Matthew R. Perry

Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

Libertarian Mindset in the Church, Part II: Pursue the Right Passion

In Church Life, Culture, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching, Sermons on October 31, 2007 at 10:30 pm

(If you would like to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This was preached on Sunday, October 28, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. You may also read the Introduction and Part I to this blog series.)

Read with me Jude 8-13:

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unrea-s oning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever (Jude 8-13, ESV).

If you grew up watching an old Looney Toons™ cartoon of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, you may recall how these cartoons always began. They would show the Roadrunner at top speed, then do a freeze frame with the subtitle of the name of his character along with some humorous pseudo-Latin phrase like “Runnicus Fastus.” Then the cartoon would show Wile E. Coyote chasing after him — employing the same freeze frame with the subtitle of his name, etc.

Unlike those cartoons, false teachers are not accompanied by that manner of subtitle and description. On the contrary, false teachers operate by stealth. Jesus described them in Matthew 7:15 in this manner: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15, ESV). This type of covert operation by these false teachers is a type of spiritual terrorism. John MacArthur notes, “Political terrorists can inflict material damage and physical death, but apostates disguised as genuine teachers can subvert God’s truth and entice people to believe damning lies.”

Rather than relying on what God revealed through his authoritative Word, these false teachers begin to, as Jude says, “rely on their dreams” (Jude 8). Throughout biblical history, we see how God used men such as Joseph in Egypt, Daniel, and Joseph (Mary’s husband) to convey his Word and plan. Yet, when in our day we hear of people dreaming dreams outside of the authority and pursuing visions and dreams that are the product of their fleshly imaginations rather than by the heavenly revelation of God. The result is a defilement of the flesh, a rejection on the external authority of God for the internal authority of their imaginations, and an utter blaspheming of the angelic servants of God. Second Peter 2:10 describes these apostates further as “those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones” (2 Peter 2:10b, ESV). Here, Jude shows us the character of these apostates.

Church history (and world history) is littered with various types of cults who have deviated from the Christian faith and pursue other realms due to their perverted passions. Joseph Smith believed he received a vision of the angel Moroni who led him to a set of golden plates which served as the basis of the Book of Mormon. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Scientism, believed God revealed her writings. Charles Taze Russell and Judge Rutherford of the Jehovah’s Witnesses followed their own musings. Same with Mohammed and the followers of Islam, those in the New Age movement, even those in Roman Catholicism who insist on adding to the Scriptures with their Sacred Traditions. Each of these cults and religions all come down to one issue: a hatred for the authority of God as revealed in the Scriptures alone.

We stand on a very slippery slope when we begin to question the authority of God and the message of his servants. Even the archangel Michael would not pronounce anything toward Satan, even though his downfall is sealed. He simply appealed to the authority of the Lord by saying, “The Lord rebuke you.” What is Jude talking about?

A Jewish story found in a book called The Assumption of Moses claims that God sent Michael the archangel to bury Moses, but the devil came along and said that Moses’ body belonged to him, since that body existed in the physical realm. Michael responded quite opposite to how these apostate false teachers respond. He came in the authority of God and appealed to the authority of God when he said, “The Lord rebuke you.” Plus, in reading Deut. 33:1-4, we see the role the angels played when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai:

This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. He said,

“The Lord came from Sinai
and dawned from Seir upon us;
he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
with flaming fire at his right hand.
Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you,
when Moses commanded us a law,
as a possession for the assembly of Jacob (Deuteronomy 33:1-4, ESV).

The false teachers claim to have an understanding of the spiritual realm, but in reality they live exclusively in the physical realm. The dreams they dream are from their own imagination. The words they speak originate from their own fleshly reasoning equating them with the animals who simply respond to their own instincts and appetites.

Again, Jude gives a history lesson. In verse 11, he says that they “walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s rebellion and perished in Korah’s rebellion.” Genesis 4 shows how Cain was jealous of the relationship his brother Abel had with God and, in turn, how God accepted his sacrifice. Others, in reference to Balaam’s rebellion, seek to surround themselves with speakers who will tell them exactly what they desire to hear. In 2 Peter 2:15, we see they are “Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing” (2 Peter 2:15, ESV).

What do these apostates look like? Jude gives five descriptions: fearless, waterless, fruitless, tempestuous, and aimless.

