the US) cringes at the thought. But there is no relationship without rules! Try not keeping the rules (or boundaries) of your other relationships (i.e. marriage, boss, even your neighbor). This anti-rule mentality is pervasive in our culture. We are brainwashed with these notions to the point that we have lost all discernment.

One popular restaurant chain has been using this slogan for years; “No Rules, Just Right!”  Would you go to a restaurant that really had no rules? No one in charge of cleaning up the place? No one to make sure that the food was fresh and fit for sale? No one to make sure the people who work there are doing their jobs correctly? Of course not! It is an illusion designed to allure us by our sinful desire to be self-governing.  Not only are there rules at this particular steak house, but there are groups of people, managers, who enforce them and who instruct and guide the employees to keep them in order for the restaurant to succeed! If you think that restaurant is completely uninterested in rules, try using their slogan for you own business and see how quickly they resort to the rules of commerce as governed by the law of the land and sue you for using their copyrighted slogan!

What does all of this have to do with Exodus and better yet, with us, as Christians, living 3,500 years after Moses?

Well, We are commanded to look back at the Exodus and see in it a type, or a picture of ourselves as New Testament Believers. We are to take from it warnings about our own obedience (or lack of it).

1 Corinthians 10:1-11  Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,  2  all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,  3  all ate the same spiritual food,  4  and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.  5  But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.  6  Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.  7  And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND ROSE UP TO PLAY.”  8  Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;  9  nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;  10  nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  11  Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Hebrews 3:12-19  Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;  13  but exhort one another daily, while it is called “TODAY,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  14  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,  15  while it is said: “TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS IN THE REBELLION.”  16  For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?  17  Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?  18  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  19  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Both of these New Testament passages call us to examine the Exodus and learn from the faults of the ancient people of Israel. From it, we learn that true faith produces obedience to God. Faith is not merely believing in God,  but believing Him, taking Him at His Word. If our faith does not produce personal holiness and love for God and neighbor, we have no right to claim that we have any faith at all!

As God gave His Law the His people of old, he gave them the Moral Commands (the 10 Commandments) in Exodus 20. He gave them the statutes, or rules as to how they should be applied, in what is called The Book of the Covenant in Exodus 20:22-23:19. But He did not stop with mere lists of rules and written codes of conduct. He also gave His people personal guidance;

Exodus 23:20-23  “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.  21  Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.  22  But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.  23  For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off.

This Angel is no ordinary Angel! He has God’s Name in Him (Exodus 23:21). He is the pre-incarnate Christ. (Listen to the audio of the sermon for the Scripture proof of this!)  The Angel of His Presence (Christ) as well as the Cloudy/Fiery Pillar (The Holy Spirit) and the Presence of the Father between the Cherubim on the Mercy Seat are all with the ancient People of God. God’s own Triune Presence is there amidst His people to guide and lead them.  This is a type or picture of our relationship to God as New Testament Believers, just as the Apostle has written.

Hebrews 3:12-19  Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;  13  but exhort one another daily, while it is called “TODAY,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  14  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,  15  while it is said: “TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS IN THE REBELLION.”  16  For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?  17  Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?  18  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  19  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Does your faith move you to obedience? Does it make you desire to honor God through obedience, even difficult obedience?
What does God give His people today, to help us along in our obedience? His Son as our example. His Spirit in our hearts to guide and teach us and move us along in our sanctification. The Presence of God is not only among us, but in us! The weight of the Law has been lifted by Christ as He took our punishment for all the times that we have broken it. His perfect righteousness is credited to our account by faith. And yet, we are also commanded to demonstrate our redeemed state by a life of submission and obedience. This is the essence of the New Covenant.

Ezekiel 36:25-27  Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  26  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Romans 8:3-14  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,  4  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  5  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  6  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  8  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  9  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.  10  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  11  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  12  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors–not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  13  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

And so, Christian, how is your obedience? Are you walking after the flesh or following the Spirit? Are you caught up in sin or following Christ in a life of righteousness? Your obedience is the gauge of your faith. “18  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:18-19)

I encourage you to listen to the sermon audio and examine your own heart and life in light of the Exodus, just as the Apostle does in 1 Corinthians 10 and Hebrews 3-4). Your entrance into the Promised Land of heaven depends upon it!

Follow That Angel – SERMON AUDIO

In Christ!

Kevin

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Don’t Walk Like an Egyptian! [Exodus Pt. 22]

Don't Walk Like an Egyptian!

