Then and Now – October 18, 2020

Then and Now – October 18, 2020

Dr. Alex Shawn Preaching

Scripture: Numbers 14: 1-11

Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? (Numbers 14:1-11)

With the law given (and re-given) at Sinai, God instructed Moses to lead the people toward the Promised Land. As they got close, Moses sent out 12 spies, one from each tribe, to scout the land. After all, none of them had ever been there. They reported that yes, it was a good, fruitful land. But 10 of the 12 spies were also gripped by fear, and said they didn’t dare try to take the land. They seemed to utterly forget that God’s power, not their own, had brought them this far. The trek in the wilderness was important for the development of Israel. Where do we find ourselves in our own trek, and what is our response?

Living In a Tent – October 11, 2020

Scripture: Exodus 25:1, 8-9, Exodus 29:42-46

And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)

The Exodus was so sudden. Practically overnight, the Israelites went from being slaves, struggling to survive making bricks without any straw provided for them to use, to being a free people, but out in a desert they had never lived in. Leaving an Egypt that worshiped frogs, cows, a river and the sun (among other “gods”), the Israelites had a lot to learn about Yahweh, the awe-inspiring LORD who had freed them. And God commanded Moses, “Build me a sanctuary”—a visible symbol that God was in their midst. What are the visible symbols that are important to us? What do we use to maintain a sense of God’s spiritual presence with us?

God’s Top Ten – October 4, 2020

God’s Top Ten – October 4, 2020

Scripture: Exodus 20: 1-20

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:1-2)

After the shocking destruction of Pharaoh’s army, Egypt was definitively part of Israel’s past.Through Moses and the pillar of smoke and fire, God led the newly freed people to Mount Sinai. They knew who they weren’t: slaves to Egypt. Now God began the process of helping them understand who they were. As they reached Sinai, God gave them this divine purpose statement: “You will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation.” How does Israel’s identity affect us in the 21st century?


Remembering – September 27, 2020

Scripture: Exodus: 17: 1-7

He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)

The people of Israel had an over-arching tendency to forget their blessings when they were confronted with hardship. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” They questioned Moses’ leadership over and over again, as well as God’s presence on an almost daily basis. In what ways do we question God’s presence in our midst? What is the role of a leader in engaging God’s presence?

The Exodus: Passover, Pillar of Fire, and Pharaoh’s Pursuit – September 20, 2020

The Exodus: Passover, Pillar of Fire, and Pharaoh’s Pursuit – September 20, 2020

Scripture: Exodus 14: 19-31

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:30-31)

Highlights of the Exodus, beginning with the Passover, guided by the pillar of fire and culminating in the victory at the Reed Sea, set the stage for Israel’s history, including their propensity to complain, and God’s way of responding to those complaints. What does our march into the Promised Land today look like?

What Do You Say to a Burning Bush? – September 13, 2020

Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15

When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” (Exodus 3:4-6)

Moses’ call began with curiosity and his initial conversation with God included exploration, fear, confusion, questions, and more as he began to sense the identity of the presence in the burning bush. What do we say when the burning bush speaks to us?

A Fearful Pharaoh vs. A Quartet of Courageous Women – September 6, 2020

A Fearful Pharaoh vs. A Quartet of Courageous Women – September 6, 2020

Scripture: Exodus 1: 8-2:10  Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

Synopsis: The story of the Exodus begins with fear…fear of a numerous people by a new king who arose over Egypt, who worried that they would become more powerful than the Egyptians, and who put in place ways to oppress and enslave them. Four women defied the orders of the king in different ways: the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, the Levite Woman, and the daughter of Pharaoh. Moses was born in a time of fear, but the women who surrounded him showed a way of dealing with the oppressive nature of power. How do we apply their courage to our time today?

The With-God Life of the Kingdom of Heaven – August 30, 2020

Scripture: Matthew 16: 21-28 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. (Matthew 16:24-25)

Once we know who Jesus is, and the difference he makes in our lives, Jesus is free to share more deeply what living a with-God life is truly like. There is a depth that comes from understanding suffering and denial on the way to eternal life, if we will open our hearts to that way, instead of denying any good in it. In this way, we will experience God’s kingdom on earth   . . . just as it is in heaven.

Just Who Is this Jesus? – August 30, 2020

Scripture: Matthew 16: 13-20

He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16)

Peter is the first to declare Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah and his declaration becomes the rock upon which the church itself is built. Who do we say Jesus is? And why does that make a difference? Take a look at 6 different ways of experiencing Jesus that are common to most of us.

When Rules Don’t Help – August 16, 2020

Scripture: Matthew 15: 6-20 

So you do away with God’s Law for the sake of the rules that have been handed down to you. Hypocrites! Isaiah really knew what he was talking about when he prophesied about you, This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. Their worship of me is empty since they teach instructions that are human rules.” (Matthew 15:6-9)

When human instructions take over in our faith journey, and they don’t follow God’s commandment to love, we are displeasing to God. Learning to discern when we are following humans rather than God is an important part of our faith journey- and often leads us into paths that are rather dangerous and unpopular.