March Forward

Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas

INTRODUCTION

Most of the time we believe God is in control when everything is going our way. When we have good health, good job, the family is happy, children study well; we know God is on the throne, directing our steps; we praise God. Life is good. But having faith does not exempt us from difficulties and roadblocks. In such times it is easy to think, “God where are you, how could you let this happen to me?” No, the same God that is in control over our good times is just as much in control of the tough times. Today maybe you are thinking everything is misplaced in my life. You have started something very enthusiastically only to realize that there is no way ahead.

Today we are going to see how we can go forward when there seems to be no way ahead.

By God’s grace the last 2 months I was in Brazil and I remember my last couple of days there. My biggest concern was to pack my luggage. It is a tough task especially with all the airline security and the weight they allow us to carry. My thoughts immediately went on to a group of people in the Bible packing their belongings overnight.

The children of Israel had been in slavery in Egypt for 430 years now. God sent 9 plagues but Pharaoh hardened his heart. Finally God was going to send a decisive plague which would result in the release of the Israelites.

It was a beautiful evening in the land of Egypt. Every Israelite household bought 1-year-old male lambs and are now taking good care of them for the past four days. The lamb had become a part of their home. At twilight, men from every house take their lambs and slaughter them. I can hear the kids crying, “Daddy, don’t kill my dear pet.” Then men carefully collect the blood in a container, probably they are shaking the container to keep it from clotting so that they can sprinkle the blood on the sides and top of their doorframes. Meanwhile the other people of the home are busy cleaning mess of the slaughter. The women probably proceed to clean the lamb. Oh! Time is running out, it is about midnight now. They are busy making fire to roast the lamb. The whole household is gathered around the fire and are eating the roasted meat while the Lord travels through the land. The houses that had blood on the doorframes are spared but the Lord strike down the firstborn of every Egyptian house. This shows a great Christian truth: We have a God who executes judgement on behalf of his people.

God arises for his people.

The Bible says, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered.” Today you maybe oppressed by the devil, oppressed by others but God is asking you to stay calm, trust in him. God will arise for his people in the appointed time and when God arises he executes judgement.

The Israelites are celebrating their first Passover. They have just finished eating the meat; mummy went to take the unleavened dove. Soon there is a knock in the door. She rushes and opens the door, and to her surprise is greeted by an Egyptian general requesting her to leave Egypt to the land where God wants them to go. She said no I need to bake bread. The general said, “No please leave, we will give you whatever you want.” The father soon joins them and after understanding the situation, he starts demanding money, gold, and silver for the soon departure. The general gives whatever is asked by the father. Gifts are given by all Egyptians to the Israelites, in fact, they are bringing their wealth right into the Israelite homes.

Remember, all these years the Egyptians mistreated the Israelites. Pharaoh and his people made a lot of money by making them work. The Egyptians did not pay them well. Probably the Israelites lost a lot of their money but now it is payback time. The Israelites plundered the Egyptians.

God has a payback time.

Some of you here have been misused by family and friends. Maybe people are not giving you value, they disrespect you, they take your favour but treat you shabbily. Maybe people are refusing to give back the money they owe you, maybe you are waiting for that promotion but it is talking a long time. I want to tell you our blessings solely depend upon God. Even if people mistreat and disrespect you, even if you are not paid your dues God has a payback time. Don’t worry; God will return to you all what you have lost and are being denied. Wait for his time. It was payback time for Israel and they left the Egyptians plundered.

One thing I want you to understand is that as the people of God were moving out of Egypt, God moved out with them.Exodus 12:41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. God earlier had decided to come and stay with them in Egypt when he saw their sufferings. Exodus 3:7-8 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians….

God came down when he saw his children’s sufferings and God moved out with them when they moved out of Egypt. Dear friend, God and his heavenly hosts are right with you when you are suffering, when you are discouraged, when you are heartbroken. If you realize it or not God is camped right in your house. He moves with you, he comes with you wherever you go.

Now, they start their journey, God is moving with them. They are on the way to the Promised Land. They had a great start. People are very happy, rejoicing, singing, no more hard work, just praising God and Moses all the way. The elders of Israel came up with an excellent way and people are walking out fast. Now if you notice, they travelled from Goshen to Rameses to Succoth. What a joy it would have been to walk freely to their promise, but very soon there was a break to the journey. Exodus 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

Have you ever come across a situation where you have started something in life with great enthusiasm but now it is taking more time than you expected? Maybe you have started your studies, a good job, business, marriage all trusting God but nothing is really working out; things in life seem to be taking a long time. Here, God stopped the forward progress of Israel. They could not understand why God was leading them in a longer route.

God stopped their path because God did not want them to battle. You see, God is omniscient, he knows everything and sometimes when God sees danger and battles ahead of us, he may halt our progress. I thank God for my closed doors.

You must understand that there are some battles that God wants you to fight, yet there are other battles that God wants you to avoid. As believers we need to be very careful with every path we take. I have seen people who wilfully go against Godly advice in the area of their marriage. Sometimes God place them in a good place, good job and they just change route without godly advice. My dear friend, if God is not in that move, you are sure to face defeat and disappointment. Some of you are fighting unnecessary battles today, because when God stopped your way you went ahead in rebellion. You are now all drained, giving up in life, and wounded in life’s battles. Repent to God, cry out to him and tell him, “Lord, I will never stray away from your path again.” He will show mercy and deliver you.

