Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Exodus 15:22-18:27 – The Life of Moses

Last week we learned the story of God's deliverance - God's people delivered from God's wrath against sin, delivered by God's power, delivered for God's glory! 

Exodus 15:22-17:7 - God Provides Water and Manna

After God delivered His people from bondage in Egypt, Moses led them into the Desert of Shur.  They traveled for 3 days without finding water.  They finally found water, but it was bitter and they could not drink it.  The Israelites began to grumble against Moses saying, "What are we to drink?" - Ex. 15:24.  Really they were complaining against The Lord.  They had already forgotten what the Lord and Moses had done for them.  Moses turned to God for help.  God showed him a piece of wood and when he threw it into the water, the water became sweet.

Then God made a decree and a law for them.  If they would listen and do what was right in God's eyes, and if they would pay attention to His commands and keep all His promises, He would not bring any diseases that He brought on Egypt.  God said, "I am the Lord, who heals you." - Ex. 15:26.  Then they came to a place with 12 springs and 72 palm trees.  God provided as He always does. 

Where do you turn for help when all seems hopeless?
Do you remember what God has done for you in the past?
Do you listen to Him and obey His commands?

Abundant life comes from God.  He said, "I am the Lord, who heals you."  Why did they need to be healed?  They needed to be healed from a broken life as slaves and broken hearts from being oppressed.  We all have heart-break.  God can retrain our thinking to have the right perspective of Him.  He does not give us what we deserve.  He commands us to continually repent.  He heals us from our sins.

On the 15th day of the 2nd month (1 month after they left Egypt) the Israelites complained to Moses again saying, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." - Ex. 16:3.  Again Moses turned to the Lord and the Lord said, "I will rain down bread from heaven to you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days." - Ex. 16:4-5.

God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and He was trying to bring Egypt out of the Israelites.  He was retraining them.  God tested them by telling them to pay attention and following His instructions.  A test is used to strengthen the spirit.  It is a preparation for when trials come.  God wanted them to rely on Him.  Instead of praying they grumbled.  He knows you trust Him, but He wants you to know you trust Him.  Complaining is unproductive, praying is productive.  Praying shows belief. 

God was teaching them what it means to obey before He brings the Law.  Manna lasted 40 years, but God's Word is eternal.

Can you trust God for your daily needs?
How has God been testing you?
Have you been testing God or trusting God?

The Lord heard their grumbling and He said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.  Tell them 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.  The you will know that I am the Lord your God.'" - Ex. 16:11-12.

Do you complain about your circumstances and blame others?  When you complain about anything, you are blaming and complaining against God.  He is the God of circumstance.  Our complaining is always against His ordering of our lives.  I hope you will stop and think before you complain next time.

Go gave them quail to eat in the evening and manna or bread in the morning.  Manna was an outright miracle.  It just appeared on the ground and was available year round.  It fed 2 million people.  The quail was temporary, but the manna lasted for 40 years.  Nothing in nature is like that.  Its attributes are like that of God's Word:  perfection, complete truthfulness, authority, and power to give life and change lives.  Manna was freely given to them.  They did nothing to earn it.  All they had to do was to gather it and they had to do it daily.  That's like God's Word.  He gives it to us freely and all we have to do it read and study it.  And it is best to do it regularly.  It is fresh every morning and will last forever.   

Manna is a symbol of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." - John 6:35.  "I am the bread of life.  Your forefathers ate the manna in the dessert, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." - John 6:47-51.  Jesus is the source of life.  Without Him we will die  If we take Jesus into our inter beings, we will have eternal life.

The Israelites continued traveling in the desert and then they began to complain a 3rd time.  This time it was about water again.  Had they not learned anything?  They accused Moses of bringing them out of Egypt to die of thirst.  Moses told them they were putting the lord to the test.  They were looking to man and not to God.  They still lacked faith in God.  The Lord again provided for them.  It the presence of the elders God had Moses strike a rock and when he did, water came out.

In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul refers to this rock as a symbol of Jesus Christ.  In John 4 Jesus calls Himself living water.  "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." - John 7:37-38.

The Israelites grumbled and complained 4 times; in 15:24 they grumbled about no water; in 16:2 they grumbled about no food; in 17:2 they grumbled about no water again; and in 17:7 they tested God saying, "Is the Lord among us or not"?  Not once did they repent.