The people of God have arrived! (In a manner of speaking)  They have been delivered and brought into the presence of God. He has entered into a covenant with them and now, He calls Moses close and describes what the lives of redeemed people look like.

The Book of the Covenant -SERMON AUDIO

In the last couple of posts / sermons from The Book of Exodus, we have looked closely at the giving of the Law to God’s covenant people, Israel. We have seen the perpetuity of the Moral commands. They are a reflection of God’s own character and His imprint upon men who are made in His image. They are discarded by fallen men and so as God redeems us, He reestablishes our hearts to love His commandments and gives us the desire to honor Him by striving for obedience to them (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Hebrews 8:13).

God does not give the commandments and then leave the people to figure out what life under them looks like. In Exodus 20:22-23:20, He describes, in a fair amount of detail, what life in the covenant looks like. There are laws regarding worship at the beginning and end of this Book of the Covenant.

Exodus 20:22-26  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.  23  You shall not make anything to be with Me–gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.  24  An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you.  25  And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it.  26  Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.’

Exodus 23:15-18  You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty);  16  and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.  17  “Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.  18  “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until morning.

In between are laws regarding Social Concerns, Personal Injury and Property Rights. There is a mixture of Expounding on the Moral commands and maintaining separation from the influence of the pagan peoples in the land. When it is all said and done, the gist of this whole section is that the People of God are to act toward one another and even toward slaves and foreigners with fairness, integrity, kindness and humility. When Jesus said,  ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  38  This is the first and great commandment.  39  And the second is like it: ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’  40  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) He was not adding to the Law or restating it. He was simply directing the attention of the Jewish leaders to God’s original intention for it.

The Apostle Paul would later say to Pastor Timothy as he was giving him instructions to deal with false teachers who were distorting the Law;

1 Timothy 1:5-7 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,  6  from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,  7  desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

This Moral Law is not only for Israel, as I have stated in previous posts! Christians should have a positive view of the Law as the standard of God that regulates the life of His redeemed people!

Romans 13:7-11  Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.  8  Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  9  For the commandments, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” “YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,” “YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,” “YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,” “YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  10  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  11  And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

Certainly, it is a ministry of death to those who are not redeemed, but to those who know Christ, it is a reflection of the Great God who loves us and sent His Son into the world to redeem of from our lawlessness!

Titus 2:11-15  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  12  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  13  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  14  who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.  15  Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

Kindness, gentleness, love and humility are not merely Ancient Jewish virtues! They are God’s standard for the conduct of His redeemed people in both Testaments!

Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The evidence that we are redeemed people is best demonstrated in our attitudes toward our neighbors and our family members! Puritan Divine, Thomas Boston comments on the 5th Commandment, saying;

“Relative duties (how we treat others) are the great trying points of the work of Christianity, which, if anything, will try what metal people are of. A man is that really which he is relatively (in how he treats others). And if there be any defect in the professor of religion, search for it in his relations, and it will readily be found in one or all of them.”

And so, Christian, listen to the sermon below, consider the fruit of your profession and seek the Lord for a heart to obey His commandments. Christ has certainly born the weight of our failure if we are His redeemed. All have sinned (Missed God’s mark of perfection), yet Christ was “Him who knew no sin” and through Him, by faith, we receive His own perfect righteousness as a gift (2 Corinthians 5:21) . Yet, if we know that it was “on account of sin” (Romans 8:3)  that Christ came into the world to redeem us as rebels, can we who are dead to sin continue in it? (Romans 6:2)

The Gospel is not just about keeping us out of Hell. It is about making us into who we ought to be!

Romans 8:29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Ezekiel 36:26-27  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Salvation is All of Grace! We do not work our way into God’s favor. Grace is by definition, Favor that is not deserved and Kindness that has not been earned! The evidence that we have received God’s grace is that we become the people that He intends us to be!

Ephesians 2:8-10  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  9  not of works, lest anyone should boast.  10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Does the Law of God and its demands on your life make you angry and bitter because you don’t want anyone telling you how to live?

Does the Law of God make you proud that you are not like that tax collector over there… (Luke 18:10-14)

If either of these are the case, your heart has not been renewed. There is a stone beating in your chest right now.

Does the Law of God make you see God’s great holiness and your duty (out of gratitude for your redemption) to honor God and love your neighbor?

If so, your heart has indeed been renewed.

