Nobody Special 026: I Guess We Are Talking About Logan Paul

This week the boys of Nobody Special talk about what is going on in their lives and then realize that nothing is really going on.  At least nothing that would necessitate a daily vlog.  Truly, we live boring lives.  Although, occasionally, we have to deal with the issue of comments made about Danny’s weight.  So we take this opportunity to learn how to support one another during difficult times.  Exercising is terrible.  Just saying.

Also, we look at the current and ongoing scandal of Logan Paul. We look at why people subscribe to him and what the appeal is.  Also, we look at what the Christian response to these types of scenarios should be.  Grace and truth should be extended to everyone no matter what they do.  Even if what they do is horrifying.

Good news though, we’ve now been doing this show for one solid year.  Thanks for hanging in there with us.

Shout Out!  Grace Road Church in Rochester, NY has an amazing Podcast of their sermons that you should check out.  Click Here to check them out. Also, check out Youthquake Live and all their various shows in the Jacksonville, FL area.

The Gospel Outpost Presents Nobody Special

Exodus Week 8: God’s Covenant Code

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

How quickly we seem to forget things.

As the Israelites looked upon the Egyptian army bearing down on them with their backs to the Red Sea, their enslavement or death looked imminent.  The situation for the Israelites appeared to be fatal.  It had only been one day since they were led by the hand out God out of Egypt.  Yet, having been rescued through the sovereign grace of God, the people immediately began to doubt that God had even sent Moses. “’They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” Exodus 14:11-12, NIV

The Egyptians had just undergone one of the most horrific and unexplainable events.  In just one night, their first-born children had suddenly and inexplicably died.  Incomprehensible for most, but not, however, for Pharaoh.  Pharaoh knew the cause of these ten plagues that wrought Egypt—each one a demoralizing victory to the Egyptian gods, but a clear display of the sovereignty of the God of Moses.  As judgment rained down from heaven, in some cases literally, Pharaoh knew that this could only be from his ego for refusing to release the people of God.  When the Angel of Death had taken the lives of the firstborn, every home in Egypt was impacted, Pharaoh’s included, and he relented.  But, realizing that the workforce had significantly been depleted, he swiftly sent his military to return the people of Israel to their slavery.  How quickly we forget…

The people of Israel had witnessed the sovereignty of God as well.  At each step, God had provided for their well-being.  There was safety and protection through every step of the plagues that ravaged the Egyptian people. In the final plague, Moses guided the people through to safety and secured their release.  They did so, not hobbling away with very little possessions, but as a victorious people with treasures and provision alongside.  Even during their flight from Egypt, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.” Exodus 13:21, NIV  The miraculous had been the defining nature of God’s provision for them. Yet, with their backs pressed against the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, they turned on Moses and lost their faith in God, asking to return voluntarily to Egypt rather than die.  How quickly we forget…

Where there seemed to be no way for the people of Israel to escape what appeared to be their fate, they lost track of the obvious.  God had brought them to exactly that moment.  There was no other way for the people of Israel to be saved except by the hand of God.  Their strength was insufficient.  The Almighty God would show Himself that day as the God who is not to be challenged, but who fortifies His people with love and grace.

Remember What The Lord Has Done For You

When it seems the world is not going your way, there are a multitude of ways to respond.  For some, the idea of coming closer to God during this process is an afterthought, if it is even a thought at all. This is a time for decisive action, not a time for passive contemplation.  Your strength must be activated in order to resolve the situation.  For others, the temptation is the immediate loss of all hope.  The Israelites opted for the second option.  With everything that God had done for them and everywhere God had directed them, with a pillar of fire and cloud guiding them day and night, the people of Israel quickly dropped into fear that God could not save them.

As the Israelites departed Egypt, they did so with clear instructions to consecrate the firstborn of every household, and that this was to be a recurring event when they arrived in the Promised Land (Exodus 13:1-16).   Furthermore, Moses ensured that the bones of Joseph would travel with them, based on promises made by Joseph that God would provide the Promised Land for them.  “And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” (Genesis 50:25, NIV). The bones reminded the people that it was God who brought them into Egypt and it was God who was bringing them out.

Hopefully, you and I will never have to stand down a literal army.  This, however, does not mean that we are without risk and attack.  Pharaoh’s army was ruthless and well advanced in military strategy and technique.  Yet, when compared to the spiritual forces of darkness, the Egyptian army looked playful.  Whenever we make spiritual progress and growth, the enemy is there attempting to snatch us back to where we were.  Temporary times of difficulties and setbacks in our relationship with God seem to be enough to prevent us from seeing past our immediate circumstances.

Encountering spiritual difficulties can easily weigh us down.  During these times, let us remember what the Lord has done for us in the past.  We do not have the same luxury that God has in being omniscient.  However, we do know what God has done for us in the past.  Remember the times that God provided when you saw no way out.  Think back on the words that God has spoken to you.  Instead of retreating or returning to past temptations, set your eyes on God and know that you can trust Him.  He has provided in the past, He is guiding you now, and He will continue to lead you into a greater connection with Him.

The Lord Will Fight For You

There the Israelites stood, their backs against the Red Sea, staring down the Egyptian army and their chariots.  In their lack of faith and complaining, Moses reassured his people: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14, NIV) The Lord would protect His people that day from any who would chase them.  For the Egyptians had incurred the wrath of God and would be summarily dealt with.  Furthermore, the display of the power and might of God would astound everyone.

The breath of God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to safely walk across, with walls of water protecting them on both sides.  The Angel that had been accompanying them and going before them moved behind them to protect the people from the oncoming attack.  After Israel had arrived on the other side safely and the Egyptians had pursued them, the walls of water fell; and, no matter how advanced the Egyptian army had been, they were no more.  What did the Israelites have to do?  Nothing.  In fact, there was nothing they could do. This was squarely God’s victory, not the Israelites’.  For all their numbers, for all their planning, any attempt to fight the Egyptians or ford the river would have been met with their demise.  God, however, had different plans. They only had to be still and allow God to fight on their behalf.