They had the habit of the sin of complaining.  They really needed God's cleansing power.  They needed to repent.  Repentance is turning away from sin and turning to God.  We all battle with sin throughout our lives and it's not easy, but with God the battle over sin becomes much easier.  Sometimes we are not even aware of our sin.  Ask God to reveal to you where you are sinning.  We can't hide our sin from God, because He knows them all.  Jesus died for every sin.  There is no sin He cannot forgive.

What sin do you need to confess and repent?
What things do you complain about?

Principle:  God cares for us despite our complaints and heals us of our bitterness.

Exodus 17:8-16  - God Provides Victory

The Amalekites attacked the Israelite at Rephidim and a battle was inevitable.  So Moses told Joshua to choose men to go and fight the Amalekites and that he would stand up on top of the mountain with the staff of God in his hands, which was usual done when praying.  Joshua was Moses assistant during the 40 years they were in the desert.  Moses then went up to the mountain along with Aaron and Hur.  Moses held his hands high with the staff of God during the battle.  As long as his hands were up Joshua was winning.  When his hands dropped, so did the troops.  Aaron and Hur helped Moses by keeping his arms steady and the Israelites were encouraged.  At sunset the Amalekites were defeated.

This raising of hands was a powerful, effective, and encouraged to the Israelites.  Prayer is necessary and important.  God told Moses to write down these things so Joshua and the people would remember and that it would be remembered for generations.  This is the first reference to actual writing of any biblical material.  When the battle was over Moses built an altar to the Lord and called it, "The Lord is my banner." - Ex. 17:15.

Are you dealing with struggles or disappointments?
Do you take them to God in prayer?
Who is your banner?
What kind of friend are you?
Do you support others when they need encouragement?

Principle:  Through prayer God empowers His people to experience victory in daily battles.

Exodus 18 - God Provides Judges

Moses had sent his family away.  We don't really know why, but he sent his wife and sons to her father, Jethro.  Maybe so they would be safe or maybe so they would not be a distraction to him during his encounters with Pharaoh.  Jethro heard all that God had done for Moses and the Israelites.  Jethro and Moses' wife and sons came to Moses in the desert.  Moses told him of God's power and Jethro praised God of all that had happened. 

Remember the Israelites were slaves and for such a long time they made no decisions for themselves.  Now they were free and needed someone to make decisions for them.  They needed direction.  Moses became the one they took their problem to.  Jethro saw Moses judging the people and was concerned that Moses would wear himself out.  Moses was working too hard trying to judge all the peoples' problems by himself.  Jethro suggested that Moses be the peoples' representative before God and to teach them the decrees and the laws and show them how to live and what duties to perform.  He is suggesting that Moses be their pastor and have a ministry of prayer, intercession, and seeking the wisdom of God on behalf of the people.

Then Moses should select from all the people capable trustworthy men who feared God and put them in charge over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens and to let them settle the disputes.  Then Moses could settle the more difficult problems.  Moses accepted Jethro's advice.

Are you willing to say something hard to someone that they need to hear?
Do you have a Jethro in your life?
Do you need to be a Jethro for someone?
Do you accept advice of other Christians or are you prideful?
Do you weigh their advice against God's Word?

Principle:  Wise leaders listen to godly advice.

Not letting others do things by trying to do it all yourself is pride, fear, and unbelief.  No one person in a church can do everything.  God gave each one a different gift and we are to work together.  In the New Testament leaders were appointed.  Jesus chose 12 apostles, deacons were called in Acts , and when Paul established churches he placed elders over the people.  Like the judges in the Old Testament, leaders today are to be trustworthy, honest, respectful, sincere, self-controlled, hospitable, able to teach, gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, fear God, etc.  They are to be selected by the people.  See 1 Tim. 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9 for more qualifications.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Exodus 11 - 15:21 - The Life of Moses

Last week we learned that you cannot comprise with God.

Pharaoh would not let the people go worship the Lord so the Lord sent 9 plagues so far against Egypt.  The plagues were against the Egyptians gods to show God's power and that only He is the 1 true God.  Now He is sending the final plague, the plague of the firstborn.  This terrible judgment was poured out on the Egyptians and at the same time the Israelites were observing the Passover.  God would keep His promise to Moses and the Israelites.  After 430 years of slavery they would be freed.