As one who is already redeemed, the Law in not the source of your fellowship with God, Jesus’ perfect keeping of it that is credited to your account by faith, is the basis of that relationship. The new heart is the fruit of that relationship. Do you walk like the Redeemed people of God, or do you walk like and Egyptian?  That is the question you need to ask yourself. Not are you perfect! Honoring the Law is a source of Mercy.

Jeremiah 31:32-34  not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.  33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  34  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

But, What is your attitude toward God’s rule in your life?
The Book of the Covenant -SERMON AUDIO

 

In Christ!

Kevin

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Living as the Redeemed of God [Exodus Pt. 20-21]

Living as the Redeemed

How do the “People of God” live, as opposed to the way they lived before coming to know Him? As God called His ancient people (Israel) to Himself, He required that they submit to His moral standard in response to His mercy shown in redeeming them. He entered into a Covenant with them on Mt. Sinai where He reiterated the standard of moral behavior, which He expected of them as His own people.

Living as the Redeemed (Pt 1) – SERMON AUDIO

Living as the Redeemed (Pt 2) – SERMON AUDIO

Exodus 20:1-17  And God spoke all these words, saying:  2  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  3  “You shall have no other gods before Me.  4  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;  5  you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,  6  but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.  7  “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.  8  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  9  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  10  but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  11  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.  12  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.  13  “You shall not murder.  14  “You shall not commit adultery.  15  “You shall not steal.  16  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  17  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

There are many opinions and misconceptions about the nature and use of the Old Testament Moral Law or “10 Commandments.” Some imagine that it was nothing more than a requirement laid on ancient Israel as they entered into their covenant with God. Others, that they are generally acceptable parameters for the behavior of both Christians and non-Christians and belong on display in court houses and other public buildings,  but have no binding relationship to us.

On the contrary, they are a reflection of the Nature and Character of the God who gave them and established them as the norm for mankind who is created in His image.

Romans 2:14-16  for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,  15  who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)  16  in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

The work of the law is written on the hearts of all men, though, as a rule, men suppress the truth of God in our unrighteousness and obscure what is revealed to us in nature (Romans 1:18-20). Nonetheless, the standard is universal! Adam had the same standard, though it had not yet been written down (all men do). As God begins to restore man to Himself, He redeems His people, then brings them to Himself and sets this standard before them to give evidence that they have embraced Him by faith.

Exodus 20:20  And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”

These moral commands are not just for Ancient Israel. They are of more importance to the Christian than just a nice set of moral guidelines.

Jesus taught;

Matthew 22:35-40  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,  36  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  37  Jesus said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  38  This is the first and great commandment.  39  And the second is like it: ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’  40  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Certainly, He taught these things to Israel. But what about the Christian Church?

Romans 13:7-14  Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.  8  Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  9  For the commandments, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” “YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,” “YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,” “YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,” “YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  10  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  11  And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  13  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Love is also the fulfillment of the Law for those Christians in Rome. Not only that. Love, as it fulfills the Law, is also a part of putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (the fruit of it) and making no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts (repentance). As the “Redeemed of God” we are now under a greater obligation to honor God through our obedience than was Ancient Israel. They were God’s redeemed people, redeemed from Egypt and slavery as a type of Christ’s Church. We who have trusted Christ are the anti-type. We are redeemed from sin and Satan and the wrath of God. We are restored to a perfect fellowship with God through Jesus Christ who has lived in perfect obedience on our behalf and granted His obedience to us by faith!

Ephesians 2:11-19  Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh–who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands– 12  that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  13  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  14  For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,  15  having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,  16  and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  17  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  18  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.  19  Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…

God has redeemed us and brought us to Himself. We are people made in His image who rebelled and whom He has restored to Himself through the death of His Only Son. Jesus did not die, merely to keep us out of Hell, but to make us into who we were meant to be! To make us holy. To re-establish us to a right relationship to His Father. And so, Paul also writes to the Romans;

Romans 8:29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Christ’s obedience was perfect.

1 John 2:3-6  Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  4  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  5  But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.  6  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

His obedience was rooted in love, love for the Father and for men. The promise of the New Covenant has always been for a “new heart” that desires to be obedient to God.

Jeremiah 31:31-33  “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– 32  not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.  33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Hebrews 8:6-13  But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.  7  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.  8  Because finding fault with them, He says: “BEHOLD, THE DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL MAKE A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH– 9  NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS IN THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; BECAUSE THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DISREGARDED THEM, SAYS THE LORD.  10  FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS IN THEIR MIND AND WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.  11  NONE OF THEM SHALL TEACH HIS NEIGHBOR, AND NONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL SHALL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST OF THEM TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.  12  FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”  13  In that He says, “A NEW COVENANT,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The Gospel is about a new heart of obedience as much as it is about forgiveness of sins. That is why repentance is one of its defining marks!

