Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Exodus: New Direction New Life #1 Seeing the Slavery

Exodus: New Direction, New Life

Seeing the Slavery

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Introduction:

A New King Exodus 1:1-8

 Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob:  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah;  Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin;  Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.  All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already).  And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation.  But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.  Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

 The New King of Egypt hates God’s people

Historians tell us that at the time Exodus was recording, a new dynasty had arisen in Egypt.
The upper and lower kingdoms of Egypt, which had been at war, were now joined under one Pharaoh. The old Pharaoh’s kingdom, who had allowed Jacob and his children to enter Egypt, was overthrown and the new kings of lower Egypt now ruled.

Ready for some ancient Egyptian history? It seems that “The Hyskos invaders controlled Egypt from about 1720 B.C. until 1570. They were driven from the land by Amosis I, the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. After the expulsion of the hated foreign kings, the enmity of the Egyptians was turned against all who had been associated with them, particularly the Hebrews, who were related to the Hyksos both by race and by position. (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)

The Hebrews came under an oppressive authority which hated them because they represented the old ruler who they had viewed as an occupying force.

The King of This World hates God’s Children


In much the same way we can see a parallel between the Hebrews in Egypt and Christians in our country today. A new king reigns in our nation. A new authority that hates everything and everyone associated with the old authority.

You see we were once a country that held itself forth as a nation “under God.” It is still in our pledge of allegiance, but the reality of that truth is found everywhere in our history.

Our Declaration of Independence was a declaration of our dependence on God.

 When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Our Constitution was a foundation for a nation founded on God.

 At least 50 out of the 55 men who framed the Constitution of the United States were professing Christians. (M.E. Bradford, 1982).

Benjamin Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: "that God governs in the affairs of man." And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in the political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war or conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.
So we see that our nation though far from perfect and not a theocracy had a foundation in the Word of God, the prayers to God and the morality that came from God. And now, just as in ancient Egypt, a new dynasty has arisen. A king that despises and hates all that the old stood for.
Since the 1960s our nation has been turned morally upside down.

 Prayer led by the administration or teachers has been removed from school.

The Ten Commandments has been taken from the halls of schools and the walls of state capitals, even the sidewalks outside any government building.

The Bible has been forbidden to be read or even seen in any city, state or federal government office.
 Crosses have been torn down from parks, government buildings and even city or state seals. There is an ongoing attempt each and everyday by those who serve the new king to erase and destroy every proof that we were once a Christian nation.

Our nation has a new ruler, the Bible calls him the prince and power of the air, and even the King of this World, and he hates any remembrance of the God who once in his providence blessed the United States. We, as His people, are also under threat because we are the greatest reminder of the authority of the true and final King of this world, Jesus Christ. And the same book which once was believed in this nation as the greatest book every written tells us this truth.

Ps 33:12-18 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Illustration: The new King and his minions wish to eradicate the reminders of the old.
Rosy O’Donnel  on Tuesday Sep 19, 2006 stated that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America."

Bill Maher calls Christian conservatives “the party of paranoia,” claims Christianity “has taken over all three branches of government,” and says Christians who seek to influence the political debate are “demagogues, con men and scolds” who “worship power.”

Actor Ian McKellen, who played a significant role in “The DaVinci Code,” says “The Bible should have a disclaimer in the front that says this is fiction.”

 CNN founder Ted Turner says “Christianity is a religion for losers,” and the Ten Commandments should be rewritten to remove the prohibition on adultery and include sanctions for sins against the ozone layer. In 2001, when some CNN employees showed up at a meeting with ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, Turner called them “Jesus freaks” and told them they “ought to be working for Fox (News).”

Transition:

Lets go back to Exodus and see if there are other parallels, other warnings we can find from God’s people in the land of a Godless king.

A New Affliction Exodus 1:9-11

 And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we;  come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land."  Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses.

The New King Makes New Slaves

The new Pharaoh of Egypt feared that the Hebrews would unite with the enemy he had just driven from the land and unite with them and rebel against him.
In order to prevent this he took away their freedom, afflicted them and made them slaves.

The New King of America Wants Slaves

Is it to far fetched to say that the aim of many who knowingly or unknowingly serve the Kig of this world would make slaves of Christians? I don’t think so. Almost every day I read stories of those who would take away our freedom as Christians.

City after city has passed laws which prohibit churches from starting anywhere in a city except where the city allows. Some even going so far as to prohibit Bible studies and prayer meetings in private homes.

