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Time-Out Part Two- The Testing Sunday, October 01, 2017 - 9 AM

Time-Out !  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  12:32
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Time-Out Part 2 – The Testing – Exodus 17:1-7 Bascomb UMC / October 1, 2017 / 9 AM Focus: A God that provides and supports us working for the kingdom. Function: To challenge the congregation to test God when it comes to risking our resources for the sake of the kingdom. 5 Purpose Outcomes of the Church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Evangelism, Service Exodus 17:1–7 (CEB) 1 The whole Israelite community broke camp and set out from the Sin desert to continue their journey, as the LORD commanded. They set up their camp at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people argued with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why are you arguing with me? Why are you testing the LORD?” 3 But the people were very thirsty for water there, and they complained to Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What should I do with this people? They are getting ready to stone me.” 5 The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of Israel’s elders with you. Take in your hand the shepherd’s rod that you used to strike the Nile River, and go. 6 I’ll be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Hit the rock. Water will come out of it, and the people will be able to drink.” Moses did so while Israel’s elders watched. 7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites argued with and tested the LORD, asking, “Is the LORD really with us or not?” “Is the Lord with Us or NOT? That’s a big question to ask. Last week the Hebrews were fussing about bread and meat. The God who provides “tested” the Hebrews by asking them to only collect “their daily bread” and trust God for the needs of each day. The text last week challenged us to live grateful lives – in good times AND in bad times. That reminds me of the author A. J. Jacobs. He gets immersed in his book topics and he said in a Ted Talk: “…the most profound and life-changing experiment that I've done is my most recent experiment, where I spent a year trying to follow all of the rules of the Bible, The Year of Living Biblically. …. “I grew up with no religion at all. As I say in my book, I'm Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is Italian. So, not very. But I've become increasingly interested in religion. I do think it's the defining issue of our time, or one of the main ones. …. [One] lesson [he learned in this process] is “thou shalt give thanks.” And this one was a big lesson because I was praying, giving these prayers of thanksgiving, which was odd for an agnostic. But I was saying thanks all the time, every day, and I started to change my perspective. And I started to realize the hundreds of little things that go right every day, that I didn't even notice, that I took for granted, as opposed to focusing on the three or four that went wrong. So, this is actually a key to happiness for me, is to just remember when I [drove my car] over here, the car didn't flip over, and I didn't trip coming up the stairs. It's a remarkable thing.” And at least, by the end of the process, he says he “became a reverent agnostic.” When the Hebrews have what they need and want, they believe God is with them. In times of hunger, thirst, and affliction, they decide they are abandoned or betrayed. Worse, they wonder if God has ever traveled with them. So, if we are tested – in good times or in bad times – let us learn from the Hebrews’ lack of faith to be faithful because we exercise our faith daily! Today’s text has the Hebrews facing another test. You see, humans can go for over three weeks without food; water is a different matter. At least 60% of the adult body is made of water and every living cell in the body needs it to keep functioning. Water acts as a lubricant for our joints, regulates our body temperature through sweating and respiration, and helps to flush waste. The maximum time an individual can go without water seems to be a week — an estimate that would certainly be shorter in difficult conditions, like the broiling heat of a desert. Now they are really in for a test! “Is the Lord really with us or not?” This event happened at: “…Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites argued with and tested the LORD” Exodus 17:7a. The place was named after the event – the Hebrews are testing the LORD. I thought we were not supposed to text God? Well, yes and no. Testing here might be understood as aggravating, they were getting on God’s last nerve! Robert Frost looked at his face in the mirror and prayed: "Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I'll forgive Thy great big joke on me." We are never satisfied with God’s way of doing things. The Hebrews were in opposition to God’s minister, showing distrust of God’s care, revealing an indifference to God’s kindness. They did not believe from one day to the next in God’s providence, so YES, they were trying God’s patience. A little girl asked her mother, how people came to be and the mother told her that God made started with Adam and Eve. "But Daddy said we evolved from monkeys.” "Yes, dear, I was telling you about my side of the family and your father was telling you about his." In the text today, I don’t think God was proud to claim us! Later in Deuteronomy it is recorded: 16 Don’t test the Lord your God the way you frustrated him at Massah. Deuteronomy 6:16 (CEB) Doubt can also cause us to test God. Our Confirm class reconstructed the entire OT story this week. The early, simply government of Israel used Judges (not exactly like the one elected in Alabama) to be leaders from time to time. God used Gideon as a proof that God could take any pitiful excuse for a human being and do great things by using that person. God called Gideon while he was hiding in a threshing room. And then the little coward demanded a sign from God – three times Gideon tested God with a fleece twice and once with a Bar B Q. He was stalling, doubting, hedging his bets. Jesus was tempted to test the Heavenly Father when He was with Satan in the desert: 5 the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, 6 “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.” 7 Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.” Matthew 4:5-7 (CEB) But when we hear the prophet Malachi we get permission to text God: Bring the whole tenth-part [the tithe] to the storage house so there might be food in my house. Please test me in this, says the Lord of heavenly forces. See whether I do not open all the windows of the heavens for you and empty out a blessing until there is enough. Malachi 3:10 (CEB) The Israelites at Massah tested God because they lacked faith. The Israelites in Malachi’s day were invited to test God because they had faith. We can test God in the exercising of our faith. If you are ready to step out, to risk something for the sake of God’s kingdom? Then God says “test me – try me” and watch what I do! “I dare you to trust Me by giving to My kingdom as you should. Go ahead, jump, and see if I don’t catch you and hold you up.” Oscar had been engaged for four years, but could not bring himself to take the leap of faith and set the date. So he went walking in the park to clear his head and think. He looked up and saw squirrels leaping from one tree to another. One particular squirrel seemed to be aiming at a branch so high that the jump looked like suicide. Sure enough, he missed that branch, but landed safely on a lower branch, and then made his way up the tree. An old man sitting on the bench noticed Oscar. He said, “Funny, I’ve seen hundreds of ’em jump like that, especially when there are dogs around and they can’t come down to the ground. A lot of ’em miss, but I’ve never seen any hurt in trying.” He chuckled and said: “I guess they’ve got to risk it if they don’t want to spend their lives in one tree.” Oscar thought, “A squirrel takes a chance—do I have less nerve than a squirrel?” It’s a risk to love, to join a family like Bascomb, to trust God with your finances, and you may have to get in the water up to your neck before God acts! But remember, when it comes to things of the kingdom, God says “test me and see!” Let us pray. Page 5 of 5
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