“The Desert We Call Life”—Exodus 15:22-27

INTRODUCTION

 

One hundred miles north of El Paso is White Sands National Park. Everywhere you look, there are dunes of powdery white sand. When we climbed them, we left deep footprints like when you walk through deep snow—except that it was blazing hot! People bring sleds and slide down the dunes.

 

Imagine walking away from the tourist center without a bottle of water. White Sands isn’t that big, but one could easily get lost in the hilly stretches of blinding white sand. 

 

Just imagine: You wander around for hours before nightfall comes. The next day, you wander around again. You have no water. Your throat is parched. Your hair and skin feel like sandpaper. 

 

You are going to die if you don’t get water soon. You’ve been praying this whole time. Why isn’t God answering your cries for help? Can you trust Him to take care of you in the desert?

 

Life is hard. Sometimes it feels like we’re in the desert, without water, and God isn’t listening. How do we usually respond in those situations?

 

Turn to Exodus 15, as we look at a time that the Israelites were in a desert without water.

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Fathers: Be Like Your Heavenly Father—Ephesians 4:6

INTRODUCTION

 

A father and son went fishing one day. After a couple hours out in the boat, the boy suddenly became curious about the world around him. He asked his father, “How does this boat float?” The father thought for a moment, then replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

 

The boy returned to his contemplation, then turned back to his father, “How do fish breath underwater?” Once again the father replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

 

A little later the boy asked his father, “Why is the sky blue?” Again, the father replied. “Don’t rightly know, son.”

 

Worried he was going to annoy his father, he says, “Dad, do you mind my asking you all of these questions?” 

 

“Of course not son. If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never learn anything!” (https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/asking-questions-is-the-key-to-learning)

 

Father’s Day is the day that we show our appreciation to our fathers for all the things that they do for us and teach us (even when they don’t rightly know!).

 

[Take a moment to show appreciation to fathers by having the kids answer these questions:

 

  • My dad is so strong, he can lift a ________________.
  • My dad is really good at ________________.
  • If I had $1,000, I would buy my dad ________________.
  • I love my dad because ________________. (Gigi Smith)]

 

Fathers come in all shapes and sizes. Some, sadly, do not make the best of fatherhood. Most, I think, do the best they can and have a true and honest heart for their kids. They strive to be the one their kids can come to for anything from fixing a broken toy to fixing a broken relationship. 

 

A father is someone who needs to be strong, involved and intimate. That’s a big challenge! But we have a Heavenly Father who does the same for His children, so we have an example to look to. 

 

God the Father is powerful, involved, and intimate. To see this, look at Ephesians 4:6. One verse that we will unpack to see more of the character of God the Father.

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“The Way Love Should Be”—1 Corinthians 13:4-7

INTRODUCTION

 

What is the way love should be? What does real love look like? I know of a no more complete or more challenging definition of love than the one found in 1 Corinthians 13.

 

If you are reading the KJV, you might be a bit caught off guard by the use of “charity” instead of “love” here. Why did the translators choose that word instead of just saying, “love”? 

 

I think perhaps the reason was this: when we hear the word “love,” we tend to think of feelings. But when we hear the word, “charity,” we tend to think of doing something for someone. 

 

That’s a good thing to keep in mind as we talk about love. Love is more than a feeling. Love is first and foremost an action. That’s something that I hope you will see clearly as we work through this great description of love.

 

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)

 

There are fifteen descriptions of the way love should be in these verses. That’s a long sermon! I started thinking about how to deal with all those descriptions—nobody could remember every point of a fifteen point sermon—not even the preacher! 

 

So I wrote them down on a piece of paper and started looking at them and drawing lines all over the page. The more I looked something happened. 

 

Do you know what it means to render something down—like when you are cooking? You render the chicken fat down. Or, after carving the turkey, you take the rest of it and boil it in water to render it down to just the bone. 

 

Well, that’s what happened here. As I looked at these fifteen descriptions, they rendered down to three ways that our love should be like: Our love should be patient, humble, and kind. 

 

Now that is more memorable! We can remember that: patient, humble, and kind. Let’s work through the passage and I’ll show you how all fifteen descriptions of love rendered down to just three ways that our love should be: patient, humble, and kind.

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“How To Have Patience”—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

INTRODUCTION 

 

16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

 

The patience of many people is running thin these days. Between the social distancing restrictions of COVID-19, the racial tensions, and the rioting that is tearing up cities across America—patience is a virtue that is in short supply. Patience is something all of us desperately need.

 

I made a list of all the benefits of patience that  I could think of:

  • Patience keeps us from worrying.
  • Patience reduces stress.
  • Patience keeps us from being bitter.
  • Patience helps us to listen to other people more.
  • Patience helps us love each other.
  • Patience keeps us from rushing ahead of God’s plan.
  • Patience helps us sleep at night instead of fretting.
  • Patience helps us make better decisions.

Patience is a critical virtue. As Christians, patience is especially important because our Lord is so patient with us. 

 

There’s an ancient Jewish legend that Abraham once invited an old man into his tent for a meal. The old man refused to give thanks to God for the meal. Furious that the man would dishonor God, Abraham kicked him out.

 

Later God came to Abraham and asked about the old man. “Where is he?” “Well Lord, he did not respect You or give thanks to You, so I drove him away.” Sadly God replied, “I have patiently endured him for eight decades, and you could not spend one night with him?”

 

O Lord, give us Your patience with others! Do you remember the kid’s song about patience? 

 

Have patience, Have patience, 

Don’t be in such a hurry.  

When you get impatient 

You only start to worry.  