Exodus 11 - 13:16 - God Glorified by the Passover

God told Moses that about midnight He would go throughout Egypt and kill the firstborn of the Egyptians.  There would be crying and weeping everywhere, worse than there has ever been or will be again.  Moses was to tell the Israelite people to get prepared to leave.  The Lord would make the Egyptians favorably toward them and they were to ask them for clothing and silver and gold. 

How has God provided for your material needs?
How has He protected you?

So Moses went to Pharaoh and told him that every firstborn will die then he will know that the Lord will make a distinction between Egypt and Israel.  "All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, 'Go, you and all the people who follow you!'  After that I will leave.  Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.  The Lord said to Moses, 'Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you - so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.'  Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country." - Ex. 11:8-10.

God gave Moses and Aaron instructions to the Israelites for the Passover.  They were to tell the people that on the 10th day of the 1st month each house will select an unblemished 1 year old sheep or goat.  On the 14th day they were to slaughter it at twilight, take its blood and smear it on the doorposts of their houses.  They were to eat the meat that was fire roasted in the evening with unleavened bread and herbs.  The meat must not be boiled and if any was left over, they were to burn it.  They were to eat it in a hurry and be dressed for travel.  When the Lord comes at midnight to kill the firstborns, He will see the blood on the doorposts of the Israelites and Passover their houses sparing them.  The Israelites were also guilty before God.  They would have lost their firstborn, too if they had not obeyed God by putting blood on their doorposts.

Salvation requires that blood be shed.  Jesus is our true Passover Lamb.  He was our sacrificial lamb.  He was a male without blemish or defect (without sin).  He was slaughtered on the cross and delivered us by His blood.  "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" - Heb. 10:4.  "For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed". - 1 Cor. 5:7.  "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" - John 1:29.  This is the theme throughout the Bible.  The blood of Jesus alone atones for sin.  There is no salvation apart from Him.

Principle:  Jesus' blood covers the sins of all who trust Him.

Have you accepted Jesus as your Passover Lamb?
Do you know Jesus as your Savior?
Do you believe and trust in Him?

The Passover was celebrated then and is celebrated today by those Israelites who trust God.  It's a time that they remember what He did for them.  He passed over the houses of those who had blood on their doorpost sparing their lives.  Christians today celebrate Communion or Lord's Supper.  It is for those who trust in God for deliverance.  Jesus told us to remember Him by celebrating the Lord's Supper until He comes again.

At midnight God struck every firstborn in the land as He had said He would do.  There wasn't a house in which someone wasn't dead.  Pharaoh got up that night and there was much wailing in Egypt!  He called in Moses and Aaron and told them to get out and go worship God and to not come back!

The death of all the firstborn would greatly affect any nation.  Of course, there would be horror, sadness, shock, much weeping.  It would affect its future leaders.  It not only would affect families who lost loved ones, but it would affect governments, churches, just to name a few.  Just think firstborns are not just children, but it could be fathers and grandfathers if they were the firstborn in their family.  The devastation would be everywhere and touch everyone.

The Israelites spent 430 years as slaves in Egypt.  They left by the Lord's divisions.  "At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord's divisions left Egypt.  Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come." - Ex. 12:41-42. 

There were about 600,000 men who left Egypt along with their wives and children and many others. (Ex. 12:37-38).  This may have been as many as 2 million people.  There were non-Jews who believed and trusted the Lord that also left Egypt.  The Lord gave Moses specific restrictions regarding the Passover for those who were not Israelites.  They were not to eat the Passover meal unless they were circumcised.  The meat was to be eaten outside the house and none of the bones could be broken.  Any alien who wants to celebrate the Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised.  They did just as the Lord commanded and they were all brought out of Egypt by their divisions. (Ex. 12:43-51). 

The Lord told Moses to consecrate every firstborn male whether man or animal.  Since the firstborn of Israel had been spared, He wanted them consecrated or set apart for God.  They were to explain to their firstborn what this means and say to him, "With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery  When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every firstborn in Egypt, both man and animal.  This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.  And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand." - Ex. 13:14-16.

God spared the firstborn of Israel so it appropriate that their firstborn to be set apart for God.  This means they are to be raised to know God and to seek those things which are above.  To be set apart means to be made holy.  They are to have a special role in life to serve Him.

