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Sermon No: 2805-The test of bitterness



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SERMON TOPIC: The test of bitterness

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 1 May 2016

Topic Groups: BITTERNESS, OVERCOMING

Sermon synopsis: Many professing Christians have not entered the abundant life that Jesus Christ promised to His followers.
Their testimony is not one of gain, but of loss, their spiritual life is fore shadowed in the Old Testament wanderings of the Israelites, wandering around in the desert grumbling and complaining about every new challenge.
They reflect longingly on their previous life of slavery and the Lord has to provide for them or they would starve.

They never cross over the Jordan into the abundant life of fulfilment that is on offer to the Spirit led child of God but languish and die in the wilderness, brought out of Egypt but never brought into the promised land.

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The “Wilderness Christian”.

Many professing Christians have not entered the abundant life that Jesus Christ promised to His followers.

Their testimony is not one of gain, but of loss, their spiritual life is fore shadowed in the Old Testament wanderings of the Israelites, wandering around in the desert grumbling and complaining about every new challenge.

They reflect longingly on their previous life of slavery and the Lord has to provide for them or they would starve.

They never cross over the Jordan into the abundant life of fulfilment that is on offer to the Spirit led child of God but languish and die in the wilderness, brought out of Egypt but never brought into the promised land.

The Passover and what it symbolised.

For the children of Israel, the Passover symbolised their freedom from the slavery of Egypt and being brought into the promised land, flowing with milk and honey.

For the Christian, the breaking of bread (Communion) which is the fulfilment of the Passover feast , symbolises the fact that the Lord setting us free from the slavery of sin and this world, bringing us into a life of abundance.

No wonder so few Christians can truly praise and worship, their “salvation” has been a loss to them and not a gain.

Abundant life is not a deluxe version of Christianity, anything les than this is abnormal.

The 7 tests of the “Wilderness Christian”.

Deuteronomy 8:1-20.

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, 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 had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills;...........

The 7 tests of the “Wilderness Christian”.

Deuteronomy 8:1-20.

....... When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.

He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.

The 7 tests of the “Wilderness Christian”.

Deuteronomy 8:1-20.

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

The 7 tests of the “Wilderness Christian”.

The test of baptism. (The red sea)

The test of Bitterness. (The test of Marah and Elim)

The test of manna. (The bread of God)

The test of Massah and Meribah. (Quarreling)

The test of Amalek. (The flesh)

The test of Mt Sinai. (Hearing from God first-hand)

The Sabbath test.( The rest of God)

The test of Baptism.

Baptism is symbolic of the death of our life (A funeral, or burial) so that Christ can live His resurrected life through us.

The test of Baptism.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13.

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.

They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

The test of Baptism.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (continued)

We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.

We should not test Christ, as some of them did, and were killed by snakes.

And do not grumble, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Dying to self.

The cross is recognised as a symbol of Christianity worldwide, but it is mostly seen as the cross that Jesus died on.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus spoke of the cross as something that everyone who wanted to be His disciple would have to take up if they wanted to follow Him.

The 2nd cross of Christianity.

The 1st cross is the one where Jesus died.

The 2nd cross is where you and I die if we want to follow Him.

The resurrected life.

Colossians 2:11-12.

In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Galatians 3:27.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ

have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Removing the grave clothes.

When we are born-again , brought to life by the Spirit of God, we are still bound and inhibited by things that pertain to our unsaved life, the life of darkness and death.

The Lord wants us to be freed from these grave-clothes that inhibit us and prevent us from experiencing the life of abundance that He has promised.

The test of bitterness.

We have seen how that before we can experience the resurrection power of Christ, we must die to sin and to self-interests and remove the grave clothes of our previous unregenerate existence. Now we progress to the 2nd test of the wilderness Christian.

The “Test of bitterness” (How to turn bitter waters sweet”)

Exodus 15:21-24. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they travelled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying,

“What are we to drink?”

Marah and Elim.

Possible Red sea crossing location.

Mount Sinai (Ron Wyatt)

Mount Sinai (Ron Wyatt)

Possible Red sea crossing location.

Mt Sinai.

Wyatt's map shows the depths to be in this range. My investigation therefore supports Wyatt's assertion that there is a sand bridge across the Gulf less than 100 metres deep. Notice also that the water depth in the Strait of Tiran at the southern end of the Gulf is nearer 600 metres deep, making it less likely that Moses crossed the Red Sea at this point, despite the projecting reefs which could have linked Sinai with Arabia during the miracle of the Exodus crossing.

Wyatt's map shows the depths to be in this range. My investigation therefore supports Wyatt's assertion that there is a sand bridge across the Gulf less than 100 metres deep. Notice also that the water depth in the Strait of Tiran at the southern end of the Gulf is nearer 600 metres deep, making it less likely that Moses crossed the Red Sea at this point, despite the projecting reefs which could have linked Sinai with Arabia during the miracle of the Exodus crossing.

