Summary: This message deals with the fact that fear is the basis of faithlessness, often resulting in accusations toward others, and absurdity in one’s thinking. However, one who will choose to put their faith in God, will find their faith strengthen.
Forward by Faith
Text: Ex. 14:10, 13-15
Intro: Many Christians these days possess a distorted view of the life of faith. Some tend to think of faith as nothing more than a positive attitude, or the mindset that everything is going to work out all right in the end. This is sort of a “power of positive thinking” philosophy.
Other well-meaning folks practice a “name it and claim it” philosophy concerning the life of faith. This group tends to think that if they want something, all they have to do is claim it by faith, since the Bible says, “…ask, and it shall be given you” (Matt. 7:7a); “…whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21:22); and “…ask, and ye shall receive” (John 16:24b). These scriptures are absolutely true. However, one must consider the whole council of God concerning a particular topic, not merely one’s pet scriptures. The fact is if God has not “named it,” the Christian cannot legitimately “claim it” by faith. Faith is not about saying the right religious words in order to receive what one selfishly wants. Faith is about walking with God and knowing the mind of God about certain needs. Then one must agree with what God has said, and believe that what He has said, He can and will do. The Apostle Paul explains true faith like this:
Rom. 4:20 “He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God [what God had said] through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised [what God had said], he was able also to perform.”
This church is at an important stage in its development. We have the opportunity to move forward in our growth and effectiveness in a new location, with new facilities, for the glory of God. However, in the troublous times in which we live, operating on human reason and ingenuity alone will not guarantee spiritual and organizational success. We must ever seek God’s direction in every decision, while proceeding with circumspection and caution. The only way this church can go forward is by faith.
The nation of Israel had spent 430 years in Egypt; but just as God had promised, He delivered them by His mighty power. All seemed to go well until the Jews found themselves blocked on both sides by the wilderness, blocked in the rear by the pursuing Egyptian army, and blocked by the Red Sea ahead of them. They literally had nowhere to go unless God acted on their behalf. They could not make forward progress apart from faith in God. What a dilemma.
One would think that since the Israelites had witnessed God’s power in delivering them from Egypt, only hours before, that they would have automatically responded in faith toward the Lord in this new crisis. However, faith did not come easily to the Jews. As a result, they were about to take another crash course in faith. Notice what happened.
Theme: In this example of going forward by faith, God reveals…
I. THE SOURCE of ISRAEL’S FEAR
A. They Operated Merely on Physical Perception.
Ex. 14:9 “But the Egyptians pursed after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baal-zephon.
10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.”
NOTE: The Israelites had a perpetual problem with this matter of faith toward God. They could readily see the obvious things going on around them, but they always seemed to overlook God’s omnipotence that was always available to them. Physical perceptions often do not match the perceptions of faith:
Get the right perspective. When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, “He’s so big we can never kill him.” David looked at the same giant and thought, “He’s so big I can’t miss.”1
2 Cor. 5:7 “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
Jer. 32:17 “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”
B. They Overlooked God’s Marvelous Promise.
Ex. 3:7 “And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.”