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Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Calf Crafting" -part 3 of 3

(Last in series)

“When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, and scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.”

                                                                                                            Exodus 32:19-20

Why did Moses break the tablets? Because you cannot live according to God’s Word if you are still worshipping a golden calf! Remember a “golden calf” is an image of God you have created in your mind in order to satisfy your flesh. You have to break it up, burn it, and ground it into powder! You created it, you must dismantle it!

He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”                                                                                        Exodus 32:21-24

Aaron’s answer sounds preposterous! He threw the gold into the fire and out came a calf. In fact, we know from early passages that it didn’t happen by accident, but rather it was finely crafted to look exactly how they wanted. The image that many people have of God, today, did not happen by accident either. It was finely crafted to look exactly as their flesh wants it to look. They didn’t like what God had to say about keeping their marriage bed pure…so they crafted a “god” who would understand why they cheated on their spouse. They didn’t like what God said about honoring Him on the Sabbath, so they created a “god” that would allow them to use all of their time for themselves and not have to give him any. You get the picture. If we do not accept His Word about who He is, what He expects, and how we should live… we will create a “golden calf” to fit our liking. 

I am concerned, within our own churches, whether we are worshipping the same God! Because of the inconsistencies between believers, the church has become a laughing stock:

“Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance of the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.”

                                                                                                            Exodus 32:25-26

In a very bold move Moses called out the true worshippers of God- those willing to follow Jehovah God and live according to His Word. Then he does something that may disturb some of you. He commanded those who rallied to him to go through the camp and cut down those who refused to worship God. Although, today, God does not instruct us to take such drastic measures, He does require the same boldness. We must have boldness to cut off every relationship that is bent on keeping us from following the One True God of Scripture.

Are you worshipping the One True God of the Bible? Or are you worshipping a golden calf? Does the God you serve line up with the One we read about in God’s Holy Word? Or have you created a “god” that soothes your conscience and caters to your flesh?


“Calf Crafting” part 2

(Part 2 in series)

“He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

                                                                                                            Exodus 32:4

There is a lot of calf crafting still going on in the house of God still today. Men and women trying to craft God into their image! It is most commonly heard in what I like to call the “I think” statements:

“I think God would want me to be happy! (Even though what you want is contrary to His Word.)”

“I think God would understand if I don’t tithe this month.”

“I think God is more concerned about a woman’s right to choose than He is the life of a baby in the womb.”

“I think God created me this way and won’t condemn me for participating in the homosexual lifestyle.”

“I don’t think God would send good people to hell.”

All of this is nothing more than calf crafting! It is a vain attempt to mold God into an image that soothes our conscience and supports our desire to indulge our flesh. How long will we understand that it isn’t “What I think” that matters, but what God commands us that counts?

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, who you brought out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

                                                                                                            Exodus 32:7-8

How did God’s chosen people find themselves worshipping a lifeless idol?  Exodus 32:7 tells us that it started when they turned from God’s command. Once they rejected His Word they began to bow down to the image they created. When we began to defend our positions, although we cannot back them up Biblically, we have bowed to it. Ultimately they moved beyond bowing down to sacrificing to the image. When you are willing to give up your “faith” to follow your own fleshly desires you have sacrificed!

When Moses came down off the mountain and saw what was happening he threw the tablets to the ground breaking them:

When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.”

                                                                                                                        Exodus 32:19

Why break the tablets? Because you can’t live according to His Word if you are worshipping a golden calf!

“Calf Crafting”

(Part 1 in series)

“Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them. When Moses went up the mountain the cloud covered it, and the glory of God settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”

                                                                                                            Exodus 24:13-18

For forty days and forty nights, Moses was on the mountain receiving from the Lord all the words of the Law. While below Aaron and Hur were responsible for keep the people in order. However in Exodus 32:1 we read:

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what happened to him.”

In less than 40 days the Israelites gravitated from being a people who were actively following the Lord, to a people who were ready to pursue a new god! What caused them to drift so quickly?

1.      They never fully committed to following God! From the moment they left Egypt they were grumbling and complaining about how God had led them into the desert to die.

2.      The never fully submitted to the spiritual leadership placed over them.

3.      They saw “other gods” as being a viable means for direction in life.

4.      They were willing to compromise their faith in order to indulge their flesh.

Because of this, they began to pressure Aaron to make them a “god”!

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

                                                                                                Exodus 32:2-4

It says that afterwards, they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. The people took off their gold and actually contributed to crafting a life-less idol! They didn’t want to serve a God of consuming fire; they wanted to craft a god that would allow them to indulge their flesh.

They wanted a god they could manage. They wanted a god that was lifeless, powerless and with no authority. A god they could worship when and if they wanted to. The created themselves a god that would not judge sin, one that would not challenge their lifestyle, one they could craft into their image.


“Prayer that Avails Much (pt.2)"

(Part 2 in series)

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,” he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.”

