Faith From Fire: It Takes One (Exodus 1-2)

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–          Annie Armstrong[1]

Some called her “indefatigable”. Others called her “indomitable” while others simply called her “Miss Annie”. Annie Walker Armstrong was born July 11, 1850 in the industrial port city of Baltimore, MD. Her family was a longtime Baptist family and they attended SeventhChurch, which at the time met at Paca and Saratoga Streets (current site of Saint Jude). At this church, Annie was converted at age 19 and followed in baptism and committing to serve the Lord through her church. In February 1871 (months after her conversion), she joined 117 other members to pioneer a new church plant at EutawPlaceChurch at Eutaw Place & Dolphin Street. There Annie remained an active member for nearly 70 years.

She taught children in the nursery for three decades. She was known for ministering to mothers and children. Further she extended her love for the people of Baltimore by ministering to the underprivileged, immigrants, African Americans, Indians and later in her life her Jewish neighbors.

In 1880, Annie’s heart was touched when she heard a speaker describe the plight of Native Americans. Annie determined to do “whatever it takes” to supply and care for the needs of Native American students. She organized her church, along with several other Baltimore churches, and shipped barrels of clothing, made several mission trips to Indian Territory.

In 1882, Annie at age 32, led in starting the Baptist Home Mission Society – later known as Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) to further the spread of the gospel. She wrote letters (in 1893 she wrote 18K letters alone), articles and curriculum for WMU to educate others about the importance of missions and sharing opportunities to participate. She traveled great distances, once covering 3,300 miles in 21 days, visiting 19 places, stopping at 26 different addresses. Her work went beyond North America and extended into organizing finances and resources to send missionaries across the world – even starting the first Christmas Missions Offering which assisted Lottie Moon in China at the time. The offering would become an annual tradition and later known for Lottie’s namesake. Although Annie was the equivalent of the organizations executive director, she refused a salary. When they forced her to take a salary in 1906 she resigned.

Annie died on December 20, 1938. She was buried in GreenMountCemetery in Baltimore, and her tombstone reads, “She hath done what she could.” Annie Armstrong rallied churches to give, pray and go for the sake of reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Her focused mission, steadfast prayer and inspired determination to put her faith into action shows us the difference one person can make for the glory of God.

 

EXAMINE   Faith From Fire: It Takes One (Exodus 1-2) Exodus_logo

Today we start a series in the book of Exodus. In the book’s start we see the principle – one person can make a great difference.

 

Exodus 1:1-7

Those who know their Bible remember that the previous book, Genesis, ends with Joseph and his family in Egypt. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery but what they meant for evil, God worked for good. God led Joseph to essentially become the Prince of Egypt, 2nd in command to Pharaoh. He stored up grain for Egypt’s provision & economic gain. The children of Jacob (Israel) lived in Egypt as a small people and multiplied into a great nation. God was fulfilling His promise to Abraham (Genesis 12).

 

Exodus 1:8-14

But in due time, “there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph… so they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves” (v.8, 13).

 

The Egyptians loathed the Israelites. In 1:12 “dread” = abhorrence and sick feeling. This hatred had history.

Genesis 46:31-34 “Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me.  And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock, and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

 

Egypt was sophisticated culture. They were educated with their hieroglyphics and universities of the day. They were architecturally intelligent to build pyramids and great cities. They were economically savvy to advance in trade and military power. And so, shepherds were viewed as low class citizens in comparison to an Egyptian! Israel’s prosperity resulted in persecution.

Note: Yesterday’s shepherds have become today’s saints. Today’s culture has a disgust for disciples of Jesus and Christian values. And so the attack and punishments are coming at every corner. Same call to pray & trust God.

Exodus 1:15-22 The Pharaoh’s persecution transitioned from slavery to infanticide. At first he cracked whips and now he seeks to crack skulls. He ordered the midwives to kill the male children. Today this is known as partial-birth abortion. However, the midwives feared God and did not carry out the murder.  Yet, Pharaoh commanded his soldiers to kill every Hebrew son to minimize their multiplication.

