11 October, 2007

The Pressure Cooker

Sounds of childhood. Most of us have memories of those don’t we? One of the sounds I remember was the electric mixer my Mom would used to make mashed potatoes. It was really loud and whenever she would use it there would lines of static that would appear across the television. My brother and I always got so bent out of shape when that happened.

Another sound I remember for distinctly is the sound of the pressure cooker. It was sort of a gentle hissing sound that would go on for hours and hours. Anyone else have that sound captured in your head?

Pressure cookers are really pretty amazing. Basically, by increasing the pressure inside the cooker, you are able to cook whatever is inside faster and more efficiently. You can take a really tough cut of meat, cook it in the pressure cooker, and it will come out tender.

Today I want us to look at the Nation of Israel and the pressure cooker they were in for 40 years as they wandered in the wilderness.

Now we all know the stories of what happened to Israel in the wilderness, good and bad. But let’s look at why God said he put Israel through the pressure cooker.

Turn with me to:
Deuteronomy 8:1-2
(1) All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.
(2) And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

God tells us here what his purposes were for allowing Israel to wander for those 40 years:
1. To humble them
2. To prove them
3. To know what was in their heart
4. To know whether or not they would keep his commandments

I lined up a special treat for us today so we could learn more about what God was doing in the lives of the Israelites as they wandered.

Please join me in welcoming our first guest. A man named Eliezer who is wandering in the wilderness with the Nation of Israel.

1st Israelite man to interview – Eliezer

Ryan –
Hi Eliezer, thanks for taking time out of your journey to join us here today.

So now that you are half way through with wandering in the wilderness….

Eliezer –
What!! We are only half way through???

Oops, sorry, I don’t think I was supposed to tell you that….

So anyway, I wanted to see if you could tell us about how your journey to the Promised Land is going.

Eliezer –
· This has been a TERRIBLE experience

· The food is so different than what I am used to. We eat rice & beans….I mean manna & quail for EVERY meal

· Moses gives us homework EVERY night and even over the weekend.

· We’re supposed to follow the teacher….I mean the cloud and fire that is leading us where we are supposed to go. But I really doubt they are taking us on the best route.

· One time we came to a new place and we weren’t supposed to drink from the pool of water because it was bitter. Then Moses through a stick into the water and said it was OK to drink now. Come on!! A stick??

· Anyway, this journey has been just awful. Every time we turn around there is some need to be met or challenge to be overcome. Moses is always saying trust God, trust God, blah blah blah. I think this journey is going to kill me!

Ryan –
Well, thank you Eliezer for coming today to share your perspective. It has been very…enlightening…

Now let’s welcome our second special guest from the Nation of Israel, Caleb.

2nd Israelite man to interview – Caleb

Ryan –
Hello Caleb, thanks for taking time out of your journey to the Promised Land to join us here today.

So now that you are half way through with wandering in the wilderness….

Caleb –
Wooo hooo!! We are half way through already?? That is wonderful news. God has been so faithful to us.

Ryan –
Well fantastic, I am glad to hear that is encouraging news for you. So I brought you here today to see if you would share your perspective on how the journey is going.

Caleb –
Great, thanks for asking me to be here.
· This journey has been an AWESOME time to see the mighty hand of God at work in our lives.

· God has miraculously provided us with all of the food we need to eat each day. Not only that, but God has given us variety in both manna AND quail!

· Sometimes I don’t understand where or why God is leading us by the cloud and the pillar of fire, but I trust that where He leads me is always best. I know that He will use those in authority over me to guide me as well. God has given us great leaders in Moses and Joshua.

· And the things God has done for us!! Don’t get me started!!
- The parting of the Red Sea
- The fresh food every day
- Water to drink when we need it

I could go on and on.

Oh, there was this time that we were really thirsty and we found this pool of water. But the water in the pool was bitter and not safe to drink. God told Moses to throw a stick into the water and voila! The water was made good!!

· So I would have to say that this journey has been awesome so far. Every time we turn around there is some need to be met or challenge to be overcome. And every time, God shows Himself strong on our behalf. What a blessing and privilege to see the hand of God at work right before our very eyes.

Ryan –
Wow. Thanks Caleb for sharing your perspective. It certainly is exciting to hear about what God is doing in your life.

I. One of the major things that will determine “how” we go through the pressure cooker God has us in is Perspective

- Perspective is how you view something. It is the lenses through which you look at the circumstances of your life.

- We always joke about the glass being half full or half empty. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? I meet a lot of people that say, “I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist, I am a realist”. And that’s great, because God is a realist too, and we are supposed to be like Him right?

- The question becomes, are you letting the reality of God’s constant, never wavering, unfailing care for His children govern your perspective?

Do you know what happens to the cooker if too much pressure builds up inside? That’s right; you will have the Big Bang in your kitchen. Let me share with you one of the critical design elements of a pressure cooker.

On top of the lid is a little valve with a very important function. This little valve is designed in such a way to allow the right amount of pressure to build inside the cooker in order for effective cooking to take place, but it allows the pressure to escape when there is too much. This is what makes that lovely hissing noise I talked about.

Look with me in:
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
(1) Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
(2) And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
(3) And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
(4) And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
(5) But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
(6) Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
(7) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
(8) Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
(9) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
(10) Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
(11) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
(12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

(13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

II. The second thing that is critical to being in God’s pressure cooker is the relief valve of a right relationship with Him.

- God promises to never put more pressure than we can bear…..IF we use the way of escape.

- When we are walking with God in intimate fellowship, there is nothing He will allow in our lives that will cause us to blow up.

- Instead it will end up doing in our lives the very same things he intended for the Nation of Israel.

1. To humble us
2. To prove us
3. To know what is in our hearts
4. To know whether or not we will keep His commandments

The pressure cooker of Language School.

The pressure cooker of the mission field.

1. What is your perspective like today? Murmuring and complaining, or rejoicing at the hand of God in your life?

2. What is the condition of your pressure relief valve? Is your intimate relationship with God open and functioning?
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