This is the core of spiritual warfare.  The strength of man will always come short when compared with the strength of an omnipotent God.  He is limitless and ceaseless.  We can battle through our own temptations, our sins, and our struggles; but unless we give God control of the situation and stand still, we will not find victory.  Often, we feel as if we need to be the ones to power through a particular sin or spiritual struggle.  We crave the approval of a heavenly Father who will see our work and say that He is proud.  But this is pride.  Rather than God approving of us, God loves us to our core and protects us as a true father would his infant child.  There is protection and salvation for those who stand in the presence of God when challenged.

We contribute very little to the equation.  Our role is not to become the superhero that saves the day.  In fact, in the story that God is weaving throughout human history, we are the ones who need saving.  Our role is to allow God to fight on our behalf.  The hand of God may reach through ours, but our first response to any spiritual battle will be to allow God to fight.  There is a faith and trust in the stillness that knows that God is able to sustain His people.

Discussion Questions

Read Exodus 14

  1. In the story of Exodus up to this point, what are some of the things that God has told His people to remember? Why do you think God wanted these events remembered?
  2. Why did the Israelites turn so quickly on God and Moses? What reason did they give for wanting to return to Egypt?
  3. Often times, we try to rely on our own strength to dig ourselves out of whatever situation we face. How does this jeopardize our spiritual health and well-being?
  4. What makes standing still and allowing God to fight for us so difficult? What inner fears or doubts fuel our desire to accomplish everything on our own?
  5. When have you experienced God’s provision, protection, or presence in the past? How do these moments fuel your faith during the times when you see no way out?
  6. Why is it so difficult to lose faith and hope in the midst of difficult time? What are the dangers of allowing circumstantial emotion to control our faith?
  7. In which area of your life do you struggle the most with seeing how God will provide in a situation or situations you are facing? How can we, as a group of Christians, support one another through the difficult times we face?

Download a Printable Version Here


This article original appeared here for Redeemer Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

Redeemer Church is located in Ponte Vedra, FL where you can come as you are to be amongst family and learn about Jesus. Redeemer is constantly learning together and we’re passionate about the spiritual journey God is guiding us through. Redeemer lives and breathes to reach people in our community and see the promise of God’s redemptive love fulfilled in their lives. Check out their website at http://www.redeemerpv.com

James 3:13-18 Both Sides of Wisdom

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

James continues his discussion of wisdom and how we apply it to our lives as Christians. James begins with a rhetorical question challenging to the reader to take a look inward and ask “Am I wise?”  Wisdom goes beyond a simple understanding of what is right.  While wisdom includes understanding, it goes beyond that.  Wisdom, and thus a wise person, applies what they have learned.  Yet, this wisdom is easily contrasted with the wisdom of the world.  The world will encourage us to pursue selfish gain over and at the expense of others.  The wisdom of Heaven, though, strives for a greater and deeper expression of a life changed and redeemed by an everlasting God.

 

Download The Discussion Guide: James 3:13-18

‘Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:13-18, NIV

Earthly Wisdom

The world and the heavenly realms are at odds with one another and we should never forget this fact.  The things the world values and holds dear are not the same that the heaven values.  James wastes no time and attacking this same earthly wisdom. Success in our day, and in James’ time as well, defines itself through personal advancement.  Thus, people pursue this at any cost.  Others are disregarded and ignored all for the sake of personal gain.  Furthermore, when applied to its logical conclusion, people boast in this same advancement.  Advancement at the sake of others is the exact opposite of the Gospel.  Jesus sought the advancement of others at the sake of Himself, choosing to die on the cross.  Furthermore, society functions greater when we seek to take care of one another instead of profit off of one another.  Earthly wisdom can only lead to death fueled by greed.

Wisdom from Heaven

This earthy wisdom is contrasted with the wisdom of heaven.  When compared, the two seem stand in stark contradiction to one another.  There is this sense that justice is met through our dealings with one another but also grace is extended to the individual.  Peace is made long before it is threatened, seeking to have the difficult conversations instead of avoiding it for a faux peace.  The wisdom of heaven seeks to enact the values of heaven in our daily life.    Faith is enacted and lived out.  This is wisdom.  Knowledge starts and leads to opportunities to express itself, but the actually living out of what we believe and hold to deeply is wisdom.

Download The Discussion Guide: James 3:13-18


Check out the rest of the Series on James by Clicking Here and post pictures of your bible study on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Making All Things New: From Death To Life

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

There is something profoundly different about buying a new car or buying a used car.  When you buy a used car, normally the person selling it does everything in their power to make it appear to be as new.  The inside is not only cleaned out, it is polished and detailed in every crevasse and nook.  Air fresheners are added in hops of giving it that “new car smell” and mask any additional scents picked up along the way.  Yet, for all of the effort, a used car can never be truly new again.  You can replace parts, clean the inside, and fix problems, but when it comes down to it, the car is still a used car.  There will still be flaws that affect performance, small imperfections in the car and everything will be just shy of new.

Our spiritual lives are incredibly similar.  We may do many things to make ourselves as clean.  We may cut out sin, exercise more, try to strive for perfection, but ultimately, apart from Christ, we will fail.  However clean and polished we may look, we will be used and aged.  This make the works of Jesus Christ that much more impressive.  In John’s Revelation, he was given a glimpse into the final days and the end times.  During this, he had the privilege of understanding what God sought after in the salvation of His people.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:5, NIV

Towards the end of John’s Revelation he understood God’s desire for the salvation of His people.  God was making all things new.  The plan wasn’t to attempt to tidy of or to make a used car to be like new, but to reform and remake a person new.  There is a difference between new and like new and God would be making all things new.  God, on His sovereign throne, would command existence itself to be restored to fullness by His powerful might and His wondrous grace.  Though sin had been introduced to the world and through it death, God removes the decay for the restoration of mankind.