 

The Israelites were burdened and beaten. Yet, in their struggle they were able to grow stronger. God’s people cannot be overcomes without troubles to overcome. There is no testimony without testing. God often prepare His people through hardship in order that they may not rely on their own power but God’s (2Corinthians 1:9)

 

Further…The Egyptian Pharaoh claimed to be the Incarnate Son of Ra – the sun god – who was the supreme deity of their multitude of gods. In essence, the battle between Pharaoh and Moses [the Israelites] is not mainly political or national but spiritual. They fight to answer the question, “Who is the true son of God worthy of worship?” Pharaoh says it is himself and Moses points to the great “I AM”.

 

Exodus 2:1-10 In the midst of Israeli children being murdered there was born a boy. His parents hid him for 3 months and when she could no longer protect him she entrusted him to God by placing him in a basket to float down the NileRiver. It was there that Pharaoh’s daughter found him. Eventually Pharaoh’s daughter would pay the Hebrew mother to nurse her own child and then later he would become the next Prince of Egypt.

 

ð     Parents are often called to make radical sacrifices for the next generation (Hebrews 11:23).

  • Sometimes the choice is to shield them and sometimes it is to send them out…
    • Dads, how are you protecting your child from worldly & unwise influences?
      • TV, Movies, Friends… Boyfriends/Girlfriends
    • Moms, how are you preparing your child to become an arrow in God’s hand?
      • If you don’t have a plan, someone else will.
      • Whoever wants the next generation more will get them.

 

APPLY/THINK In closing, here are some final truths to remember.

Exodus 2:23-25 God heard… God remembered… God saw… God knew.

God heard…  Hardship does not remove God’s hearing.

 

The Israelites endured hardship. They were not made for Egypt but for Canaan. They were without a land to settle and were unable to leave under the Pharaoh’s power. They felt like no one cared and no one was listening and yet their cries were heard by God.

The Psalmist called out to God and trusted in God’s hearing:

5:1-3 “Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”

56:8 says “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” God holds our tears, but even more He hears and heals our tragedies. God’s hearing and healing never arrive quickly but God has assured them both in His eternal plan.

ð     Pray. When you think no one else listens or loves, God does.prayer

ð     Hope. With God, hope is never sequestered.

 

God remembered… Pain does not remove God’s promises.

The Israelites endured enslavement. Their hands were calloused from the hard work. Their backs were burdened with carrying bricks. Their feet were soar and tired from all the travel. Moreover, their mind and spirits were filled with fear and intimidation. Pain was prominent in their lives.

God remembered His covenant with Abraham and was not going to forget His promises to Israel. The catch is that God does not promise a life without pain. God promises to be with us through the pain. His presence is our present in the pain. He is calling us to trust Him with our most painful experiences.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

ð     Trust. When life isn’t going as planned remember God is God and you are His servant.

ð     Obstacles are opportunities. When circumstances looked bleak Moses’ mother trusted God with her small, hopeless(?) act – making a basket and placing the baby in it to float down the Nile River?

  • Sometimes we see rejection and lose hope. Man’s rejection results in God’s redirection. When one door shuts, open a window.
    Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7-8)


God saw… God knew…
Suffering does not remove God’s salvation.

The Israelites suffered beyond their physical conditions. They not only endured the physical pain but emotional misery as parents saw their sons murdered.

Later God says to Moses in Exodus 3:7-8 “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land”

God saw the suffering of the Israelites and saved them. Some ask, “Why does God allow suffering in the first place?” The answer is two-fold:

1)     Suffering is a result of human sin.

–          Pharaoh & Egyptians were responsible for enslaving Israelites

2)     Suffering is God’s instruction to teach human weakness and divine strength.

–          Israelites were self-sufficient in Egypt until they suffered. Their suffering became God’s means of their salvation. It only took God a single day to take Israel out of Egypt but it took a life-time to take Egypt out of the Israelites.

Perhaps you have been suffering for the past several months… even years. God is telling you today that nothing in your life is an accident. Every heartache, every pain, every suffering feeling is designed for you to call out to God. God allows pain to be a megaphone to catch our attention and call us to Him.

And note, suffering does not remove God’s salvation. God’s deliverance is promised and provided.

Hebrew parents provide a son – destined for death but through the plan of God provides salvation for many.

Jesus is greater than Moses, providing salvation by His own power.

God’s salvation is for those who fear and worship Him…

Remember the midwives – “because the midwives feared God, he gave them families” (1:21).

Hope and Trust in God. Only God can send salvation for your slavery and sin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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