Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rejection

Today I want to post on something that we’ve all experienced at one time or another during our lives – Rejection.  Not long ago I posted on another emotion, fear, and how it causes us to act in certain ways.  Today, I want to do the same thing with rejection.  In order to do that I want to focus on the story of Jacob’s wife, Leah.

Genesis 29:18-23 (NKJV)
29:18 Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter." 19 And Laban said, "It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me." 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her." 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.

Rejection Hurts!

Jacob has followed his father’s advice and gone to his family to find a wife.  As he arrives there, he meets Rachel, who is watering her father’s sheep and falls in love.  So he makes a deal with her father to work for him for seven years, so that he can marry Rachel.  But on his wedding night Leah is given to him.  I don’t know how they pulled this off, but Jacob consummated the marriage with Leah, and didn’t discover it until the next day.  Look at his reaction:

Genesis 29:25 (NKJV)
29:25 So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And he said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?"

Rightfully, Jacob was angry, seven years is a long time to work for one wife only to be tricked and receive another one, but what about Leah.  Think about what she was feeling at that moment.

First, look at descriptions of the two women:

Genesis 29:16-18 (NKJV)
29:16 Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah's eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance. 18 Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter."

Apparently, Jacob’s decision was made on Rachel’s appearance.  Rachel had a good figure and a beautiful face.  She was beautiful, but Leah was just described as having delicate eyes, whatever that means, perhaps she was nearsighted. 

So Jacob has fallen for Rachel based on her looks.  It wasn’t her character, because later in the story we see that Rachel was:

1.        A thief – She stole her father’s household idols  (Genesis 31:34)
2.        A liar – She lied and deceived her father about them (Genesis 31:35), and
3.        She tormented her sister (Genesis 30:8).

Leah was rejected because of her looks not her character.  Then there’s this:

Genesis 29:30 (NKJV)
29:30 Then Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served with Laban still another seven years.

Jacob loved Rachel more that Leah.  There are two rejections here:

1.        Her father has no respect for her.  He felt that he had to sneak her into Jacob or she’d never marry.  Apparently, he thought she was too ugly to find a husband on her own.
2.        And now Jacob, her husband, has rejected her, too.  She must have felt like any woman whose husband has cheated on her. 

Do you think Leah was aware that Jacob loved Rachel more?  I’m sure that she was.  You can see what she was feeling in the names of her first three children, Reuben, Simeon and Levi.

The name Reuben means seen, look at verse 29:32:

Genesis 29:32 (NKJV)
29:32 So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, "The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me." “God has seen my affliction.” 
 The New International version says misery;  The Amplified version says humiliation.  She’s miserable; she’s hurting and she’s humiliated.  She says, “Now maybe my husband will love me!”

Simeon means heard.

Genesis 29:33 (NKJV)
29:33 Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, "Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also." And she called his name Simeon.

“God has heard that I am unloved.”  God’s heard her cries he’s given her a son.  She wants to be loved.  There’s no love in her marriage.  This son will love her.  This is a woman who’s suffering.

Then there is the third son, Levi.  Levi means attached:

Genesis 29:34 (NKJV)
29:34 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, "Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." Therefore his name was called Levi.

“My husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons…”  The Amplified version says my husband will become a companion to me.  She’s longing for the attachment and companionship of her husband.  She can feel the rejection, “I've given him three sons, now MAYBE now he’ll care about me.

This is how rejection affects people – It causes pain and suffering.  Look at this from an article in Forbe’s Magazine, “Rejection and Physical Pain Are the Same to Your Brain”:

For example, when someone feels physical pain, opoids are released in the brain so that the significance of the pain is inhibited.  We now know this same experience occurs when people feel slighted or rejected by others.1

There is a reaction like physical pain that takes place in our brains.  Your brain interprets rejection and physical pain in the same way.  It also affects our personalities:  How we relate to each other.  We’re become afraid of rejection because of the hurt, so we lash out and drive people away before they can hurt us.  In effect saying, “If I hurt them first, then they can’t hurt me.”  Another strategy is to become competitive.  In the story of Leah and Rachel, Leah wouldn’t give some flowers that Reuben had picked for her to Rachel.  She used them to purchase Jacob’s attentions for the night. 

We see competition play out in a contest to see who has the most loyalty among friends.  We gossip and denigrate other to see whom people will choose to side with.  A way of saying, “See, more people like me than him or her.”  We want to see someone else rejected.

We want someone else to hurt because we already do.  We use social media – cyber-bullying, and subtweets.  Subtweets are just another form of Gossip. We assassinate people’s character, spiritually murdering them.  All of these are a strategy for coping with rejection, but are these the right ways to cope?  Not if you’re a Christian they’re not.  Let’s look at how Leah handled her pain

How to Handle it

The Bible doesn’t come right out and say, “This is how you handle rejection.”  But we can get a glimpse at how Leah handled it by looking at the names of the rest of their children.  The first three names reflected her pain and misery; afterward she came to a decision about how to deal with her rejection.  Look at these names:

JudahJudah means Praise God
Gad – A Troop (lots of sons.)
Asher – Asher means happiness
Issachar – Issachar means reward – God has rewarded her!
Zebulun – Zebulun means dwelling –

Where has the focus of Leah gone?  Some time after Levi was born, Leah had a change of heart.  Don’t stay in that Place of Pain.  She’s not crying about her husband’s rejection anymore.  She’s not thinking about what has been inflicted on her.  She’s looking at what God has blessed her with and she’s happy.  I’ve said this many times, “Happiness is a decision we make.  It comes from what we choose to focus on.  We can choose to focus on the hurt and what we don’t have, or we can choose to dwell on the blessings.  Leah has chosen to focus on the blessings. 

