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Exodus overview 5 – Pilgrim’s desert journey opening highways for the need for blueprint, cries to the Lord and humility in fellowship

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(Elderly ministry 5 Feb 2010)

Keywords: need brethren-living for gaining own inheritance, rely on pulpit to confirm, why bless people with evidences – so that their spirit will be convinced and be healed – intercession needed, more important is the vessel of our life to broaden so that God’s word can be contained – whether blessings for promise or lessons from discipline, need process and journey to be tested to know that we are actually not that strong after all, practicality needed in the pilgrim journey – so we even treat (test and approve) "wisdom in the world that we think may not be holy" as God’s voice and this will add up to pastoral wisdom from above

Opening words

We have problems that make us so scared, whether God will take away our lives soon. Yet, we can now hear the voice of God. In the past, we forget about our problems (finance, body illnesses, and children) and only focus on the Lord. Yet, the Lord wants us to face them in our spirit this very year.

Let us read a verse before we start:

<Ex 15:25-26> There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."

Take this verse back to you (Aunt Xie) today! May the Lord comfort you of the pilgrim journey!

4. The Israel in the Wilderness (Chapter 16-18) = Christian Living Pilgrim’s Journey

1) Direction: The Land of Covenant (Land of Canaan) = Kingdom, Eternity = Glorify God, Benefit People, Build Kingdom

<Ex 16:35> The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

-> Direction: towards land of covenant = land of Canaan = kingdom and eternity must be correct first. A lot of saints misunderstood that this is to be told later after sanctification, but how can the people of God be protected without having direction told to them first? This is not being hard, but this is the love of God.

<Ex 16:3> The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

<Is 62:10> Pass through, pass through the gates!

Prepare the way for the people.

Build up, build up the highway!

Remove the stones.

Raise a banner for the nations.

-> Highway to build up so that we will not waste emotions and time, waste problems, work because of having no choice (slave), waste the wisdom on the use of money (finance perspective), etc

Reason? What is the meaning for needing to go through the process – the pilgrim’s journey?

What God really wants is healing <Ex 15:26> He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."

<Ex 16:4> Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.

– What is the healing God wants? In one short sentence = to know Emmanuel

<Ex 16:6-7> So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?"

<Ex 16:12> "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’ "

– Direction is needed to keep the blueprint in sight

<Ex 16:29> Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out."

-> We do not keep the Sabbath as a ritual, or since we are already believers. We keep the Sabbath so that we will rest, ponder and confirm on 4 gospelizations and Emmanuel – the background, conditions, situations we are in, and the teachings through the process, and the accomplishments and fulfillment God is doing.

2) Method (God-driven) = Test, approve and believe to follow: Desert, extreme hotness and coldness, pathless → Pillar of cloud, Pillar of fire, Ark of the Covenant = The Word of God, the Covenant of Christ, Holy Spirit = (Jn 14:16-26)

Therefore, there is a method on walking the pilgrim’s journey, and this is the method of God-driven.

<Ex 15:25> Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him…

<Ex 16:4> Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you…

<Ex 16:11> The LORD said to Moses, "I have heard…

<Ex 16:28> Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?

<Ex 16:34> As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna in front of the Testimony

<Ex 17:4> Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people?…

<Ex 17:5> The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people.

<Ex 17:14> Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it…

=> <Ex 17: 15> Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. = Test, approve and believe to follow

(When I cry to the Lord, the Lord shows me. When I do not have enough, God rained down blessings and provisions to me. If I kept complaining to the air, God will tell me that He has already heard. If I kept only doing the same things again and again, God will tell me that I have a stubborn refusal heart, and discipline me to tell me to turn around. And God tells me to keep the promise as a fixed perspective, in a precious jewel box for me to open up daily. When the people around me – small group members or family members or colleagues – do not listen to me, God tells me to go ahead first, then they will know that there is a prophet among them. Finally, He tells me to write everything down as they are precious testimonies, to be remembered, so that later generations like Joshua can rise up.)

In our walk with God, we may encounter

(1) having insufficient conditions – desert <15:22>

(2) people not heeding us or we continuing the burdensome walk that seems to tire us down – extreme hotness and coldness <16:14,21>

(3) not successful yet – no paths in sight <15:22>

Actually, that is not the problem. Our actual problems are having no hope and assurance that God is for us. We only need to follow the pillar of cloud, pillar of fire and the Ark of the Covenant and we can travel in our problems. It is not also about solving our problems as we have no choice to go ahead. When the word of God, the covenant of Christ and the Holy Spirit comes to us, we will see living evidences that God is with us when we searched out the perfect will of God in our conditions. In fact, all our little details in our living are evidences of Him with us, if only we know how to seek for something higher (from the throne of God), and deeper (in the depths of our spirit = Most Holy Place).