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Libertarian Mindset in the Church, Part I: Move Toward the Right Master

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching, Sermons on October 31, 2007 at 12:01 am

Look again with me at Jude 5-7:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Notice how Jude teaches his people: he does not simply tell his people about these and say, “Watch out for them!” He takes time to give examples from the Old Testament to reinforce the consequences for the denying the authority of Almighty God. He speaks of three specific examples: the unfaithful Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, the disobedient angels, and the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. Out of all the examples contained in the Old Testament that warn the readers about pursuing the wrong master, why would Jude bring forth these particular examples? Here, we can refer to 2 Peter 1:12 in which the Apostle Peter says, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.”

In verse 5, Jude reminds the his people about the unbelieving Israelites who, though they were the direct recipients of God’s gracious deliverance from Pharaoh and saw firsthand God’s leadership as he led them through the desert, continually grumbled about their situation. As a result of their unbelief he “destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 5, ESV). God shows the nature of this verdict in Numbers 14:32-38:

But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ I, the Lord, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the Lord. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive (Numbers 14:32-38, ESV).

In verse 6, Jude moves on to discuss the disobedient angels. We do not know which angels sinned nor how they sinned, although verse seven certainly sheds light on this when in describing Sodom and Gomorrah “which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” When Lucifer and his followers rebelled against God who in turn cast them out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12), some of these deviant angels engaged in sexual immorality outside of their domain. In Genesis 6:1-4, we see what the possible infraction was.

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown (Genesis 6:1-4, ESV).

Second Peter 2:4 articulates exactly what happened to these angels: “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment” (2 Peter 2:4, ESV).

The last example is the example of Sodom and Gomorrah, as we may read through in Genesis 18-19. Rather than pursuing what Creator God and his order, they “pursued natural desire” (Jude 7, ESV) or as other versions better put it, they “went after strange flesh” (Jude 7, NASB).

Do you see the similarities? They all left the boundaries which God, who made them and had sole authority over them, drew for them. These examples serve as real-life illustrations to teach us a lesson of never straying from God’s authority. Unbelief leads to condemnation. Sadly, some never learn that lesson. Do not find yourself counted among that number.

Libertarian Mindset in the Church, Introduction

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Politics, Preaching, Sermons on October 30, 2007 at 12:01 pm

(If you would like to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This was preached on Sunday, October 28, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.)

Since I moved to Lexington, I have become a fan on the Cincinnati Bengals, a professional football team. The Bengals have some very talented players and have a very excited style of play. What impresses me the most is their fan base: regardless of how well or how poorly the Bengals are playing (currently, they are 2-5 on what is turning out to be a very disappointing season), the fans always sell out the home games and continue to support the Bengals every step of the way.

Yet, the Bengals currently have issues. Over the past year, nine of the players had trouble with the police. More recently at the end of one game against a very strong New England Patriots team, one could see a lot of bickering on the sidelines. Receivers were bickering with coaches, teammates were bickering with one another, and the result was a divided effort that resulted in defeat. After the game, those in the corridor outside the Bengals’ locker room could hear Marvin Lewis screaming at his players one thought repeatedly: selfishness. In other words, the Bengals’ alleged problem in their locker room stems from a resistance to, and even a denial of, authority. Instead of allowing the coaches to lead, the players think they should lead and be the authority on the team.

Sadly, we should continually drive home this lesson: the greatest enemy to any organization (the church of Jesus Christ included) is not persecution from the outside of that organization, but division from the inside. History has continually borne this lesson out. Holy Scripture contains this lesson. Turn with me if you will to the tiny letter of Jude as we read Jude 5-16:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage (Jude 5-16, ESV).

May God add his blessing to the reading of his holy Word — may we not only read it but also heed it as the Spirit applies this Word to our hearts.

The theme of the entire book of Jude is found in Jude 3: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3, ESV). Warren Wiersbe rightly says, “Jude had started to write a quiet devotional letter about salvation, but the Spirit led him to put down his harp and sound the trumpet! The Epistle of Jude is a call to arms.”