                                                                                                            Matthew 21:12-13

Before we had protesters occupying Wall Street and hippies holding ‘sit-ins”… Jesus occupied the temple of God and cried out over the injustices He was seeing. PRAYER HAD BEEN SILENCED IN THE HOUSE OF GOD! No prayer could be heard over the commotion of the sheep and cows being sold, the barbs of the moneychangers and the bustling of religious activities!

What is silencing prayer is the House of God today? The church is drifting dangerously close to becoming nothing more than a social media site… a place to come and share stories, pictures with friends, read a few religious posts, download some worship music and then log off and go home. There is no room made for prayer. I am not talking about the two minute prayer the minister prayed before his message or the prayer offered to dismiss service. I am talking about a time of corporate prayer designed to engage the presence of God. I talking about a time to humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, and seek the face of God!

 Unfortunately, the prayer meeting is the worst attended activity in many of our churches. Announce a fellowship dinner and 100 people show up. Announce a prayer meeting and 15 people show up. Then we wonder why we are not experiencing the power and Presence of God in our churches, families and communities. We have silenced ourselves and there is nothing the devil likes more than a silent church! Samuel Chadwick once wrote:

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”

Why is he terrified of a praying people? Because according to James 5:16, the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective! The King James Version of the Bible says that it “Avails much!”

Do you believe that prayer is “powerful and effective?” Do you believe that it has the potential to turn nations, transform lives and save souls? If so, how much time do you give to it?

E.M. Bounds once said, "The little estimate we put on prayer is evidence from the little time we give to it." 

There is an old adage that says “the proof is in the pudding.” Literally the adage means this: that the true value or quality of something can only be judged when it's put to use. How you feel about prayer is not seen as much in what you say as in what you do.

Pastor Scott Burr


“Prayer that Avails Much (pt.3)”

(Last in series)

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call on the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.”

                                                                                                James 5:13-15

We ought to be a people who are consumed with prayer! James says that we ought to pray when we are in trouble and when we are happy. We ought to pray when we are well and when we are sick.  The apostle Paul expanded on this when he wrote in Philippians 4:6:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”

Prayer, however, is more than a spiritual wish list. It is more than a last ditch effort when all else has failed. Prayer is more than casual conversation with a friend. It is more than an essential spiritual discipline, but it is intimate engagement with a Holy God.

People, who do not pray, do not have an intimate relationship with God for it is by prayer that we engage Him. Indian Christian Missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh once said:

"The essence of prayer does not consist in asking God for something but in opening our hearts to God, in speaking with Him, and living with Him in perpetual communion. Prayer is continual abandonment to God. Prayer does not mean asking God for all kinds of things we want; it is rather the desire for God Himself, the only Giver of Life, Prayer is not asking, but union with God. Prayer is not a painful effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lives. Prayer is the desire to possess God Himself, the Source of all life. The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the giver of all blessings, and in living a life of fellowship with Him."

It is this continual fellowship that the Apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17:

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer should not simply be a component of our lives, but the focus of it. We ought to walk daily in a spirit of prayer, not as men wandering about aimlessly with our heads in the clouds, but as men and women who know that there is a God who is with us. We must break our silence and begin engaging God in prayer, praise and supplication.

Let me be the first to say, that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, before we exhaust ourselves fighting to put prayer back in school; let us first fight to make it a priority in our own lives and churches.


Prayer that Avails Much (pt.1)

(Part 1 in series)

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

                                                                                                            James 5:16

There is a story told of 5 young college students in London who decided to go hear a popular preacher of their day by the name of Charles Spurgeon. They arrived early and waited outside for the doors to open. As they were waiting, they were approached by an older gentleman who asked if they would like for him to show them around as they waited. They agreed and the man asked if they would like to start by seeing the “heating plant (the boiler room)”. They were not particularly interested as it was a hot day, but they did not want to offend the man so they agreed. He led them down a stairway where he opened the door and whispered… “This is our heating plant.” Surprised the students gazed inside to see 700 people bowed in prayer seeking a blessing on the service that would soon begin. Softly closing the door, the man introduced himself. It was Charles Spurgeon.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than 10 men to preach!”

Today many of our spiritual lives have turned cold because of the absolute lack of time spent in prayer. We have lost our spiritual passion for it! We’d rather spend four hours watching the Super Bowl or two hours waiting in line for the next I-phone. We’d rather hear inspiring sermons on prayer, read books about prayer, or post quotes on our Facebook page about it, than actually spend time engaging in it!

We complain about how the courts took prayer out of school back in 1962, but I am wondering who removed it from church? Who removed it from our daily lives? Where are the people protesting outside the church, demanding the church hold a prayer meeting? Where are the wives and children picketing outside their homes crying out for prayer?

2 Chronicles 7:14 declares:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

If we believe that prayer can transform households and turn nations, why do we neglect it?

Here is the sad reality. The reason for the removal of prayer from our public schools is a legal issue. The reason for a lack of prayer in our churches is a “faith” problem! If there is a place on this earth that should be permeated with prayer, it ought to be the church!

Pastor Scott Burr