Christian, what is your attitude toward the Law of God? Do you think it is irrelevant? Do you despise it? Examine your heart! Has it been renewed? Can you say with the Psalmist, “O, how I love your law?” (Psalm 119:97) With the forgiveness of sins must come the desire to conform ourselves to the standard of God. We are being made into what we should be. The covenant that was made with Israel has been extended to people from every nation, tribe and tongue and, as we saw in Ephesians 2. We have become the people of God. If we are in a relationship, a covenant, with Him, we must demonstrate it by our love for the One who has redeemed us. That love will be demonstrated in our obedience. This is what it means to be a Christian!

John 14:21  He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

I encourage you to listen to the audio of these two messages on the Moral Law and its place in the life of the Christian. This is what a relationship with God looks like.

Living as the Redeemed (Pt 1) – SERMON AUDIO

Living as the Redeemed (Pt 2) – SERMON AUDIO

In Christ!

Kevin

 

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Entering God’s Presence [Exodus Pt. 19]

Entering God's Presence

What must we do to enter the presence of God? Many imagine that it is just a matter of going there, that when they die, it is the place we all end up. God’s presence is more than an idea, more than an all-access place where everyone gets to go. As God brought the nation of Israel into His presence, the disparity between God and His people is made apparent.

Entering God’s Presence – SERMON AUDIO

God is absolutely HOLY! His holiness is set in sharp contrast with the unholy nature of His people (and all people) as we look at Exodus 19…..

Exodus 19:10-13  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.  11  And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.  12  You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.  13  Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.”

Anyone who imagines that he can just walk into the presence of God as though he walked into a room, fails to even begin to grasp God’s nature! Entering the presence of God requires far more than an external purity, though the internal purity that is required is exemplified in our outward conduct. God has not Changed! He is just as holy as He has always been. In order to come into the presence of God we need Christ, His sacrifice and mediation. The writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews comments on our passage and adds some further revelation to it…

Hebrews 12:18-25  For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,  19  and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.  20  (For they could not endure what was commanded: “AND IF SO MUCH AS A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT SHALL BE STONED OR SHOT WITH AN ARROW.”  21  And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I AM EXCEEDINGLY AFRAID AND TREMBLING.”)

We do not try to approach God as they did then and were unable to enter into His presence. We may, however enter into His presence through Christ!

Hebrews 12:22  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,  23  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,  24  to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  25  See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,

We have need of this, because one day we will all enter into His presence for judgment. If we are not in Christ and possessing His righteousness, we will be in big trouble!

Revelation 20:11-15  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.  12  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.  13  The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.  14  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  15  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Therefore we must make sure that we are in Christ! 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 tells us, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you are disqualified.  6  But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.” 

How do you know whether or not you will be able to stand in the presence of the Lord? It is certainly not something that should be taken for granted! Paul says to those in the Corinthian church, that they should take the time to make sure that they are in Christ! Without Him they will be disqualified! This is an interesting concept, The Greek word translated here is adokimoi and according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it means; “not standing the test, not approved (properly used of metals and coins).” We could say, a “counterfeit!” We may be in the Church and not in Christ! We need evidence of the reality of our faith.

What is that evidence? For that, I encourage you to listen to the audio from the sermon by clicking on the link below.

Entering God’s Presence – SERMON AUDIO

In Christ!

Kevin

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God: Entering the Relationship [Exodus Pt. 18]

Entering the Relationship

Relationship is a buzzword in the Christian faith these days. It is certainly a valid concept for our faith, but I wonder whether those who push so hard against their understanding of the word RELIGION in favor of their understanding of the word RELATIONSHIP really comprehend what they are saying.

God Enters a Relationship With His People – SERMON AUDIO

God’s love, as displayed in the redemption of His people, is clearly demonstrated in the first 14 chapters of the Book of Exodus. Once they have been freed from their bondage, they are now free to enter into a relationship with the God who loved them saved them from that bondage. God begins to interact with His people by establishing groups of leaders among them (Exodus 18:21-23). Next He calls them to Himself in order to instruct them in the rules of that relationship.

Exodus 19:3-8  And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:  4  ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.  5  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.  6  And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”  7  So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him.  8  Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.

