LFM – 2019 March 3: The Word to remove Bitterness in life. FAITH?? Jehova Rapha. Offering my Isaac. Blessings as Idols!? Seeking the crown without the cross?

LFM – Sunday 3 March

Exodus 15:22-27 – Bitter waters of Marah

  • Walking in the desert 3 days and finding an oasis with bitter water
  • People complain to the leader about thirst ( Hunger & thirst – Psalm 107:5)
  • The leader, Moses, cries out to God
  • Moses shown a piece of wood to throw into the water and makes it sweet
  • At times we are walking in salvation but where we  fellowship may lack the presence or movement of the Spirit of God – Rivers of Living water.
  • May also apply to …
  • …marriage, children, work – initially very exciting as God’s answer to our prayer
  • … but we may still have a wilderness experience if not walking with God in it
  • … no guidance of the Spirit – bitter water not Living sweet water
  • Eventually anxiety & frustration may develop in the congregation as the thirsty & dead things in one begin to weigh people down –
  • …we experience bitterness in the marriage, work, children…
  • We may start complaining to the leadership – the pastor, parent, husband, boss
  • The leader cries out to God on behalf of the people
  • God redirects them back to the Cross (piece of wood)
  • … A wise leader uses the wisdom of God in a situation to bring back the sweetness (of God) into it.
Power of the Cross & Resurrection Power
  • ….to kill that which is not of God in our lives,
  • ….to bring to life that which is of God in our lives.
  • … brings back the sweetness of life in the situation according to the divine blueprint of the creator. – marriage, child, work
Applying the power of the cross to my marah…!!!
A standard test of faithfulness was set that day.
  • Listen carefully to His voice
  • Do what is right in His sight
  • Obey His commands
  • Keeping all His decrees
  • Seeking, Listening to and obeying / following both the Spoken & Written ( Logos & Rhema) Word
  • …is the test of faithfulness – we believe & seek His ways – with sweetness at the end always
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)
  • And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

God does not respond to our need

God responds to / is moved by our faith

  • God uses our faith as a stepping stone / landing ground / the vessel for which He can release His blessings upon our lives
  • God meets us at the level of our faith
  • 2 Kings 4:1-7  – The widow was asked to bring as many jars as she could for it to be filled with oil, and the provision stopped when there were no more jars to fill.

What is the level of my faith?

  • Do I have enough faith (jars) for God to use to provide for me?
  • God therefore needs our faith to act on
  • …God responds / rewards those that seek Him in sincere faith
  • After all, God already knows our every need even better than us, but is looking for our faith to act / step / move on.

Faith is the key that opens up the blessings that God has already availed to us in Christ.

  • We are to use that key and open up / release the blessings that has already been provided for
  • Like the woman with the issue of blood – Luke 8
  • …she just needed to stand on the Word of God (Malachi 4:2), act in pleasing faith and healing was automatic – even without Jesus’ consent??
The Lord will not make one suffer the diseases of Egypt
  • What are the diseases of Egypt??
If not faithful to the Lord / His Word
  • We cannot be whole –
  • Will not be ‘at ease’ in any situation that God is not in
For He is Jehovah Rapha – the God that heals / makes whole
God requires complete obedience for His Word to take full effect in our lives
Just one word from the Lord can dramatically change our situation
1 Peter 5: 6-11 (NLT)
  • 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
  • 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers[b] all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
  • 10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.
  The sweetness of a blessing manifests through
…utamu  wa baraka…
  • recognizing God in it – tambua
  • walking with God through it – tembea
  • …and thanking God for it – shukuru
  • Even when a blessing comes from God, we still need to recognize & walk with the spirit of God through it, for us to eventually taste the sweetness of it
  • …Spouse, child, work…
  • 10 lepers, 1 returns in thanksgiving and is blessed more – Luke 17
Main Service

Genesis 22:1-14 – Offering up my Isaac – A Test of Faith(full-ness)

