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Intro: Perspective (2018 Retreat Weekend)
Our retreat this weekend is called Rhythms and we are unpacking the natural flow the natural rhythms of our day and working on seeing God at work in every part of every day.
It’s Saturday morning, so lets talk about the morning for a second. Who in here would say they’re a night owl? Who in here is like, I go to bed at 8pm because I get up at 5 everyday? I’m somewhere in between. I stay up late and I get up early.
Mornings are my favorite time of the day. Each morning we subconsciously make a choice about our day. We decide how we are going to view everything that happens to us during the day. It’s our perspective.
Perspective is like a pair of glasses, it’s the lens through which you see the world. And this morning, i think a lot of people, myself included, need a little bit of a perspective shift.
I want to dive into how we can start the morning and start our daily rhythm with the right perspective.
Intro: Going Without Meals (Chaska FCA)
Back in March I got COVID. Super unfortunate.
My symptoms were super mild, I kept telling people that I had done way more feeling way worse.
But the part that really did suck was losing my sense of taste and smell. It was the strangest experience ever. It’s honestly hard to describe to someone who hasn’t lost their taste what it’s like.
Everyone kept telling me, “you should just eat super healthy!” I was like, “uhh I don’t eat that way normally and I’m not about to start now.”
But here is the change i did make: I started eating one meal a day. Since I couldn’t taste my food, I had no joy in eating. I felt like I was wasting the groceries I bought, so I just basically stopped eating. You know what happened? I was hungry. Like all the time.
And what do you think would happen if I only ate, like, twice a week? Maybe wake up on Sunday and grab some breakfast just to start the week off on a good note, and maybe do dinner on a Wednesday night - that’s kind of right at the midweek point. If I was only eating two meals a week, I’d start having some really serious health problems.
But what if, in those two meals a week, my Sunday morning breakfast was not me eating breakfast, but watching someone else eat breakfast. Pull up YouTube, find a video of a guy I respect eating some breakfast on a Sunday morning. And then my Wednesday dinner was more like a snack than a full meal. At that point, I’d be starving to death.
My observation, and maybe you can kinda feel where I’m going with this, is that most of you are starving to death. Not because of a lack of physical food, but because of a lack of spiritual food.
I want to look at a story in the Bible where God’s people are really hungry.
Perspective #1: I AM HUNGRY (Ex. 16:1-4)
Let’s set the stage. Israel was in slavery in Egypt for 400 years. God raises up Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. After a battle against God (God sends 10 plagues) Pharaoh allows Israel to leave. God miraculously allows Israel to cross the Red Sea. And we pick up the story here in Exodus 16.
[Read Exodus 16:1-4]
So they’re a month and a half into this journey out of Egypt. God did crazy things to get them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, and now the people are hungry and their tummies are starting to rumble and they are starting to grumble against their leader Moses.
Have you ever been on a road trip, and like 2 hours in you’ve already eaten all of the snacks you brought with and your hungry again, and you get all dramatic and you get ANGRY. It’s called being HANGRY.
That’s what happening here, and here is what the people say to Moses: "I wish I would have stayed in Egypt! We had plenty of meat and plenty of bread there! I would have rather died in Egypt with a full belly, then come out here and died of hunger.”
Listen up. Maybe this right here is the thing God wanted to tell you this weekend at Fall Retreat:
God wants work in your life. He wants to do crazy things in your life, he wants to free you from the chains that have bound you for years.
But the road to freedom isn’t smooth! You’re choosing to stay a slave where things are easy instead of walking into freedom where things are hard. It’s easy to just give up. It’s easy to just stay a slave to sin. It’s hard to be free.
These people are HANGRY! They’re hungry-angry. At Moses and at God.
They’re saying they would rather be slaves and full than free and hungry.
Maybe that’s you. Maybe for whatever reason you’re angry at God.
But hear this: what manifests itself as anger towards God, maybe that’s your body telling you that you’re just hungry. Maybe that’s your soul telling you that you’re spiritually starving.
The first step in changing your perspective, in starting to see things differently, is realizing that you are just hungry. And you don’t even realize what God is about to do in your life.
In verse 4, God tells Moses what he’s about to do. He says he’s about to rain bread from heaven. He’s going to feed the people. He’s going to feed you.
Perspective #2: I NEED TO EAT THIS BOOK. (Ex. 16:11-15)
[Read Exodus 16:11-15]
The second perspective shift that we need to make is to realize that when I'm hungry, I need to eat this book.
The people were complaining about not having meat and not having bread, so God brings quail so the people have meat to eats and he brings bread so the people have bread to eat.
But the people see this bread and they’re like, What is it? Manna literally means “What is it?” It’s like when you’re little and mom put dinner in front of you and you’e kinda like, uhh what is this? Can I just have Easy Mac or something?