God has redeemed His people in a miraculous display of love for them. He calls them now to a covenant commitment in response to His lavish display of love and gives them a further promise that He will maintain them as His own special people as they respond in faith, with a commitment to submit to Him. This past week I performed a wedding ceremony as I see what is going on here, that is what I am seeing. God is, in essence, marrying His people! Entering into a relationship with them!

Deuteronomy 7:6-9  “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.  7  The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;  8  but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  9  “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

EVERY RELATIONSHIP HAS RULES! If you don’t believe it, violate the rules of your marriage, with your boss, or in any other important relationship that you have and see what happens! God has made us. He has established the rules of all relationships. He created us to exist within the bounds of the order that He has established. If we reject that order, if we reject His rules, we are broken, we are “out of order, ” we are in sin. Christ did not free us from God’s order, but TO it. Christ freed us from the penalty of the Law that we had broken, NOT so we could continue to live against that law, but so that the proper order of things could be reestablished.

When we are regenerated, we are not only forgiven, but given a new heart that longs to submit to God and to obey His statutes and  ordinances, to conform to His order. In His book, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, Vern Pothress says this, “…a renewed or recreated people are characterized by renewed behavior, behavior conforming to God’s order.” This is clearly stated in God’s intent in the giving of the New Covenant as foretold by the prophet Jeremiah as the Lord says through him;

Jeremiah 31:31-34  “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– 32  not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.  33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  34  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

God does not redeem His people just to keep them from Hell, but to complete them and to conform to the image of His Son. To bring us into His proper order.

Romans 8:29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Thus, a redeemed heart will desire to be obedient to God and to be biblically moral. I could go on, but instead, I encourage you to listen to the audio of the sermon. Check out our evening message as well from 1 Peter 2:9

God Enters a Relationship With His People – SERMON AUDIO

Peculiar People – SERMON AUDIO

In Christ!

Kevin

 

 


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Establishing Leaders [Exodus Pt 17]

Establishing Leaders

Some people teach that Moses made a mistake when he listened to his father-in-law, Jethro, as he told Moses to set human leaders over the people of Israel. I find no evidence in the Bible, that this was an error! As a matter of fact, it was the beginning of a similar style of leadership to that which was given in the New Testament, in order to govern the Church. A group of Elders to govern each local body with Christ as the Head.

Establishing Leaders – SERMON AUDIO

As Israel moved away from their existence as slaves in Egypt to that of a sovereign nation, things had to change. Once their freedom was brought about, the next thing that changed was their leadership structure.

Exodus 18:8-14  And Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them on the way, and how the LORD had delivered them.  9  Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the LORD had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.  10  And Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh, and who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.  11  Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them.”  12  Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and other sacrifices to offer to God. And Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.  13  And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.  14  So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”

Moses had all of the responsibility on himself and he was wearing himself out! Miracles were the driving force behind their freedom, but they would not suffice to govern them from day to day. Israel was along for the ride, from the first plague until they arrived on the other side of the Red Sea. Now, in chapter 17, for the first time, Instead of saying “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” (Exodus 14:13) we read, ” And Moses said to Joshua, Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” (Exodus 17:9)

God is moving from the “extraordinary” government of  His people to the “ordinary” government of His people.  He is moving from one man with miraculous power to a group of men with Divine wisdom.

Exodus 18:19-23  Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God.  20  And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.  21  Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.  22  And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you.  23  If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.”

This seems to be God’s Method of Operation as we see it given similarly in the New Testament in regard to the Church.

God began with Jesus and His Apostles and Miraculous Gifts;

Hebrews 2:2-4  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,  3  how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,  4  God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

Once the Church was established, the office of Apostle was not available to the rest of the Church. An encounter with the Risen Christ was essential to that calling. (1 Corinthians 9:1) From that point on, as the Apostle Paul established churches throughout the regions of Asia Minor and on into Europe, he established, in each one, a group of qualified men to govern according to God’s word.

Titus 1:5-7 ” For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you– 6  if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.  7  For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money….”

In the New Testament the word “elders” is always plural when it is used in relationship to local churches. A group of godly men, instructed in the statutes and doctrines of the Word of God, with authority to teach and to judge in unison, not as individuals. This is the way that God has ordained that His flock be shepherded. Does this describe your local assembly?

Here are several good resources on understanding the biblical office and role of the Elder / Pastor

Biblical Eldership, by Alexander Strauch

By Whose Authority, by Mark Dever

Who Should Run the Church? by Daniel B. Wallace

In addition, don’t forget to listen to the audio of the sermon on Exodus 18 by clicking on the link below!
Establishing Leaders – SERMON AUDIO

 

In Christ!