Why would Jude issue this “call to arms”? Apostate false teachers had crept into the assembly. Jude, who identifies himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1a, ESV), warns of those who creep in among God’s people with a designation for condemnation, ungodliness and (by their actions) “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4b, ESV). These false teachers reject authority, take what God has given, and use this to gratify their own fleshly desires. These men are the ones Paul railed against in his letter to the Romans when he said, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it” (Romans 6:1-2, ESV)? This libertarian mindset is poison to the church.

(Tomorrow: Part I — Remember: Move Toward the Right Master)

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Singleness and the Glory of God Conference This Saturday @ Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2007 at 2:19 pm

Have you been deceived to think that God’s purpose for you is to be married or at least not alone? God’s purpose for you is to be holy — everything else is just details!

Music, door prizes, main group times and breakout sessions.

Leaders will be:

The topics!?!

  • Singleness and the American Idols: What the Culture Tells Us About Singleness (Matthew Perry)
  • Singleness and the Sovereignty of God: Do We Trust God’s Timing in Bringing Us “The One”? (Mark Combs)
  • Don’t Waste Your Singleness: Consumed By Your Singleness or Using Your Time Wisely for the Kingdom? (Kevin Whitt)
  • Singleness and the Gospel (Josh Martin)
  • Q&A with Matt, Mark, Kevin, and Josh!
  • Mini-Concert with the Josh Martin Band.

Interested?!? Then go ahead and register in one of four ways:

  1. Call Boone’s Creek Baptist Church at (859) 263-5466.
  2. Drop us a line at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church (ATTN: S&GG), 185 N. Cleveland Rd., Lexington, KY 40509
  3. E-mail us at boonescreekchurch@gmail.com and just put in the subject line: S&GG.
  4. Go to  the sidebar you’ll see “Upcoming Boone’s Creek Conferences.” If you have a Facebook account, you can sign up there.

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Singleness and the Glory of God Conference This Saturday @ Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2007 at 2:19 pm

Have you been deceived to think that God’s purpose for you is to be married or at least not alone? God’s purpose for you is to be holy — everything else is just details!

Music, door prizes, main group times and breakout sessions.

Leaders will be:

The topics!?!

  • Singleness and the American Idols: What the Culture Tells Us About Singleness (Matthew Perry)
  • Singleness and the Sovereignty of God: Do We Trust God’s Timing in Bringing Us “The One”? (Mark Combs)
  • Don’t Waste Your Singleness: Consumed By Your Singleness or Using Your Time Wisely for the Kingdom? (Kevin Whitt)
  • Singleness and the Gospel (Josh Martin)
  • Q&A with Matt, Mark, Kevin, and Josh!
  • Mini-Concert with the Josh Martin Band.

Interested?!? Then go ahead and register in one of four ways:

  1. Call Boone’s Creek Baptist Church at (859) 263-5466.
  2. Drop us a line at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church (ATTN: S&GG), 185 N. Cleveland Rd., Lexington, KY 40509
  3. E-mail us at boonescreekchurch@gmail.com and just put in the subject line: S&GG.
  4. Go to  the sidebar you’ll see “Upcoming Boone’s Creek Conferences.” If you have a Facebook account, you can sign up there.

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Your Burning Bush Speaks, Part IV: I Don’t Have What It Takes

In Church Life, Missions on October 27, 2007 at 1:47 pm

(Be sure to read the Introduction, Part I , Part II and Part III to this blog series.)

In Exodus 4:10-12, we read:

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” [11] Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? [12] Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

First, Moses doesn’t know what to say, now he claims he cannot say it! Was he afraid that he forgot how to speak the courtly language with which he grew up in Egypt? I don’t know. Did he have a speech impediment? Possibly, although we don’t know for sure. We do know that he felt quite inadequate and did not possess the necessary gifts.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a similar reason by many well-meaning Christians who, when confronted by a task of great importance, will often say, “That’s just not my thing — I’m really not gifted in this area.” We tend to be well aware of our weaknesses and shortcomings — and if we aren’t, others have a way of making us quite aware. Many understand the need to learn how to evangelize and tell people about the Gospel, but too often the fear or just the lack of desire to do this makes us says, “That’s just not my thing.” Same with singing in the choir, working with us in the community, working in an area of ministry such as working with children, youth, or adults; or even coming to Sunday School. These are things that we may believe that these things are important, but we just don’t think we have what it takes to pull it off.