No church is now safe from the now Supreme Court approved “Public Domain” laws which allow cities to seize property belonging to churches or private citizens for resale to business which will raise the tax base and revenue of the city. They see no good in a church being in their city.
Before Supreme Court right now is the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a Jack Phillips a Colorado baker, who refused to design a custom cake for a gay couple's wedding in 2012. Phillips, a Christian, told the couple that while he was happy to sell them other baked goods, he could not bake them a wedding cake because doing so would be tantamount to participating in a religious ceremony to which he objected. The couple complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and later sued Phillips. The commission and state courts found that Phillips had violated Colorado's anti-discrimination laws. Colorado is one of 22 states that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In Oregon another bakery has been fined $135,000 for doing the same and 70-year-old Barronelle Stutzman, a florist in Washington has been fined and is now liable for the court costs of her own trial that could amount to over $350,000. Both Christian companies will be driven out of business if the fines stand.

The freedom of expression and freedom or conscience are the cornerstones of our nation and were placed in our Bill of Rights by Christians who had escaped the persecution of the old world they fled. Now it is being threatened by the New King and his servants.

An there is an Even more dangerous threat to Christians today and threat that truly could and is making us slaves.

Not slaves in the OT sense or even in the Civil war sense but slaves nevertheless. Slave are individuals who are not free to make their own choice in the most important matters of their life. In that sense the “new rulers” have been very successful in making slaves of Christians, willing slaves in fact. Slaves to the world’s fashion, slaves to the world’s styles, slaves to the worlds ideal of popularity, slaves to the world’s idea of love, sex or marriage. Slaves to the world’s philosophy and slave to the world’s hopelessness. Slaves who have willing taken up the chains offered by this world and gladly shackled themselves to the stocks.

The Bible warns us about this

Romans 12:2 says: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 
 Ephesians 5:11 says: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 

And yet the world has many Christians slaves who are choosing to be under the whip of the world’s taskmaster even after they who have known the freedom of God’s love.

Illustration: Barna Biblical Worldview Survey

What constitutes a "biblical" worldview?  Christian researcher George Barna says it includes a belief in absolute moral truth as defined by scripture, as well as acceptance of six core biblical beliefs: the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize.
In a recent survey of Protestant pastors conducted by the Barna Research Group, only half (51%) passed the test on whether they possess a biblical worldview.  Of the pastors surveyed, Southern Baptists scored the highest with 71% while United Methodists finished at the bottom with just 27%.  In between were 57% of pastors of Baptist churches (other than Southern Baptist), 51% of pastors of non-denominational Protestant churches, 44% of pastors of charismatic or Pentecostal churches, 35% of pastors of black churches, and 28% of pastors of leading mainline denominations.

The research shows that only nine percent of all American adults have a biblical worldview, and among “born again Christians,” the number is only 19 percent.
Willing slaves indeed.

Transition: Now this may sound pretty pessimistic but there is more to this narrative for us and for the Children of Israel.

 A New Blessing Exodus 1:12-14

 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor.  And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage--in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.

Prosperous In Affliction

Yet no matter how hard the whips of the Egyptian taskmaster fell God’s people flourished.
Do you know why? Simply because they were God’s people. Despite their imperfection and flaws they were still the people of the covenant and protected by the promise of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Suffering, slavery and sadness cannot undo God’s love for his own nor his promises to his people.
Facing Affliction

Do we need to see affliction before we will see God as once again our King?
I sometimes think that what is needed in this country for Christianity to rise once again to the level of truly being God’s people, seeking God’s will, through God’s book is that we would need to experience affliction.

If we were driven into slavery instead of being lured to it. If we could see the sorrow that awaits the next generation, if Christianity is marginalized or eradicated. If we could just feel the sting of the lash of sin on our communities, then we would cry out to God as the Hebrews did and God would respond.

Instead I’m afraid that we as a nation are sleeping our way to slavery and are more than willing to exchange freedom in God for the slavery of sin, not realizing what we once had nor what we have lost.

Illustration: Praying For Trouble In Ethiopia

The following prayer was prayed at Soddu, Walamo, Ethiopia after WWII had ended: "Almighty God, from the depth of my heart I plead with thee to send us trouble. When our king was exiled we were in much trouble with the foreign [Italian] rulers. We had to meet in secret and were in constant danger of our lives. That was the time when we worked in harmony with our fellow Christians.
"Many a night after I had locked my door and gone to bed, tired from a day's long journey of preaching and teaching, there came a persistent knocking. Lord, how I wanted to sleep, and surely but they wouldn't want to be baptized at night and be hunted and chased and put in prison and beaten, but they said they had seen the Christian's joy and they too wanted that religion. Every night there were more and more.

"We read Thy Word and talked about it and prayed through the nights. We shared our joy in the Lord. We worked side by side with only one desire, to preach and teach the Gospel. Then, Lord, our king came back. The foreign rulers were forced to leave our country...

