SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY
Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church. Morning to you.
Before we get started with the message this morning, I want to honor a special group of people.
A number of years ago, we started the Renovation School of Theology
(put up School of Theology slide)
And today, we want to honor our third graduating class.
In the past couple years…we’ve graduated now 27 people through our School!
I’m going to say the names of this year’s 8 graduating students, and when I call your name you can join me on stage.
They’ve worked really hard the past number of summers to dive deep into the Bible and theology, so they could better know God’s Word.
Not just for themselves, but as our vision states: To be a people being changed by God to change the world.
And so this morning, we want to honor their studies and their commitment to studying their faith, so they could grow in their faith, and make an impact.
Presenting them their graduation certificate is John McCormick, who heads up our School of Theology
Would you join me in honoring their hard work and studies for the Lord with your applause?
Thank you so much, you all can have a seat.
I know a whole lot of you took classes this summer & are working your way towards this.
While others are contemplating signing up next summer…
I can’t encourage you enough to sign-up next summer.
It’s a great way to dive deeper!
We are continuing in our Rescue Series on the book of Exodus today.
If you’re new around here, or you’ve never read the Book of Exodus in the Bible before, so far in the book, God has delivered his people, The Israelites, out of slavery in Egypt.
He sent the 10 plagues against Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
God parted the sea
And now the Israelites are journeying towards the promised land
But currently in the story, they’re in the Sinai peninsula
I had someone come up to me after church last week with a really good critique of my teaching.
She said, “David, I’m quite disappointed in you. It’s been far too long since we’ve had a good map, and you love maps.”
I said, “You speak the truth! Let’s get to a map!”
(Sinai Peninsula Map)
(Explain their route and where they are now)
When we left off last week, the Israelites were camped at a place named Rephidim.
They didn’t have water, but God told Moses to the strike a rock, and a ton of water flowed out from it.
We’re going to join the story right where we left off
You’re going to see that the Israelites are going to have to attempt to ward off a surprise attack from a new enemy.
(Exodus 17:8-16) – NIV
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”
15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
So the Israelites are camped in the desert, drinking water from the rock, and out of nowhere, they’re attacked by the Amalekites.
Who, history tells us, were a nomadic people mostly lived off of attacking other nations and plundering their wealth.
And the Israelites look like an easy target, right?
Although they are massive in number, they’ve been enslaved for generations, so they probably know almost nothing about warfare.
Besides all of this, the book of Deuteronomy tells us that the Amalekites didn’t engage them head on
(Deuteronomy 25:17-18) – NIV
17 Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. 18 When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God.
So, the Amalekites attack, unprovoked, and not only that, they’re picking off the old, the young, the weak, all those are lagging behind.
God is not happy about this.
He has Moses write about his anger on a scroll to be remembered!
In fact, it said in verse 16 of our passage today that because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord…
…which means something like, “Because the Amalekites lifted up their fists against the Lord…”
God will be against them.
This was not a good thing…to attack the women and children of God’s people, unprovoked, on the way to the Promised Land…there’s going to be some justice for that!
And when you dive into your Bible, you’ll see that this is an age old rivalry (the Israelites and Amalekites)…that will last for around 1,400 years.
It goes back about 450 years before our story when the actual person named Israel (also known as Jacob) had an intense rivalry with his twin brother Esau.
We’re told in Genesis 36 that Esau had a grandson named Amalek, and that’s where the Amalekites descend from.
The Amalekites are descendants of this intense rivalry of Israel and Esau.
Could be why they attacked unprovoked that day…
For those of you that were here with us back in 2015 when we were in 1 Samuel, there’s a story in chapter 15 where the prophet Samuel told Saul that he needed to wipe out (guess who…) the Amalekites in battle…
Saul is told to do so because the Amalekites were still ATTACKING the Israelites…now 400 years AFTER our story took place
And yet, in 1 Samuel chapter 15, Saul is disobedient and doesn’t kill the King of the Amalekites…Agag…and the Amalekites live on.
550 years after that, the Israelites have been exiled to Babylon and Persia, and now an evil man named Haman has put an edict in place to kill all of the Jews.
And guess what…Haman…is…an Amalekite…a descendant of King Agag of the Amalekites.
Thankfully Queen Esther saves them all
So, God is not a fan of the actions of the Amalekites. J
Some would say, that in addition to being historical & true, the Amalekites also serve as a good example of our never-ending battle against sin and evil forces
We just can never seem to (or want to) fully eradicate it
And so I want to ask a question of this passage for us today: How do you win a battle when one comes up in your life?
And I want to give you 3 battle-plan strategies from Exodus 17 on how to win the battles of your life.
Let’s start with the first one.
How to Win a Battle:
If you’re here today, and you feel like:
Your marriage is slipping away from you…
Your teenager is falling away from God…
Your own faith is fading away…
If you’re engaged in any type of battle, this may seem obvious, but one of the first things you have to do…is fight.
The Amalekites are picking off their weak, and they don’t just say, “Let’s just pray about it.”
Moses says, “Joshua, get some fighting men, we’re going to go FIGHT!”
Maybe it’s our Minnesota/passive nature, but too often so many of us don’t do anything until it’s too late.