Exodus 13:17-14:31 - God Glorified by the Exodus

When Pharaoh let the people go, the Lord took them in a round-about way through the desert and not through the country of the Philistines.  They were surrounded by desert, mountains, and water.  Pharaoh thought they were confused and used this opportunity to pursue them, but he soon discovered, "The Lord is (was) fighting against them." - Ex. 14:25.  When they reached the Red Sea, the Lord told Moses to stretch out his hand to part the sea.  While the sea was parted, the people went across on dry land.  Then after they had crossed at daybreak, Moses stretched out his hand again over the sea and the waters flowed back over the Egyptians.  The Egyptians were swept into the sea. The Lord saved the Israelites and they saw the great power of the Lord.  They were in awe of the Lord and their trust in Him and in His servant Moses.

Principle:  The crossing of the Red Sea demonstrates God's power to deliver His own.

Exodus 15:1-21 - God Glorified With Praise

The Israelites were now a free people.  Then Moses and the Israelites sang a song in praise and worship to the Lord.  This song glorifies God.  This is the first song in the Bible and could be called the great "Hallelujah Chorus" of Israel.  Through this song we see many attributes of God; exalted, my salvation, warrior, greatness of His majesty, holiness, awesome in glory, works wonders, unfailing love, redeemer, power, our sanctuary, He will reign forever and ever.

How do the words in the Israelites' song remind you of what God has done for you?
How do you praise God when He has delivered you?
Will you thank Him for His past help?

Principle:  Praising God for His past help gives hope for the future.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Exodus 6:28 - 10:29 - The Life of Moses

Last week we learned that following God's call often results in difficult circumstances, requiring reliance on Him.

I.  Exodus 6:28-7:13 - God Strengthens Moses

Moses thought he spoke with faltering lips and ask God, why would Pharaoh listen to him.  Faltering means to be unsteady, stammering, timid, uncertain, weak, hesitant.  God reassured Moses telling him He had made him like a god to Pharaoh and Aaron like a prophet.  They were to say everything God had told them to say to Pharaoh, but God would harden Pharaoh's heart.  God would then send mighty acts of judgment on Egypt and would bring the people out of Egypt by divisions.

Moses objections showed that he did not have enough faith or trust in God.  We are so much like Moses, but the Lord was patient with him as He is with us.  He understands our weaknesses.  He can still work in the weak.

God said go to Pharaoh and when he wants  you to perform a miracle, take your staff and throw it down and it will become a snake.  So they did what God said and Aaron's staff became a snake.  Then Pharaoh summoned his magicians and they did the same thing with their secret arts, which came from Satan.  But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.  Pharaoh would not listen to them and his heart became hard just as God had said.

What does it mean that God hardened Pharaoh's heart?  It means He made sure Pharaoh would not listen to Moses.  God proclaimed Himself sovereign in hardening Pharaoh's heart.  Pharaoh had a choice when he chose to harden his heart, but God fortified it.  It demonstrated God's power and authority.  If Pharaoh had let the people go after the 1st or even the 5th time Moses asked and God had not sent His miraculous plagues, God's superiority would not have been realized.  Pharaoh would have taken the credit.  God's signs and miracles showed Israelites and the Egyptians that the Lord is powerful and He is the one in charge not Pharaoh or the Egyptian gods.  

Has God asked you to do something hard?
Have you obeyed?

Principle: God will be glorified through both obedient and disobedient hearts.

II.  Exodus 6:14 - 10:1-23 - God Sends Plagues on Egypt

Because of Pharaoh's hardened heart, God would perform signs and wonders and would send judgment on Egypt and eventually bring the Israelites out of Egypt.  God has done this before when a country's ruler had a hardened heart.  Just look at Sodom and Gomorrah. And what about the Holocaust, just to name a few?

God sent plague after plague because Pharaoh would not listen and let the people go.  He sent 10 plagues in all, but in these chapters we will discuss only the 1st 9;  The Plague of Blood, the Plague of Frogs, the Plague of Gnats, the Plague of Flies, the Plague on Livestock, the Plague of Boils, the Plague of Hail, the Plague of Locusts, the Plague of Darkness.  These were all against the Egyptian gods.  God chose these specific plagues to show He is the 1 true God. 