One other thing is that sometimes the rejection we feel isn’t what was intended by the other person.  One result of past rejections is that we become oversensitive.  We see everything as a potential rejection and we react that way.  We cause the suffering and hurt of other people because we’re looking at everything they say, and the way they say it through the filter of past rejections.  I used to be exactly like that.  I’ve been rejected in some very painful ways over the years, but I made a choice to look at the good things and not the painful ones.

None of us is alone in this world; all of us have suffered rejection.  It’s just as painful for everyone else as it is for you.  You have inflicted the same pain on someone else.  We’ve all rejected someone to one degree or another.

People make mistakes, people say things, things happen – people have opinions just like you.  It’s not always all about you.

God Hasn’t Rejected You

The suffering can cause one of two reactions in you.  You can focus on the hurt and always look inward, or look at your feelings, only.  If you do then nothing will ever change.  You’ll always be sad and hurting.

Or, you can turn to God.  This is apparently what Leah has done.  She’s decided to turn to God to ease her suffering and He did.  She began to praise God.  Nothing had changed in her relationship with her husband, when she turned to God.  Jacob still loved Rachel more, but God is where blessing comes from.  It’s obvious that there was a great change in her attitude.

Over the years an interesting thing takes place in Jacob.  Look at what happens at the end of his life:

Genesis 49:29-31 (NKJV)
49:29 Then he charged them and said to them: "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.

He’s telling them that he’s going to be buried with Leah.  She’s the one he buried with his ancestors.  She’s the one accorded with that honor, not Rachel – The one he loved more.  Rachel’s buried in Beersheba.  He has chosen Leah.  In the end, he came to love her.

I think Leah came to the realization that she couldn’t change Jacob.  We always try to change other people.  After all, they’re the ones who are wrong, right?  We always think we’re right or we’re the one standing on the moral high ground.

I had a friend that once said, “I wouldn’t think it if it wasn’t right.”  We always think we’re right – it’s human nature.  I want to share a truth with you – You cannot change anyone else, you can only change yourself.

After a while, Leah didn’t try to change Jacob, she just changed her own way of thinking.  Jacob came to love her for whom she became.  The key to overcoming rejection is to change your focus.  Focus on God and his blessings.



Source:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Presence of God

You know, I love being a Christian, really.  I’ve been at this about 25 years, now.  I’ve come to know God.  I know what He does in my life.  I’ve felt His protection.  I’ve felt His guidance.  I understand what my life would be like if I had never met Jesus.  Today, I want to look at a moment of history, (The Bible is a history book.), and I want to examine how God works in our lives.

This is the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and their journey through the desert to the Promised Land.

Exodus 13:21-22 (NKJV)
13:21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

The Presence of God in our Lives

Israel had suffered under the bondage of slavery in Egypt for many years.  They had gone there in victory, but over the years ended up as slaves to oppressive taskmasters.  God heard their groaning and reached into their lives to bring them out to a “land flowing with milk and honey”:  A land of Promise – A land full of God’s grace.

This is a historical event.  This actually happened in history, but it is also a metaphor for what God has done in our lives.  It’s a story about Israel’s deliverance from slavery and bondage, but it’s also a picture of our deliverance from sin.

God saw the suffering of sin in our lives.  He heard the groaning from Satan’s oppression and He sent a deliverer – Jesus – to deliver us from bondage.  Moses is a type of Jesus.  That means he’s an Old Testament picture of Jesus.  He brought God’s chosen people out of bondage.  We are chosen.  Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (John 15:16).  He brought us out of the bondage of sin.

What’s important about the deliverance of Israel is that God didn’t just deliver them and leave them on their own.  His presence was noticeable in their lives.  It could be seen; it could be felt.  It was a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night and our text tells us that God stayed with them.  He didn’t abandon them:

“He didn’t take away the pillar of cloud by day, or the pillar of fire by night from the people.”

God was present in their lives to guide them and protect them – And He will be in our lives, as well.

Hebrews 13:5b-6 (NKJV)
13:5  …For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. 
God guided them on the journey.
        God protected them from Pharaoh’s army.
        God provided Manna in the desert.
        God gave them water in the desert.
        God fought alongside them to win the Promised Land.
God was there for Israel throughout their journey.  You are no less chosen than Israel as God’s people.

John 1:12 (NKJV)
1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

You have been given the right to be the children of God.  So, God has chosen you, as well.  Like a parent chooses an adopted child.  God will also guide, protect, provide, and fight alongside you. 

Israel could look up and see the pillar of cloud.  They could look up and see the pillar of fire.  They could see that God was with them, “There’s God; He’s still here – still leading us.  He’s still present in our lives.”  These days we live by faith.  There is no actual pillar of cloud.  We can’t look up and see a pillar of fire by night, but we can see the evidence of God’s presence working in our lives, at least we should be able to.  Can you see God moving there? 