The Introduction of Sin

Apart from Christ, you are dead.  Plain and simple.  There is no getting round this fact.  With the introduction of sin into the system, the world cracked under the weight of imperfection.  From its inception, the world was intended to reflect the glory of the Lord as an extension of His creation.  The hand of God created the world and spoke of the marvelous nature of the Lord. Yet, the introduction of sin brought with it a crack in creation.  Suddenly, the perfect system that God had created was exposed to imperfection and unholiness.  While it was intended to be in a perpetual state of newness, instead it had become a grimy used mess, unfit for the presence of God.

Sin corrupted a perfect system and decaying spread to the whole of creation and to the innermost parts of our soul. The only solution would be our restoration. Click To Tweet

Likewise, on a personal level, sin was introduced to our selves and the consequences were devastating.  “‘Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.’ (Romans 5:12, NIV) The effects of sin were a condemnation of death.  In our sin, death already reigned supreme.  We were dead but merely passing the time until we arrived at that conclusion.  Sin corrupted a perfect system and decaying spread to the whole of creation and to the innermost parts of our soul.  The only solution would be our restoration.

A Full Restoration

The work of Jesus Christ was not to act as a cloth to wipe down a dirty surface.  The goal was to take something from used to new.  Where death had it’s reign through sin, having been introduced by Adam, life would have its reign through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  The simple answer for God would have been to pour out His wrath on a sinful people.  Yet, to do so, would be the destruction of His beloved creation made in His image.  Instead, God sought to restore the relationship.  The work of Christ made the path to a restored relationship between God and man, despite our many sins and short comings.  We may be a sinful people, but we are a loved people whose God pursues us regardless of our actions and our rebellion against the created order.  After all, we were intended to be in full relationships with God and it is precisely this relationship that God would be making new.

You may feel old, dirty, unclean, and out of touch with your faith, but remember the words of God seated on the throne; I am making all things new. Click To Tweet

You may feel old, dirty, unclean, and out of touch with your faith, but remember the words of God seated on the throne, “I am making all things new.”  No more will you be weighed down by the burden of sin and its effects because Jesus Christ has paved a way for your salvation and your restoration.  That issue of unholiness that you once struggled to come out from under can be laid bare at the feet of Jesus.  Allow God to make you new and give Him full access to the deepest parts of your soul.  He is a God who does not seek your death but seeks your restoration.  Where the relationship with God was once separated by an unsurmountable chasm, Jesus Christ made a way for us to return home and to be made new once again.

Exodus Week 7: God’s Self-Revelation

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

Three months have now gone by since the people of Israel were saved from the mad king tyrant of Pharaoh.  During that time, the people had followed the guidance of God with a pillar of smoke and fire guiding them day and night.  The presence of God was with them and guiding them to safety.  Even more so than that, God had made provisions for them for both food and water, to provide for them supernaturally.  Clearly, God intended for the Israelites to not only survive but to live a thriving life.

When they arrived at Mount Sinai, getting closer and closer to the promised land, the Lord called Moses.  The Israelites were being called to a special relationship with God that would provide an example and testament to the world as they lived our God’s will on earth.  “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’” Exodus 19:5-6, NIV

The presence of God had gone before them, guiding them through the desert, but this was intrinsically different.  God desired to meet with Moses, face to face, as you and I would meet one another for coffee.  God would be coming in a cloud so that the people would be able to hear God and understand the special role that Moses was playing.  The cloud would be for the protection of the people but it was important that the people of Israel still heard the voice of God.

So this marked the beginning of three days of preparation before the grand meeting would occur.  The people would need to consecrate and purify themselves according to the standards of holiness that God had set before them.  No perfection could be tolerated and no amount of sin would be permitted to remain.  Furthermore, Moses was to limit how far up the mountain the people could go, making out the lines and areas that the Israelites could and could not cross. Furthermore, because of the sovereign and righteous presence of God, anyone who breeched the boundaries would immediately fall dead.  After all, sin cannot tolerate the presence of holiness and holiness is incredibly stronger than sin.

This was no ordinary meeting between God and man.  The way God directed Moses to speak to the people clearly was building up to be different than the other encounters that God had with man.  God descended to earth to meet with His servant and to enter into covenant relationship with Moses. God, while being not from this world but from the spiritual world, had come down to our world in order to bring to His people a new understanding of His presence and purpose in the world.

The Transcendence and Immanence of God

As God instructed Moses to prepare the people for His coming, it was a direct representation of the vastness that lay between God and man.  God is a transcendent God who reigns in the perfection of the throne room of Heaven.  He is holy and wholly other. It would take three days of the people purifying themselves in order to meet with Moses atop a smoke-veiled mountain.  When sin entered into the world, it could no longer sustain the presence of the perfection of power of a Holy God.  Furthermore, this veil of cloud and smoke was for the protection of the people.  For, however much the earth would tremble at the mere presence of God, the people would not be able to even approach God because of the sin that resides deep within them.

Yet, for however transcendent, however far off God may be in His Holiness, God is also coming close.  God’s immanent nature show us that He is a God who comes close to His people.  The separation between God and man is not sufficient for the relationship that God desires with His people.  It is God who wants to draw near to His people and draw them to Himself.  God craves the relationship with His special creation who bears His image.  The immanence of God is a blessing and a gift in that He would stoop down to our level in order to raise us up to His.  This is the blessing of God’s salvation.  We encounter the richness and fullness of God because it is God who seeks to find and save us first.