Pharaoh had a perfect life and had the best of everything.  He probably thought, why do I need God?  So God was trying to get his attention  Why was he this way?  We have an enemy called Satan.  He wanted to control Pharaoh's life and he wants to control our lives.  He is the enemy all Christians.  He doesn't want us serving God.  Satan gets really mad and puts false gods in our way.  Satan is real and is the enemy of God.  Pharaoh thought he was a god.  God doesn't always give us the details about his plans, but he did to Moses.  The Egyptians would learn there is one 1 true God.  The purpose of all the plagues was to attack each of their false gods and discredit them.

Where do you need to see God working behind the scenes?
What do you need to do to trust Him?
Are you obedient to God?
How do you glorify God?

Nothing happens outside God's control.  It might be hard at times, but He is in control and if God puts you in it, He will bring you out of it.

The Plague of Blood (Ex. 7:14-24)

The 1st plague was against the god of the Nile and waters of Egypt.  Since Pharaoh would not yield and refused to let the people go so they could worship Him, God told Moses and Aaron to go and wait for Pharaoh by the bank of the Nile and say, "This is what the Lord says; By this you will know that I am the Lord;  With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood." - Ex. 7:17.  Then Aaron took his staff and turned the waters into blood, just as God commanded.  All the waters were blood, the Nile, the ponds, the streams, in the buckets and jars.  Blood was everywhere and the Egyptians could not drink the water.  The Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts.  Pharaoh's heart was still hard.

The Egyptians looked upon the Nile as a source of life.  By turning it into blood made it a river of death.  This showed that God is the source of life and He rules the Nile.  It dethroned the Egyptian gods.

The Plague of the Frogs (Ex. 7:25 - 8:15)

The 2nd plague was a judgment frogs.  The Egyptians worshipped gods in the form of frogs.  7 days passed and Moses and Aaron asked Pharaoh again to let the people go so they could worship Him, but he refused.  Then Aaron stretched out his staff as directed by God and there appeared frogs all over the land of Egypt.  Pharaoh's magician did the same things.  Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron to pray to the Lord to take the frogs away and he would let the people go.  Then Moses ask God to take the frogs away and the Lord did what he asked.  After Pharaoh saw there was relief, he hardened his heart again just as the Lord had said.

The Plague of Gnats (Ex. 8:16-19)

The 3rd plague was against the land and their gods of the soil.  Again God commanded Aaron to stretch out his staff and strike the dust on the ground.  The dust became gnats and were everywhere in Egypt.  The magicians tried to do the same, but could not.  They told Pharaoh that this is the finger of God, but Pharaoh's heart was still hard.

The Plague of Flies (Ex. 8:20-32)

The 4th plague was also against the land.  Many insects were goddesses an gods of the Egyptians.  God told Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh again and ask him to let the people go to worship Him.  This time when God sent the flies, He didn't let swarms of flies go where His people were so they would know that He is the Lord.  God continued protecting the Israelites from the plagues from this point on.  Pharaoh then said "Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land." - Ex. 7:25.  But Moses said that would not be right and that it would be detestable to the Egyptians and they might get stoned by them.  Moses wanted to take the 3 day journey into the desert as God had commanded.  Pharaoh said ok, but don't go far.  Moses prayed to God for the flies to go away and they left.  Again Pharaoh changed his mind and wouldn't let them go.

The Plague of Livestock ( Ex. 9:1-7)

The 5th plague was against the animals.  The Egyptians worshipped many animals.  the most popular was the bull god.  God again told Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh and ask him to let the people so they can worship Him.  If he would not, tomorrow God would bring a terrible plague on all the livestock, but God would not harm and livestock of the Israelites. God waited until the next day to bring the plague.  Maybe he wanted to give them a chance to think about it maybe change Pharaoh's mind or to give them time to get the livestock to shelter.  The next day the Lord did just what He said He would do.  Even then Pharaoh would not let the people go.

The Plague of Boils (Ex. 9:8-12)

This 6th plague afflicted the bodies of the people.  The Lord told Moses and Aaron to throw handfuls of soot from the furnace into the air, which they did.  It became dust over all of Egypt and the dust became festering boils on men and animals.  Egypt was famous for its medical skills and its healing gods, but they were powerless in healing the boils.  The magicians also had boils so bad and painful that they could not stand or do their magic.  The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart just as He had said to Moses.

