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Author: Lee Ames

The Wilderness 3

We will continue our sermon series this week "The Wilderness" and will be reading from Exodus 16.
“The Wilderness”
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Throughout the history of our Biblical text, God uses the Wilderness as a place to refine and transform his people. The Wilderness is a desolate and uncultivated place full of sand and rocks. Something about this barren and inhospitable place allows God to teach his people to seek and trust. Seasons of rebellion are shaped by correction. Times of lack are countered with divine provision. And a loosely connected family is transformed into the People of God.
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Welcome to the Wilderness. In this series, we will follow the Israelites from their release as slaves of Egypt through the wilderness and ultimately study their sojourn into becoming the people of God. What lessons do they learn? How does God lead them? How does this journey help us understand our own time in the wilderness?

The Wilderness 2

Week 2 (4/14/24):
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Journeying through the Wilderness sometimes leads to a dead end. In the case of our study this week, not only did the Israelites run into the Red Sea, but the Egyptians were hot on their trail. Being hemmed in on all sides can give rise to fear and that is exactly what happens. The people of God now wish they had stayed in Egypt and it was too late to make a change. God’s instruction… keep moving. Sometimes the only way to deal with a problem is to walk right through it. And that is exactly what God requires the Israelites to do. Moses raises his staff, God sends the wind, the water separates and the people cross on dry ground.
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Rarely does God save us in the way we believe it should happen. I guarantee that splitting the Red Sea was not on Moses’ list of possible outcomes. With no requirement from the people, God splits the water and then asks them to keep walking.
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How many times do we feel like life has trapped us? How often have we cried, complained, and bemoaned the place we find ourselves only to have God use that moment to reveal his power to us? How many problems have we wasted way too much time on trying to navigate around when God is asking us to walk right through the middle of it? This week we will study Exodus 14 and discover what God may be helping us to understand about our own Red Sea moments.

The Wilderness

We start a new series this week called, “The Wilderness” (Part 1).
<br>
Throughout the history of our Biblical text, God uses the Wilderness as a place to refine and transform his people. The Wilderness is a desolate and uncultivated place full of sand and rocks. Something about this barren and inhospitable place allows God to teach his people to seek and trust. Seasons of rebellion are shaped by correction. Times of lack are countered with divine provision. And a loosely connected family is transformed into the People of God.
<br>
Welcome to the Wilderness. In this series, we will follow the Israelites from their release as slaves of Egypt through the wilderness and ultimately study their sojourn into becoming the people of God. What lessons do they learn? How does God lead them? How does this journey help us understand our own time in the wilderness?

The Wilderness 1

Week 1 (4/7/24): We start our series in Egypt with the 10th and final plague. It is in this story that we discover the basis of our knowledge surrounding the Passover lamb and the life that was given to save the lives of the Israelites. The offering of this spotless lamb and the placement of the shed blood on the doorposts of each Israelites home is where we derive our connection to Jesus as the ultimate Passover lamb. As a result of this plague and the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians, the Israelites are released into the wilderness and the journey of transformation begins.

Forever Chnaged 9

Week 7 Easter (Mar 31): Resurrection Day: Mary Magdalene
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Mary Magdalene shows up in scripture as a person whose life has been Forever Changed because of her encounter with Jesus. Scripture is silent on most of the details surrounding this encounter except one. Luke 8:2 informs us that Mary was delivered from seven demons. What must her life have been like before Jesus? Imagine the emotional turmoil and trauma she would have experienced at the hands of such evil.
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One thing is certain, the impact of Jesus healing Mary would not only be life-changing but would also be world-changing. Mary’s gratitude and tenacity as a result of her transformation led her to be a follower of Jesus in the most faithful of ways. In the early years, Mary used her resources to fund and support the work being done by Jesus. And when the final days arrived and preaching and healing turned into flogging and crucifixion, Mary became even more faithful and was present to all of it. Mary was present at the cross and his death. Mary was even present when the body of Jesus was placed in the tomb. Of course, it was Mary early on resurrection day who found the empty tomb and ultimately, after everyone else left, stayed at the tomb until she found her Lord.
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‌Was it the gratitude found in the freedom of her changed life? Was it the experience of being a part of something so profound where lives were being changed all around? What brought this dedication and tenacity to the forefront of Mary’s life that would cause her to be the first to witness Jesus defeating death and the grave? Imagine that, Jesus chose a woman who had been plagued by seven demons to be the first to witness the resurrection.

Good Friday 8

Without Good Friday, there would be no Resurrection Sunday.
As we look forward to celebrating our risen Savior this weekend, we invite you to join us Friday, March 29th as we remember the suffering that Jesus endured in our place.

Forever Changed 6

Week 6 Palm Sunday (Mar 24): Peter

Is this going to be a good day or a bad day? Will my feet be used to move me in a positive direction or will I end up saying something that will prove yet again that I have a foot shaped mouth? I wonder if Peter ever asked himself these questions?

Our Forever Changed Series turns this week to focus on Peter. Sometimes we forget that Peter’s given name is actually Simon. When Jesus offered Simon the name Peter, it was for a greater purpose than just a term of endearment. Jesus used the names interchangeably as a reference for Simon to know if he was pointed in the right direction or possibly needed a course correction. Peter would ultimately become foundational and instrumental in the life of the early church but the journey getting there was full of all sorts of exciting moments.

Questions for us to consider: How often does the speed of our mouth outpace the filter of our hearts? Will steps be taken today to move us closer to the intended purpose of God? What name might Jesus use to call us to a more intentional life?

Forever Changed 5

Week 5 (Mar 17): John

Could it be youthful bravado or maybe indiscretion? One thing is certain, the disciple John that we read about in the gospels is vastly different than the apostle that crafts the Gospel of John. That is not to say that the person is different, but rather that John’s life was Forever Changed by his encounters with Jesus.

John’s earliest recorded moments found him rebuking others for casting out demons, offering to call down fire from heaven to consume an entire village, and pressing Jesus for a seat of honor. Each of these moments is less than a glowing report on a disciple’s record. These earliest reports are countered heavily by his late-in-life writings. We find that the disciple who threatened mass burning would eventually pen the words in 1 John 3:18 (NRSV), “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” John’s transformation was lifelong and as a result, he left the church with an incredible body of writings that will forever shape the way we balance truth and love.

Have you ever encountered someone who was all truth with no love? Have you ever tried to reason with someone who was all love with no truth? In what ways has society twisted or abandoned one or both of these two principles that John worked so hard to establish as foundational in the life of a believer?

Forever Changed 4

Week 4 (Mar 10): Woman at the Well
Shame is often a silent prison that alienates us from the connection that offers freedom. The story of the woman at the well found in John 4 reveals the power that love has over shame. In our study, we will discover a woman racked with shame from years of choices that alienated her from the community that she grew up in. In one revealing conversation, Jesus invited this woman into a relationship where she was honestly seen, known and loved anyways. Instead of heaping more shame on the woman, Jesus invited her to taste a living/spiritual water that would leave her life, Forever Changed. The result of this conversation started a revival in a Samaritan village that would eventually be the place that Philip and others would carry the Gospel Message after the resurrection. Jesus sows seeds into this community that will be reaped a few years later.
How often have we allowed shame to determine the shape of our relationships? Jesus models for us what it means to know the details of a person’s life and hold them in a way that is sacred and offers healing. Hopefully by understanding the heart of God as it relates to shame, we can learn the value of unlocking prisons of shame verses committing people to longer terms.