Is there something you can point to and say, “If I didn’t have God, I wouldn’t have this or that in my life?”  Maybe your marriage would be a mess.  Maybe you wouldn’t have the job that you have.  Maybe you wouldn’t have the opportunities that you have now.  Those things are the pillars of God in your life.  They’re the visible evidence of the presence of God in your life.  You should be able to see those things that God is doing and say, “There’s God – God is still there – He’s still guiding me.”

Do you know what, though?  Israel, even though there was a tangible presence of God, there:  Even though they could look up and see evidence of God’s presence, they still for got that He was there.  They were always complaining:
At the Red Sea – You brought us out here to die!  At the bitter water – You brought us out here to die!  When they got hungry – You brought us out here to die!

“Hey look God is here but…”

They had it easy – There was God, cloud, and fire.  It’s harder for us, because we don’t have that; we can’t see that.  Even though God moved powerfully in our lives, we forget about the mercy and blessing of God.

Let’s face it, things go wrong in our lives; we get sick; we get laid off.  There are tragedies in our lives and we forget about God’s presence and what He’s done for us, but God is still there for us.

He Guides and Protects Us!

God Guides

Exodus 40:36-38 (NKJV)
40:36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.

So, God gave direction and guidance to Israel.  When God moved, they moved.  If God didn’t move, neither did they.  God orchestrated their movement to the Promised Land.  He brought them out of the bondage and then guided them to that land of promise.  They moved as God did.

We’ve been delivered.  God brought us out of the Egypt of sin.  The problem is that we don’t always wait for God to move before we move.  We try to anticipate God, “God will want this, maybe not now but in the future.”  Or we think for God, “I will make this happen.”  Or God says sat and we go anyway.  Instead of waiting for direction from God we run off without thought or prayer as to God’s plan, and we can actually end up at cross-purposes with God; working against Him instead of allowing Him to work with us.  Look at what the Bible says about waiting on God’s plan:

Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)
40:31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

I’ve said this at least a million times:  God has a plan for your life.  He knows how to bring it to pass, but the biggest impediment to God moving in our lives is thatwe can’t wait on God’s timing.  We want I tall on our timing.  We need to let God direct.

Psalms 37:23-24 (NKJV)
37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

There may be struggle and turmoil or even failure, but the scripture tells us that even in the midst of that God will be there.

God Protects

Exodus 14:19-20 (NKJV)
14:19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.

This is a moment of great danger for Israel.  They’re trapped – The Red Sea is in front of them and the Egyptian army is bearing down on them.  They’re frightened, they’re crying out and God does something powerful, here.  God moves His position from in front of them to behind in order to protect them.  God takes a position in order to trouble Egypt

Not only is God a leader, but God is also a protector.  He’s there for Israel – He fights for Israel.  He keeps Israel’s enemies from destroying them.  Have you experienced that in your life?  Has God ever stuck up for you?  This is one of David’s prayers:  That God would deliver him and protect him from his enemies.

Psalms 26:1-3 (NKJV)
26:1 A Psalm of David. Vindicate me, O Lord, For I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; I shall not slip. 2 Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. 3 For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth.

That’s been my prayer before!  When enemies have tried to destroy me:  When my character and integrity has been assaulted.  I’ve cried out that prayer, “Vindicate me God!”  God has fought for me.  God has helped me.  God has troubled my enemies.  He took time out from guiding m to protect me, like he did for Israel at the Red Sea.

God is faithful above all things.  We need God’s presence in our lives.  We need Hi guidance to bring us to where we need to be. – The Kingdom of God – The land of Promise.  We also need His protection to fight for us against the enemy of our salvation.  That’s who Pharaoh is in all of this: The enemy of Israel’s deliverance.  Satan plays the role of Pharaoh in our lives and God will STAND for us.

The Faithfulness of God

Nehemiah 9:19 (NKJV)
9:19 Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, To lead them on the road; Nor the pillar of fire by night, To show them light, And the way they should go.

God was there for them for the entire journey.  He didn’t forsake them in the wilderness.  This is a hard thing for us, because we always think:

God’s mad at me!
God’s abandoned me!
Where’s God in all of this?

The Bible tells us that God is there:  That God will always be there.  We can trust God for His guidance and protection. 


I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have God’s presence in my life.  I can’t see a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire, but I can see the miracles God has done.  The life and testimony that I have is visible evidence of the presence of God in my life.  There’s evidence of God’s presence in your life too.  I wonder if you can see it.  If you can see it, when are you going to trust Him?

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Spiritual "Flat Earth" Model

Recently, I have noticed a lot of “Flat Earth” videos on You Tube.  People believe that the earth is flat – I’m not kidding.  They’ve crossed over from the common understanding that the earth orbits the sun and that the planets are globes.  This is something that was discovered and reasoned out by Copernicus in 1543.  But now, in 2016, once again, the debate rages.  The idea stems from the conspiracy theory that NASA faked the moon landings:  That no one has ever reached the moon.  The most common “Flat Earth” argument is this:  “NASA lied; the photos from the International Space Station are CGI.”

The problem is that if listen to their arguments they include a combination of a misunderstanding of perspective, a misuse of practical geometry and other things.  In short, they have rejected what is perceived to be scientific fact and embraced a lie, and I'll tell you there is no debating of scientific principle with them; they have no understanding of that.  They just accuse you of being a NASA shill or a sheep. 

