Meaning's Featured Video
Well we began a new series together last week, where we began to talking about this idea of growth, this idea of change. That Jesus is calling us all to what we're calling forward motion. To becoming different kinds of people towards taking steps, towards being a new kind of person, the kind of person that Jesus is calling us to be. He wants to give our lives meaning.
We said last week that God he loves you just the way that you are, but he refuses to live you that way. He wants to make you just like Jesus, that's the goal. That you look back at the end of 2015 you be a more generous kind of person, you be a more forgiving person, you be a less bitter person, you be more open with your time, you resources that we begin to look more and more like Jesus.
How to Find Meaning in Life
How many of us do new years resolutions any new years resolutions folks? How many of us have kept the new years resolutions anybody so far? Doing pretty good? Alright never mind. New series we're starting today, doing new series called staying put. Enjoying life the way it is, we have but the goal is that even if you don't do new years resolutions, that over the course of this year you'd begin to take steps towards being a different kind of person we said last week that we begin in fear often times that we come into a relationship with God for many people it start in fear, but it's not, we're not designed to stay there. We're supposed to move forward to become the kind of person that John says is experienced in this perfect love that casts out fear and so we talked about growth and becoming a different kind of person. I think our usual tendency if you're anything like me especially, when it comes to figuring out how we're doing as a christian is to begin to look around us and to see how everybody else is doing and we usually to fell good about ourselves we look behind us at somebody who's not as far along as we are, and we'll say well I might struggle with this but at least I am not as bad as they are. I might have this thing but at least I'm not addicted to that, at least I have ever done that may be I didn't go to church then but I'm on four mission trips this year. We tend to look behind us as a way to to remind ourselves, oh I'm dong pretty good at least I'm not as bad as they are, or we tend as well to look ahead of us and somebody whose further along than we are. This is why for many Christians we can experience toxic levels of shame and pride at the same time, because we can look ahead of us at somebody whose further along well, I'm not as good at generosity as they are I haven't read through the Bible like they have.
I don't go to life group every. I'm not as good as a christian as they are. We can look ahead of us at people that we feel are doing better and begin to feel a sense of shame. I grew up in a house, I think I mentioned this last week where I went to a private christian school for a couple of years and I have an older brother and he's a couple of years older than I am.
And at this Christian school that we went to, one year he won the award for being most Christ-like, which was an actual award that, which they gave away if you were the most Christ-like person they voted on this and he won the award. There was nothing more miserable than being the little brother of the most Christ-like guy at school, I mean it's just, you don't want to hear that everyday from your parents, but he won this award. I thought it was kind of an ironic award everyday I was like you won the first place for following the guy who says the first for last you better give that award back, man like.
Get off that list that's because you're slow burn you'll get it at lunch, it's going to be hilarious stuff. You don't want to be on that list, you know you're first place for following the guy who says the first, like really? They give that award away, I'm actually more spiritual by not winning the award apparently, but there's nothing, we have people in our lives we look at and they're more Christ-like, sometimes they win awards for it and we can begin to look at them and say, well I'm not doing good as they are.
How to become More Like Jesus
But in the scriptures what we begin to realize is that we're not supposed to look around us. We're supposed to look down at our own feet and the question is not how's everybody else doing but the question is how are you doing and what's the next step that you are supposed to take as a disciple of Jesus, what's the next step that you're being invited to take on this journey of following God and becoming more like Jesus.
Whether you've been following Jesus for 80 years. There's still room for growth, there's still room to become more like Christ and what's the next step that you're supposed to take? If you've been following Christ for 10 minutes, what's the step maybe for some of us just to be in a church building this year is a huge step and to come back next week and to come back and to begin to ask more questions about God, that's the step in the journey that you are supposed to take.
This idea of journey is all throughout the scripture, this idea of taking steps is all throughout the scriptures. I want to take a look at a story today in Exodus. We're going to jump around the scriptures a little bit. We're going to start in the book of Exodus Chapter 3 and we're going to walk through some passages in Exodus and we're going to walk our way to the New Testament.
If you have a Bible, Exodus Chapter 3 is where we're going to start. Genesis, Exodus right there in the very beginning or close to the beginning. Exodus Chapter three, now one of the questions that people often ask is how did these stories about God begin to be formed? Why is the, why are these stories recorded? The people of Israel, the Jewish people.
How did these stories get put down on paper, how did this become recorded in the form that we have it and obviously the story of how the scriptures were formed after the life of Christ, after the resurrection of Jesus, the New Testament church begins to rally and assemble some letters that Paul has written, but thousands of years before that, for me they believe that the story we're going to look at today was where the Jewish peoples identity began to be forged and formed.
That while the scriptures begin in Genesis, the story of the nation of Israel being called out of slavery in Egypt, this is central their identity and the kind of people that they're going to become. So this in many ways it's the beginning of the story for the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. And the story is that they are in slavery, they are in bondage and a guy named Moses is in a land called Median, he's on the run, he's been on the run for a while, and God shows up in the form of a burning bush and begins to talk to him and so Moses listens and decides to hear God out and God gives him some work to do.
And here's the story. Exodus chapter 3, we'll start together in verse 7. The lord said, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt, I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and I'm concerned about their suffering. Right there, there is this revolutionary idea that God hears the cries of his people, he notices when they are in a desperate place for safety. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land, and into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
The home of the Canaanites, Hitites, the Emirites, the prisites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and now the cry of the Israelites have reached me and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them, and he tells Moses so now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt and so what begins for the nation of Israel what begins for the people of God is a 40 year journey and God meets them, God finds them through Moses in a place called Egypt, so they're in an actual geographical location that you can still go to this day and they're headed somewhere. God is carrying them on a journey that's going to take 40 years and he is going to lead them to a place called Israel and it's going to be a 40 year step by step journey and wondering through the wilderness to get where God is calling them to go.
They are on a journey and a geographical sense God meets them in a land called Egypt. In a spiritual sense what does the scripture say? They're not just in Egypt, they're actually in misery is what the scripture say. I have heard the cries of my people in misery in Egypt, and so God meets them not just in a geographical little place but in a spiritual condition, and he says I want to carry you out of this and begin to carry you into something good step by step, we are going to leave misery.
It's not just about a geographical piece of land it's about a spiritual condition that God is calling them out of. The story continues, they leave slavery, there's about 10 plagues that go in motion, there is the parting of the Red Sea, and then the Israelites find themselves wondering the wilderness.
God takes them out into the wilderness for some object lessons and this journey continues about a 40 year process begins and they're about two and a half months in on a 40 year journey and things start to go wrong. The wheels start to come off of the chariots I guess. Here we go, verse 16 or Exodus Chapter 16, skip ahead a few pages to verse 1.
The whole Israelites community, set out from Ileum and they came to the desert of sin which in Hebrew translates Los Vegas, which is between Ileum and Sinai. I'm going to have to look that one up. On the 15th day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt, so they're two and a half months in on a 40 year journey.
In the middle of the, in the desert, the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. Aaron is Moses' brother he's helping him lead this journey. The Israelite's said to them, if only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt. There we sat around parts of knee and ate all the food we wanted but you have brought out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death, and so God has called them out of misery, he's called them out of Egypt but now there's somewhere else, now they find themselves in mystery.
Now they're in the wilderness and the question is we don't know what we're going to eat, how, we'll actually going to have to trust God everyday. Whats the plan? We believe God has called us out of this, but there begins to be the sense in the crowd, we would rather just go back to slavery and bondage than be in the middle of this wilderness where we don't know where our next meal is coming from. We would rather go back to misery than have to be in mystery. At least it was comfortable, at least it was familiar, at least we knew that we were going to have food on the table. There is something in all of us it's in me and I would imagine, it's in you as well that often prefers the miserable place to the mysterious place.
That pattern that way of life it might have been addicting, it might have destructive, it might have death dealing, but at least I didn't have to trust God. That relation, it might not have been any good for me, but at least I, at least I knew what to expect everyday. There is something in all of us that on this journey of being called forward towards being different kinds of people where we will often prefer just to go back into a destructive pattern in way of life even if it was miserable.
Because at least we don't have to trust God. At least it was for familiar. How many of us, you've met someone, you have a friend or perhaps you've said this, I know I'm not going to marry him, I know I'm not going to marry her, I know the relationship's not good really good for me, but at least I don't have to be alone?
The Meaning of Life
I would rather be in the miserable place then the mysterious place. How many of us, you have stayed in jobs that you can't stand? You have remained in places where you come home every day from work and your wife or your husband, they become miserable, because you talk about how miserable it is and at least you say things like well I know it's not what I'm supposed to do with my life, I know it's not what my purpose is, I know it's not fulfilling, I know it's making me miserable but at least I don't have to trust God and begin questions about what I'm supposed to do with my time and myself in this world.
It might not be what I'm supposed to do but at least I don't have to trust God. Often we will find ourselves remaining in something that is miserable and death dealing an addiction, a pattern, a way of life, at least I don't have to begin to become somebody different but the reality is to get where God is calling us to go, to become the kind of person that God wants us to be.
We have to begin to do some things that we have never done. We have to begin to find ourselves on some unfamiliar ground and beginning to put in motion pattern, the question is not necessarily where do you want to go, what's your goal, what kind of a person do who want to be. The question is, what are the things that you're doing, what new ways are you inviting God into your life?
What new ways and patterns are you trusting God with? What are the things that you're doing that you have never done? Because to get where we need to go, we have to begin to stand on some unfamiliar ground and there will always be this longing, it's called the sinful nature that pulls us back into destructive patterns and ways of life.
One of the grossest passages of scripture in the entire Bible says this in the same way, a dog returns to their vomits, a fool returns to their folly. Don't you love when you read the passages of the scriptures like well God tell me how you really feel. As a dog returns, do you think there was this moment on Noah's ark when Noah saw the dogs doings this, and thought God there is a design floor here, and God thought leave it, that's going to make a brilliant metaphor later.
That's going to save some people a lot of heart ache, that's is going to save some people some pain. We always have this desire and tendency to want to go back to something but dogs go backwards we're called to go forwards. Towards being a different kind of person the kind of person that Jesus has called us to be and we'll often find ourselves on mysterious ground. Unfamiliar territory, a mysterious place where we have to trust God day after day after day to get where God is trying to get us to go.
We often prefer the miserable place over the mysterious place. Well, one of the big questions for the people of is what are we going to eat? Which I think is a really good question. What is the plan? How are we going to put food on the table? And Moses and God strike up this deal, in verse 4, it says that Moses, the Lord says to Moses, Yahweh says the Moshe I will rain down bread from heaven for you.
So I'm going to send bread down from heaven, 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. Then Moses said to them, no one is to keep any of it until morning. And so this thing called mannna comes down from the sky, it literally meant what is it, that's what the name manna means.
What is it, that's what it translates. We have no idea but we're going to have to eat this. It was a type of coriander seed according to the book of numbers type of oat mealish mush kind of cafeteria foodish kind of thing, but they eat this on the journey for 40 years. Moses said to them, excuse me verse, yeah verse 19, then Moses said to them no one is to keep any of it until morning. Verse 20 of Exodus chapter 16, however some of them paid no attention to Moses they kept part of it until morning but it was full of maggots and it began to smell.
So Moses was angered with them. Each morning, everyone gathered as much as they needed and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. And so you can't stock piled manna, you can't save it, you can't stuff some extra money, some extra manna into your pockets. You actually have to trust God that every day that you wake up on this journey of going where he's called you to go that he is going to give you exactly what you need on the journey to get there.
You actually have to trust God. And Moses is presented over and over when you read the story, he's like Clark Griswold on an Egyptian vacation. He's just exhausted, he's just, they won't listen to him, at times he's frustrated doesn't want to listen to them. Moses is often presented kind of like that dad that you see at Disney Land who has just passed out on the park bench.
Have seen that dad before? Have you been that that before? The dad that has three fanny packs strapped to him and just wants to go back home. Because when you wear a fanny pack, you're telling the world I mean business. I need both hands free at all times, you know. I imagine Moses wore a fanny pack with some glutton free manna in there and some kinds of things.
But he's on this journey with the Israelite's carrying them forward, and they eat manna everyday. Manna a la mode, bun in manna, manna casserole, I'm sure they got creative with the kinds of manna that they could make. After 40 years of this, 40 years of wandering in the desert and becoming and heading where God is calling them to go.
They get towards the end of the journey, and now you have people that have been born, not even remembering the original Manna miracle. They are just used to this waking up everyday, God's just providing and Moses stops them before they get into the promised land and Moses is about to die and he tell's them this in Deuteronomy Chapter 8, skip over to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 8. If you don't have a bible, put on the screens as well. Deuteronomy chapter 8:2, he says this, remember, this is before they enter into Israel the promised land, remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these 40 years. To humble and test you in order to know what was in your hearts.
Whether or not you would keep his commands, he humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with Manna which neither you nor your ancestors have known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord, and so Moses is telling them.
It was about bread but it wasn't really about bread. It was about bread at one level that they needed to eat but a deeper level it was about relying and depending on God. Is he actually going to provide for us every step of this journey? And Moses is calling them to remember that God who has been faithful with them to carry them where he intends for them to go.
It's about bread but it's not really about bread. Apparently for God, it really isn't about the destination it really is about the journey.
It really is, are you going to continue to walk forward towards going and heading where God is calling you to be every step of the journey. For some of us we find ourselves in today, in the moments, in the wilderness and there's this longing like the Israelites to go backwards. Perhaps to a better time to yesterday and you find yourself in today, but maybe you found yourself placed in the land between and it wasn't by your choice. It wasn't a new years resolution. The doctor called and said I need to see you as soon as possible. Your dad sat you down and said the family is moving at the end of school year pack your bags we're heading somewhere and you find yourself in today and there's this longing just to go back to yesterday. Maybe the boss sat you down and said your position has been eliminated and there's this one you find yourself standing on terrain that is very unfamiliar and you find yourself in today but there is this longing in your heart just to go back to yesterday. There's this sense that, that was when God was actually with us.
That was the good times, college whatever the time was and we often can get stuck in yesterday and we fail to see the new thing that God is trying to do and the new ways he's inviting us to trust him in today, and often times we get stuck in moments of yesterday like the Israelites. We just want to go back but God is actually even if you are in today and there's the sense of I want to go back to the way things were.
God is actually called you into the land between and it's not necessarily something that he wanted or not necessarily something that you wanted but God can use it to begin to carry you somewhere. And it doesn't mean that God has led you into the wilderness just to stay there. In our culture the wilderness is often this metaphor for death, for pain, for hardship.
Purpose in the Bible
But in the Bible, the wilderness is always a necessary path that God takes people through to get them where he wants them to be. And you may find yourself today flown in the land between, and it wasn't by choice and you're standing on very unfamiliar ground with the sense of I just want to go back to yesterday but God hasn't led you into the wilderness, into today to kill your faith, he's actually let you there to grow it.
In the wilderness is a place of fertile soil it's not a barren land in the Bible. This is a necessary road that God carries people through to get them where he wants them to go. And there might be a longing for yesterday to go back to the way things are, but today God is sustaining you and providing for you in new ways just like he was for the Israelites.
And if you keep going and keep moving forward there will be this moment where you realize he was with me on that journey. He was there in that moment and that place where I didn't want to be at all. The story in Deuteronomy ends Moses dies before the people get into the promised land, a new leader comes.
And as the book of Deuteronomy ends there is idea that a new Moses is going to come. A new leader is going to rise up to lead the people. And so all throughout the Old Testaments or all through the Old Testament there is a prophesies, there's this idea that a messiah is going to come and for many, there's this expectation that like a new Moses is going to rise up if you have a Bible turn with me to John chapter 6 in the New Testament.
John chapter 6, all the way over in the book of John. John chapter 6, Mathew, Mark, Luke, John. In the New Testament in the Gospels, Jesus is often presented as a new kind of Moses, as a new kind of leader for the people of God. Except Jesus is not coming to lead people from geographical piece of land to another piece of geographical land, he's coming to lead them in a deeper sense, in a spiritual sense, out of one kingdom into a new kind of kingdom. Out of an old creation into a new creation because the old creation has a death problem.
He's calling people into a new kind of covenant, a new kind of way of relating to God and Moses is on the Mount Rushmore for Israel. He's up there with David as one of these great heroes of the faith. But one of the expectations is when the messiah comes, he's going to be like a new kind of Moses. And so in the Gospel of Mathew in particular, Jesus is presented as a type of Moses.
For example, he goes into the wilderness hint, hint, for 40 days, hint hint. And this bread test gets reenacted. Jesus is starving. Satan comes to him with a stone and says, if you really are God, turn this stone into a piece of bread. And what does Jesus do? He quotes Deuteronomy 8, what Moses said and does not live on bread alone.
So there's this idea that Jesus is this new leader for the people of God carrying them in a new place. In John, Jesus feeds 5, 000 people and he feeds them with what? Bread. Everybody knows the 9:30 service is the smartest one. He feeds them with bread. The 11 O'clock is very jealous of you. He feeds them with bread and he feeds them with fish and so this bread image is wrapped up in all kinds of things for the people of God.
Then Jesus, he feeds the 5,000 with bread and with fish and then he walks across the lake like you do and he rejoins the disciples on the other side of the lake, and they have this discussion with Jesus verse 25 John chapter 6:25, we'll place it on the screens as well. When they found him so he's just done the bread miracle, when they found him on the other side of the lake, which he's walked across, they asked him Rabai, when did you get here?
I took a short cut verse 26. Jesus answered very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed, but because you ate the loaves and you had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, a direct reference to manna, but for food that endures to eternal life, a direct reference to himself which the son of man will give you, for on him God the Father has placed, his seal of approval.
And so they were coming to Jesus with this expectation are you going to do what Moses did? Are you going to feed us with the manner? He's done this bread miracle, and so they are coming to him, there was this expectation when the Messiah came he was going to reenact the bread miracle. And so when Jesus feeds the 5, 000 with bread and fish, there's the saying, are you the one, are you going to feed us. Is this the sign that we've been waiting for?
The prophet Jeremiah was on of the Jews fables that Jeremiah had hidden and buried some bread, some manna from the Moses era, when the Babylonians destroyed the temple, and so when the Messiah come, he was going to reenact and redo this bread miracle and so after Jesus feeds the 5, 000, they're expecting another miracle.
They're expecting another moment where they are fed, so they are following Jesus around like he's mama bird, are you going to feed us? Are going to keep doing that? And Jesus is telling them that miracle, the 5, 000 feeding. It was about bread but it wasn't about bread. It was about something new and it's not going to be manna.
There's something new that has entered in to the world, a new way that God is meeting his people and providing for them as he carries them where he wants them to go. He says this in verse 28. Then they asked him, what must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered the work of God is this, to believe in the one he had sent.
So they're saying, is more bread going to come down from heaven? And Jesus go, no no God has not sent some bread from heaven, he has sent somebody from heaven. He has not given you more bread to sustain you on a journey, he has given you somebody, he's given you his son from heaven. This is a different time for the people of God, and then he says this in verse 30, so they asked him what sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you?
What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness as it written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat. So they come to him, what sign are you going to do? Apparently feeding 5, 000 people was not enough. It was a tough crowd. Jesus says his in verse 32 very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
Relationship with God
For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world, so they said always give us this bread. Then Jesus declares, I'm the bread of life whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Jesus called himself the bread of life.
There is not going to be another manna miracle, I am what God has said to sustain you on this journey of where God is calling you to go. At one point Jesus tells his disciples, when you pray, pray for your daily bread. Every step of the journey is Jesus leads and guides you, pray for this sustainer. This giver of life, to meet you where you are, because God's carrying you somewhere. I think often times when we talk about what it means to be a Christian we talk about the moment we were saved.
We talk about the day we became a Christian January 8th 1994 whatever the date was, and that moment having that moment and time is beautiful but becoming a Christian is not a one time event. It's a one time event in the sense that you pray and invite Jesus in your life but that's not the ending of the story where we just check a box and say well I'm going to have him when I die it's the beginning of a journey of following Jesus. Yes that was the moment when you entered into salvation and life with God.
But it's not the end of the story. It's the beginning of a journey of becoming a different kind of person it's the beginning of the journey to praying everyday be my daily bread be the bread of life that meets me where I'm on this journey and we're not called in Jesus to go from being bad people to being good people, in Jesus we are called from going to being dead people to being alive people.
And every step of the way Jesus says I'm going to meet you there. Wherever you're on the journey I'll be the bread of life, I will be your daily bread caring you to a life lived to the full as he says in John 10:10. Every step of the way I want to lead you into being a less anxious kind of person, a more alive kind of person a more generous person, a less bitter person, a more forgiving person, a person who looks more and more like Jesus everyday and I will be your daily bread carrying you there.
Maybe you find yourself today, wrapped up in mystery, and you I don't know what tomorrow is going to look like and you find yourself leaving some old pattern that wasn't working for you and Jesus says I will meet you on this unfamiliar ground that you're standing on. Maybe you are the person that says, I can't believe am actually going to church. It has been 20 years, what am I doing here?
There is going to be lightning bolts coming. Maybe you're going I can't believe I'm actually in a life group, I can't believe I'm actually getting baptized, I can't believe I'm actually spending money on something other than myself. God will meet you here. He says, I will be the bread of life carrying you and it's not just wandering, you're actually going somewhere.
I'm actually carrying you somewhere. Don't go back into the old destructive way of life. I am actually carrying you towards being more alive, more like Jesus, and you are actually going somewhere. Maybe you find yourself wrapped up in today and there is this longing for yesterday. That was when life was good, that was when the kids were with this man , that was when it was good.
When, in the old days, its not that you can celebrate or mourn the good times, but there is a sense that, that was when God was with us. And your in today maybe for you, praying for your daily bread, is this reminder that your best days are not behind you. God still has work for you to do and he is still carrying you somewhere.
It doesn't mean that you don't miss the good times. It just means that where you are in today, daily bread can meet you there. And it's this reminder that if you still have breath in your lungs, God still has work for you to do in this world and you're still going somewhere. Daily bread, he says I will meet you every step of the journey and I'm carrying you out of death into life, into being a more alive version of yourselves, more generous, more loving, more giving don't go back to the old way of living.
Let's pray together. God, I thank you for the scriptures, I thank for the story that you've given us. And their story is our story. We often just want to go back to the way things were. But God, you're calling us forward, every single one of us and I pray for some of us maybe that's here today and they can't even believe they are in church.
Their high school friends, their college friends, their ex-wife would be shocked to know that they are here. And I just pray God well they just be filled today with the bread of life. They're coming to you hungry and they've gone through a lot of things in the past that didn't work, and your promise is, I will meet you there, and I will be your daily bread. I will be the bread of fire that sustains you. God you're carrying them somewhere but they remain on the journey.
Got to pray for somebody that's here and they live with the sins everyday that their best days are behind them. Yesterday that was when it was good. Thank you for the Exodus story this reminder that the wilderness isn't where you've led us just starve, it's a necessary road to get somewhere. And our best days if there are still breaths in our lungs, our best days can still be in front of us, thank you for this picture.
We thank you Jesus hat you are the bread of life who gives meaning to our lives. Who do we pray today, how would we move today, with the sense that you are the bread of life, the daily bread that we need. In Jesus name that we pray, Amen.