We have an unapproachable God who bids us to approach Him with confidence.  We have an unknowable God who reveals Himself to us in order that we might know Him.  For however other worldly and far off that God may be, it is God who made the first move to reveal Himself to His people.  Moses did not command God to meet him on Mount Sinai, rather it was God who came down in glorious thunder in order to meet with Moses face-to-face.  Furthermore, it was not for a reprimanding for a (deserved) grumbling people who had seen the provision of God yet balked at its sustenance. No, it was out of the depth of love for His people to guide and protect them and pave a path to their salvation.  God is a God of self-revelation, and that self-revelation is fueled by His very nature—love.

This self-revelation of God to His people only serves as a foreshadowing of Jesus and later the Holy Spirit.  At this point, when God revealed himself to the people, it was under the auspices of the cloud engulfing the mountain.  This was not, on His part, to withhold Himself, but to save the people of Israel.  Yet, as Christ came and later sent the Holy Spirit, the barrier between God and man was lifted.  God not only revealed himself in the form of man, but He did so unhindered and more approachable, and now more than ever.

The Blessing of The Law

It had been three days of preparation.  The pieces had been moving, the people were in a constant state of purifying themselves to the best of their ability.  The Lord had spoken through Moses and commanded the people to consecrate themselves for the coming of God.  The transcendent God coming in his immanence would alter the course of human history for all time.  The world groaned with the coming of a righteous and holy presence which thundered down.  After three days of preparation by the people of Israel, God met with Moses at the summit of Mount Sinai.  And the mighty and powerful God spoke…

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery…” (Exodus 20:2, NIV)

The next few verses would become affectionately referred to as the Ten Commandments.  They would be memorized by children and adults alike.  People would make monuments out of them and they would become a sign of the holiness and moral code of God.  Yet, this predicates each and every command of God given.  God did not lead with an indictment against a rebellious and cantankerous people, but instead lead with the reminder of who He was.  He was their Lord.  He was their Savior.  God had been there for them in the past, He stood before them now, and He would continue to be there for them in the future.

We do not have any gods before Him, because He is the one true God who saved us.  We would not diminish the name of God because He is exalted over all names.  As His people, we would not need idols because the transcendent God has made Himself immanent.  God commanded a Sabbath for our benefit, as He is our protector and guide.  We would honor our mother and father because it displays our relationship to our Heavenly Father who wishes nothing but our own protection.  Murder. Adultery. Stealing. Lying. Coveting.  All of these stood in stark contrast to the will and nature of a God who led His people by His power and might.  He is the Lord our God.

We may tend to view the law as restrictive, but when viewed through the lens of God’s self-revelation, it is anything but restrictive.  God, time and time again, has mightily displayed His full power for the sake of protecting His people.  When the commands are given, they are not given as a punishment for the people but as a means of setting them free.  God’s mission throughout the course of human history is to save and redeem His people from themselves, and the law is no exception to that. It is sin that binds us; and the law, the direct revelation of the will of God, shows us when we are not in line and when we are not following our Lord.

Following Jesus Christ and the standards of perfection set by Him is not the thing that saves us.  It is God and God alone who saves us by grace and grace alone.  The law, for however difficult it may be, places the barriers around the things that destroy us.  Living a righteous life does not lead to one’s salvation but rather springs forth from it.  It is the answer to our prayer: “God reveal your will.”  In a supreme act of grace for His people, God gave us His word and Holy standard and by His might; and because of how He has pulled us out of the grips of death, we will follow Him.

God is our Lord revealed to us.

Discussion Questions

Read Exodus 19-20

  1. What does it mean that God is transcendent? What does this reveal about His nature and person?  How does this display the holiness of God?
  2. What does it mean that God is immanent? How does God’s immanence reveal the feelings He has for His people and the mission He is looking to accomplish during human history?
  3. What is usually our first instinct to being told we have to do or cannot do something? How do we respond to authority in our life and why?
  4. What is the foundation of the law? What is the purpose of giving the law to the people of Israel?  In which ways does understanding this purpose help us to obey the law?
  5. Often times, disobedience can be a result of not trusting in the authority from which the law was given. What assurance and reminders did God give to the Israelites?  Where in your life have you received the assurance of God?  How did this impact your ability to follow God?
  6. In what way does the fact that God is giving us a greater understanding of the things of His heart help us to see Him in the world we live in every day? How do we apply the word of God in our daily living?

Download a Printable Version Here

 


This article original appeared here for Redeemer Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

Redeemer Church is located in Ponte Vedra, FL where you can come as you are to be amongst family and learn about Jesus. Redeemer is constantly learning together and we’re passionate about the spiritual journey God is guiding us through. Redeemer lives and breathes to reach people in our community and see the promise of God’s redemptive love fulfilled in their lives. Check out their website at http://www.redeemerpv.com

Great New Adventures For A Grand New Year

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

And just like that, 2017 is over.  

For some of us, it was a difficult year and for other it was a year of adjustment.  Other, it was a season of waiting and trying to remain faithful where we are for the time that we are there.  If your year was anything like mine, it was a year that seemed to slowly chip away at a great deal of things.  Now, as we arrive in 2018, a great opportunity to renew and refresh stands before me.  Sure, the start of a new year is, frankly, an arbitrary date on a calendar, but nonetheless, New Years remains an opportunity for self-reflection.  As Christians, this can be a phenomenal opportunity to take an honest look at who we are and where we are going.  With that said, I have a few encouragements for everyone this upcoming year and some personal goals that I am setting out to accomplish.

Goals For Spiritual Growth

This past year, I have spent a fair amount of time looking at the things going on in the world and how we choose to portray them.  Our response in the news to the things of this world, in my opinion, has shown a complete lack of faith.  When we behave as if the actions of one man will cause the end of our existence, we forget that Jesus Christ has already secured our victory and established our home in eternity. In our relationship with Christ, every opportunity is a chance to further our relationship and come to a greater understanding of who He is and what story He is telling.

