I believe the Bible is the most inspiring, encouraging book ever written! I also believe we often miss the fullness of inspiration God desires for us. We miss it partly because we live in a VIDEO world (we would rather watch something than read it). We miss it partly because we live in a very different culture than the people of the Bible. I wish to examine our text to help us find ourselves in the text, to that we can get the inspiration and encouragement God intends for us through the powerful words…”Go Forward!”
This statement could mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people. What did God mean by the statement, “Go Forward”? What was the message God was trying to communicate to His people by these two powerful words? For the past four hundred years, the Israelites had been Egyptian slaves. They found themselves living a dull boring life. They found themselves living out each day much like the previous one. They were in an ‘endless-cycle-of-life’. They were much like a pet mouse running on one of those exercise wheels….running and running and running, exerting a lot of energy but going nowhere; not accomplishing anything really significant! Their lives had no purpose, no significance, hence, no satisfaction! God SPOKE to them (through Moses). God said, “I want to deliver you from your life of bondage and give you a new life; a life with purpose and significance; a life that will deeply satisfy your soul!
This offer from God filled their hearts with excitement and zeal. They became passionate about fulfilling their visionary promise. They looked forward to each new day of life with anxious excitement! It wasn’t long into their new life that they ran into obstacles. These obstacles tended to drain all of their excitement and zeal. As their zeal was diminished, their drive to move forward became lukewarm. God’s message to ‘Go Forward’ was a message that proclaimed, “continue to pursue God’s visionary promise in your life with your original passion”!
This is something most of us can relate to. When God found us we were in a routine life, living the same-ole same-ole life. Our routine life had no purpose, no significance. Hence, our old life had no satisfaction. But God offered to deliver us from that old life, and lead us into a new life. A life of purpose and significance…hence a life of satisfaction! This offer from God filled our hearts and souls with excitement and zeal. We looked forward to each new day with great anticipation. It wasn’t long into our new life that we ran into obstacles. These obstacles tend to drain all of our excitement and zeal. God’s message to US in the statement ‘Go Forward’ could be summed up this way: “Continue to pursue God’s visionary promise in your life with your original passion”!
Our text identifies three different issues we all face that can greatly diminish our excitement and passion for God. The first is found in Exodus 14:5-7. The Egyptians, who saw first hand God’s miraculous power, turned on God’s people and sought to kill them. Becoming DISILLUSIONED WITH GOD’S PURPOSE can greatly diminish our excitement and passion for God. God’s purpose is to win the world to Him through His followers. It is human nature to expect God, working miracles in our lives, to win the world to Him as they see Him at work in and through us. But that doesn’t always happen. Not everyone is impressed by God. Sometimes they become angry with God (and His people). We see that happening all around us. Ever hear of ACLU? Opposition from those around us who aren’t impressed by what God is doing in our lives can greatly dampen our zeal for God. Incurring new persecutions as a result of our decision to follow God can diminish our zeal for God. 1 Peter 4:12-14 (NIV) says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” God’s message to us if unexpected opposition has weakened our zeal for Him is: Go Forward! Continue forward with the vigor and zeal you originally had for Me! GOD DOESN’T EXPECT US TO WIN THE WORLD TO HIM, BUT HE DOES EXPECT US TO KEEP TRYING!
The second issue we all face that can greatly diminish our excitement for God is found in Exodus 14:10-12. Many of the Israelites, once they saw the Egyptians coming after them (planning to kill them), became filled with doubt and despair. They regretted making the decision to follow God. They blamed Moses for persuading them to leave Egypt in the first place. It is human nature to expect everyone who makes a profession of faith in God to follow through with that profession of faith for a lifetime. But that doesn’t always happen. Too many times, when trouble comes to a professed Christian, they raise the white flag, and look for a way to re-enter the old life. Becoming DISILLUSIONED WITH GOD’S PEOPLE can greatly diminish our excitement and passion for God. It can drain our energy and zeal!
2 Tim 4:14-17 (NIV) says, “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth.” It is very disheartening, in the midst of a heated battle, to be abandoned by ‘fellow believers’. It can do great damage to our faith. God’s message to us if we have allowed other believers who ‘gave up on God in the heat of the battle’ is: Go Forward! Continue forward with the determined resolve to finish the fight that you had the first day you chose to follow Me! GOD HOPES THAT EVERYONE KEEPS THE FAITH, BUT EXPECTS US KEEP GOING EVEN WHEN OTHERS DON’T!
The third issue we face that can greatly diminish our excitement for God is found in Exodus 14:1-3. The text states that God led the people to the edge of the Sea. When the Egpytian army came chasing after them, they were sandwiched in between the sea and the Egpytian army. They were upset at God for their dilemma. Why? Because they got into their dilemma by following God’s instructions! It is human nature to expect God to lead us down a path of smooth places. We don’t expect God to ever lead us into troubled waters. Becoming DISILLUSIONED WITH GOD’S PLAN can greatly diminish our excitement and passion for God. However, God often leads us into hard places. It doesn’t mean He is punishing us, or has stopped loving us, or has forgotten us. It simply means He has a plan He wishes to implement through our obedience and trust. Jer 29:11 (Message) says, “I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” We need to trust God! Where would we be if Jesus’ hadn’t gone to the Cross of Calvary in our stead? That was not a smooth place, yet that is exactly where God led Him! And oooh what a glorious result!! There was a very wealthy Bible character named Job, perhaps you’ve heard of him. God allowed the devil to take his possessions, all ten of his children, and his health. His friends turned against him. Even his wife advised him to, ‘curse God and die’. But Job responded (Job 13:15) “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!”. That is what God expects out of us. Even when we don’t understand why things around us are happening the way they are, God expects us to trust Him with our lives! God’s message of ‘Go Forward’ means: When things look like they are turning out really bad, even though you have been careful to follow my instructions, go forward with the determined resolve you had when we started the journey together, and trust me with your life! GOD DOESN’T EXPLAIN EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS BUT HE DOES EXPECT US TO TRUST HIM! Go Forward!..with the excitement and zeal for God you had in the beginning!!