In our day and hour, in the church, we have seen people rejecting the truth of God’s word and by rejecting that, they’re accepting the lies of false doctrines.  Today, I want to look at these things from this portion of scripture:

John 14:16-17 (NKJV)
14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Embracing the Lie

At first glance the “Flat Earth” movement seems harmless.  The proponents are doing their little experiments.  They’re launching their “Go-Pro” cameras on weather balloons.  They’re using lasers to measure the curvature of bodies of water.  They’re drawing single plane triangles on globes, applying single plane geometry to a curved surface, which doesn’t work.  They’re making slick you tube videos to convince people.

The sad part is that it is a failure of the US educational system.  In the US educators have become social engineers.  They’ve stepped away from educating and have put their energy into changing society.

We have to be careful in the church, that we don’t remove our focus from the Word of God and place it on the changes taking place in our society: Embracing the policies of the world and neglecting to apply the truth of scripture to our lives.  We must remember this:


2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)
3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

The word of God is inerrant truth.  We hear the argument, “The Bible was written by men and so it can’t always be correct.”  The Bible was written by men INSPIRED by God.  God has used these men as tools to give us His word.  God is incapable of lying.

It’s a strategy of the devil to cause us to doubt the word of God.  When we doubt the word of God we end up lifting up the philosophies of men, and make God a liar.

Romans 3:3-4 (NKJV)
3:3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: "That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged."

Then truth is still the truth.

Satan used this strategy of causing doubt in the very earliest moments of human history.  This is how he caused the fall of mankind – Let’s examine that:

Genesis 3:1-3 (NKJV)
3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" 2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' "

The Bible tells us that the devil is cunning.  That word cunning means that he is able to use trickery.  He’s good at it.  It’s something that he uses for his purposes.  He begins to do that with Eve, “Did God really say..?” He’s saying, “What?  I can’t believe God said that to you.”  Then:

Genesis 3:4-5 (NKJV)
3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Here he says, straight out. That God lied.  “God’s a liar – You’ll not surely die. He just doesn’t want you to be like him.”

Genesis 3:6 (NKJV)
3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

The devil lied and mankind died!  The liar was the serpent, but Eve believed that lie.

The Bible is full of truths:

Fornicators will not enter the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9).  That’s a truth.

You must be born again:  Experience a change of heart about sin (John 3:3).  That’s a truth.

Jesus is God.  He is God made man. (John 1:14)  That’s a truth.  

There are many others, but people pick and choose and apply only certain ones, just like the “Flat Earth” crowd and because of that they believe the lie.

A Spiritual Flat Earth Model

Some interesting flat earth beliefs:
1.        The sun and the moon rotate on a flat plane over the earth.  They are supposedly four thousand miles up into the “Star Dome.”
2.        The Stars are arranged in a “dome” over the earth.
3.        Antarctica is a ring around the earth that keeps the ocean from falling off the edge.

But in order to believe those things you must reject things that are observable, for instance:
1.        The sun rises and sets.  It comes up and it goes down.
2.        The moon eclipses.  A round object passes across the front of it.
3.        The sun eclipses.  The light of the sun is blocked.
4.        The stars in the Southern Hemisphere can’t be seen in the Northern Hemisphere.  It they are in a dome with Polaris in the center we should be able to see all of the stars.
5.        Antarctica can be crossed.  It isn’t a ring, it’s a continent.

There are so many observable phenomena that must be ignored in order to believe this, that it can’t be anything but an unflinching refusal to believe the truth.

Since the beginning people have refused to believe in God.  Look at this:
 Romans 1:18-20 (NKJV)
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

“There are those who suppress the truth.”  That word “suppress” means to exclude from consciousness.  In other words, you refuse to believe it.  The scripture says that God’s invisible attributes can clearly be seen since the creation of the world.  So there are spiritual “Flat Earthers” who see what is clearly observable and overlook it.  They refuse to believe the evidence of the existence of God.  In the same way as those who refuse to see accept the shape of the earth even when the evidence of a global earth can clearly be seen.

Those people doubt God’s existence, so they don’t give any authority to His word.  They pick and choose what “truths” to believe and they begin to mix their own philosophies with the truths of God.  How many times have you heard truths of the Bible perverted?  For example, the Bibles says no one enters the Kingdom of God except through Jesus (John 14:6), but how many times have you heard, “Yahweh, Buddha, Allah, they’re just different names for the same God;” or, “If I’m a good person I’ll go to Heaven.”  All of these thoughts are spiritual Flat Earth Models. 

When you refuse to believe the truth you can use your own imagination to fill in the blanks.

Romans 1:21-23 (NKJV)
1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Why are there so many different religions?  Because there’s no limit to imagination, the more people you have the more different religious philosophies you can imagine.  The Flat Earth model is nonsense – it’s foolishness.  The Bible says when we reject the truth we will develop foolish philosophies. 

“Professing to be wise they became fools, changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man.” 

It is a suppression of the truth and I want you to know there are consequences for suppressing the truth.

Romans 1:24-25 (NKJV)
1:24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

These are people who worship their bodies.  They throw away modesty; they sexualize everything.  These are people who are hooked on pornography.  They’re men, who see every woman as a sexual conquest.  They’re women who look at men solely as a source of sensual pleasure.  They’re people who blur the lines of gender accepting anything; hedonists seeking only pleasure.