When we behave as if the actions of one man will cause the end of our existence, we forget that Jesus Christ has already secured our victory and established our home in eternity. Click To Tweet
  • Great The Year With Expectation Every day is a gift from God and an opportunity to praise the Lord. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19, NIV) The blessings of God are easier to see when we are looking for them.  When we choose to not allow ourselves to concentrate on the negative, but see the world for the opportunities that God brings, our outlook changes.  We see things differently and our life is renewed.
  • Focus on Christ And His Unfolding Story “Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV) The new thrives on unceasing and incessant stream of conflict and hopelessness.  As we learned through our Series during Advent And He Shall Be Called, the Gospel of Jesus’ coming is a story of hope, peace, and joy.  Rather than focus on every conflict, we can choose to instead set our eyes on our maker who brings us joy and restoration in the midst of trails and storms.
  • Bring Your Sins to God and Each Other  This one, undoubtedly will be the most difficult.  We don’t want people to know our darkest secrets and we fear that if people know what we do then they will reject us.  Yet, for whatever sins we keep hidden, they gain in power.  The reality is that our sins, because of the sacrifice of Christ in the cross hold no actual authority over us anymore.  There is power in the strength of believers coming together and standing with each other.  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16, NIV)In bringing them up to God and to one another, we take hold of our forgiveness and stand in accountability with the strength of our brothers and sisters.

A Few Personal Goals

I am not usually a man prone to optimism, but I am a man prone to hope.  So, it feels odd to say that I am encouraged about 2018.  In a few ways, I feel that 2018 will be a season of change but it will also be a season of new adventures.  Change can be scary and hard work requires an extreme investment, but the pursuit of God is both radical change and the hard work of pursuing God.  This is not to say we are saved by our works, but that discipleship and the pursuit of God means the putting to death of our fleshly desires.  So, in seeking to continue to grow closer to God here are a few of my goals.

  • Daily Accountability of Reading Scripture remains vital to the lives of the Christian.  Yet, it is incredibly easy to place this on the back burner and “do it later” or rush through it.  Furthermore, going through faith alone is not God’s intended plan, nor is it fun.  So I have set up a Bible Reading Plan and will be going through it with a few people.  This will give us an opportunity to go together, ask questions, and grow as the body of believers together.
  • Jesus’ Strength to Conquer Sins Some lingering sins have shown their face again and for a while I fought them.  However, after many failed attempts to handle them, the efforts were reduced.  Not anymore.  God creates all things new, restores the broken, and give strength to the weary.  So, the efforts will be redoubled, not because I am saved by works, but because I have already been saved by God.  At some point, I will probably fail, but by the grace and strength of God, I will not quit.
  • Praise God Through The Garbage It takes no faith to praise God when everything is going alright.  Yet, we are guaranteed difficult times as a direct result of our faith.  When the times are difficult and the pain is real, instead of turning to anger, doubt, and despair, I am learning how to turn to God faster.  With all the changes and transitions things will assuredly be difficult at times, but it is God who sustains, guides, and protects.

2018 is going to be a year with exciting new adventures an opportunities.  With new challenges and adventures, the terrain will be unsure and the path unclear.  In JRR Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Rings, Bilbo Baggins gives the following caution to Frodo Baggins: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  While this was a caution, it was also an encouragement that there is a whole world waiting to be explored.  “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NIV).

May God guide you through 2018 and may we stand with one another as we grow in faith with each other.

Nobody Special 025: New Year New… Nevermind

They say distance make the heart grow fonder.  Well, this time, it makes the podcast way more difficult for the boys of Nobody Special.  It’s the Christmas season and that means that Danny is out of town.  But don’t be afraid, Danny still took time to record this episode by using Skype.  Which made for new challenges and some interesting audio.  Always getting better though!

We look ahead to the new year to see where we are going and where we want to be.  All while trying our best to not say “New Year New Me.”  That phrase is completely overused. Also, we look at what we did for the Christmas holiday and what great stories we have.  Then we realized we live relatively boring lives.  Be sure you ask us questions at thegospeloutpost.com

If you wanna join us in reading through the bible every day, join us in our group here: https://bible.com/p/776639/6592d0e9a5924ce425f58ffc8fcc2eee Growing spiritually is always done better in groups rather than alone.  Space is limited so join now.

Shout out to The Ignition Point and their podcast.  Subscribe to them as well and enjoy great content.

 

The Gospel Outpost Presents Nobody Special

 



Download Episode!

Exodus Week 6: God’s Provision

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

The saga with the Egyptians, for all intents and purposes, was over for the Israelites.  The army that had chased them had perished into the mighty waves of the Red Sea that God had parted for the Israelites to cross safely and rescinded when the Egyptians pursued the people under God’s care.  They were well on their way to the Promised Land that God had set apart for His people.  The journey, though, would not necessarily be easy.  Along the way, the people would need to lean into the faith that had got them to this moment to see them through to the next.

As the people were leaving, they did not have the full time to pack everything and prepare every ounce of food they would need along the way.  Sure, they were not without food as they had brought their livestock which would serve as a source of meat, dairy, and other means of provision, but they were faced with the immediate thoughts that they would run out of food and water.

So, in their fear and grumbling, they lost sight of what God was doing and cried as though they were defeated and dying.  It was not a mere complaining, but rather an abandonment of the faith.  They attacked Moses verbally, once again, since he was serving as God’s prophet and the one that had brought them into this mess to begin with.  He was the one who brought them out of Egypt into the desert and it was the desert where they would all collectively die as a people.

They clamored for Egypt where at least they could die with their physical bellies full.  Death to them was inevitable so why not die in the comfort of physical and earthly pleasure.  Physical comfort was not God’s objective, though, rather spiritual fulfillment. God sought to fill their spiritual hunger and thirst instead of the physical.  God would provide for His people, but He would do so as He always did.  His provision would serve as a sign and symbol that God is Sovereign and He alone provides salvation and redemption.