Everyone in the world is in this state of always feeling pitiful about self and wanting stimulations from experiences, emotions, and successes. Yet, when I realize that God is in me, I begin to see that whatever I am going through cannot be normal. God has a loving sweet voice in them.

I was in a course these few days. I do not really understand what the course is talking about as they are quite technical. For me, I cannot understand people just speaking a new language, or having some wisdom that seems so far away. This is because it either comes into me to be discouraged and give up, or comes into me to give me motivation to learn more. This is all because I have lack of knowing how to learn from them. However, when I understood my role that God has given in my company, which is only to guide people towards Christ, I begin to have rest. If I fail, I listen to God’s voice telling me to fail, and God will show me. If I do not have enough, God will provide for me on time. (This is why even though I have a habit of being late, I still pray to God to restore punctuality in me. I would like to be earlier, because I would love to see God preparing gifts for me before He really gives those gifts to me.)

Then we will be happy, feel tidy and have a clean heart where no arrows from Satan can enter.

3) Provision: Waterless, Foodless, Meatless → Sweet water, Manna, Quail = Daily Bread (5 powers) (Mt 6:11, 19-34) = The healthiness of Body, Mind and Soul (15:26)

<Ex 15:23> When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.)

<Ex 15:25> Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

<Ex 16:3> The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

<Ex 16:13> That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.

The answers that we hear in prayers are already the best provisions. If we see answers already in prayers, we will see fulfillments materializing after we pray. As Elderly intercessory ministers, we must see fulfillments manifested if we really have seen victory in prayers.

<Mt 6:19-34> says that the flower of the field and birds of the air are taken care by God. How much more would God lavish His care and concern for us? Our problems are a stubborn heart not to ponder and be glad that God has already given us enough. That is a "feeling" problem. All men have left God so that we have this problem. The desert in the wilderness is waterless, foodless and meatless. However, God provides water that is sweet and tasteful, manna as food and even quail as meat for Israel. They are more than what we actually need.

I have a colleague who has a second branded notebook at home, has an iPhone that is better than mine, has a good SLR digital camera, has gone from ITE to Polytechnic, even becoming a source of help to fellow students, and now is reading a degree, and with a pay that is higher than all his peers. Yet, he felt very poor in his heart, and calls himself a fool. (Aunt Xie really thought that I was making this up. Pray for this colleague of mine.)

Do we need even meat? Some things are even given to us as a bonus. We only need 2 bowls of rice, 2 sets of clothes and a roof under our head. But we are getting so much already and yet we think that we are poor. God is already with us and we think that He is unfair in our hearts, even though we do not speak it out. He gave us love to be able to love others, but we are sad because people do not respond to our love when we do much for them.

This is what the bible says as the problem of the spirit, <Genesis 3> problem, where men have been separated from God, been in their own flesh and sins, and being controlled by their own thoughts of poverty. God always gives us more than what we need, so that our cup overflows, and this is the era of grace after Jesus Christ ascended to heaven. Yet, we are only thankful to God because He meets our needs timely.

If man knows about this answer, he would stand up and ask for justice to be made. He would know that God already settles his material necessities. He would only need to pray for daily bread from God. This is mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer <Mt 6:11>, asking only for the 5 powers – spiritual, wisdom, health and strength of the body, financial power, and manpower. We do not tell God how great the problem is, but we tell the personality of the problem (Satan) how great God is. We pray to God not for things and providence, but we ask God how to see that He has already provided. Touch God’s heart, because He is a God of love.

If we only receive the spiritual power, we would get the healthiness of the Body, Mind and Soul <15:26>. What is true healing? This week, the pulpit messages tell us to seek for Emmanuel evidences of the 10 healing messages: body, living, finance, spouse, children, etc. Have we been healed in the body? I see some people smoking but never die early, and I also see healthy people dying early. If our body and finance is used as a vessel for God’s kingdom, surely they are already healed. We must receive such a power in prayers. Prayers like a struggle are not prayers. Then our families, spouse and children will see accomplishments and continual fruits in union with the powers we experienced in intercession.

4) Victory: Amalekites, Enemies → Prayer, Triumph (Eph 6:10-18)

<Ex 17:11> As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

Moses prayed, and God opened every doors. From shortage to satisfaction, from hope to answers, from enemies to victories, God made Israel have victory everywhere they go. Shall we only receive setbacks when we receive another discouragement? If God is already shown alive, then we when we move in our daily living, God’s perfect will is that His people only lift up His Banner, "God is already victorious before I start battling." Jesus Christ Himself said the same thing, "There are sufferings in the world, but I have already overcome the world."

Jesus Christ is not dead like Catholics do when they draw the cross with Jesus always suffering on the cross. He have already sat on the throne. Israel even had victory over Amalekites, a tall and strongly built race, and won over other enemies.