Some of you here are about to take some big decisions, think it over dear friend and see if God is really leading you. If God is leading you, he will give you the victory no matter what.

Yet, some of you may be thinking, “I am facing a battle because of no fault of mine.” I know I have been doing God’s will but why do I face this battle? I do not know why Lord I have to face this situation? I do not know why I am facing a setback in life? Understand:

God’s ways are not always logical.

What God does in the life of a child of God cannot be reasoned with our logic sometimes. Exodus 14:1-2 1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.

Now, the children of Israel were not only asked to take a longer route, they were asked to backtrack and go back to the same direction that they had just travelled.

It is very irritating to go through the same route again and again, especially when you are going to a destination. When our destination takes longer, we grow impatient. Listen, God is not in a hurry like many of us. God is in absolute control even when God wanted the children of Israel to go back to the same direction they just travelled.

God’s plans are not always logical to human understanding. If you carefully watch God’s ways here: In a short time God would place them in front of the Red Sea, with mountains on either side in the wilderness and Pharaoh comes chasing back at them. Exodus 14:3-4 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So the Israelites did this.

We need to understand that they have been lead to this place not by their own choice or by Moses. It was God’s decision and if God brought them there God has a way out of that situation.

Why did God allow the Egyptians to chase Israel again? Why does God allow satan who was once master over us to attack us over again and again? Maybe you are attacked in your job, career, business, family, friends, relationships. Do you know why you are allowed to be oppressed by the devil? Exodus 14:4 5And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” God allows trouble in our life so that people know God through us. God wants his name to be exalted through our trials.

God’s ways are always made in advance.

God was not surprised when Pharaoh’s army chased the Israelites because that was God’s plan. God is not surprised at your condition today. That is exactly where God wanted you to be. Maybe today you are in a stuck up position, you do not know what to do. Understand this is God’s plan in your life and he has brought you in this situation. If you trust God, he will lead you out of this situation.

Where you are now is absolutely is planned by God. Your dead ends are God’s plan to show His glory.

The children of Israel failed to understand God’s plan. Exodus 14:10-12 10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” They murmured, questioned Moses, they in turn questioned God’s authority when faced by the mighty Egyptian army.

Man fails to understand God’s ways.

Illustration: One missionary went to North Germany decades ago for mission work and he lost his way in the jungle. He was really upset that he went for God’s work on God’s command and finally he has lost his way with no where to go. He walked through the forests and after days he saw some light and movements. As he approached near it was a village in the middle of the forest. He went and knocked at one of the doors and asked for shelter. The missionary was scared what the villagers would do to him, upset that after obeying God this is his fate. The people in the house were very generous and they gave him shelter in the night. The missionary slept that night in the village house, the next day he shared the gospel with the man of the house, and gave him a Bible, and went back to his mission never to see them again. This village man’s son is presently known as Reinhard Bonnke, one of the great evangelists we have seen in our times. No one knows who was the missionary who shared the gospel to this family, where he came or where he went. In his lifetime the missionary never saw the reason why he lost way and went through the forest but God had a plan for his trouble and dead end in life.

Isaiah 55:8-9 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

What to do when you hit a dead end?

It is very natural that when we hit a dead end in life people see the end of the road. That is why people commit suicide, give up in life, get depressed, give up on church etc. The children of Israel saw death at this point.

Exodus 14:11-12 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

If some of them had a rope they would have ended their life. Understand ending life, withdrawal from society, isolation is not the solution when you reach a dead end. Commit your situations to God, our ends are God’s beginnings.

See the perspective of Moses here: Exodus 14:13-14 13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

The man of God said: Do not be afraid, stand firm, be still. I like these three statements of Moses. This is out of his faith in God. He knew God was with them and these statements are out of his faith.

1. Do not be afraid. When you reach a dead end do not be afraid. When nothing is going your way do not be afraid.
Fear is a powerful de-motivating factor. It can paralyze one’s thoughts and reasoning. Many times when we are faced with a stuck-up situation Satan brings fear in a child of God.

We all have things that we’re afraid of. We do not know how it is all going to end up. God is telling – Do not be afraid.

2. Stand Firm. 
When we are faced with a dead-end situation we get so fickle minded we try to do something in haste. God is telling us to be firm. Stand firm in the faith.

3. Be Still. Be patient.
Moses is in other words saying ‘have great faith.’ Take up the shield of faith when faced with a roadblock.

Now see the perspective of God in this situation. Exodus 14:15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. God is telling Moses, I know that you have great faith but that alone is not good enough, put your faith into action. March forward, move on. God is speaking action, move on. You need faith as well as action to have a breakthrough in life.

God expected Moses to use the anointing, the rod but when God saw Moses not using it, God said use it and move forward. When you face situations like this put your faith into action. I will make a way where there is no way. We know the story: God divided the great sea and the Israelites walked in dry land but God used the same waters to destroy all of the Egyptian army.

CONCLUSION

When we determine not to be afraid, stand firm, and stand still in the presence of God, God turns our dead end situations into great highways and God uses the same situation to destroy the enemy once for all. God wants to solve your problems today and you will never see them back but God is saying put your faith into action.

God Bless You!


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