The split rock.

Mt Sinai.

In the Bible, Mt.Sinai is closely connected to with the land of Midian.

1. Moses had fled from Egypt to Midian (Exodus 2:15). His new life as a shepherd, brought him to the “mountain of God, even Horeb” (Exodus 3:1) It was here, at the burning bush, that God told Moses, “When you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain” (Exodus 3:12)

2. Later, the Israelites were brought to Horeb, Midian, and the Mount of God (Exodus 17:6; 18:1-5). It’s the same place!

3. The book of Malachi 4:4 identifies Horeb with Sinai, the mountain of the law-giving.

The entire top of the mountain is blackened as if charred by some tremendous heat. It looks exactly as if the very top portion of the entire top of the mountain had been evenly scorched. “And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire” Exodus 19:18. Mount Sinai “melted” (Judges 5:5). It “burned with fire”, “unto blackness” (Hebrews 12:18).

The split rock.

On the western side of the Horeb range (the encampment at Mt.Sinai was on the east), in the middle of the plain, is a hill about 110 feet (34 m) high. A top this hill towers a mighty rock, about the size of an 5 story building. The total height, then, of this object, is about 16 stories.

This giant rock is split through the middle. The split is large enough for a man to walk through. Now, here is the remarkable part: Water erosion channels come from the TOP of the hill – OUT OF THE ROCK! This displays the pattern of water erosion, with evidence that numerous streams came forth in several directions.

Today, there is no water in the region anywhere. For this reason, it has remained uninhabited all these years. But it is evident that great streams of water once came from this split in the rock in several directions. The erosion channels continue out into the plain below.

The test of bitterness.

The “Test of bitterness” (How to turn bitter waters sweet”)

Exodus 15:21-24. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they travelled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

The test of bitterness.

It only took the Israelites 3 days to forget the miracle God performed at the crossing of the Red sea and faced with a new challenge they started complaining

Exodus 15:25-27.

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 fit to drink. There the LORD issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, If you listen carefully to 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. Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.

The “Wilderness Christian”.

Many supposed converts and adherents of Christianity fall away when difficulties come. They fail the test of bitterness.

Matthew 13:18-21.

Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

The witnesses in heaven.

When you complain about how tough it is to serve the Lord and how much you are suffering, remember that there are witnesses in heaven who bear testimony that God’s grace is sufficient to see us through any trial.

Hebrews 12:1-3.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Before you tell others about how terrible your sufferings are and how tough your situation is, have a look at Hebrews 11 to see these witnesses of our Christian race are.

The witnesses in heaven.

These are some of the witnesses that are already in Heaven’s grandstand watching us run our race.

Hebrews 11:35-40.

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.

Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

The witnesses in heaven.

What difficulties are you facing that makes you think you can compare yourself with Job or the Apostles, or the faith-worthies mentioned in Hebrews 11?

1 Corinthians 4:9-13.

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honoured, we are dishonoured! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted,

we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world, right up to this moment.

The test of bitterness.

Exodus 15:25-27.

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 fit to drink.

There the LORD issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, If you listen carefully to 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.

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees,

and they camped there near the water.

The test of bitterness.

Exodus 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 fit to drink.

Just as the piece of wood turned the bitter waters of Marah sweet, so the cross when introduced to our situation, will turn our bitter waters sweet, as we die to self and our own will and let the Lord have his way.

The test of bitterness.

After this trial at the waters of Marah, the Lord gives the Israelites one of the greatest promises.

Exodus 15:26.

There the LORD issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, If you listen carefully to 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.

Even medical science has linked many diseases with bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness.

The test of bitterness.

Exodus 15:27.

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.

They came to the place of submission, 12 springs and 70 palms, the numbers of authority. We have to acknowledge the sovereignty of God in allowing us to be tested even as Job was.

Job 1: 21-22.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job.

Job 1:6-22.

One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan

also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, Where have you come from? Satan answered the LORD, From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it. Then the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. Does Job fear God for nothing? Satan replied. Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face. The LORD said to Satan, Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.

Job.

Job 1:6-22.

Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you! While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you! While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!

Job.

Job 1:6-22.

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind

swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you! At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.

Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised. In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Our attitude during trials and suffering.

1 Peter 5:6-10. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong,

firm and steadfast.

Romans 5:3-4.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Our attitude during trials and suffering.

James 1:2-4.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The trials and tests that come our way are the agents that make us better or bitter, the choice is ours.

Many sour spirited Christians bear testimony to how many fail this test.

Our attitude during trials and suffering.

Philippians 3:7-18.

I want to know Christ yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Hebrews 10:32-37.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://www.lockman.org)




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