 

Remember, Remember, 

That God is patient too. 

And think of all times 

When others have to wait on you!

 

I think sometimes us adults need to go back and review those Sunday School songs that we hammered into the kids!

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It’s Hard To Be Humble—But We Should Keep Trying!—Selected Texts

Levi Durfey—LDM-Humility-It’s Hard To Be Humble—But We Should Keep Trying-20200531FBCAM-SERMON

 

INTRODUCTION

 

I read about a pastor who was voted the most humble pastor in America. His congregation gave him a medal that said, “To the most humble pastor in America.” But the very next Sunday they took it away from him because he wore it to church. It’s hard to be humble!

 

What does it mean to be humble? I asked my computer and it said, “the disposition of valuing or assessing oneself appropriately; especially in light of one’s sinfulness or creatureliness.” Don’t you love it when you have to look up the definition of a definition? 

 

Here’s a better definition: Chuck Swindoll told a story about some kids who built a clubhouse. They found some pallets and fit them together and borrowed a tarp from one of the Dad’s garage. Then they all got in it and had their first meeting. They decided that there would have to be rules. So they decided on three rules. First, nobody act big. Second, nobody act small. Third, everybody act medium. Ain’t that great! That’s a good definition of humility—act medium.

 

Humility is something that often escapes us humans. It’s hard to be humble. We never seem to get past thinking about ourselves. Even when we are in the depths of self-pity, feeling lower than a rattlesnake in a rut, we aren’t being humble. Self-pity is just another form of pride—“Woe is me, I am unloved” is the cry of a prideful person.

 

It’s hard to be humble, but we should keep trying! The Bible says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). It’s not something that we can ignore. God wants us to humble ourselves! 

 

I want to show you six ways that we can humble ourselves:

 

1) Practice Giving Thanks For Everything.

2) Confess Your Sins On A Regular Basis.

3) Treat Embarrassments As An Opportunity To Grow In Humility.

4) Listen To Others More Than You Talk.

5) Put Others Before Yourself.

6) Consider Often The Example Of Jesus.

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God’s Wondrous Love—Romans 5:6-8

INTRODUCTION

 

Memorial Day is primarily when we remember those soldiers who have fallen in service for our nation. There are at least two words that make up the actions that make Memorial Day: Love and sacrifice. A soldier’s love for their nation, family, and comrades; A soldier’s willingness to sacrifice themselves for their nation, family, and comrades.

 

Where does that willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of love come from? It points us to Someone greater than ourselves. We are all made in the image of God, and so His characteristics of love and sacrifice are in some measure passed on to us. Yes, God Himself, is a loving God who was willing  to sacrifice Himself for us.

 

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God  commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8)

 

In these verses we learn about the love of God, which is great and awesome. But we don’t appreciate much the love of God until we learn about…

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What True Repentance Looks Like—2 Chronicles 33:1-20

INTRODUCTION

 

King Manasseh is one of the most well-known kings of ancient Judah. We learn about him in two of the books of the Bible—2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33. If we only had the account in 2 Kings, we would be left with the impression that Manasseh was a wicked king all his life. And he was a wicked king for most of his life. 

 

But what we don’t find in 2 Kings 21, is that Manasseh repented (probably very late in his life) and came to know the Lord. It’s this account we will look at because it is so instructive in what it means to repent. 

 

In 2 Chronicles 33, we see Manasseh sinning and then we see Manasseh repenting.

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How Hannah Beat The Culture’s Expectations—1 Samuel 1

INTRODUCTION

 

Unfulfilled expectations are the cause of much sorrow and sadness. I was thinking about our son Noah recently and how the COVID-19 crisis ended our expectation of seeing him walk in a graduation at Bible college (which would have been May 2). It would have been a great moment in our lives, but it’s gone now.

 

As we think about mothers today, I wonder how many mothers have had unfulfilled expectations about motherhood. Maybe it’s harder than you thought it would be. 

 

The sleepless nights…the incessant demands of a baby…the challenge of older children not obeying. There are many ways that mothers could have expectations that aren’t fulfilled.

 

Motherhood itself is another expectation that, if unfulfilled, causes some women grief and sadness. Why hasn’t the Lord given me children? I am so ready! I would make a good mom!

 

That brings us to the account of Hannah—a barren woman who suffered great sadness. But she found fulfillment in the Lord. Turn to 1 Samuel 1.

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Trust The Lord On Your Path Through Life—Proverbs 3:5-6

INTRODUCTION 

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 is perhaps the most famous of the Proverbs. It has guided countless believers through countless trials and countless choices.

 

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5–6)

 

First, above all things, you are to…

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Jesus Is Great!—Colossians 1:14-17

INTRODUCTION 

 

I remember reading a story about a pastor who preached on Isaiah 6 and Isaiah’s vision of God in His throne—

 

1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory. (Isaiah 6:1–3)

 

The pastor decided that he would simply preach on the holiness and greatness of God. He would not give one word of application, just focus on displaying a great God as clearly as he could. He preached and the people accepted it as a fine sermon, but nothing unusual.

 

Many weeks later, a father came to him and told him that their child had been sexually abused by a close relative. 

 

The father said the past few months had been the hardest of his life. He said, “Do you know what has gotten me through? That vision of God’s greatness that you gave me back in January.”

 

Well, I am trying not to expect the same response from anyone about this message! At the same time, I feel driven to show you a picture of Jesus and His greatness—to help us in difficult times. To do that, we are going to look at Colossians 1:14-17.

 

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:14–17)

 

Jesus is great! Amen!

 

Why is Jesus great? Let me draw out five reasons from this text:

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