In <Eph 6:10-19> The triumphs are through prayers. Moses lifted up his hands to pray for God to fight for Israel. As long as Moses held his hands up, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning <17:11>.

This is why I do not find it a chore or duty anymore in the morning. This week, I need to reach office 8:30am and 9:30am. I already find myself unable to wake up later and liking more sleep. I will just wake up 2 hours before I reach office because I will need 1.5 hours to have quiet time with God. Half an hour for quieting my heart, and 1 hour for equipping and holding my hands up calling to God to see the heavens open in my heart, and to see the mobilizations of angels in my small group members and colleagues.

Do not open your eyes and stand up before you receive triumphs and stopping your prayers in the morning. When we lift up prayers like an umbrella for them, and see victory because the Lord has promised, you will greatly wait in expectations of God practically working in your family and colleagues. God will prepare events, situations, opportunities so that you can share gospel to them.

If you already wait for opportunities given by angels’ work to come, saints must really be equipped and be prepared in and out of season to preach. For the opportunities will come like Jesus coming down with no one knowing. Who will be the good and faithful worker, already lit up their lamps for the Lord to appear in the fields?

5) Organization: Officials over thousand, hundreds, fifties and tens = Church, Small Group, a life centered upon other parts of His Body

Therefore, what we really need is the victorious atmosphere to be over us. Man is empty. If there is no sin and there is no "cannot don’t pray", we would fall and cannot see the zeal of God.

God made us walk in the wilderness because He wants to protect us, so that we "cannot don’t pray". I am learning to accept and desire "Big Me" over "Small Me". In the past, I would think of peer competition in the fellowship, but now, I really love to hear encouragements and rebuke, praises and lessons, perfect will and testimonies in the church from Zhishan, Huijun, other deacons, and even my small group members as they share. If we can only accept our own ideology of God that we have equipped as better than others, we are limiting God. God is always around us voicing to us. Through that voice, I learn more and more.

When Moses’ father-in-law came with Moses’ wife and children, Moses testified how God is with him.

<Ex 18:8> Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.

<Ex 18:10-11> 10 He said, "Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly."

Moses’ father-in-law did not believe in Jehovah God. He was even a Gentile priest. Yet, he was just saved, and Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.

<Ex18:24> Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.

Moses can put down even his experiences of God, and listen to a believer who had just been saved. Why is this so? This is because he had already learnt about the highest form of humility, which is to be able to be blessed through people’s sharing, as he was able to convert people’s sharing into the very voice of God to add blessings and grace to himself.

This is called humility, and I can see three levels of humility:

(1) Not proud among peers, needing to learn

(2) Taking Christ’s identity and not my own, hearing and saying what God has told me and made me to be

(3) Seeing God providing for me in His organization – the BIG me – Christ’s Body, more than the small blessed me

Therefore, when in the past I have prayed for Zhishan; now, he is better than me. But I thank God. This is because He uses him to bless me even more!

To spread the gospel, an organization is needed. To gain inheritance, brethren-centered is needed. Church history has proven that there is no one being able to live on his or her own convictions. 内在 inner experiences and living is not totally correct. Those who focus on inner experiences do not think that they need to go to the church. They read the bible, equip alone and pray hearing the voice of God alone. However, I have seen that they will become very strange people with very strange ideas. Yes, we have our own experiences to and from God, however, our faith needs to build up rooted and founded from Christ after we know that God is alive. Then we can become alive 24 hours and in all things by the format that we have built up. This is also because God works in a church as a living organism. Without 7 years of pasturing and brethren-centered living, do you think our pastor can receive and bless the church altar so much? Yes, altar-centered first, then brethren-centered; but the altar is even built up and restored from how God works through brethren-centered testing and approving.

Exodus is about the systematic theology of the bible. There is a spiritual emphasis in this fifth point. We need to use the promises of God to apply and confirm our conditions. We use the happenings around us to confirm God’s teachings to us. Then our faith will have the root of "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see".

<Heb 11:1> Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see

Learn <Php 2:1-4>, the very heart of Christ, where we treat people better than us, in order to receive the voice of God.

<Php 2:1-4> 1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

By the advice of Moses’ father-in-law, he set up officials over thousand, hundreds, fifties and tens. This is why we need the life centered upon other parts of His Body, church, discipleship training and small groups. I am not saying this for the sake of the church, the pastor or from my zeal, but we have rebellion, weaknesses, and levels of disbelief that we do not know about, and we need more than what we can gain from personal experiences and prayer accomplishments to receive healing. That is why God has to say this at the first place:

<Ex 15:16> He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."

Closing Words

There are some prayer topics that I have to leave behind. May God speak to you after the small group meeting.

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