Romans 1:26-28 (NKJV)
1:26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

In a mind where truth and authority of scripture is overlooked, there is no moral absolute.  In the absence of morality any act, no matter how depraved, becomes possible.

Genocide – destruction of a nationality or race of people.
Abortion – Murder of society’s most innocent.
Transgenderism – You don’t even believe your own body.

These things are a spiritual Flat Earth model.

Resisting the Lies:

Foe the last several months, I've been carefully considering the thought process that leads to a Flat Earth model.  I’ve listened attentively to their arguments.  I’ve attempted to refute logical fallacies.  I’ve even spent time examining the mathematics that accurately explains the Global Earth Model.

To me this kind of discussion is interesting; it’s scientific.  That's always appealed to me; I majored in Biology in the university.  The problem is that it seems like science, but it’s all based on faulty logic incorrect mathematical application, a refusal to believe the easily observable, and a complete lack of understanding of Physics.  In short, it’s not science, it’s pseudoscience. It sounds like science but it’s not.  It’s imagination.

Those who reject the authority of the Bible, creating their own spiritual philosophy that sears the conscience and makes it possible for them to participate in sin without guilt, are involved in something that seems like spirituality, but isn’t.  It’s pseudo-spirituality.  There is a way to resist these arguments.  Immerse yourself in the truth.  Read; study your Bible.  Know what God said.  Eve believed the lie because she didn’t understand clearly what God had said.  Look:

Genesis 3:1-3 (NKJV)
3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" 2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' "

God clearly said, “If you EAT the fruit you will surely die.”  He didn’t mention touching it.  That was Eve’s interpretation.  We have to be careful of NEW interpretations of God’s word.  We need to know what God has really said.  The Bible is straightforward and clear.  If we aren’t careful to know the truth, we can be easily deceived by carefully spoken words and slick presentations.  Be on guard – know your Bible.


When Jesus was tempted he turned the devil back with the words of scripture, “It is written…”  When the devil attempted to twist scriptures, Jesus called him on it.  He knew completely the word of God.  He studied it.  He memorized it and spoke it.  Following the scriptures in church and in Bible study isn’t enough.  You have to devour the word of God.  Meditate on the word of God.  Know the truth and reject the lie.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Filters of Fear and Faith

We all make use of filters in life.  A filter is something that screens out impurities.  We filter water before we drink it.  We wear those masks to filter air when we ride our motorcycles.  Filter can affect the quality of what we take into our bodies.

In our cars and scooters there are certain filters that we use.  Our cars have air filters, oil filters and gas filters.  These filters affect the vehicle’s performance.  Unfiltered gas can clog fuel injection lines.  Unfiltered air can allow things to enter the cylinders that can damage the engine.  Unfiltered oil can allow metal shavings that enter and score the cylinders.  All of these things affect the cars performance.

I want you to know that we have spiritual filters that filter our perceptions of the world.  Those filters can affect our performance as well.  Today I want to post on filters from this portion of scripture:

Matthew 6:22-23 (NKJV)
6:22 "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Filters

There were two sources of inspiration for this sermon.  The first was a comment that my wife made about what we look at and listen to.  The second was the story of David and Goliath from our Bible study on Wednesday (Points of Victory, “The Spear of Intimidation;” by Pastor Greg Mitchell).  This post is what God showed me through those two things. 

Our bodies are created with natural filters; our eyes are filters; our ears are filters.  The things we hear and see can affect us.  The scripture says that the eye is the lamp of the body.  If our eye is good there will be light in the body – The light is goodness and righteousness:

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV)
6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Our eye is a filter of light and darkness.  What we focus our attention on is what enters our minds.  What we see isn’t the filter.  What we see is information that requires interpretation.  We take what we see and we FILTER it through our biases, our culture and our frames of reference. 

Today, I want to focus on spiritual filters, specifically, the filters of fear and faith.  These two filters are opposites.  You cannot have faith in presence of fear, because fear betrays a LACK of faith.  If fear is present then faith is not. 

So much of how we behave and react is based on these two filters – many of us struggle with fear:

Fear is a natural response to danger.  It’s a part of the fight or flight response.  This is a natural physiological response to imminent danger.  Adrenaline is secreted into our bloodstreams.  Our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes deeper, so more oxygen can be transported to our muscles.  This can provide more speed when running or more strength when fighting.  Or reflexes become faster so that we’re better prepared to face the danger.  Those responses were built into us for a more dangerous time.

These days we don’t have to run from saber-toothed tigers but we continue to have the same reactions, but now we call them stress and they’re produced by different fears, like fear of failure, for example.

Fear of failure can cause us to react in one or more of following three ways:

1)      We don’t act at all – We’re paralyzed by over-analysis; fearful of a misstep creating more problems.  In sports this often called “the paralysis of analysis.”
2)      We become control freaks – We hold on to every detail.  We don’t allow anyone to help, running ourselves ragged, or;
3)      We become perfectionists and because nothing is perfect we end up doing nothing at all focusing on minor details always striving for an unobtainable result.

There are other types of fear and other reactions.

