“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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