Thus, Moses was given the words to give the Israelites and the instructions on collecting the manna from the earth and water from the stone.  Manna would be provided for them as a kind of bread and water would spring forth from a stone that Moses struck with the rod that parted the sea.  The people were to take only what they needed for that day and nothing more.  To horde the food would demonstrate a lack of faith that God would provide.   Every step the people took would be taken in reliance on God’s provision.

While many have sought to explain these phenomenon in terms of scientific explanations, these explanations must be viewed through a divine lens.  It was not for a couple of people, or a hundred people, or thousands of people that manna rained from heaven, it was hundreds of thousands.  This was the entire nation of Israel and there were enough rations to cover everyone.  Furthermore, this would sustain them for forty years.  While God may have used the physical, it was the spiritual that truly provided for the needs of the people.  For however much the people of Israel grumbled and rebelled against God, it was the mighty hand of God that sustained them and provided for them at each step they took.

Our Attitude During The Provision

The Israelites, though, were a fickle people.  They were newly out of the Egypt, having witnessed God’s hand guiding them through the desert with a pillar of fire and cloud.  They had seen the miracle of God parting the sea for them to pass through safely.  The plagues which ravaged the Egyptians had miraculously passed over the Israelites and though they were once slaves to an arrogant king, they were now free.  All by the hand of God.  It was unmistakably by God’s provision and the Israelites knew it.

Yet, as the excitement of their departure from Egypt subsided, they returned to their day-to-day living (or at least to their new day-to-day in the desert).  As they walked through the desert, the people began to fear that they would die due to their lack of food and water.  This grumbling went beyond simple complaining but a rejection of their faith.  They had seen everything God had done to preserve them as a people but rebelled against God accusing Him of dragging them out to the desert to die.  Although they had seen and experienced the provision of God, they were malcontent in His sustaining grace.

We too, are a fickle people.  We experience the presence of God on one day but feel as though the Lord has abandoned us entirely on the next.  Our lives have put the fullness of God on display in the past, with the hand of God guiding our very step, but when the next moment of needing to trust arises, we are quick to abandon the God who has guided us every step so far.  We revert to craving the lifestyle we had before our redemption, looking at it through the rose colored glasses of thinking “I was at least happy,” when we know deep down that Christ redeemed us from our sin and death.

Faith is built when we can see the hand of God through our story. Our lives may only make sense when we look back on them.  Often times, when we are in the middle of a difficult situation, a spiritual attack, or a worrisome event, finding God may become more difficult.  But, we will clearly be able to trace His hand once we look back and see what good the Lord has done.  The truth is that for whatever situation we find ourselves, God’s provision is there just as it had been in the past.  It may not always look like we want it to but God’s promise is to never leave or forsake His people, no matter what fear or feeling we hold.

The Lord Will Provide For His Glory

Up until this point, the message from God to the Israelites was abundantly clear; their salvation and redemption would come from God and God alone.  There would be no explanation for their circumstance and no credit they could take for their salvation.  The same would be true for their provision.  After all, it was God who was guiding them through the wilderness and the desert, and it would be God to provide for their needs.

Furthermore, these needs extended beyond the physical.  Throughout the whole of the Exodus you see God very concerned that the people would immediately get discouraged and desire to return to Egypt (a truly omniscient God, indeed).  Thus, as God poured out manna and water for the people, the provision was nothing short of a divine miracle.  In their provision, there would be no questions as to where it came from.  It came from the God who not only cared for them in Egypt, but also cared for them in the desert.  It came from the God who would topple kingdoms and empires for His purposes.  This God redeemed His people by His mighty hand and this God would continue to feed His people with spiritual food and drink.

We, too, are blessed to have a God who will provide for us on a regular basis.  While our tendency may be to think we have done something to deserve this or we have earned it, this could not be further from the truth.  No amount of “good works” or “righteous deeds” will suffice to say that God is compelled to provide for us.  It is by grace and grace alone that God provides for our physical needs, our emotional needs, and, most importantly, our spiritual needs.  Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, a thing we could not and did not earn, the path to our salvation was laid before us.  This is our leading out of our former life towards the promise land that is a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  This is the true blessing of our provision.  God has provided for us.

Therefore, when we receive the provision of the Lord, we must remember that all the glory goes to God and God alone.  In sharing the story of God providing, whether through miracle or through ordinary events, give glory to God.  Things may not go exactly as we had anticipated them going and the provision of God may appear to be very different, but the hand of God upholds us at every step.  During the times when we feel lonely and rejected, God is with us and has provided a companion.  When we feel the burden of sin and temptation, God has provided a way out.  When we feel the pressure of finances and obligations, we can rest in the Lord in faith, knowing that He has provided before and will continue to provide now.

God is faithful.  More faithful than we will ever be.  He is faithful even during the times we are not and His desire is to save His people.  Whatever trails we may face, whatever difficulties we will endure, and whatever our circumstances bring us to, God will provide what we need.  It may not always be the thing we want, but it will always be enough.  With God, we have enough.  He is our provider and protector and He guides us through the desert.

Discussion Questions

Read Exodus 16:1 – 17:7

  1. What reason do the Israelites give for their grumbling and wanting to return to Egypt? What fear were they expressing in their desire to return to Egypt?
  2. When the people brought their grumblings towards Moses, how did he respond to the people? What did he encourage the people to do?  What was Moses’ role in serving the people as the Prophet of God?
  3. As Moses brought the concerns of the people to the Lord, how did this display faith and trust in God?
  4. Why do difficult times tend to make us forget our times where God has provided in the past? How do these moments test our resolve and display our faith?
  5. How can we stand with one another during the times of difficulty and spur on each other’s faith? What role does community play in building faith?
  6. When have you experienced a time when God provided a way for a need you had where you did not see a way was possible?

