Summary: Too many times, we as believers are backing up when God has said......"Go Forward"
Backing Up Or Going Forward ?
Exodus 14:8-13, Phil 3:13-14
Illust. The Joke was on me.
Are we backing up or going forward as a church ? How about in your own spiritual life ?
Do you ever feel like you take 2 steps forward, and 3 steps back ? This morning I want us to look at a passage of scripture where the people of God were backing up when God said "Go Forward". As believers, I think that we should always try our best to be going forward as a church, and personally in our relationship with God !
I. The People Escaped.
After 400 years of slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, the children of God are finally free. God never forgot them, he never forgot his promises.
II. The Problem Encountered.
I am told that there is a tribe in some part of Africa which does not say goodbye, but when leaving they say........"Go well, stay well." I’m sure that the people of God after all these years were looking forward to things "staying well" for awhile. After all those years in Egypt, surely they had plans of going forward, and inheriting the place promised to them by God. Yet, I want you to understand something that they didn’t ! Though God had delivered them, and had promised to guide them day and night, and bring them to the promised land, he did not say that the journey would not have difficulties, and disappointments. He did not promise that everything would always "go well, and stay well".
The same applies to believers. God has not promised a trouble free existence here in our journey.
In fact, he has warned believers to troubles, and tribulations. Many of these things come our way to challenge our faith, and to stretch it. How we respond to these troubles, and trials, and how we react to the problems we encounter is what defines us. Too many times we respond to these things by backing up when we should be going forward. We become cynical, negative, and bitter.
And as a result, we live defeated lives. It is not the will of God that we go back, but that we go forward. It is not his desire that we live lives which are bitter, and negative. But, he wants us to be people who are moving forward, growing stronger, being victorious !
Let’s notice the problem that the people of God encountered, and how they responded.
a. The Sea Before Them.
b. The Soldiers Behind Them.
c. The Sovereign Lord Between Them.
We see a pattern of behavior established by the people of God which will continue throughout their journey. They question, and they quarrel. Their attitude is.......why didn’t you just leave us alone in Egypt. We were better off there. At least we were alive. Now we’re going to all die here in the wilderness !
III. The Progress Encouraged !
Look at V15. Listen to what God says......"Go forward". Quit living in Egypt. Quit talking about Egypt ! Move forward ! The people of God were looking back when they should have been going forward ! Physically they were out of Egypt, but spiritually and mentally they were still there. We will never be able to move forward until we quit looking back ! Too many times our spiritual transmission is in reverse when it should be in drive ! As a church, there are some areas in which we need to quit looking back, and move forward. There is too much to lose by looking back, and so much to gain by going forward !
Let me share 3 principles with you that we need to apply to help us move forward personally, and as a church body.
1. Forsake The Past Which Oppresses You !
a. Past Sins.
b. Past Situations.
c. Past Sorrows.
2. Forgive The People Who Offend You !
Illust. Strongest Man Competition
Some of us are trying to move forward with huge amounts of weight on us. Grudges are heavy !
We will never be truly free until we learn to forgive.
3. Focus On The Promises He’s Offered You !
Paul had it right when he said.........Phil 3:13-14 ..........forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto these which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.
Tonight, aren’t you tired of looking back or going nowhere ? Don’t you want to move forward ?
Would you come tonight and forsake those things which are behind you, forgive those who have offended you, and begin focusing on the promises he’s given you ?