Kevin

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Why Do You Tempt The Lord? [Exodus Pt. 16]

Tempting the Lord

Do you know any cranky Christians? Christians who seem like all they do is complain? If you answered this question with a “Yes” I would like to challenge that answer.

Why Do You Tempt the Lord? – SERMON AUDIO

The Apostle Paul uses the Children of Israel and their struggles to obey God after the Exodus as a negative example to all Christians. He says this to them in 1 Corinthians 10:6-12;

“Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.  7  And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND ROSE UP TO PLAY.”  8  Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;  9  nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;  10  nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  11  Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.  12  Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

One of the greatest struggles Israel had in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land was in trusting God for His daily provision; actually believing that He had saved them for a reason and that He was going to finish the job. They constantly complained saying things like;

Exodus 15:22-24  So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.  23  Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.  24  And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

Just days after seeing God’s incredible power and the level of His covenant faithfulness in redeeming them from the slavery of Egypt, knowing that it was based on His promise to their forefathers, they immediately lost hope when they met a significant challenge.

Exodus 16:1-3  And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt.  2  Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  3  And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Oh sure, God went through all of that trouble to save you and defeat the Pharaoh and his armies just to leave you to die in the wilderness! That makes sense. NOT!

How much more has God done to save us as Christians? Even this event which would lead, ultimately, to the nation of Israel being formed so that God could bring His Messiah into the world, is a part of God’s redemption of His people, the Church. Abraham’s promise was to bless all the families of the earth, not just Abraham’s physical descendants.

Galatians 3:6-9  just as Abraham “BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  7  Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.  8  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”  9  So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Has God come so far only to fail? Is He not strong enough, not smart enough, not committed enough, to complete what He has started? Our confidence needs to last longer than just a moment of faith to believe that our sins are forgiven. That faith needs to persevere through the trials of life, knowing that God will complete what He has started. That is what Paul told the Philippian Believers.

Philippians 1:3-6  I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  4  always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,  5  for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,  6  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

If we doubt God every time a difficulty arises, we really do not trust Him! God tests His people on purpose, in order to show us where our confidence lies. Are we trusting in ourselves? Do we imagine that we know what God has promised without taking the time to read it in His word? God will strip away our false hopes through our trials. He will reveal to us, where our hearts are at.

Exodus 17:1  Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.  2  Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.” So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?”  3  And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

Israel was really lacking in their faith. This was demonstrated in their questioning of Moses as God’s appointed leader. To question him was to challenge the Lord and make the claim that He was not doing His job. It was to push God’s mercy to it absolute limit!

Exodus 17:4  So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”  5  And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go.  6  Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.  7  So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

Ultimately they questioned whether He was really still with them, because they were having difficulties in life. God was testing them. He had proven Himself faithful to them, but they had not been faithful to Him. Complaining is Sin. It is a demonstration of UNBELIEF, of NOT TRUSTING GOD. Those who call themselves Christians, but live a life marked by the sin of complaining (especially about the leaders God has placed over them, political or spiritual) demonstrate the reality of their unbelief.

Are you caught in the trap of complaining all the time? It is time for you to repent and plead with God to grant you the faith to trust Him in all situations. He will get you to His appointed destination, just as Paul instructed the Philippians.

Romans 8:28-32  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.  31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

This does not mean that there will be no difficulties, no trials. On the contrary, it means that God will bring you through them all, even through death to arrive at your appointed end.

Romans 8:35-39  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  36  As it is written: “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER.”  37  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  39  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you trust Him?

I encourage you to listen to the audio of the sermon by clicking on the link below. There is a lot more to it. Check it out!

Why Do You Tempt the Lord? – SERMON AUDIO

In Christ!

Kevin

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He Has Heard Your Complaints [Exodus Pt. 15]

He Has Heard Your Complaints!

God’s care for His people is without question. That does not mean that He always gives us everything we ask for or that life will always be easy. Those are the promises of the false prophets of our day, not of the Bible. The most important thing we can draw from the reaction of Israel, as God brings them out of Egypt, is that God cares for His People faithfully,  in spite of our unfaithfulness!

He Has Heard Your Complaints – SERMON AUDIO

Immediately after God saves His people and destroys their enemies (just the other side of the Red Sea) we read these words;

Exodus 14:31 “Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.”