How did God respond? In Exodus 4:11-12, he says, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Moses was hoping that this reason, this excuse, would be legitimate. After all, what boss would send someone to do a job unless that person was gifted to do so. Sometimes, we feel as if we have to remind God of who we are and where our strengths lie. We think we know where we should be and what we should be doing. We draw our own little box and say, “I know me — I really do!”

Tomorrow, we are going to start going over not just an evangelism course but a great discipleship class called “Two Ways To Live.” This training is so different because it starts at a point where it should have — with God as Creator. This doctrine of God as Creator must be recovered in our churches. For if God created us, then he wired us and knows best how we operate. And when He calls us to do a task and be obedient, we know that since He made us in His image, He knows what we are capable of — especially when He leads and strengthens us.

You don’t have what it takes, you say? That statement is rife with unbelief in Creator God. He has what it takes to work through you!

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
[26] For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; [28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, [29] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. [30] He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:25-30, ESV).

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Your Burning Bush Speaks, Part IV: I Don’t Have What It Takes

In Church Life, Missions on October 27, 2007 at 1:47 pm

(Be sure to read the Introduction, Part I , Part II and Part III to this blog series.)

In Exodus 4:10-12, we read:

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” [11] Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? [12] Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

First, Moses doesn’t know what to say, now he claims he cannot say it! Was he afraid that he forgot how to speak the courtly language with which he grew up in Egypt? I don’t know. Did he have a speech impediment? Possibly, although we don’t know for sure. We do know that he felt quite inadequate and did not possess the necessary gifts.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a similar reason by many well-meaning Christians who, when confronted by a task of great importance, will often say, “That’s just not my thing — I’m really not gifted in this area.” We tend to be well aware of our weaknesses and shortcomings — and if we aren’t, others have a way of making us quite aware. Many understand the need to learn how to evangelize and tell people about the Gospel, but too often the fear or just the lack of desire to do this makes us says, “That’s just not my thing.” Same with singing in the choir, working with us in the community, working in an area of ministry such as working with children, youth, or adults; or even coming to Sunday School. These are things that we may believe that these things are important, but we just don’t think we have what it takes to pull it off.

How did God respond? In Exodus 4:11-12, he says, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Moses was hoping that this reason, this excuse, would be legitimate. After all, what boss would send someone to do a job unless that person was gifted to do so. Sometimes, we feel as if we have to remind God of who we are and where our strengths lie. We think we know where we should be and what we should be doing. We draw our own little box and say, “I know me — I really do!”

Tomorrow, we are going to start going over not just an evangelism course but a great discipleship class called “Two Ways To Live.” This training is so different because it starts at a point where it should have — with God as Creator. This doctrine of God as Creator must be recovered in our churches. For if God created us, then he wired us and knows best how we operate. And when He calls us to do a task and be obedient, we know that since He made us in His image, He knows what we are capable of — especially when He leads and strengthens us.

You don’t have what it takes, you say? That statement is rife with unbelief in Creator God. He has what it takes to work through you!

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
[26] For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; [28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, [29] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. [30] He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:25-30, ESV).

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Your Burning Bush Speaks, Part III: What If They Don’t Listen?

In Church Life, Missions on October 26, 2007 at 10:53 pm

(Be sure to read the Introduction, Part I and Part II to this blog series.)

Read with me Exodus 4:1-9:

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ ” [2] The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” [3] And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. [4] But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— [5] “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” [6] Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. [7] Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. [8] “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. [9] If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

Before we think Moses was being too harsh on his people, keep in mind that if you and your family had been in a certain situation for as long as they had, you may question some sheepherder showing up on the scene (and a fugitive at that) saying that he’s from God and will be the instrument of deliverance. We may understand this. Some of you who are followers of Christ may have family back home who do not know Christ. Remember Matthew 13:53-58?

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, [54] and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? [55] Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? [56] And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” [57] And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” [58] And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

But God then issues three miracles: the staff-into-the-snake, the leprous hand, and the river into blood. The question is, is there any significance to these signs? Of course!

First of all, why a snake? This snake, likely a cobra, was held in high esteem in Egypt. It represented the Cobra Princess. In fact, as you may have seen in pictures and movies, the leaders’ headdresses depicted … a cobra. Moses was to take the snake and grab it by … the tail?!?! Moses was getting a lesson in trusting God, for everyone knows that we should grab a snake where? Some would say, “No where!” But the best place is as close to the back of his head — and the furthest away from the fangs — as possible! The point: God was more powerful than their symbol of power!