Your enemy the devil is breaking apart your marriage (and by the way, Paul says in Ephesians 6, that our real battle is with him, not just people)…
He’s breaking apart your marriage, and you’ve just been watching it deteriorate.
FIGHT. Fight for it.
You told God that you’d be together for better or for worse.
Well, welcome to the “the worse” stage of your marriage.
But you can’t get back to the “better” unless you fight…when times are hard and scary…and it feels like you’re losing.
I believe every Christian married couple should get counseling at least 1 or 2 times in the span of a marriage.
Get counseling. It’s okay.
Not sure where to start? Send us an email, we can help.
But too many wait too long.
They wait until the house is fully on fire and the last room is burning down.
Ask for help when you spot the first flames.
God is teaching that very principle to the Israelites.
If you think about it, up until this point, he’s actually fought all of their battles for them.
God brought the plagues, God parted the sea, God drowned the Egyptians.
But now, He’s showing them that in so much of life, we must take action as well.
You can’t just pray.
Why do you think the Bible has hundreds of commands and action words?
Serve, obey, follow, love, surrender, help…
It doesn’t just say, “Only pray”
Charles Spurgeon once said:
“Prayer is a downright mockery if it does not lead us into the practical use of means likely to promote the ends for which we pray.” - Charles Spurgeon
Let’s say you drink alcohol, like a lot of Americans…
And once a month or every other month, you end up getting drunk.
Listen Jesus drank alcohol, but the bible is incredibly clear that drunkenness is a sin.
Like Ephesians 5: “Do no get drunk”
And let’s say you read that…and you feel convicted…
The challenge is…most of us pray prayers like this:
“God, I need to stop taking it that far. Could you help me stop? Could you just… “take this away from me?”
That’s a really common prayer for a lot of Americans.
“Take this away from me”
“Now, I’m not personally going to do anything about it…but if you could take it away, that would be grand!”
Yes, ask God for help (we’re going to get to that section next), but if you ask Him for help
You’ve got to walk it out.
If you ask him for help in winning the battle, you’ve still got to get up, grab your sword, and fight.
Trusting that He’s going to empower you to WIN.
Where is it that YOU need to fight in your life right now?
We need to fight!
As a church, we know this is true and we try and live this out in our vision: “To be a people being changed by God to change the world”
Except right now, in every state in America (with the exception of Hawaii), the percentage of people in church shrinks every year
Hawaii, by the way, has a couple of amazing church planting networks that are starting churches like crazy, and they are actually turning the tide!
Hope Chapel in Hawaii is the closest thing in America right now to an actual exponential movement.
Their church has birthed a movement of over 700 new churches!
And the percentage of Christians in Hawaii is actually increasing every year.
In Hawaii, they’re praying, and then moving like God is going to answer their prayers!
All while too many Christians, and too many churches, back on the mainland, are spending their time whining, lamenting, or crying about missing the days when Americans were more moral or actually paid attention to God.
But as I tell my kids, whining won’t get you anywhere.
Let’s fight for this.
Instead of judging and rolling our eyes at people who don’t know Jesus, let’s tell them about Jesus!
Let’s get out and change the world instead of sitting back and lamenting that the world has changed!
That’s one of the reasons we encourage 100% of people who call Renovation home to serve somewhere at Renovation Church. 100%
We’re offering 25-30 minute trainings after both of our services today for all of our volunteers.
You can stay today.
Fight with us.
In fact, in just 3 weeks, we are having an absolutely enormous outreach to the community, called Family Fun Day
(family fun day slide)
On September 10th, we will be having FOUR services, and after every service, every man, woman, and child, will get tickets to go outside to get free food from our food trucks (free cheese curds, mini donuts, hot dogs & brats this year, pulled pork sandwiches, kettle corn, etc.)
And we will have a whole field worth of inflatables out there for kids.
We’re expecting over 1,000 people that day.
And at every service, we’ll give people an opportunity to surrender their lives to Christ.
We know that not everyone who comes to these events sticks at our church.
Experts say, a person typically has to hear the Gospel (how to become a Christian) an average 6 times before it sinks in
But many people do stick.
And many come back, months later, or when life gets hard.
Others come to a couple of these events, and then start coming.
But this is an absolutely incredible opportunity.
I’m not sure if I can think of even more than 1 or 2 other examples in all of the Twin Cities where churches or evangelistic outreaches are gathering in 500 to 1,000 unchurched people in a room like we’ve seen for our Family Fun Day & Easter Events.
God is using this.
We are going to see A LOT of people stand up and surrender their lives to Jesus.
But we need you to battle with us.
In fact, we need 96 EXTRA volunteers to pull this off.
Serve with us. Don’t just watch this event. Let God use you.
If you can serve at two services. Do two. Or three.
This is one of the most exciting things you can be part of.
Patrick will tell you how to sign up in announcements.
(Back to “How to win a battle slide)
So, whatever’s happening in your life right now, whether it’s personal or even something within our church life, it starts by getting off the couch, and getting in the game.
We fight our battles.
But of course, that’s not all there is.