Download a Printable Version Here

 


This article original appeared here for Redeemer Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

Redeemer Church is located in Ponte Vedra, FL where you can come as you are to be amongst family and learn about Jesus. Redeemer is constantly learning together and we’re passionate about the spiritual journey God is guiding us through. Redeemer lives and breathes to reach people in our community and see the promise of God’s redemptive love fulfilled in their lives. Check out their website at http://www.redeemerpv.com

And He Shall Be Called: Immanuel

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”. (Matthew 1:20-23, NIV

On a busy night, in a crowded city, in the back of a hotel, God came in human form.  Through the virgin Mary, Jesus Christ was born that night and set in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.  There was no fanfare, no trumpet call, and no royal announcement proclaimed that God had come from heaven to join the people.  The Wonderful Counselor was initially ignored.  The Mighty God came in the vulnerable form of a child.  The Everlasting Father laying as a child in a manger. The Prince of Peace came amidst political strife and turmoil. Yet, for all the expectations that people would have for the coming of the Messiah, and indeed we too have as well, Jesus is our Immanuel.

Immanuel

Isaiah spoke often of the coming Messiah for the deliverance and salvation of God’s people.  As the angels spoke to John, they revealed the truth of the words from Isaiah.  “‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. ‘ Isaiah 7:14, NIV  As with many of the names given throughout the biblical text, names carry a significance and meaning as to the nature of a person.  Immanuel translates from the Hebrew to “God is with us.” The nature of Jesus’ relationship with mankind is summed up in with this name. God would not be content to sit on the throne and see what the people would get up to.  That had already been revealed. Their hearts craved sin and death, having been misled by the enemy long ago.  So God chose, instead, to descend from heaven, to live as one of us.  On this night mankind received that gift.  We received our Immanuel.

Undeserved Presence

The character of the Messiah, having been fully established by Isaiah long ago, people awaiting in eager expectation of the coming of the Savior.  Yet, at no point did the people of God deserve the relationship with God that they were receiving.  When Jesus came, He consistently sought to reform and renew the Israelites towards the true Gospel.  The surrounding political scene was tumultuous, with certain parts being on the brink of revolt.  Sin ran rampant with those leading the people leading two faced lives and others simply ignoring their sin altogether.  To think that anyone has merited the birth of a Savior would be a gross misunderstanding.   Even the inn where Mary and Joseph stayed had no room for the coming Savior.

We are unable to earn the presence of God, yet we received it all the same in the person of Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet

Yet, despite what we did not ear, we still received our Immanuel, our God with us.  He came as our Wonderful Counselor, our Everlasting Father, our Mighty God, and our Prince of Peace.  The idea that we could not earn the presence of God is precisely why God came as a man.  We are unable to earn the presence of God, yet we received it all the same in the person of Jesus Christ.  God sought a relationship with us while we sought to distance ourselves from Him.  We sought our sin and our own destruction, but God was not content to allow His people to perish, but came to provide a way.  This is why the angels celebrated in the fields by the shepherds. The angels understood that the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah marked the end of the evil of the world and the salvation for the creation that God loved so dearly.

A Future With Him

We can look at Christ’s first coming as we look towards His second coming.  Christ came in the flesh to secure our path to a relationship with Him.  He walked with us, talked with us, and share His life with us in bodily form.  As He ascended into heaven, the Messiah sent the Holy Spirit tabernacle in our souls in relationship with us.  Furthermore, Christ is coming again to bring the sons and daughters of God home.  We are the bride of Christ and He is coming again to return us to the home that He prepared in advance for us.  He is God with us and we will be with Him.

God's love for mankind sent Jesus Christ as one of us in order to return us to right relationship with Him as our Immanuel. Click To Tweet

God did not consider mankind as something to be discarded.  There is a great deal to be said about the Great and Mighty Sovereign King becoming mankind and bearing the sins of the people.  These actions make no sense apart from love.  God’s love for mankind sent Jesus Christ as one of us in order to return us to right relationship with Him as our Immanuel.  We have a future with God, returning to the original design of creation we saw in the Garden of Eden.  God and mankind walked with one another.  Although sin created a great chasm between the two, Jesus bridged the gap and returned us to Him out of the great love He has for us.  We are loved by great High King of Heaven who desires to be with us out of His infinite love.

This is His Advent.  He is our Immanuel.


Check out the full series And He Shall Be Called by Clicking Here

Exodus Week 5: God’s Victory At Sea

Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

How quickly we seem to forget things.

As the Israelites looked upon the Egyptian army bearing down on them with their backs to the Red Sea, their enslavement or death looked imminent.  The situation for the Israelites appeared to be fatal.  It had only been one day since they were led by the hand out God out of Egypt.  Yet, having been rescued through the sovereign grace of God, the people immediately began to doubt that God had even sent Moses. “’They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” Exodus 14:11-12, NIV

The Egyptians had just undergone one of the most horrific and unexplainable events.  In just one night, their first-born children had suddenly and inexplicably died.  Incomprehensible for most, but not, however, for Pharaoh.  Pharaoh knew the cause of these ten plagues that wrought Egypt—each one a demoralizing victory to the Egyptian gods, but a clear display of the sovereignty of the God of Moses.  As judgment rained down from heaven, in some cases literally, Pharaoh knew that this could only be from his ego for refusing to release the people of God.  When the Angel of Death had taken the lives of the firstborn, every home in Egypt was impacted, Pharaoh’s included, and he relented.  But, realizing that the workforce had significantly been depleted, he swiftly sent his military to return the people of Israel to their slavery.  How quickly we forget…

The people of Israel had witnessed the sovereignty of God as well.  At each step, God had provided for their well-being.  There was safety and protection through every step of the plagues that ravaged the Egyptian people. In the final plague, Moses guided the people through to safety and secured their release.  They did so, not hobbling away with very little possessions, but as a victorious people with treasures and provision alongside.  Even during their flight from Egypt, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.” Exodus 13:21, NIV  The miraculous had been the defining nature of God’s provision for them. Yet, with their backs pressed against the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, they turned on Moses and lost their faith in God, asking to return voluntarily to Egypt rather than die.  How quickly we forget…

Where there seemed to be no way for the people of Israel to escape what appeared to be their fate, they lost track of the obvious.  God had brought them to exactly that moment.  There was no other way for the people of Israel to be saved except by the hand of God.  Their strength was insufficient.  The Almighty God would show Himself that day as the God who is not to be challenged, but who fortifies His people with love and grace.