The Plague of Hail (Ex. 9:13-35)

The 7th plague was the first of four directed against the gods of the sky.  God gives His purpose for the plagues.  The Lord told Moses to go to Pharaoh again and if he didn't listen and let the people go, this time He would send the full force of plagues against Egypt.  "I have raised you up for this very purpose, that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." - Ex. 9:16.  This time tomorrow He would send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen.  Those officials who feared the Lord's Words hurried to bring their slaves and livestock inside.  Then when it was time Aaron stretched out his staff and thunder, hail, and lightning flashed down.  The hail struck everything in the fields including men, animals, and crops growing.  Only the land of Goshen where the Israelites were was unharmed.  Then Pharaoh said,
"This time I have sinned.  The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.  Pray to the Lord for we have had enough thunder and hail.  I will let you go; you don't have to stay any longer." - Ex. 9:27-28.  So Moses prayed to God and He stopped the rain and hail.  Pharaoh sinned again and he and his officials hardened their hearts.  He would not let the people go.

The Plague of the Locust (Ex. 10:1-20)

The 8th plague was a terrifying invasion of locust that devoured all that was left.  God told Moses He had hardened Pharaoh and his officials hearts so He could perform these miraculous signs that Moses may tell his children and that they may know that He is the Lord.  Then the Lord told Moses and Aaron to go again to Pharaoh tell him to let the people go and worship or He will bring locusts into Egypt tomorrow.  Pharaoh's officials pleaded with Pharaoh to let the people go and that Egypt is in ruin.  Now Pharaoh ordered the let only the men go.  Moses stretched out his staff and locust invaded Egypt. Now there was nothing green on tree or plant in Egypt.  Then to get rid of the locust, Pharaoh made another shallow confession that he had sinned against the Lord and Moses.  He asked for forgiveness and wanted Moses to pray for him, which Moses did.  But when the locust went away he refused once more to let the people go.

The Plague of Darkness (Ex. 10:21-29)

The 9th plague came quickly and unannounced.  This was the most significant judgment of all.  The sun god had been banished.  The Lord commanded Moses to stretch out his hand so darkness would spread throughout Egypt.  Even at this point Pharaoh was unwilling to surrender and let the people go.

When have you tried to bargain with God?
Have you promised to obey God when under pressure, but later changed your mind?

There are many false gods today, but they go by the name "god".  Anything that opposes God is an idol and a false god. 

Is there something so important to you that it consumes you?  If so, that it your idol.
What captures your heart and mind?  
What things are gods in your life?
It is your job, family, money, reputation, possessions, pleasures, Facebook, shopping?  

The 1st of the 10 commandments says, "You shall have no other gods before me". - Ex. 20:3.  God will not comprise with idolatry. 

Pharaoh wanted to compromise with God.  God will not compromise.  He is sovereign and if you oppose Him, you will be broken as Pharaoh was.  After all these plagues/miracles the Israelites and "the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord" - Ex. 7:5.  They would all have personal knowledge and experience who God is.

There is only one true God.
Whatever you make your god, the 1 true God will discredit or destroy.
God works for the good of those who trust Him, but against those who resist Him.

Do you believe there is 1 true God?

III.  Exodus 10:24-29 - Pharaoh's Hardened Heart

Pharaoh tells Moses and to go worship the Lord, but leave the animals behind.  He is still trying to compromise with God.  Moses will not comprise.  Moses is now much more confident.

Principle:  There is NO comprising with God.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Exodus 5-6 - The Life of Moses

Last week we learned that when God calls you, He will equip you and He will be with you through it all.  Moses considered himself unworthy, not an eloquent speaker, he said no one will listen to him, and for God to send someone else.  Do those excuses sound familiar to you?  They sure do to me.  I've used them all at one time or another.  God told Moses He would teach him what to say, He would be with him, and He would sent his brother Aaron to go with Moses and speak for him.  Moses and Aaron obeyed God and followed His instructions.

Exodus 5:1-23 - Moses Meets With Pharaoh

Moses and Aaron had their first meeting with the Pharaoh and said, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.'" - Ex. 5:1.  God's words carry with them His power to effect what they are saying.  The Bible is God's Word and is the highest authority.