1)      Fear creates a lack of confidence – I can’t do it – I’m not up to it.
2)      Fear creates procrastination – If I ignore that thing that frightens me, it will go away.
3)      Fear makes you unable to lead – I’ll leave it to someone else so I don’t mess it up.

If we filter what we see through fear it stops us from moving forward in life, it’s destructive to relationships, and it hinders God’s calling in our lives.  Nothing positive is created by fear, but fear is pervasive in society. 

In order to illustrate the differences between fear reactions and faith reactions I’m going to look at one event in which, the filter of fear and the filter of faith cause separate reactions.

The Fear Filter

1 Samuel 17:4-7 (NKJV)
17:4 And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. 7 Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.

So here’s Goliath – He’s a huge man about three meters tall (9.5 feet).  The name Goliath is Hebrew and the man is a Philistine, so this is probably a name that the Israelis gave him.  The name means to strip naked – so as to humiliate someone.  Every time they see Goliath and say, “There’s Goliath!” they’re saying, “There’s the one who will strip me naked and humiliate me!”

Words have power, they define the filter that you’re using to interpret the circumstances you find yourself in.  You can speak words of strength and courage or you can speak words of fear and discouragement.  Your actions will always follow the direction seen through your words.  The words "I’m afraid" lead to the actions of fear that I mentioned earlier.  That’s what we see here:

1 Samuel 17:10-11 (NKJV)
17:10 And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together." 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

They saw him – They heard his words and it caused fear.  That word dismay means to lose courage.  They saw this huge powerful man, they spoke their fear, they heard his taunt – You will be our slaves and they lost the courage to face him.  They quit.

1 Samuel 17:23-24 (NKJV)
17:23 Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. 24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.

They used the fear filter.  They took actions of fear; they fled from him.  There’s no victory in fear.  Fear must be overcome in order to see victory.

How often do we filter our circumstances through fear?  “What if I lose my job, I may not find another one?”  “I can’t take a chance and invest my money.  What if I lose it?”  “What if my kids don’t get into the best school?” What if?  What if?  What if?   “I can’t.”  “I’m not qualified.”  “I don’t know enough!”  “They might be offended.”  “They might react angrily.”  That’s the fear filter.  It paralyzes you – It hinders you.

Do you know that great success usually involves great risk?  Edmund Hillary – No one had ever come off of Mt. Everest alive – But he went anyway!  Neil Armstrong – He didn’t know if landing on the moon was even possible – But he did it, anyway. 

Fear takes away the courage to risk.  You have dreams; things you want in life but you filter that vision through a prism of fear…so they never happen.

Fear also destroys relationships.  It creates family friction.

1 Samuel 17:28-29 (NKJV)
17:28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger was aroused against David, and he said, "Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle." 29 And David said, "What have I done now? Is there not a cause?"

David’s talking to the others, trying to find out what the reward for killing Goliath is.  He’s considering it.  His brother Eliab confronts him, “You’re full of pride.  What can you do?  It’s insolence to think that you can do what this army of battle hardened soldiers can’t do.”  I think Eliab resents David’s courage.  He was also there and he also refused to face Goliath.  He thinks David’s courage highlights his lack of courage so he lashes out.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever ridiculed someone because they weren’t afraid of what you’re afraid of?  That’s Eliab thinking.

Fear also betrays your lack of faith in God

The Faith Filter

Let’s look now at the Faith Filter.  We find faith in David’s reaction to Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:26 (NKJV)
17:26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that defies God’s army?  Who is this enemy of God that has you running scared?  He’s reminding them that they’re instruments of God’s power.  This is the army that took the promised land.  This is the army that has faced enemies too numerous to count.  This is God’s army – Who’s this Philistine punk that thinks he can defeat God’s army?  That thinks he can defeat God? 

So, he goes to Saul, remember he’s a teenager – He’s young.  Look at what he says:
 1 Samuel 17:32-33 (NKJV)
17:32 Then David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." 33 And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth."

He says, “I’m not afraid – I’ll handle this for you – I’ll fight him.”  He’s confident; he has faith in his own abilities and in God’s assistance.  He knows God will help him.  Saul, though, is fearful, “You can’t you’re too young.  I’m a veteran of many battles and I’m scared.  You’re so young, what can you do?”

David’s had victories, though.  He’s a experienced battle, too.
 1 Samuel 17:34-35 (NKJV)
17:34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.

David’s filter isn’t fear – He’s seeing past victories and he’s applying them to this circumstance.  David’s filter is faith; in himself and in God.

1 Samuel 17:37 (NKJV)
17:37 Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you!"

David says, “This is no different and since he’s also defying God, God will move on my behalf.”  Faith is the filter that David is visualizing this through.  Faith trumps fear.  Victory is only possible through faith. 

David’s faith encourages.  It doesn’t drive courage away; it causes one to gain courage.  It doesn’t paralyze it makes it possible to take action.  It makes it possible to take a risk that leads to reward.
 1 Samuel 17:48-49 (NKJV)
17:48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.

David, in faith and courage, ran to the battle.  He RAN into the danger and God gave him a victory.  Our faith causes a response on God’s part.  Our faith can be the catalyst to victory.

Finally, your faith can ignite faith in other people. 

1 Samuel 17:52 (NKJV)
17:52 Now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted, and pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Shaaraim, even as far as Gath and Ekron.