Am I full of faith in God & His Word?
Have I accepted  (willing  ) to Carry the Word of God – Carrying Jesus – Carrying my cross??
  • Am I willing to carry any Word from the Lord?
  • …Or do I listen to choose instead of listen to obey?
  • Faith is… the substance of what I hope for,  the evidence of the things unseen – Hebrews 11:1 
  • This trust in God will please Him, as it shows that I believe that He exists and that in the end of it all, after total obedience, I expect that He shall indeed reward me for  sincerely seeking / following / obeying Him. – Hebrews 11:6
  • … and that in all things,  God’s plans for me are always for my good and not my bad, too give me a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
What do I do with  – How do I handle – How do I treat – a Word from the Lord?
  • Do I apply faith to it? …believe with positive expectations – Hebrews 11:6
  • Do I test it by returning it / carrying it back to Him in faith – Malachi 3:10
  • …His Word does not return to Him void but goes forth to accomplish that which He pleases and He prospers it where He has sent it…. – Isaiah 55:11
  • Since it is up the mountain, some effort may be required
  • …His yoke is easy, His burden light – Matthew 11:30
Taking what I love to God as a sacrifice – ( the mountain to sacrifice)
  • May be as simple as seeking God’s opinion about the everyday issues in my life…child, spouse, work, business…
    • The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives…Psalm 37:23 (NLT)
  • Called a sacrifice because I am willing to let go of my rights on the issue.
Following the direction of God for the sacrifice that He requires of me
  • Doing it God’s way not my way
  • Doing exactly as God suggests on the issue
  • …even if I don’t understand it, even if it doesn’t make sense to me
Do I have an issue…
… Like Naaman? – wanting to follow God so long as it my way
… Like Gehazi? – following my way and making it look like God’s way.
It’s between me & God – leaving out unnecessary people & baggage
  • Not looking for people to hide behind or other excuses in order to ignore what God has said – Abraham did not tell his wife
  • Leaving out potential discourage-rs
Not allowing another voice to supersede God’s voice on the issue
  • Indeed, putting God’s voice first on the issue
  • Those who receive prophetic instructions hold the key to breakthrough
  • …there are those to cheer lead / sheherekea  & those that are to carry the cross
Always making the situation look positive for others…
  • Abraham told the servants that they shall be back
  • And not looking for sympathy from the world / man
  • …but looking to gain the heavenly reward – Matthew 6
  • – Requires Knowing, Understanding & Trusting God
God Himself will provide / God will provide Himself a Lamb
  • God is a God of addition & multiplication …not subtraction & division
  • God will make a way where there seems to be no way
  • Therefore I need to commit everything I do to the lord, trust Him and He will help me –  Psalm 37:5
  • For the Lord will not burden me with more than I can handle or offering me a way out – 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • His Word does not return to Him void but goes forth to accomplish that which He pleases and He prospers it where He has sent it…. – Isaiah 55:11
Abraham had to be able to hear clearly and act immediately & decisively to the Voice / Word of God.
  • ..as he lifted the knife to sacrifice Isaac, He heard God’s voice & acted decisively
  • Man should not live on bread alone,  the written or recorded Word, but should seek to hear every Word from the mouth of God. ..Deuteronomy 8:3
There is a now Word ( Rhema Word ) from God that can change our destiny
  • Need to be keen to be able to discern it, especially at the point of distress ..
  • The Word may come when we have lifted up the sword ( like Abraham) to perform God’s Word…
  • … Sword / S-Word / Spiritual Word – Lifting up the Word of God to perform it
  • … when we have reached the end of ourselves, with no option left but God,
  • … when we have no plan B to fall on
  • … basically when our faith has been truly tested.
God likes to show His power when we are weak,
  • …not when we think we can
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
  • Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
  • For God is a jealous God and will not share His glory with another…( Exodus 34:14, Isaiah 42:8)
The question again…
Am I willing to offer up my Isaac?
…am I willing to put all things below God, put God first / above all things in my life…
  • That hard earned money that I work day and night for…
  • That job that I have been studying, hoping & working hard for…
  • That spouse / family that I have waited, prayed & fasted for…for such a long time…
  • Whatever it is that I hold dear in my life for one reason or another, whether  it has taken me a lot of time, money, sacrifice to get and I finally got it…
Have I converted any of the blessings of the Lord into an idol in my life?…such as
  • Because of the job, I am now too busy to go to pray, fellowship, and even work more on Sunday…
  • Because I am now married, there is no more need to pray as I use to…
  • Because I now have money, there is no need to humble myself and treat people nicely…in fact I am now proud and arrogant, wondering why others are poor and can work as hard as I do to make money…
  • Because I have now been elected to a position of power, I now look down on people
What is it, that when it comes into my life, makes me change for the worse, especially my treatment of others and loving God – against the greatest commandment of loving God and man?
  • Would my wife pray that I win the lottery or not?
  • …or will it throw me into a midlife crisis! ( love goes out the window)
  • Would my husband be comfortable with me earning more money than him?
  • …or would I use my new found economic power to right all the real, perceived or imagined wrongs man has done against woman, starting with my husband! ( respect / honour goes out the window)

A test of faith is a test of what is really in our hearts?

Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NLT)
  • “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
  • To see if I am ready to be raised to the next level by the Lord
  • …able to handle the meat from the milk – 1 Corinthians 3:2
What is really in my heart?
Is my situation / character / personality currently suppressed due to lack of
  • …money, work, property, assets
  • …power, status, position, academic qualifications
  • …a spouse, children
That when these things came into my life I will display the fruits that are not of the spirit
  • …pride, anger, envy , greed, gluttony, lust, laziness, bitterness, unforgiveness and so on…
  • …such that I start looking down upon others, despising, talking bad just because of a change of money, power or marital status!!
  • …but before I was seemingly humble, meek, patient, kind, gently, self controlled
…Is that possibly why I am currently  not being blessed by the Lord
  • The blessings of the Lord enriches &  addeth no sorrow…Proverbs 10:22
  • …but some of us can’t handle the blessings that God would pour out on to us
  • …and it would in fact cause us more harm than good
  • …like thinking you love your teenage child who is fond of partying & drinking and buying them a Porsche to be driving to the club!
Interestingly, some blessings just bring out what was truly in my heart, hidden because there was nothing to bring it out.
  • Give someone money / power / status and you will find their true nature
  • …Sarah’s concubine when she got a child from Abraham.
  • Possibly why David, with money & power, still prayed…create in me a clean heart & renew a steadfast spirit within me –
  • As the heart of man is desperately wicked, no one can know but the Lord –
The question again!!!
Am I ready to…
  • Give up my Isaac – that which I dearly love
  • Carry the Word of God and putting no other above it  – either from family, relatives or friends, worldly wisdom above God’s wisdom
  • Carry my cross ???
  • …Ready to carry Christ ( e.g. His Word with no compromise in a situation)- inclusive of His yoke & burden?
  • …or only seeking the crown but without the cross?
  • … only seeking the honey and not the locusts ( John the Baptist)
  • Sacrifice – Ready to put God’s interests above my own interests?
  • …Indeed ready to make God’s business my business so that my business is all about God’s business!?
Concluding Prayer taken from…
1 Timothy 1:12 (NLT)
  • I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
Ephesians 3:16 (NLT)
  • I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Philippians 4:13 (NLT)
  • For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)
  • Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
  • For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Colossians 1:9-12 (NLT)
  • So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.
  • Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
  • We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,
  • always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

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