God knows that you’re spiritually hungry. He wants to feed you.
The food that God knows will fill you up, the food that Good knows is the most healthy for you, it’s God’s Word! It’s why all over the scriptures, the writers of your bible use food metaphors when they talk about God’s Word.
Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are your Words to my taste. Sweeter than honey.”
Jeremiah 15:16 “Your words came to me and I ate them.”
Ezekiel 3:3 “Feed your belly with this word. it is in my mouth sweet as honey.”
And Jesus Himself uses food metaphor too. It’s all over John 6 when Jesus says, "I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will NEVER be hungry again.”
When we eat literal food, it does something inside of us. It changes us. It gives us energy. We need it to survive.
But I think that we see what’s on God’s menu, we’re like…uhh can I have something else? I’d rather just come to church once a week, than eat God’s word. I’d rather do a bunch of stuff for God than eat God’s word. Doing things for God is easy. Following rules is easy. Religion is easy. But eating God’s word, taking it in, allowing it to change us….that’s hard.
Perspective #3: I HAVE TO EAT TODAY. (Ex. 16:16-21)
God tells the people to gather as much bread as they can eat. And the passage says that some gathered a lot and some gathered a little. But everyone gathered as much as they needed and lacked nothing.
Right now I want to liberate you from feeling that the amount of time you spend in God’s Word, or the number of chapters you read in the Bible is a determining factor in your spiritual health. As if to say the person who reads the whole book of the bible this morning is somehow more spiritual than the person who read one Psalm, or a couple verses. Some days, you might need to sit and read Paul’s letter to the Galatians from start to finish and that will fill your soul. Other days, half a chapter in John might wreck you and fill you up.
It’s not about how much you read, it’s about how much you allow what you read to change you. What good is it for you to read the whole bible cover to cover and remain unmoved by how amazing God is?
Moses warned the people of Israel that they couldn’t keep any of the bread over night or try to store it up. But some of them tried to do it anyway, but when they woke up, it had become rotten and filled with worms.
God’s Word operates the same way. I can’t think that eating today will be enough for tomorrow. I can’t think that eating a lot today means that I don’t have to eat for a week. I'm not a bear. I don’t hibernate, I have to eat today. and I have to eat tomorrow. and i have to eat the day after that. If the only times you’re in the Word is Sunday morning and Wednesday night, you’re going hungry the rest of the week!
I’m not trying to get legalistic on you and tell you that reading your bible every day is the only thing you need to do to be spiritually healthy. Eating food isn’t the only thing humans have to do to be healthy, but its a really important thing. But in learning to eat every day, we have to understand that God’s grace is extended to us even when we fail. Even when you abandon your bible in a year plan on January 17th, God still loves you.
Spiritual Discipline: EAT LIKE A DOG WITH A BONE. (Isaiah 31:4)
The whole point of this Fall Retreat is to connect the rhythms of our day with practical ways to follow Jesus, enjoy God, and grow spiritually.
These practical ways are called spiritual disciplines. A spiritual discipline is a habitual practice that helps promote spiritual growth in your life.
A lot of people will hear the term "spiritual discipline" and think that’s trying to promote a works based Gospel where if you do these things, you will be saved. Thats not the case. Spiritual disciplines don’t save you, they’re just practical ways to follow Jesus.
There’s a quote that I love by Dallas Willard, who is one of my favorite authors. He said this, “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.
We can’t ever earn God’s grace, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do to grow closer to God.
So the spiritual discipline I want to leave you with this morning is this: Eat like a dog with a bone.
How many of you have dogs? Now put your hand down if your dog is under 50lbs. Ron Swanson says that any dog under 50lbs is a cat and cats are pointless.
When you give a dog a bone, the dog doesn’t just eat the whole bone in one sitting or swallow the thing whole. Right? The dog will chew on it a little bit. Leave it. Come back. Chew on it some more. And your dog might even growl a little bit. But it’s not an angry growl, its a growl of being so content and so happy.
In Isaiah 31:4, Isaish starts off saying “As the young lion GROWLS over its prey. In Hebrew the word for growl there is Hagah. It’s interesting because almost everywhere else, Hagah is translated as “meditate”.
The connection I want to draw for a spiritual discipline for us is we can just read the Word and be done. We have to meditate on the word. Like a dog with a bone, or a lion with its prey. We need to sit with it, keep eating it, and let it do its work on us.
Too many people think you need a seminary education to meditate on God’s word. totally not true. Babies can eat. Teenagers can eat. Seminary students can eat. So if you’ve ever felt like reading God’s word hasn’t impacted you, maybe it’s because you haven’t meditated on it. You haven’t read it like you’re a dog with a bone!
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