As we begin to read in Chapter 15 of Exodus, we see the people break out into a worship service as they celebrate their victory and God’s Great power, yet within three days of these great miracles and the great salvation that has been given to them by God, they seem to completely forget who He is;

Exodus 15:22-25  “So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.  23  Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.  24  And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”  25  So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them,”

Let’s not be too hard on them, maybe this was just a momentary lapse in their faith.  After all, they had just seen God’s mighty arm deliver them with great judgments and profound miracles. Their enemies were utterly destroyed as they stood, completely unarmed on the shore of the Red Sea!

Exodus 16:2-3  Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  3  And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

The miracles and the mighty power of God had apparently done nothing to bring faith to these people! Yer, in His own faithfulness, God carried them forward, feeding them with quail and manna and providing water from a rock. He endured their wickedness and folly for a thousand years as He prepared to hon0r His promise to their forefather, Abraham. Obedience was not in their nature, neither is it in ours! God tested them here to see (demonstrate to them!) that they were incapable of true obedience. God foretold that He would change that for them as He spoke through Jeremiah the Prophet;

Jeremiah 31:31-34  “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– 32  not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.  33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  34  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Israel could not do what God required of them. They were sinful people! This was no surprise to God. But we, hard-hearted people, really struggle with the idea that we cannot pull it off. That God knew it is evident in the way the the Apostle Paul speaks of it in the Letter to the Galatians;

Galatians 3:7-17  Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.  8  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”  9  So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.  10  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT CONTINUE IN ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO DO THEM.”  11  But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  12  Yet the law is not of faith, but “THE MAN WHO DOES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  13  Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”),  14  that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  15  Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.  16  Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “AND TO YOUR SEED,” who is Christ.  17  And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.

Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, all the way back in Genesis 12. He took the penalty of the broken law upon Himself so that we would not have to bear the condemnation of it. God put up with His rebellious people for 1,500 (Moses to Christ) years in order to keep His promise to Abraham! In order to keep the law for we who could not keep it ourselves. As we trust in what He has accomplished through Christ, we are given a new heart and an new Spirit that we can obey God out of love and gratitude. Not only does Christ bear our curse, but He gives us His perfect righteousness! (2 Corinthians 5:21). Can you trust a God who would go to that extreme to redeem and keep His people?

Romans 5:6-11  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  9  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  10  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  11  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Yet, even now, we struggle at times to trust this God who has given His all for a bunch of traitors. God knows that this is the case as well. He has given us one another to encourage each other in the faith. The victory over sin is there and it is real, but until Christ returns, we too are being tested in the wilderness.

Hebrews 3:7-18  Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE,  8  DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS IN THE REBELLION, IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,  9  WHERE YOUR FATHERS TESTED ME, TRIED ME, AND SAW MY WORKS FORTY YEARS.  10  THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THAT GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN MY WAYS.’  11  SO I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’ ”  12  Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;  13  but exhort one another daily, while it is called “TODAY,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  14  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,  15  while it is said: “TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS IN THE REBELLION.”  16  For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?  17  Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?  18  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?

Life will be hard, we will be tested in this life, but the God who saves us will bring us to the appointed end. If you only believe in God when life is easy then you won’t make it far! If you trust God to give you heaven, you also need to trust Him to get you there!

He Has Heard Your Complaints – SERMON AUDIO

In Christ!
Kevin

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Is God Jealous? [Westminster Shorter Catechism Q52-53]

Love, Obedience and the Nature of God

Second Commandment (Pt. 2)

“The Lord Your  God is a jealous God…” This is a statement that troubles many. What does it mean? Is God petty and selfish as we think of jealous people? Of course not! There is a positive aspect to jealousy that we often overlook. The same emotion that causes some to act crudely and selfishly can also be the thing that inspires a parent put themselves in danger or even to sacrifice his or her own life to protect their child.

Q 51-52 -LESSON AUDIO

This is given as a warning for God’s covenant people to remain faithful to Him. It is attached to the Second Commandment which forbids the use of images in worship.

Exodus 20:4-6  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;  5  you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,  6  but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

When we attempt to either worship the images of other so-called gods, or when we attempt to identify an image that we have made (which is impossible, because God has no form and Christ though in the form of a man has not given us a true image of Himself) Any image that we call God is a misrepresentation of Him.

Exodus 32:1-5  Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”  2  And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”  3  So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron.  4  And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”  5  So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.”

