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Archive for the 'Sermons' Category

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Sermon - Method of Evangelism

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 18 But I ask: did they not hear? Of course they did:
‘Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.’

19 Again I ask: did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
‘I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.’

20 And Isaiah boldly says,
‘I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.’

21 But concerning Israel he says,
‘All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.’

(Romans 10:14-21)

Last week we learnt about the message and this week we will look at what we are to do with that message. But first another question.
What is God’s responsibility in salvation and who decides who is saved?

I will quote John Calvin here from his commentary on Romans: “I shall not engage you long in reciting and disproving the opinions of others. Let everyone have his own view; and let me be allowed to bring forward what I think.”

With that in mind, as you are probably aware, there is a question which has been debated for centuries: Who decides who is saved? Is it God’s overarching and sovereign will that decides which person will be saved? Is it God’s permissive will, which allows a person’s freedom of choice to be saved or not? As I said, it is a question been asked for centuries! Is it just a small group of people of elect: those who are saved by God and nobody can do anything about it – whether they want to be saved or not? Or is everyone eventually just going to be saved – whether they want to be or not?

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Sermon - Message of Evangelism

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: ‘The person who does these things will live by them.’ 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?”’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 ‘or “Who will descend into the deep?”’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Romans 10:1-13

In this part of Romans, from chapters 1 to 11, Paul has been drawing a word picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel which demonstrates that God gets his hands dirty. The Gospel, the Good News from God, which tells us that God has done all He could do, in order that all of humanity could be saved. The Gospel which claims all people can be in a living and dynamic relationship with God, if they choose to be so. All without favouritism. Paul then goes on to investigate in depth about this Gospel, the nation of Israel and the Gentiles. That is where we are in Romans 10 for the next two weeks. This week we are looking at the message of salvation. The who, what, why, where and wherefore. Next week we will look at what we are to do with that message of salvation.

Paul explains in his letter to the Church in Rome, that there cannot be salvation for anybody apart from the true salvation which is borne from faith in Jesus Christ alone, through the grace of God alone. That is our Gospel message, is it not? In chapters 9 to 11, Paul is elucidating that the Jewish people weren’t saved simply because they were Jewish. By no means, no! They were to be saved by faith, calling on God through their Messiah, the man of history known as Jesus Christ. That is what Abraham, Moses and all the Prophets down through the ages had told them to look for – a Messiah who was to come. But mostly those words had fallen on deaf ears and been ignored.

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Sermon - 1 Peter 1:3-9

1 Peter 1:3-9 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Introduction

Last week we looked at 1 Peter 1:1-2 & 2:11-12, under the title “Living in the face of alienation and its cure”. The Apostle Peter was writing to a group of people, followers of Jesus, spread throughout what we know as modern Turkey. These believing sojourners were undergoing trials, suffering & persecution. Peter instructs them toward Christian stability, and the proper expression of this stability and growth.

Throughout the letter, Peter stresses a hope so alive, so glorious and so very certain, that any persecution, trial and suffering can be endured. These people are sojourners or pilgrims on a spiritual journey! Last week we discovered that Peter reminds them of the God they worship and live for - a missional & relational God of salvation. A loving God who is Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father has chosen and is calling all people to Himself, out of amazing love for them. God the Holy Spirit sanctifies and cleanses to allow people to enter God’s holy presence through the obedient sacrifice of God the Son.

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Joy Gets Its Hands Dirty

Leviticus 18 & 19 & Mark 12:28-34

Introduction

Leviticus 18 & 19 is where the rubber hits the road. Leviticus moves on to the matter of wholeness of life and personal holiness. God gives to His people, Israel, some laws of how they were to live. Laws for such things as: food & diet, foreign nationals, justice, the poor, sex, social etiquette and tattoos. Sounds very relevant for us today in Boscombe, doesn’t it?
 
Let’s briefly take 2 examples. Firstly, concerning the laws regarding sexual activity. The other nations engaged in all these sexual activities as given in Leviticus 18, often as part of their religious devotion and worship but also as an abusive power. But Israel was not to be like that! Sexual activity was to be between one man and one woman within marriage. Tattoos. Look in Leviticus 19:28. Why are tattoos mentioned? Primarily because the other nations tattooed and cut themselves as signs of their devotion, worship and allegiance to their gods. That was their manner of “outward holiness” as it were. Hence their prohibition for Israel who were to be very different from the surrounding nations.
 