If all that happened was Joshua went out there with his men to fight the Amalekites, then the Israelites probably would have lost
Or if they would have won, they would have just grown confident in their own abilities.
There’s more to a successful battle plan
How to Win a Battle:
Moses sends Joshua out to fight, but he climbs a hill to go and pray.
He holds up his hands, which was a typical posture of prayer for the Israelites back then.
Just as today people may fold their hands or bow their heads.
And every time his hands start to fall, the Israelites are losing the battle.
But every time they go back up, they start winning again.
There’s a key principle here in your battle strategy against the struggles you will encounter:
While both action and prayer are necessary, it is ultimately prayer that brings victory.
We pray and ask God to move, and He moves (yes because we went out in faith that He would move)…but He moves because we asked HIM to do it.
And when we’re in His will…He moves…mightily.
And yet, when most of us are in a real-life a battle (maybe your relationship with a sibling or a parent or a friend is falling apart…),
When we’re in a battle, most of us haven’t weighted our battle plan correctly.
Most of us either do nothing…
Or if we do actually do something, we put about 95% of our energy into the fighting portion, and about 5% into prayer.
But this passage teaches that while both are necessary, the real battle is won in prayer.
Reminds me of the Christian movie War Room.
It’s a bit cheesy at times, but it bears out this principle well.
It’s a great visual example of how prayer and action in tandem can win battles in your life…but that prayer is the ultimate catalyst
Check it out.
We need to learn this principle if we’re going to start winning more battles in our life…but this is not an easy thing to do
If I can, allow me to quote Spurgeon twice in one message
“You are not so likely to fail in your efforts as in your prayers. We never read that Joshua's hand was weary with wielding the sword, but Moses' hand was weary with holding the rod. The more spiritual the duty, the more apt we are to tire of it.” – Charles Spurgeon
He goes on to say that we could all go out and serve or do some sort of “action” for an hour…fairly easily.
But to spend an hour in prayer…feels like, to most of us, impossible!
There’s probably less than 10 Christians in this room who’ve prayed for even one hour at a time before.
And yet, many of us have probably spent days, months, even years trying to solve our problems through other means.
But what’s the battle plan principle?
Prayer is your ultimate battle strategy.
Action yes, but prayer is the key.
But there’s one more important part of the Battle Strategy when you’re facing a challenge in your life
How to Win the Battle:
Sometimes, when you’re in the fight of your life, and you’re been battling hard, and you’ve been praying hard, sometimes in the exhaustion of it all, you just feel like giving up.
You get tired of trying to make it work, solve the problem, make things right, and you just want to throw in the towel.
And that’s why every single one of us in this room needs people with us, who, when we throw in the towel, they’re there to catch it and give it back to us.
They’re there to help us keep going, keep praying.
Do you have that in your life?
When Moses drops his arms, because He just can’t hold them up in prayer anymore, Aaron and Hur are there to hold them up for him.
It’s a beautiful picture.
And that’s what God wants for you in your life.
That’s why such a foundational part of Renovation Church is our House Groups.
Our groups of 30 or so people that meet weekly during the school year.
Almost 80% of our adults are in one…and have found out what a blessing it is when we feel like putting our arms down (we’ve all been there)…
But as you put your arms down, you feel two other people putting them back up.
What power there is in community!
Sign-ups for those groups start in just a few weeks.
We’re even starting a brand-new group on Monday nights because we’ve had so many new people start coming here over the spring and summer
Put people around you, who will hold you up spiritually when you feel like putting your arms down.
One of the things that jumped out at me about this passage was the fact that Moses intentionally brought Aaron and Hur with him to the top of the hill.
It’s a decision he made ahead of time!
It wasn’t like his arms started dropping and he said, “Man, I wish I would have brought someone with me! Can anyone hear me down there?”
But that’s exactly the position that most of us leave ourselves in.
In the good times, we think, “I’m fine. I don’t really need these other people to know about the real challenges of my life.”
And them “BAM” life hits you hard…it starts picking you off from behind like the Amalekites, and as your faith starts eroding, you begin wishing you had some people to hold your arms up!
Bring them in now!
And be sure to think through the opposite side of this discussion as well.
As Americans, we naturally read this passage and immediately think, “Yeah, who’s going to hold MY arms up?”
Where, many people in other countries and culture, would read this passage and their first question would be, “Whose arms can I hold up?”
Ask that question as well.
In fact, I think this is a major growing point for our church.
Even for the 80% of you already in Biblical community.
As the pastor of this church, I’ve watched a lot of people suffer though some tough stuff this year.
Maybe more than any other year of my 13 years of ministry.
And too often, their friends around them don’t know what to do.
It all seems so overwhelming, that they end up just staring…thinking, “Wow, his, or her, hands are falling, the battle’s being lost…
But like Minnesotans we say, “But I don’t want to say or do the wrong thing.”
And so we end up just being bystanders while our friends lose their battles.
Stop being a bystander.
Even if you don’t know what to say, stand next to them, and hold up their arms.
Pray for them. Pray with them. Stand with them.
And your prayers…and your faith…will lift them up in their faith…and the battle can still be won.
So fight, and pray, and support.
And God will move.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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