"We have peace in our land. We baptize in the daytime. We are not beaten. We meet and pray, yes, but we are beginning to grow careless in our zeal for Thee. Jealousies creep in and spoil the harmony. Petty troubles take on in large meetings. We are selfish in our ambitions. Dear Lord, send us more trouble, I pray Thee, that we may forget ourselves and be so dependent on Thee that we have no time to become selfish and jealous of our fellow Christians. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
—Grace Robinson.

Conclusion

2 Chronicles 7:14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

This is God’s promise to his nation Israel, but it should be applied to us as a people and as a nation as well. We need to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked way. We need God to hear, we need God to forgive, we need God to heal our land.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Church Jesus Wants: Ephesians 2:11-22 Jew and Gentiles One



The Church Jesus Wants: Ephesians 2:11-22   

Jew and Gentiles One in the Church


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Brought Near By His Blood

Vs 11-13  Gentiles brought near to Christ
Who were the Gentiles according to these verses?
Those without the circumcision of the flesh.

What did this mean to the Gentiles?
They were not of the commonwealth of Israel therefore they did not have the covenant and promise of God.  In this condition they were without hope.

What changed this hopeless condition?
In Jesus Christ they were by His blood, brought near to God.

Vs 14-15  Jew and Gentile reconciled to each other.


Vs 14.  He, Jesus Christ,  is our peace between Jew and Gentile. How was this accomplished?
He has made us one and broke down the middle wall of partition.

What was the middle wall of partition?
In the temple  courtyard there was a wall which seperated the Jews from the Gentiles. A sign warned Gentiles they could pass no further.

Vs. 15 What is the one new man made by Christ in Himself.
It is the united church.  The new contains both Jew and Gentile at peace.  The old separated them at risk of death if that separation was crossed.

Vs. 16-18  Jew and Gentile Reconciled unto God.   
How was this unity achieved?
Through the cross and the life of Jesus.

How were the Gentiles made aware of this?
Someone came and preached (told them the good news) to them.

What is Paul's final observation of this unity?
We all have access to the Father through the Spirit.

Vs. 19-22  Jew and Gentile reconciled in the church.


Vs. 19 Kingdom, Family and Church of God

How does verse 19 connect this paragraph to what went before?
Paul use the word "therefore" a conclusion based upon the preceding truth.

In verses 19-20 Paul identifies three groups we are now members of because of our salvation. In one group we are called citizens. What are we citizens of?
We are citizens of the Kingdom of God

In one group we are in the household. What group is this?
We are in the family of God.

In the final group we are built on a foundation.  What group is this?
The Church of God

Is the family, kingdom and church synonymous?
No.  The kingdom contains all others.  The others groups are within it.

Vs 20-22  Foundation and Cornerstone


What was built upon the foundation of the apostles, and Jesus Christ? 
The church, Matthew 16:18

Who is the chief cornerstone of the Church
Jesus Christ

Vs 21  Framed and growing in Jesus.


According to Paul,  what is crucial to the church being fitly framed? 
It must be "in Jesus."  Only in Jesus can the church be fitly framed together and grow.

How does the cornerstone shape a building? 
The cornerstone was laid true and square, everything else in the building was measured by and guided by that stone.

What is Paul saying about Jesus as our cornerstone?
The church must be measured, shaped and guided by Jesus.  The more we are in Him the better our church will be "framed" and "grow."

What is the final result of this shaping and framing? 
We will be a holy temple for the Lord to dwell in.

Define the words holy and temple? 
Holy means separated, dedicated to God.  A temple is a sacred place, a place where God's presence is.

Application:

Do I really want my church to be a holy temple fit for the habitation of the Lord? 

What  must change in my church if this was fully true?

Vs. 22  Each brick a habitation.


What is vs. 22 saying that is different from vs 21? 
Paul focuses in to the Gentiles as individuals that make up the body which is the local church.

Is there be a connection between the whole body growing into a temple and each member?
Yes as the church grows into a fit temple of God, it will be because the individiuals, the bricks are also more fit as an habitation of the Holy Spririt.

How important then is my church to my personal spiritual growth? 
It is proportional, as the church grows and is shaped. I as a member, "a brick" am also grown and shaped.

What is the key to my life become a vital building block in the overall structure of the church?
Being in Jesus, dwelling in Christ, being in submission to Christ as He is the one who is building us individually and corporately into His church.

How is this actually done?  What must I do to let Jesus as the chief cornerstone shape me and my church?

Conclusion

Each of us as “bricks” in the New Testament Temple of God must ask ourselves, how can my church be a true temple. What must be done to become a fit habitation of God?
The key lies in the understanding of Jesus as our chief cornerstone. Growing and being shaped by his guidance through the Word, and the Holy Spirit. Our focus must always go back to the model and guidance of the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ.