Mike Thorsteinson - Buttonwillow 1 - 2013

Mike Thorsteinson's sermon at Buttonwillow 1 convention in 2013.


These verses tell how God is faithful to His people. In Romans 15:4, it says that the things in the Old Testament were written for our learning….that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope. We don't have time to make all the mistakes! Paul begins this chapter with, "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant…" We must learn from what others have said and by their example. The Corinthian people took the correction, and advice (most people just like to give advice!). There's lots of good advice, especially from older people. Ignorance is comfortable at first…like the little girl taking music lessons, but who never progressed. “Does your daughter practice?” Asked the teacher. “No”, answered mom, “I just want her to flow into it.” Then choose another teacher. You must lay hold. If it slips into your hand, it’ll probably slip out. Ignorance is fatal, costly, needless – we’ll perish with lots of witnesses and good examples. So Paul said, "Take hold of knowledge."

In chapter 10, there is an emphasis on all. Verses 1-4, they were all baptized by Moses, they drank the same water, ate the same manna from above. Some people say, "I know why they made it; they had a good beginning." But it was a miraculous ending. This was a spiritual journey, out of Egypt. The people were partakers of God's provision. Moses told Pharaoh over and over, "Let my people go to worship God with reverence and Godly fear," and to be led by God.

Numbers 14:14, the people knew what the cloud represented. "…for the inhabitants of the land have heard that Thou, Lord, art among this people, that Thou, Lord, art seen face to face, and that Thy cloud standeth over them, and that Thou goest before them, by day-time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night."

By the Holy Spirit, God comes nigh. Numbers 1 is when the people are first numbered. A rough estimate is that this group of people walking was four miles long. God was the guide, through Moses and Aaron. In Numbers 33, it speaks of the journey from Egypt to Canaan being 42 journeys long. There are two Psalms that tell about what happened on these journeys, Psalms 78 and 106. This is the story of men and women who paid in blood. We do well to learn from them.

The cloud provided an atmosphere that was comforting. They were protected from the desert heat and cold by the cloud. There were no roads, no trails; it was a waste and howling wilderness. The wilderness was no place for a vacation. They were there because they were called of God. That's what it is all about called of God.

One line of thought on these 42 departures and arrivals we might call them take-offs and landings flights. The cloud of the Old Testament was the Holy Spirit’s presence. When it moved, the people followed. No wind blew the cloud around. It was nebulous not copy-able. People have a tendency to worship gold, silver, or stone, but no one has ever made an image of a cloud, so you can’t worship it.

In Vietnam, people often stop in the shadow of a building, way back from the red light. You even see people stop in the shadow of a telephone pole. Outside of the shadow of the presence of God, it is very uncomfortable. The cloud traveled at the speed of obedience at walking speed, at the speed of the slowest. God knows my speed. The sun was hot. The cloud could not evaporate. Even when they disobeyed, the cloud stayed with them, stopped. The Holy Spirit never gives up on us, although in the Old Testament, in the days of Noah, Gods spirit gave up on them.

During that first year after leaving Egypt, they stayed in Sinai, and learned Gods precepts. What took them so long to come into the land of Canaan was their disobedience. At the end of the second year, Moses sent out the spies. They saw a fruitful land, but ten men came back with an evil report: "The people that live there are giants; we can’t win." So the children of Israel fainted in unbelief. They circled for many years -- 33 years they wandered. I Corinthains 10 tells us of flights 12, 11, 42, 34, 14 - they’re all contained in the chapter we read together.

In 1957, David Warren invented the flight data recorder, which is now used in all the world. It will soon be coming out in cars an event recorder, of when the brakes are applied, when you step on the gas - this will help in court. In airplanes, we call it the black box. Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crashed into the Pacific. Everyone on board perished. The information in the black box revealed that the horizontal stabilizer had jammed, and all MD80s were recalled to oil the screw. It’s now standard procedure to grease the screw every 650 hours. You can see the advantage of seeing the information in the black box.

Paul was reading Psalms 106 to find out what went wrong he was looking for the black box. Have you ever read the Bible like a crash site investigator? Why wasn’t God well pleased with people in the Old Testament? Verse 13-15 tells about journey 12, from Numbers 11, about the quail. They lusted after evil things. Manna was perfect, the corn of heaven (perfect digestion), and didn't ever grow old - awesome stuff! The gift of God. All need is supplied in Christ. Quail came with a divine characteristic: it fell on the camp. It kept falling. There was more quail than you can see millions! It was up to their knees, then up to their hips, and it kept falling. They began to butcher it. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, before it was even chewed, God killed them. The quail is the flesh. I want what I want. Wanting your own will only leads to sickness and death.

In this story there was a way of escape: Be satisfied. Moses lost heart for the leadership of this group because they wanted their own way (quail) and they got it. This story was written for our learning. We want to love what is on Gods table. People are still dying from common temptations. ("There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…" I Corinthians 10:13). It’s possible to have a good beginning and a sad ending. That’s what Paul warned the Corinthian people about.

In Wyoming, there’s a "Beware of the Buffalo" sign. Some folks might overlook it or dismiss it, but then more writing follows: They appear tame, but are wild. They can run at 30 mph faster than I can bicycle! And weigh 2,000 lbs. "This is serious," it added and many people have been gored. We paid attention to the buffalo warning. Paying attention to warnings can help us. Never let the devil get you into the position of being over confident.

People today are dying from common temptations. There’s nothing extraordinary, just ignorance. Be careful. Every temptation has a way of escape. In the story of the quail, they began lusting after evil things. They were not praying, not reading.

Auntie Jessie in Burma loved to sing two hymns, loved to read her Bible, and pray. “ Its first place in my life,” she said. She raised 12 children in the nurture and fear of God. (Burma is closed to the gospel. A visa can only be obtained for a 28 day limit.)

In Acts 10, the Spirit stirred up Peter, Go, doubting nothing, and again nothing doubting. God knows doubt can ruin a mission. Doubt gives the devil room to work. When we stop doubting, God opens His plans to us, and we understand God's choices. May we grasp tightly the opportunity to believe.

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2013 - Buttonwillow

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