Remember What The Lord Has Done For You

When it seems the world is not going your way, there are a multitude of ways to respond.  For some, the idea of coming closer to God during this process is an afterthought, if it is even a thought at all. This is a time for decisive action, not a time for passive contemplation.  Your strength must be activated in order to resolve the situation.  For others, the temptation is the immediate loss of all hope.  The Israelites opted for the second option.  With everything that God had done for them and everywhere God had directed them, with a pillar of fire and cloud guiding them day and night, the people of Israel quickly dropped into fear that God could not save them.

As the Israelites departed Egypt, they did so with clear instructions to consecrate the firstborn of every household, and that this was to be a recurring event when they arrived in the Promised Land (Exodus 13:1-16).   Furthermore, Moses ensured that the bones of Joseph would travel with them, based on promises made by Joseph that God would provide the Promised Land for them.  “And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” (Genesis 50:25, NIV). The bones reminded the people that it was God who brought them into Egypt and it was God who was bringing them out.

Hopefully, you and I will never have to stand down a literal army.  This, however, does not mean that we are without risk and attack.  Pharaoh’s army was ruthless and well advanced in military strategy and technique.  Yet, when compared to the spiritual forces of darkness, the Egyptian army looked playful.  Whenever we make spiritual progress and growth, the enemy is there attempting to snatch us back to where we were.  Temporary times of difficulties and setbacks in our relationship with God seem to be enough to prevent us from seeing past our immediate circumstances.

Encountering spiritual difficulties can easily weigh us down.  During these times, let us remember what the Lord has done for us in the past.  We do not have the same luxury that God has in being omniscient.  However, we do know what God has done for us in the past.  Remember the times that God provided when you saw no way out.  Think back on the words that God has spoken to you.  Instead of retreating or returning to past temptations, set your eyes on God and know that you can trust Him.  He has provided in the past, He is guiding you now, and He will continue to lead you into a greater connection with Him.

The Lord Will Fight For You

There the Israelites stood, their backs against the Red Sea, staring down the Egyptian army and their chariots.  In their lack of faith and complaining, Moses reassured his people: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14, NIV) The Lord would protect His people that day from any who would chase them.  For the Egyptians had incurred the wrath of God and would be summarily dealt with.  Furthermore, the display of the power and might of God would astound everyone.

The breath of God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to safely walk across, with walls of water protecting them on both sides.  The Angel that had been accompanying them and going before them moved behind them to protect the people from the oncoming attack.  After Israel had arrived on the other side safely and the Egyptians had pursued them, the walls of water fell; and, no matter how advanced the Egyptian army had been, they were no more.  What did the Israelites have to do?  Nothing.  In fact, there was nothing they could do. This was squarely God’s victory, not the Israelites’.  For all their numbers, for all their planning, any attempt to fight the Egyptians or ford the river would have been met with their demise.  God, however, had different plans. They only had to be still and allow God to fight on their behalf.

This is the core of spiritual warfare.  The strength of man will always come short when compared with the strength of an omnipotent God.  He is limitless and ceaseless.  We can battle through our own temptations, our sins, and our struggles; but unless we give God control of the situation and stand still, we will not find victory.  Often, we feel as if we need to be the ones to power through a particular sin or spiritual struggle.  We crave the approval of a heavenly Father who will see our work and say that He is proud.  But this is pride.  Rather than God approving of us, God loves us to our core and protects us as a true father would his infant child.  There is protection and salvation for those who stand in the presence of God when challenged.

We contribute very little to the equation.  Our role is not to become the superhero that saves the day.  In fact, in the story that God is weaving throughout human history, we are the ones who need saving.  Our role is to allow God to fight on our behalf.  The hand of God may reach through ours, but our first response to any spiritual battle will be to allow God to fight.  There is a faith and trust in the stillness that knows that God is able to sustain His people.

Discussion Questions

Read Exodus 14

  1. In the story of Exodus up to this point, what are some of the things that God has told His people to remember? Why do you think God wanted these events remembered?
  2. Why did the Israelites turn so quickly on God and Moses? What reason did they give for wanting to return to Egypt?
  3. Often times, we try to rely on our own strength to dig ourselves out of whatever situation we face. How does this jeopardize our spiritual health and well-being?
  4. What makes standing still and allowing God to fight for us so difficult? What inner fears or doubts fuel our desire to accomplish everything on our own?
  5. When have you experienced God’s provision, protection, or presence in the past? How do these moments fuel your faith during the times when you see no way out?
  6. Why is it so difficult to lose faith and hope in the midst of difficult time? What are the dangers of allowing circumstantial emotion to control our faith?
  7. In which area of your life do you struggle the most with seeing how God will provide in a situation or situations you are facing? How can we, as a group of Christians, support one another through the difficult times we face?

Download a Printable Version Here


This article original appeared here for Redeemer Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

Redeemer Church is located in Ponte Vedra, FL where you can come as you are to be amongst family and learn about Jesus. Redeemer is constantly learning together and we’re passionate about the spiritual journey God is guiding us through. Redeemer lives and breathes to reach people in our community and see the promise of God’s redemptive love fulfilled in their lives. Check out their website at http://www.redeemerpv.com

Contact and Subscribe To The Gospel Outpost