Israel were not to be like these other nations in any way, shape or form. Other cultures were not to be allowed to infiltrate them. Israel was to stand out as God’s light to the other nations. These laws were for Israel and also for all immigrants, foreign nationals and aliens who lived among them (Leviticus 18:26). In our second reading from Mark 12, we see that Jesus said that the whole of the Law, including these in our 2 chapters in Leviticus today, is summarised as “Love God and love all other people”.


From Mark 12, we see that Jesus said that the whole of the Law, including these in our 2 chapters in Leviticus today, is summarised as “Love God and love all other people”.
 
The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.(Leviticus 18:1-5)
 
1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
3 ‘“Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.
4 ‘“Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.
5 ‘“When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. 6 It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned. 7 If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. 8 Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the Lord; they must be cut off from their people.
9 ‘“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:1-10)
 
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’
29 ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” 31 The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’
32 ‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.(Mark 12:28-34)
 

Repeatedly in this book, God has said “Be holy, for I am holy”. But what is holiness? As we have glimpsed in the last 2 weeks, holiness is what separates God from all His creation. For God alone is holy and full of glory. Remember what Aaron had to do when entering the holy of holies on the day of Atonement? He had to create a wall of smoky incense, so that he wouldn’t glimpse God’s glory and holiness and be struck down dead, like his sons Nadab and Abihu. Holiness is in fact the sum of all God’s attributes. God is holiness and holiness is God.


Holiness is also a moral attribute of God, of His purity, and His freedom from the stain of ALL sin. There is an innate moral goodness about God – an absolute perfection which always seeks creation’s welfare. The goodness of God has several key aspects within His moral attributes. These include the following but they are not an exhaustive listing: Grace, holiness, patience, love, mercy, righteousness and truth. They are part of our God’s moral framework. Have you seen evidence of these in your own life?

Let’s keep having a look at our God. God says, for example, in Leviticus 19:2 “I…” That indicates that God is personal. This God is personal and there is an intimacy to be had with a personal God like this. No god of rock or wood like the surrounding polytheistic nations for Israel! Their God is one! God is a God who is personal, and must therefore be capable of having and sustaining relationships. A God who sustains relationships will also want to be known! We know that God is spirit, yet also a personal and infinite being (John 4:24). He is one in substance or nature and incapable of being divided. Even more, as we saw last week, God is love. Love is one of His key attributes. If God was only a single person, then how could love possibly be shown? Love requires more than one Person for Love to be active. If it is not active, then it cannot be love. How can we answer this seeming paradox?
 
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The Centrepiece of Joy

Leviticus 16:1-10 & Hebrews 10:1-10

Introduction

Today, we dip into Leviticus 16, which I think is the centre and pinnacle of this magnificent book of joy.
 
The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the Lord. 2 The Lord said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. (Leviticus 16:1-2)
 
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, my God.”’ 8 First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’– though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:5-10)
 
Leviticus 16 describes the Day of Atonement which was to occur annually on the 10th day of the 7th month. We know that God had chosen Israel to be His people and that they were supposed to be a shining beacon of light and hope to the world. As part of the covenant made with Moses, God said that He would be their God and they would be His people.
 
What a contrast to the nations around them that worshipped multiple ‘gods’, made of material such as wood or stone and often thirsty for human sacrifice. Contrast those ‘gods’, with the God of Israel, who had made himself personally present with His people in the Tent of Meeting or Tabernacle. Let’s look briefly at what went on at this Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur.
 
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Sermon - Joy and Judgement

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Joy and Judgement

Leviticus 9:22-10:3 & 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

Introduction

The first seven chapters of Leviticus talk about the different offerings or sacrifices that Israel was to make to God. Then in chapter 8 we see the beginning of the priesthood and the joyful work of Aaron and the priests. Their main role as Priests, was to act as mediators between a holy God and the people of Israel, particularly in the role of making those offerings and sacrifices. In fact, these Priests were the ultimate multi-taskers, as they seemed equally adept as butchers, doctors, teachers, quality assurors and public health inspectors! The passage we have in front of us today shows the culmination of this priestly ordination. Let us witness together a scene of great and exuberant joy!
 
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An Almighty God

of Almighty Love

Throughout the Bible, God is proclaimed as one! We hear the cry echoing throughout! This one God is also frequently called Almighty! How is He Almighty? God is Almighty, in that He is an Almighty God of Almighty Love. In the Bible, God’s love is revealed.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:16 We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Did you note that the Apostle John in does not simply say that God loves, but rather he writes “God is love.” There is s a difference! God is love and God loves because that is His very nature. We love God because He first loved us! Throughout the Bible, God’s love is described as an unfailing, everlasting, intimate, sacrificial, unbreakable, conquering, immeasurable and all-knowing. How is God’s love seen? Download the mp3 to find out more!