Suddenly, the paralysis of fear that has kept the Israelis from the battle is lifted.  The men rose up and ran toward the enemy, engaging them, chasing them and killing them.  Your victory through faith and courage can inspire others and encourage others to that same kind of action.  If we face challenges through a filter of faith, and people can see that we trust God for the victory, they will trust Him as well. 

What do you look like when there are challenges in your life – fearful?  Are you afraid to move forward?  Lashing out at others?  Or are you like David, filtering the challenge through faith, eager for victory?  Trusting God to bring it and making it happen.

The outcome of any circumstance is the dependent on the filter through which we see that circumstance.

Abraham’s filter was faith – He was called the friend of God.
Moses’ filter was faith – God met with him as with a friend.
David’s filter was faith – He was Israel’s greatest king – EVER!
Paul’s filter was faith – God’s greatest evangelist and missionary.


What are you looking for – Victory or defeat?  Through what do you filter your vision – Fear or Faith.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Rod of Surrender

Most of us have said that we want to be used by God.  We pray it; we speak it; we sing choruses about it, but many times we can’t figure it out why it doesn’t come to pass in our lives.  Why are we toiling and laboring, but it seems like we’re not getting anywhere in our desire to be used by God?  Maybe, there’s something that’s left inside of us that hinders God’s use.  Maybe we see our talents and abilities as the reason God can use us.  Maybe there’s still some pride:  We want to be noticed for what we’ve done for God, or assume that God will reward our egos. 

Is it about what Gods wants to do, or is it about what you want God to do for you? Are you surrendered to God’s purposes, or are you looking for God to bring about your purposes? 

Surrender to God is the beginning of real revival.  Here’s a secret, what God is doing isn’t about us, it’s about Him and His purposes.  Today, I want to post a message on what it means to surrender.

Exodus 4:2-3 (NKJV)
4:2 So the Lord said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod." 3 And He said, "Cast it on the ground." So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
 Exodus 4:20 (NKJV)
4:20 Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

The Staff of Man

In our text, we see Moses as he is receiving the call of God on his life.  This moment takes place at the burning bush.  We all know the story; Moses sees the bush burning but not being consumed.  He turns aside to see the miracle and God calls to him out of the middle of the bush and sends him to deliver Israel.  The problem is that Moses isn’t ready to answer God’s call.  He has a number of reasons why he can’t do it.

I stutter – I’m not eloquent.  The people won’t believe me or trust me.  He had lots of reasons why God should choose someone else.  Finally, God says to him, “What’s that in your hand?”  Moses answers, “A rod.”

What it is, is the shepherd’s staff – Moses was a shepherd.  The staff is what identifies him, this is what defines him.  It says who he is and Moses is hanging onto it.  All of us have things in our lives that define us:  Things that speak to who we are.  It may be a job title.  It may be some material thing.  It may be an image you’ve cultivated – It defines who you want to be to other people. 

When we put those things before the purposes of God, we’re like Moses, resisting the call that’s on us.  We’re holding to the rod of our self-image.  We can’t have revival, when it’s our image that we’re trying to lift up.  We can’t serve the purposes of God when it’s about making us look good. 

Moses is holding on to the symbol of himself.  He’s holding onto the rod and saying this is who I am.  I’m not the instrument of God’s deliverance; I’m the shepherd that this rod implies. 

Many times, it's lack of faith that keeps us back.  Other times the problem is that we want to be used, but we want to be used on our own terms, in the position of life that we have already attained.

There was a time when Country and Western singer Johnnie Cash wanted to be an evangelist like Billy Graham.  When he brought it up he was told. “You can do more for God as a famous singer.”  He wanted to give it all up for God’s purposes.  He wanted to throw down his guitar.  He wanted to give it all up for God, and I believe that if he had, God would have used him powerfully. 

Up to this point, Moses had dome nothing for God.  He’d spent the last forty years as a shepherd.  Prior to that, he was the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and he rose up as a deliverer of God’s people but he did it on his own terms and fell flat on his face.  He wanted to deliver the people of God from the oppression and bondage of slavery, but he didn’t want to give up who he was, and in trying to do it that way, he was forced into exile in the desert.  His motives were questioned by the very people he wanted to deliver.  He was operating in his own power, and not surrendered to the will of God.  God tells him, “Cast it on the ground,” and as soon as he releases it and casts it down, God begins to move in the supernatural.  God begins to move in power.  If we want to see the power of God in our lives, we also have to cast down our image of self.

This is a picture of his surrender to God.  He’s saying God if you have a purpose for me, that’s outside of whom I’ve always been, then I will throw that down for you.  He’s stepping out of himself to be God’s instrument.  Can you see yourself in the service of God in a role that you would not have chosen for yourself, or in a lifestyle to which you wouldn’t have aspired, if not called into his service. 

Moses wasn’t comfortable with releasing it all into God’s hands.  He resisted the call of God.  He made excuses for not answering the call.  He did what he could to get out of answering it.  He even asked God, “Can’t you send someone else.”  We do the same thing in our generation, but when you do surrender; when you’re willing to drop the rod, that’s when the power of God is seen in your life:  That’s when God can do the miracles.