Moses wanted the people to go into the desert to worship God.  Why in the desert?  Probably because since the Egyptians worship various animals, the Israelites didn't want to sacrifice their animals in front of the them.  This request was reasonable, because it showed respect to the Egyptians by going out into the desert.  And if the Egyptians saw these sacrifices, they might kill the Israelites.  Also the Israelites didn't want to offend them by throwing these sacrifices in their face.

This meeting with the Pharaoh was a disaster!  He didn't want to let them go.  He didn't know God.  He was full of himself and thought of himself as a god.  Instead of letting them go, the Pharaoh worked them even harder and even refused to supply them with the straw used to make the bricks.  They had to gather their own straw and still meet their quotas.  Of course they couldn't do it and the Israelite foremen were beaten. 

The slave drivers were Egyptians, but the foremen were Israelites.  The foremen had some belief.  They saw the signs and even worshiped God, but they went to Pharaoh and complained about the harsh treatment.  They lost focus and turned to Pharaoh instead of prayer to God.  Pharaoh didn't listen.  This showed courage on their part.  Pharaoh could have beat them, killed them, and done the same to the slaves. 

When have you turned to others in your circumstances instead of to God?

The foreman then went back to Moses and Aaron and blamed them for it all.  Moses and Aaron lost their credibility and were rejected by the people.  Again Moses questioned his qualifications.  Moses cried out to God, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?  Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all." - Ex. 5:22-23.

Moses was disappointed and doubted God or maybe himself that he wasn't doing his job right.  Maybe he felt guilty that he was making things worse.  He probably was embarrassed and humiliated, even fearful.

When has your obedience to God seemed to make things worse?
What did you do about it?
What situation will you allow God to transform your disappointment?
Principle:  Following God's call often results in difficult circumstances, requiring reliance on Him.

Exodus 6:1-27 - Moses Meets With God

Moses cried out to God.  He brought his real feelings to God.  There is power whenever we come to God.  Prayers not only is to ask God for things, but it also includes thanksgiving, and worship.  God never told Moses it would be easy.

God reassured Moses by saying "I am the Lord" and repeated this 4 times.  This showed that God is not nameless, that He desires to be known, that Pharaoh is not God, and that God would eventually free them.  He reminded Moses of the Covenant made with Abraham.

God used "I will" 7 times.  "I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians,  I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.  I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.  And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.  I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord'". - Ex. 6:6-8.

Now Moses was ready to get back to work.  God told Moses to repeat this message to the people, which he did.  They did not listen.  They were discouraged.  Their spirit was broken, because of they were beaten down by their hard labor.  It's hard to keep the faith when your body is hurting.  You can't see the end in sight.  We don't always know the outcome of a situation.  We just have to trust that God will make all things right.

Crying out to God leads us to his presence, His perspective, and His peace.
Discouragement comes when we focus on our circumstances instead of God.

When have you been discouraged and what did you learn from it?

Just because Pharaoh would not let the people go doesn't mean he would not eventually let them go.  God would see to it.  "Because of my mighty hand he will let them go." - Ex. 6:1.  We will see in the next chapters how God's plan for the Egyptians would eventually free His people.

What do we learn about God in these chapters?  We learn that He is a promise keeper and a protector.  His is patient, compassionate, and sovereign.  His plan may not be obvious, but He does have one.  It may be hard until His plan comes to completion.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Exodus 3-4 - The Life of Moses

Exodus 3:1-10 - God Calls Moses

Moses is now a shepherd in service of his father-in-law, Jethro.  Moses led his flock to the far side of the desert and came to the mountain of Horeb (Sanai).  There an angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from a burning bush. 
Mt. Horeb or Sanai was a special place where Moses went to be with God.  Do you have a special meeting place you go to be with God?  If not, find a place.  It might be your office, a corner of your bedroom, or just a chair somewhere in your house.  You will find as you make a habit of going to the same place each time, it will become easier to get in the right frame of mind to worship and hear from God.

Moses was intrigued by the burning bush and went over to get a closer look.  "God called out to Moses within the bush, Moses!  Moses! And Moses said Here I am.  Do not come any closer, God said.  Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." - Ex. 3:4-5.  God called Moses by name. This shows that God knows us personally by our names and that He loves us dearly.  

Moses sandals were dirty and removing them was a symbol for putting off all personal contamination and approaching God reverently showing respect for who God is.  Holiness is a characteristic of God that sets Him apart from sinful humanity.  He is righteous and sovereign.  God's holiness is used often throughout the Bible to describe God.  "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." - Is. 6:3.

The angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses is Jesus Christ Himself (Gen. 16:7-13; Jud. 6:11-17).  Fire is a symbol for God.  The burning bush symbolizes God's presence at all time and in all things.  The bush was in fire, but was not burning up.  This represents Israel's judgment, but God will not let them be consumed or destroyed.  It shows God is powerful.  He is the Creator of nature and only He can break the laws of nature.

God had a message for Moses.  To put it simply, He wanted him to go to Egypt and rescue His people.  God had not forgotten His people, just the opposite.  He was concerned for them and His plan was for Moses to set them free.  God had promised Abraham in Gen 15 that He would make them a great nation and now it was time. 

Principle:  God personally reveals Himself to those He calls.

Do you know God is real?  To find out, step out and serve Him.  We all have excuses, but if God is in your calling you will know it.  He will reveal Himself to you.  Let Him break through your excuses.

How does He reveal Himself to you?
What has God asked you to do to help His people?

Exodus 3:11-4:17 - God Answers Moses

Moses had several excuses as to why he didn't want to go.  Sound like us, doesn't it?

He said "'Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?' and God said, 'I will be with you.  And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you.'" - Ex. 3:11-12.  "Moses said to God, ' Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you and they ask me, What is his name?  Then what shall I tell them?'  God Said to Moses, 'I Am Who I Am.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites; I Am has sent me to you.'" - Ex. 3:13-14.

"I Am Who I am" indicates that God is self-existent.  He has no origins and is answerable to no one.  He is eternal and unchangeable.  In John 8:58 Jesus revealed Himself as God. "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!"  Jesus is God!  He is the same God that created the universe, made a covenant with Abraham, and rescues His people.

God continues to tell Moses he was to go to the elders and promised they would listen.  They would go with him and the people would come out of Egypt with the Egyptians' blessing.  Now Moses has more excuses.  He said, what if they do not believe him.  God answered by giving Moses 3 signs: His rod became a snake and then changed back to a rod; God gave him power to heal leprosy; God gave him the ability to turn water to blood. - Ex. 4:1-9.

Moses still had another excuse.  He said he was not an eloquent speaker and was slow in speech and tongue.  God said He would help him speak and will teach him what to say. - Ex. 4:10-12.

Moses last objection was direct.  He said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it.  Then to Lord's anger burned against Moses." - Ex. 4:13-14.  God would solved that problem, too.  He would send his brother, Aaron to help him and God would tell him what to say.  Moses probably realized that he had run out of excuses and he better do what God said.

Principle:  God blesses our trusted obedience, not our excuses.

Our problems are not the problems of God.  The real problem is our lack of trust.  Saying "yes" to God is always worth the cost.

How have you objected to what God had told you to do?
How did God deal with your objections?

Exodus 4:18-31  God Sends Moses

Moses prepared to leave for Egypt by seeking permission from his father-in-law.  God told Moses that the men who wanted to kill him were now dead.  So Moses took his wife and sons and started back to Egypt.  He also took the staff of God in his hand. - Ex. 4:18-20.  The staff is a symbol of God's power.  We have a symbol today.  It's 2 boards nailed together, the Cross of Christ.  It is a sign of God's love and how He went to great lengths to save us.

Moses failed to circumcise one of his sons.  Ex. 4:24 says the Lord was about to kill him.  His wife, Zipporah saved him by doing it herself.  Why would God want to kill Moses?  Circumcision is the sign of the covenant.  It signifies purification and identification with God and the people of God.  Moses could not proceed on his course until he was right with God.

Moses and Aaron met in the desert and obey the Lord's instructions.  They brought the Israelite elders together, performed signs, gold them what God had said.  The result was that the Israelites believed God was concerned for them and they bowed down and worshiped.

Principle:  Following God's call will result in His worship.

When we worship, there is no room for pride.  Worship is our highest calling.  Serving God is our purpose.

How are you serving Him?
What are your excuses?
What steps will you take to worship and serve the great "I Am"?

Moses was 80 years old when God called him.  It's all about God's timing.

Will you trust God in His timing?
Where are you being overly impatient?
Do you believe that God is always with you?
Where will you dare to serve Him?
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