Secondly, why the leprous hand. The leprous hand had no cure found here, it left one isolated, and once leprous there was no turning back — you were cut off. God is sovereign even over the most debilitating disease on earth!

Lastly, why the river turned into blood. This river, the Nile, is considered the longest river in the world. It starts from Ethiopia and goes all the way through Egypt and empties out into the Mediterranean for a total of 4,132 miles. To the EgyNile was the life-giver. For God to have the ability to turn this into blood shows that God is sovereign over all things — HE IS THE TRUE LIFE-GIVER.

Consider this: these three signs (the cobra, the leprosy, and the Nile) all were very imposing obstacles. By human perspective, there was no overcoming those obstacles. With God, those obstacles turn into opportunities to show His sovereign glory.

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Your Burning Bush Speaks, Part III: What If They Don’t Listen?

In Church Life, Missions on October 26, 2007 at 10:53 pm

(Be sure to read the Introduction, Part I and Part II to this blog series.)

Read with me Exodus 4:1-9:

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ ” [2] The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” [3] And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. [4] But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— [5] “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” [6] Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. [7] Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. [8] “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. [9] If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

Before we think Moses was being too harsh on his people, keep in mind that if you and your family had been in a certain situation for as long as they had, you may question some sheepherder showing up on the scene (and a fugitive at that) saying that he’s from God and will be the instrument of deliverance. We may understand this. Some of you who are followers of Christ may have family back home who do not know Christ. Remember Matthew 13:53-58?

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, [54] and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? [55] Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? [56] And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” [57] And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” [58] And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

But God then issues three miracles: the staff-into-the-snake, the leprous hand, and the river into blood. The question is, is there any significance to these signs? Of course!

First of all, why a snake? This snake, likely a cobra, was held in high esteem in Egypt. It represented the Cobra Princess. In fact, as you may have seen in pictures and movies, the leaders’ headdresses depicted … a cobra. Moses was to take the snake and grab it by … the tail?!?! Moses was getting a lesson in trusting God, for everyone knows that we should grab a snake where? Some would say, “No where!” But the best place is as close to the back of his head — and the furthest away from the fangs — as possible! The point: God was more powerful than their symbol of power!

Secondly, why the leprous hand. The leprous hand had no cure found here, it left one isolated, and once leprous there was no turning back — you were cut off. God is sovereign even over the most debilitating disease on earth!

Lastly, why the river turned into blood. This river, the Nile, is considered the longest river in the world. It starts from Ethiopia and goes all the way through Egypt and empties out into the Mediterranean for a total of 4,132 miles. To the EgyNile was the life-giver. For God to have the ability to turn this into blood shows that God is sovereign over all things — HE IS THE TRUE LIFE-GIVER.

Consider this: these three signs (the cobra, the leprosy, and the Nile) all were very imposing obstacles. By human perspective, there was no overcoming those obstacles. With God, those obstacles turn into opportunities to show His sovereign glory.

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Your Burning Bush Speaks, Part II: Who Are You?

In Church Life, Missions on October 25, 2007 at 9:37 pm

(Be sure to read the Introduction and Part I to this blog series.)

Moses’ concern shifted here. God was calling him, but now he had to convince his people that God sent him to deliver them from this oppressor. Here’s the nature of his inquiry found in Exodus 3:13-15:

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

The first question we would ask is, “Why did they want to know his name so badly?” For the Jews, the name held and reflected an individual’s essence. We know of many different names by which God revealed himself — each dealing with a different character, but here we see where the name Yahweh comes from. This shows that God is one who was and is and is to come, the Almighty. He is the God of the past (Abraham, Issac and Jacob) and the God of the future (“remembered throughout all generations”).

Again, the reliance on the nature of God! Once again, he shows us his eternal presence among the universe in general and among his people individually. You see, we grow in despair when we believe God has abandoned us. We grow in despair and grow callous and cold to the things of God when we begin not to “feel” him nearby. And most certainly that was the case with the people of Egypt in 430 years of bondage. The surrounding circumstances seemed to dictate God’s absence — but the reality is that God was quite involved.

So who is God? God is there, and he is not silent.

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