All images that are said to be of God (the Father or the Son) are not accurate images. Some say that images are needed to instruct the ignorant and children. But if the image teaches but does not teach truth, it is worse than useless. It is destructive and sinful.

Habakkuk 2:18  “What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols?

This is what makes God jealous. He is jealous for His people. He is jealous for His Name. He has entered into a covenant with His people, similar to a marriage covenant. To take an image and call it a god is to take another as husband.  It is spiritual adultery. God is so abhorred by this practice that He denounces the offspring of those who “hate” Him by participating in this practice.

Exodus 20:5  For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

God will treat the children of covenant breakers as the children of adultery to the third and fourth generation. (See Hosea 1) Yet, He promises MERCY to thousands generations for the faithful. This is reason enough for me to avoid any so-called images of God in all of my life. God hates them and calls those who use them unfaithful. He withholds His covenant mercy from the children of such people. He considers them covenant breakers and haters of God.

Deuteronomy 4:14-19  And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess.  15  “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire,  16  lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female,  17  the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air,  18  the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth.  19  And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.

This is a humbling commandment. Especially in the traditions that allow for such images. Not just Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, but Modern Evangelicals who plaster their walls with “pictures of Jesus.” Check out the previous post on the commandment itself The Second Commandment.  Then listen to the audio from the lesson below.

Q 51-52 -LESSON AUDIO

In Christ!

Kevin

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What is Worship? [Exodus Pt. 14]

What is Worship?

What is worship? Is it about style? Is it about how it makes me feel? In Exodus 15, God’s people, having been redeemed, did something pretty amazing. Immediately, after being delivered by the mighty hand of God, they began a praise service right there on the banks of the Red Sea, as the bodies of the Egyptian soldiers swashed back and forth and sank to the bottom.

What is Worship? – SERMON AUDIO

Exodus 15:1-9  Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: “I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!  2  The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.  3  The LORD is a man of war; The LORD is His name.  4  Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.  5  The depths have covered them; They sank to the bottom like a stone.  6  “Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces.  7  And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; It consumed them like stubble.  8  And with the blast of Your nostrils The waters were gathered together; The floods stood upright like a heap; The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.  9  The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, My hand shall destroy them.’

Worship is our response to God for who He is and what He has accomplished on our behalf. It is more that singing songs, but singing songs is a very valid part of our worship! As we take this principle forward into the New Testament, we see that the Apostle Paul makes the same connection. The Letter to the Romans is the most detailed exposition of the Gospel in our Bible. After taking 11 chapters to described, Man’s fallen condition (Romans 1-3:23), God gracious provision in Christ (Romans 3:24-31), our response of Faith (Romans 4), Where sin came from (Romans 5), our response of Obedience (Romans 6-7), God’s ultimate sovereignty and deliverance (Romans 8), God’s dealings in history with His people Israel (Romans 9-11) What our lives should look like as a result (Romans 12-16).  Paul begins this last section, our response to 1) Our sin, 2) God’s provision, 3) God’s sovereign rule of all things, is to be this;

Romans 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

The point is, if you can grasp God’s mercy in not destroying us as His enemies (Romans 3:10-19  Romans 5:10) If we realize that He gave His ALL for us,

Romans 8:31-32  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

The right response to the One who has given us His ALL is to give our ALL for Him. Not out of an attitude of repayment, but of gratitude! It is what Paul calls our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

The word “service” here is not what you may think. There are a few Greek words that are translated as service in the New Testament.

  • Duleo, is serving as a bondslave or bondservant this is not the kind of service here, even though Paul uses the noun form, Dulos, to describe himself often in the New Testament.
  • Diakonia is translated as minister or serve and is transliterates in its noun form as Deacon or Minister

But the word that is used here is neither of these. It is not the idea of serving that you may have in mind. It is;

  • latreian, or the ministration of a worship service. We get the English word “Liturgy” from this word. Our worship service to God is the way we live for Him! It is give ourselves to Him without reserve, just as He gave His Son for us.  It is identifying with Him to the degree, that we are able to trust Him enough to do this. That our lives become worship!

Yes, we will certainly sing! How could we not sing when God has done so much for us? But if our worship is limited to songs, we have come up short. Israel struggled hard with this, as we will see in our further study of Exodus. The question comes, what are you holding back from God? What can you justify holding back from Him? That question is answered in this one, What has He held back from you?

Romans 8:32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Check out the audio on this one, It was my daughter’s favorite sermon from Exodus so far!

What is Worship? – SERMON AUDIO

 

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