Reading 1 - Mark 12:28-31"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’"

Reading 2 – John 14:15-21- ‘If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’

Reading 3 – 1 John 4:13-20 - This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

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Sermon - Leviticus 16

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A God of Joy and His people

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Introduction

Book of Leviticus

Tonight, we look again in the book of Leviticus. Some of the words and phrases we commonly use come straight from the book of Leviticus. Words such as jubilee and scapegoat are commonly used today. And what husband hasn't offered a form of guilt offering to his wife!Leviticus does have important things to tell us about sin, obedience and holiness. Perhaps most importantly it tells of God dwelling with His people. So today we delve into Leviticus chapter 16, which is the centre and pinnacle of the book. So please do turn in your bibles to Leviticus 16.
 
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Sermon - A God of Wonder

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Sermon

A God of Wonder - Genesis 1:1-19 & John 1:1-14

We read Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”

This is that moment in time when God, who is outside of time and space, created the universe which is 90 billion light years across. Within this universe, He created galaxies, including our own, the Milky Way. Within the Milky Way, God created a Solar system which contains our Planet Earth. God created the planet Earth and placed it so that it would always be just the right distance away from the Sun in order to support life. Never too close and never too far away as the Earth orbits the Sun. Just right. Though I am sure there are some people here who think that in the past couple of weeks it has got a bit too close for comfort.

We see in this story from Genesis 1, that Almighty God created, hovered, separated, made, let be, gathered, called, saw, commanded, set, gave and blessed. He said let there be light, and there was! A great God of Wonder is He! Do you know this God?

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Sermon - Love in Practise

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Sermon

Romans 12 - Love in Practise

Paul is speaking a letter to the Church in Rome, those he calls “God's beloved”. He has not yet been to Rome and is currently in the great Greek city of Corinth, and it is about AD57-58. A man we know as Tertius is acting as his scribe and writing down what Paul is saying. Tertius would later go onto be a Bishop in Iconium.

So far in this letter, Romans 1 to 11, Paul has been drawing a word picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel which demonstrates that God gets his hands dirty. The Gospel which tells us that God has done all He could do, in order that humanity could be saved, be in a living and dynamic relationship with Him, if they choose to be so. Paul then goes on to investigate in depth about this Gospel, the nation of Israel and the Gentiles.

That is where we are up to with the passage before us, Romans 12. Now, just as Romans 1-11 shows us that God got his hands dirty, in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, so must all those who call themselves His followers and children. As we will hopefully see together, if you are a Christian, you also must put your faith into practice, exercising it as you do your muscles. If muscles aren’t exercised or used, they wither away. The same can be said concerning our faith. How we live our life as Christians, is to reflect the life and love of the God whom we declare openly that we follow and love.

This morning, we will look at this chapter before us in two sections. Firstly, in v1-8, then we will have a break for a song before concluding with our second section in v9-21

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Sermon

Matthew 28:18-20

 

Jesus is alive! My master Jesus is alive. I am much older now as I recall for you about this Jesus. I remember the day that He called me to follow him. I had heard about him of course. The religious leaders were talking about him, as were the general population. People coming to my tax booth to pay their taxes and telling me about this man, Jesus. Telling me how he was doing all sorts of wonders, miracles and healings. Then one day Jesus came to me! Me! Levi, the son of Alpheus. I was sitting in my booth collecting taxes and he called me personally to follow him. People despised me as a tax collector, looked down upon me, as they considered me as a collaborator with the occupying Roman force. Some of my fellow tax collectors even fleeced our unsuspecting “customers”. We had the authority to do so. Why not?

Then Jesus called me. Called me to follow Him, with an authority that was far greater than my own or any other authority I had experienced. Greater that the authority of the Roman Occupying Forces! Jesus saw potential in me and called me authoritatively to give up everything and follow him.

So, I got up and started following him. I stopped collecting taxes for the Romans and started my new life. And what is a new life without a party to celebrate! I held a great banquet at my house for Jesus, which of course, got right up the noses of the Pharisees. Jesus also changed my name from Levi to Matthew.

It is almost 3 years since that time. I and his other close disciples, have learnt from this Jesus. He encouraged, comforted, rebuked, challenged, guided and taught us. He loved us. We loved Him. We had placed our hope in Him as the long waited for Messiah who would kick out the Romans and lead Israel into a glorious future. The Messiah was ‘the expected one’, who would come and lead Israel out of their state of subjection to Rome and into the full enjoyment of their own land. How wrong we were though. We had placed our hope in Jesus Messiah. There was his joyful entry into that great city of Jerusalem – riding on a donkey and we celebrated Him as a triumphant King!