The Rod of God

When Moses drops the shepherd’s staff, that’s when we see God move.  Look at what happens:

Exodus 4:3-7 (NKJV)
4:3 And He said, "Cast it on the ground." So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail" (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 5 "that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." 6 Furthermore the Lord said to him, "Now put your hand in your bosom." And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. 7 And He said, "Put your hand in your bosom again." So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh.

God begins to show His power through Moses.  He begins to give Moses a supernatural ministry.  That only comes after he throws down the rod.  Usually, we are the limiting factor to God’s power.  God isn’t limited – He’s omnipotent – He’s all-powerful.  He can do anything.  This is the God who spoke the universe into existence.  This is the God who created living, breathing man out of the dust of the earth.  This is the God who brought a flood upon the whole earth.  What’s the limit to His power?  The limit is us; our unbelief.  Our lack of faith limits God.  We can’t turn loose of who we are right now, because we can’t see the possibilities of God’s will for our lives.  Can you step out of your comfort zone to step into the will of God?  Look at the things that Moses is telling God about why he shouldn’t go.  What are they?  I’m slow of speech – Because of my impediment people won’t listen to me.  I’m not eloquent – I’m simple; I’m not persuasive or well-spoken, but God tells him I can teach these things to you mouth.  This isn’t difficult for the creator, so what is Moses problem?  A lack of faith; unbelief; fear.  He doesn’t see the possibilities of God’s power.

Because of fear, unbelief creeps into our lives, and we are unable to completely surrender ourselves to all that God has called us, so there is no tangible demonstration of the power of God in our lives.  We need to cast down the rod of comfort, before we can see God do something in our lives.  When we cast down the rod of our comfort zone; it can become a rod of power, because we aren’t limited by our comfort zone any longer.  We are only limited by God’s supernatural power, which is limitless.  We should be glad to toss away the limits of human potential for the limitlessness of God’s power.  That’s often pretty scary, though, because we’re used to having control of our own destiny and by surrendering ourselves to God we are relinquishing control to God.

I’m not saying that preparation isn’t necessary, but God doesn’t always do things in our timing, and if we try to control it all we put the brakes on the will of God. 

What if God had allowed Moses to talk him out of sending him?  God had prepared Moses and equipped Moses for this task:  He had the education of a future king.  He had the humility of a shepherd.  God had spent eighty years preparing him to deliver His people.  What would it take to prepare someone else, because Moses refused to give God control over his life?  We are all like that.  We all say, “I’ve given my life to Jesus,” but we still hold off on giving Him complete control of our lives.  There are certain things we hold onto:  Our jobs, our finances, the place we live, certain attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.  We hold on to those things – We control those things.  Abandon those things to God and we’re forced to trust Him, or someone else he has placed in our lives.  That’s the rod we hold on to.  That’s the rod we don’t want to cast down, and that’s the rod God commands us to drop so that He can move through our lives.

Moses wasn’t appointed the deliverer of Israel for Moses’ benefit – It was for the benefit of the people of God.  God was moving through Moses’ life.

Moses threw down the rod and when he picked it up again to do what God called him to do it was no longer his rod, but the Rod of God.  It was the rod that parted the Red Sea.  It was the rod that brought water out of the rock.  It was the rod that brought victory over Amalek.  Moses could never have done those things in his own strength.  If he had never cast down the rod, God would not have been able to use him.

The Testimony of Surrender

Exodus 33:7-11 (NKJV)
33:7 Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. 8 So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. 9 And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. 10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. 11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.

Finally, God shows us the testimony of surrender.  The people watch Moses and see God.  This is a powerful thing.  They see his surrender.  They see the things God has done.  They recognize that God is using him.  They see God’s hand and power in his life.  I want people to see what God has done in my life.  I want them to KNOW that God is moving in me.

This is what’s happening here.  They see Moses go to the tabernacle, and they’re thinking, “God is going to show up.”  “Let’s pay attention because God meets with Moses.”  They see the cloud standing at the tabernacle.  They see God speaking to Moses.  They see him as a friend of God. 

Don’t you want that kind of relationship with God?  Don’t you want people to recognize that God speaks to you?  What did it take for Moses to have that kind of relationship?  Surrender.  He had to surrender to God.  He had to cast down the rod of self.  He had to cast down the rod of comfort and give it ALL to God.  We can’t expect to be all that God has called us to, if we won’t get ourselves out of the way.

We’re holding many rods: The rod of self-will, the rod of our comfort zone, the rod of unbelief, the rod of pride, even the rod of apathy.  Until we’re willing to throw them down, we will never be all that we have he potential to be.

You might be thinking, “Why isn’t God using me?”  What’s that in your hand – Cast it down.  “Where are the blessings that God’s promised?”  Who controls your life? Throw it down.  “Why am I not growing in God?”  Who is your faith in?  Cast it down.

Surrender to God!  This text is a picture of Moses surrender to God.  God finally had to get angry before Moses really released it all and said, “Okay, God whatever you have for me that’s what I’ll do.”  As he surrendered the rod that was the symbol of who Moses was, it became the symbol of God’s power in him.  That’s a testimony.


The life we have laid down as we have given it all to God is the testimony of God’s power in us.  I’m not just talking about the release from sin.  This testimony usually comes after we’re saved – It’s the testimony of trust in God.  That’s where the power in our lives comes from.  With God all things are possible – If we surrender all things to him.