Friday, August 17, 2018

Fr. Phil - Testing and Cleansing

11th Sunday of Pentecost
Aug 5, 2018
Fr. Philip Eberhart


Testing and Purification - The Loss of the Dross


After many conversations over the past week or two, where I've wondered outloud, whether our financial crisis is like us waiting on God to open up the RED SEA or if we're on the other side of the Red Sea, after the party, and here we go into the wilderness of Sin.  I could not believe it when our OT lesson was from Exodus 16 this morning!  In effect the readings this Sunday make this MANNA SUNDAY!!

So let's dive right in and talk a little bit about MANNA and then what its about.
MANNA actually means "what is it!"  The nation of Israel had never seen it before.  Something that looked like a frost on the ground, as small as a corriander seed, with a taste a little like honey.  It came in the morning with the dew on the ground.  The rules were that you could pick up a day's worth of  MANNA, except the morning of Sabbath.  That morning you could pick up twice as much!

The Israelites tried to pick up all they could at first, to 'hoard' it and it spoiled immediately.  But when they picked up twice as much on Friday morning, it didn't spoil overnight.  So there was something supernatural going on as well.

So what is going on is an action of God, whereby the nation of Israel is being both supplied with food and tested at the same time.  Quail in the evening and Manna in the morning.

Have you ever been in the financial place where you were reduced to soup or Ramen noodles for food?  College days? In between jobs?  I have lived for many days on Bean with Bacon Soup!  It's actually one of my favorites still!

But to eat it every day for a month?  Well....    OK..... if I have to.   I mean, you can almost anything for a month, right?
Even soup and Ramen Noodles!  But 40 years?   YIKES!

Anyone here know how long the journey of the Nation of Israel was to be?  Through the desert to the Mountain of God and beyond to the Promised Land?   How long does it take to walk it today?

27 day hike.
So why 40 years?

What is that all about?
In a word?    OBEDIENCE.

Let's look quickly at the lessons for this morning... Just some excerpts...

Ex 16  
The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.


Psalm 78:29  29 So they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.


The nation of Israel (and by extension all of the People of God) go through a time of testing here.  They are just weeks from the incredible display of the power of God in the Exodus event - their deliverance from the hand of the Egyptian Armies at the sea side.  They have been accompanied by the pillar of fire and cloud so far on this journey, and it still remains with them - the manifestation of the very presence of God.

So why the test?

\Deu 8:3 KJV
 3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna,[H4478] which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Where do we hear this scripture repeated?

In the mouth of Jesus himself, in a similar situation - at the end of the 40 days of Temptation in the Wilderness of Judea, as He begins his public ministry.  His response to Satan's temptation to turn stones into bread was to quote the passage from Deut. 8.

Jesus himself is tested by God, even as He was led by the Spirit!  This is NOT something that is the work of the evil one - this process of following God is going to bear these same marks for each and every one of us - and for each group of people who call themselves HIS!

James 1 says it this way:
[Jas 1:2-4 ESV] 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Friends, this time that we are in - crunch time - isn't about money or provision, its about Presence and Obedience.

Why did a 27 day hike turn into a 40 year ordeal?   Because of DISOBEDIENCE.  Because of COMPLAINING.

Turn to Hebrews 4
[Heb 4:6-12 ESV] 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

We love to quote the 12th verse but forget the context in which it is spoken -  Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!

The primary evidence of hardened hearts is what comes out of our mouths!!
Are we going to gripe and complain or are we going to praise Him and trust in His provision?  It's a simple question that we often have to answer daily, weekly at least.

We talk alot about the Fire of the Holy Spirit here.  Let's not forget that one of the functions of the fire is to create a scene we see in Malachi 3
[Mal 3:1-4 ESV] 1 "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

And isn't it interesting that this is at the beginning of the chapter we all know so well about our own giving!  God wants pleasing offerings, even today.  And He is going to prove Himself faithful.  The question is will we?  Time and our obedience will tell.

Again it comes down to what I've been saying for almost a decade to us:   

Willingness
Availability
Obedience

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding!  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct
your paths.

So we are going to step up - to prayer;  step up - to worship Him;  step up to willingness, to availability to God and to obedience in what He is asking of us.  Every day.

We started today at 8 am with a season of prayer - that will continue week by week, as will a new time for praise and prayer together mid-week.   Padre Unplugged - 7 pm to 8:30 on Wed evenings beginning this Wednesday.

Make yourself available to God to worship him - to pray for His presence and to enter in - to begin to watch for His provision and to ask, "here am I.  Use me, Lord."


Let's pray together.

Lord Jesus Christ, we declare our trust in You as our Savior, our Healer, our Provider.  Keep us from thoughts which lead us into darkness and despair.  Help us to keep your face in the very front of our eyes.  Show us the miraculous provision You have planned.  Help us to walk in Your ways, to draw near to You, to resist the devil and to make him flee.  Give us your strength each morning, as you renew your mercy to us, morning by morning.  We cast our cares on you; let our minds and our hearts be steadfast in your praise.

In the Name of Jesus and for His glory we pray,
Amen.

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