Then it all seemed to go wrong. After that joyful entry into Jerusalem, Jesus, our Master, was found guilty at a mockery of a trial and was crucified. He is dead. Even though he had told us that he would rise again from the dead, we didn’t believe it. But it is true! Now He is alive again! He really is alive again, you know! The religious authorities even tried to say that we had stolen the body from the tomb. How ridiculous.

These religious authorities bribed the Roman guards to say, “His disciples came in the night and stole the body while we were sleeping.” Of course, that is ridiculous – beyond ridiculous. They hadn’t really thought it through, had they? I mean can you spot the immediate logical inconsistency. If the guards were awake, why would they let us steal the body of Jesus? If the guards were asleep, how did they know for sure that it was us that stole the body?

We were cowering in fear that we would be next to die such a death. Some women were brave though and had gone to see his body for themselves. Some of us afterwards had gone back to the life we had before we met Jesus. Then we received some final words of command from Jesus before He ascended back to the Father. We were to keep following Him, make disciples of others, baptize them and teach them all that Jesus had taught us! WOW!

What an amazing opportunity given to us by God! Not to make mere converts, but lifelong disciples and followers. What a privilege and an honour. This collection of my memories about Jesus is complete now. I, Matthew, present Jesus to you, as the long waited for Messiah, predicted over the centuries gone by. I have also recorded here Israel’s attitude towards this Jesus as the Messiah. I, Matthew, started out giving you Jesus’ genealogy and proceeded to tell you about Jesus authority and authentication as the Messiah. I related to you about Israel's opposition to and rejection to Jesus being the Messiah. This caused Jesus to reject Israel due to her unbelief.

Now finally, I have recorded the death and resurrection of the Christ, with Jesus’ final command for us to go do as he did - make disciples where ever we go and whatever we are doing, baptizing them, teaching them and seeing that they also go and do the same. I love my Jesus and I know he loves me. Do you love Him? I can tell you, with undoubted assuredness and certainty that He loves you.

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Exodus 5-6

Obedience to God leads to Intimacy with God

I am an old man now as I continue telling you our story. The story of how God, our God, created the heavens and the earth. Created the billions of stars. Created the planets including our planet, Earth. The God of our father Abraham. God who called out Abraham and said that he was going to bless Abraham and made promises to him, with him and for him! Little old Abraham of the Chaldees! Our father, Abraham. The God who told Abraham specifically and with authority that:

  • Abraham would be the father of a great nation
  • Abraham would receive personal blessing
  • Abraham would receive personal honour and a grand status
  • Abraham would be a source of blessing to others.

Father Abraham had been called personally and explicitly – to follow God and allow God to be his God. God is continuing to raise that family, to raise that nation unto Himself. Centuries later, I, Moses have also been called by God. Personally, and explicitly. I have related that to you earlier in this book of Exodus. Of that family which God is raising, you and I, my friends, are of that family – the nation of Israel. The great God of Abraham and also of such amazing people, those wonderful servants of God, Jacob and Joseph.

I, am of that family. As a child, under threat of national male infanticide, I was placed by my parents into a basket, who proceeded to put it into reeds on the bank of the river Nile. There I was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter who took me back to the palace and gave me the name, Moses. When they decided I needed a nursemaid, they went out to find one for me. Do you know who the Egyptian princess unknowingly got for me? My own mother! WOW! God was taking care of me, even at that tender age. Isn’t our God amazing and almighty?

I have had many scraps and scrapes as you know from the beginning of this book. Yet, God has honoured me and called me. He spoke to me from a burning bush! Me! Moses! WOW! There are more adventures to come, through which you will hear about my life of following God and being a disciple of God. But for now let me continue our story of this book of Exodus, and tell you what happened when Aaron, my brother, and I, went to Pharaoh in obedience to a command from the Lord our God. We were commanded by God to tell Pharaoh, to let all the captive people of Israel, the chosen people of God, to go. Where were we to go and why? We were to go on a 3 day journey, in order to host a festival in the wilderness where the Lord our God would be worshipped with sacrifice. An Almighty God being worshipped by His peculiar people, His special nation. Where God would be honoured, glorified and lifted up by His people in sacrificial worship. As commanded by our God, we went to Pharaoh and made the request. just as our God had said to do. How did Pharaoh react?

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