Unfortunately, due to a technical issue with the recording the audio is not available for this week’s sermon. The transcript of the sermon notes is below:
Vs. 18-21 The fear of God’s presence at Mount Sinai
Vs. 22-24 The joy of God’s presence at Mount Zion
Vs. 25-27 The shaking of everything
Vs. 28-29 The joy of being consumed
Have you ever been shaken? This week I had to drive a moving truck back here from Virginia. It was a bigger truck than I had ever driven before, especially such a long distance, so I was pretty nervous about it. As we were driving, it was all going fairly well, I was getting adjusted; we were probably about 60 miles into the trip when we got to a two lane bridge that crosses the Potomac River. As we got close to the bridge I started to get a little nervous but I was OK. As we got closer I saw there was roadwork on the bridge and traffic was stopped. We sat at the base of the bridge for a while, no big deal. Finally the traffic was stopped on the other side and we were flagged through. It was all going just fine until we got near the top of the bridge. At that point a flagman motioned for me to stop, at the very top of the bridge. I pulled to a stop and they then started to have traffic come from the other direction while we waited. I looked around for a moment or two and could feel the anxiety level rising so I decided not to look at the water any longer. I was sitting, just staring straight ahead. Then it happened, the other traffic began to pass by me and as they did the bridge started to shake, my truck shook with each tractor trailer that passed, it felt to me like the wind from each passing truck was going to push me over the side into the river. I finally just closed my eyes and sang every song that talked about God’s peace that I could think of. I was already in an unknown and uncomfortable situation, but then the shaking caused me to give in to my fears. Our lives are often similar, we come to unknown and uncomfortable situations and we are looking for ways out, we want to just hold our breath until it is over and we get back to what we are used to or prepared for but then something happens, even what we knew before starts to shake. Our plans change, our situation is changed, our relationships change, our finances change, our ministry changes, we get moved or those around us get moved and we start to wonder what we will do. I believe that it is in those times that our foundations are revealed, our hearts and checked and our love is purified. The shaking is necessary because it creates the environment for God to do something new, something great and something difficult all at the same time.
1. The fear of God’s presence at Mt. Sinai
Three months after Israel left Egypt they arrived at Mt. Sinai. This was the same place where Moses had met God the first time; this was the place where God had promised Moses that Israel would worship when they were set free. For Moses, this was the answer to all his prayers, it had to be revitalizing, and it had to be emotional and faith-stirring for him, but for the rest of the Israelites it was an unknown place.
God told Moses that He was going to come down on the Mountain and speak to the children of Israel. This would be their first encounter with God. They had seen Him move on their behalf, seen his wonders and His might but now He was going to speak to them the way He had been speaking to Moses. God gave strict instructions about their consecration, they were to prepare for Him to come and speak, they were not to touch the mountain or let any animal touch it or they were to be put to death. Three days later, just as God had promised He came to Mount Sinai, the Bible says there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud appeared and the sound of the trumpet was heard so loud that the people in the camp literally trembled.
The scene was incredible, not like anything they had ever seen or heard before. God literally spoke, they saw the smoke, He came in fire and they knew He was present.
Exodus 20:18-19 “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘you speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’”
The magnitude of God’s presence created a fear that caused rejection. Fear is not to protect you it is an attempt to get you to reject what you have yet to know or experience. God’s magnitude was to create awe, not fear, intimacy not rejection. He had cared for them, why would He now destroy them.
What we believe about how God feels about us will determine how we respond when He comes in a way that makes us uncomfortable.
Ephesians 3:14-21 Read entire passage
Vs. 18-19 “May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
I promise you this; He will come in a way that makes you uncomfortable! God came to Moses in a burning bush, to Noah to build an Ark, to Abraham to leave his country, to David to become the king, to Samuel as a voice in the night, to Isaiah in a vision of the throne room, to Zacharias through an angel with an improbable message, to the Pharisees as a lowly carpenter, to Peter in a vision of unclean food, to Saul in a vision from heaven and to many others in many different ways. Those who accept and obey are those that do not flee from discomfort but endure it. Many others have given up because they could not take the manner in which God revealed Himself; that has never been God’s desire, but it is often our choice. He comes to build strength, and that often means we have to first build endurance. Don’t let fear of your current situation make you determine that God is not present or that He is not leading. Stand firm, follow closely and trust His love more than you dislike the discomfort.
If we know His love we will not fear His plans, if we do not fear His plans we will not let go of His presence when our entire lives shake, because they will shake.
2. The Joy of God’s presence at Mt. Zion
The author now shifts gears, as incredible as Mt. Sinai was, as amazing as the experience was we have not come to that experience. We have not come to the law, to a standard that we cannot keep; we have come to God’s fulfillment, God’s gracious redemption and God’s perfect plan for each of us. The scene of salvation is a joyful one, choirs of angels, the saints that have already gone on to heaven and God’s presence, those that have already had the blood of Jesus applied and are partaking of eternal salvation. We have come to a Mediator that does not require us to make our own way but has made a way for us. We have not come to a place where our sin is the focus but where grace has overtaken our sin. We are no longer in a relationship that focus’ on the problem but we have been overtaken by the solution. Even where our sin abounded, where it was rampant, where it was overrunning our lives, grace has now much more abounded. We have no reason to hide; we should be those that rejoice. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” Going back to verses from last week, we are the washed ones; we have been sanctified, justified and made free. Our focus is no longer on the fear of death but rather the promise of life. We have become the inhabitants of a joyful city, a joyful people, a joyful God and a joyful eternity.
Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart.”
We are now in a relationship with God where we are not doing right so He will do what we want but rather we are being transformed into those that delight in Him because He has become the desire of our hearts.
“God is the delight, anything else is idolatry.” Russell Joyner
3. The shaking of everything
Mount Zion is a place of joy, a place of peace, a place of victory and a place of redemption and it is also a place of shaking.
The promise of Hebrews is that God is going to shake the earth, He is going shake the heavens, and He is going to shake the rulers, the principalities, the powers and even the inhabitants. Our lives are going to shake, this is promised. We must stop fearing the shaking. Remember, we are no longer in a place of fear and trembling but rather joy and mercy. The shaking has a joyful and merciful purpose for those that are being saved.
Vs. 27 “The things that cannot be shaken may remain.”
So what remains is what is meant to belong. How many times have we held on to things, people, relationships, wants, desires, visions, hopes and dreams that were not meant to remain? We have all done it, it is human and it is natural but it is not what God has meant for us. The shaking comes when it is time to move, time to let go, time to be restored, re-energized, reconciled and renewed. The shaking is not because we have been wrong, it is because God is doing something right. He is moving us, changing us, molding us and renewing us. We have to stop being afraid of the shaking and start trusting the One that does the shaking. Do you believe that God loves you? Do you believe that God has your best at heart and in hand? Do you believe that God’s ways are perfect and yours are less than? Then don’t resist the shaking no matter how uncomfortable and unpredictable it seems. This is not a shaking of the world with God trying to hold it steady, it is God shaking with the world trying to not let anything be removed.
Philippians 3:7-11 Read passage
“All things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”
What Paul is saying here is that what used to be most important he has called unimportant. That what used to take his attention, his desires, his passion, and his energy is no longer worth those things. The things are not bad but something has changed, something has shifted and now all he can hope for is Jesus so if God wants anything He can have it if it brings Him closer to Jesus. He has learned to delight himself in the LORD and now He is his only true desire.
4. The joy of being consumed
So why does everything have to shake?
Vs. 28 “we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken.”
The shaking is so that we can come to a place in which we will shake no more. It is so that everything temporary, everything disposable, everything that does not fulfill God’s purpose in our lives can fall off so that we can shake no longer. Here is what I am learning; the shaking is caused by the unstable things in life. Yes, God provides the movement, but if we were standing firm nothing would shake, if we were “rooted and established” nothing would waver, if we were steadfast and immovable, we would be immovable. So the very things that we are holding so tightly to are the things that are creating instability in our lives. God is trying to show us what remains, what matters, what is necessary and what will bring us the most joy, love and truth.
Paul finishes this section by quoting Deuteronomy 4:24, “For our God is a consuming fire.”
Most of us have some fear of fire. We know its power, know it can bring destruction and pain but also acknowledge it can also bring heat, health, light, and many other necessary things.
Too many of us fear God’s fire. We fear that He is coming to burn us up rather than coming to build us up. See there is fire that destroys without purpose; irresponsible and out of control fire, but that is not God’s fire. He does all things decently and in order. When God descended in fire on Mt. Sinai there were no casualties, nothing was damaged by the fire. Even when He sent fire to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah no other cities were destroyed. God is measured, He is controlled and He is purposed. His fire in your life is not to destroy you but to build you up.
Consider the refiners fire. It removes the impurities, removes the imperfections, makes metal moldable and flexible so it can be transformed. Think of the kiln of the potter, after he has worked with his hands, molded and made his item he then puts it into fire to finish it, to strengthen it and to seal it. God is not coming into your life in a fire of destruction; He is coming in a fire of strength, of hope, of future and of protection.
If God is a consuming fire it is time that we, the Body of Christ are consumed, not just by God, but consumed with God. It is time that He becomes our all in all that we stop living lives that include God and start living for God and with God. It is time for some things to change, some things to end and some things to start. It is time to be overwhelmed by the glorious God that we serve and be overtaken by His great love for us.
I Corinthians 13:4-8, the great love chapter includes these things,
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
I want to finish today by making this about love. Is your relationship with God defined by belief, endurance, hope and fulfillment? That is a love relationship! What I mean is this, to love God is to believe His goodness and promises no matter what is shaking and no matter how long you seem to have waited. To love God is to hope at all times and not let any one moment change your position of being sure that God is going to be and do what He says He will be and do. To love God is to be willing to endure, to persevere, to wait, to trust, to push, to let go and to take up. Endurance is a key to maturity and maturity is a sign of love.
Today, for the love of God, let’s stop being afraid of being consumed and long for it. Let’s stop living our lives holding tightly to the things that are shaking and let them go in confidence that God will bring about all that is necessary and all that is beneficial. Let us be people consumed by God and consumed with God. Let us be a people that can be taken to the most uncomfortable, unforeseen, unbelievable situations and endure, embrace and even overcome because of God’s great love and His consuming mercy. Let us be those that have been consumed by His great fire and have not been burned. Today I want us to tell God that we will let Him shake, we will let Him move, and we will let Him have His way. We want to be consumed by Him, overtaken by Him and overjoyed by Him. I want the fire to burn in me, for me and through me, the fire that brings strength, life and abundance. I’m ready to be shaken and willing to trust the One that will not destroy me.