“Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced.”

1 Chron. 16:11-12 (NIV)

If you’re anything like me, you are prone to forget the things you should remember and remember the things you ought to forget!  Frustrating, isn’t it?  That seemed to be the same problem that the people of Israel had as well.  When they got to the Red Sea and saw Egypt chasing after them, they quickly forgot who led them there and how.  They forgot all the wonders that God had performed to get them out of Egypt.  Their faith grew weak as they began to panic and complain.  Moses redirected their focus back to the God that had brought them out of Egypt, assuring them that He was the same God who would secure their future despite the enemy threatening them in the present.  Moses teaches us how to access God’s power.  What did he do that you and I can do to access God’s power?

First, he admitted he was too weak without God.  In Exodus 14, Moses cries out to God about their situation, acknowledging that he was powerless to save himself and the people he had led out of Egypt.

Second, Moses affirmed God’s power and presence.  He assured the people that the Lord would fight for them.  How did he know?  All he had to do was review all that God had done in getting them where they were!  God had led them there by His mighty hand.  The Psalmist put it like this, “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.  Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles and the judgments He pronounced.” 1 Chronicles 16:11-12 (NIV)  Moses only had to recall the 10 wonders that God performed in Egypt and the way God led them out.  When you’re worried about the future because of the pressures and problems you’re facing today, affirm God’s power and presence.  The Lord is with you!  He is mighty to save!

Third, Moses aligned himself with the will of God.  You might think that being in the will of God will exempt you from problems.  It doesn’t.  Yet, there’s no safer place to be! Exodus 13:17-18 (NLT) says, When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road … even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. … God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.”  Moses knew that God had led them there.  Sometimes God leads us in a roundabout way.  There are no shortcuts to the will of God.  If I want to access God’s power, I must align myself with His will – no matter where it may lead me!  Through the journey, He is teaching me to trust Him.

Fourth, he asked God for the power he needed.  James tells us in James 4:2 (NIV), “…You do not have because you do not ask God.”  Ask!  Sometimes that is all He is waiting for us to do.  But, what if you’ve taken all of these steps to access God’s power and you still feel weak and powerless, immobile and paralyzed with fear?  There’s a fifth and final step we’ll check out tomorrow that brought the breakthrough and led to one of the biggest miracles in the Old Testament.

God’s Power for Your Future, Part 2

But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”’

Exodus 14:13 -14(NLT)

“Just stay calm.” Have you ever heard that before?  When you’re anxious about the future and facing problems you can’t handle, calm is probably not what you are feeling.  We may not be able to control our feelings but we can grow in faith to access the power of God for our response.  That’s the difference between being reactive and being proactive.  It’s natural to react to stress with fear and anxiety; to complain about our situation, but that only compounds the problem.  It never resolves it.  Problems are often God’s way of developing our faith.  Since He lives in the past, present, and future, we can trust our lives to Him and learn to access His power for the future.  But how?  The first step is to admit I’m weak without Him.  The Apostle Paul learned this when he faced an issue he couldn’t resolve.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 he wrote, “But the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  You can’t cling to the strength of God if you are holding on to your own self-sufficiency.  Sometimes God will allow problems in our lives to bring us to the end of our selves.  Our extremities are His opportunities!  Israel realized this at the Red Sea.  The only problem was that, rather than taking their problem to God, they began to complain and take it out on Moses for leading them there!  They said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness?  Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us?  Why did you make us leave Egypt?  Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt?  We said, ‘Leave us alone!  Let us be slaves to the Egyptians.  It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” Exodus 14:11-12 (NLT)  How often what I think is about to be the worst thing that could ever happen, God turns it into the best thing!  Moses shows us how to access God’s power for the future.   Unlike the complainers taking it out on him and drawing false conclusions based on their circumstances, Moses takes it to the Lord and admits how weak he is without God.  How impossible his situation is apart from God’s power to intervene.  That’s when the Lord speaks to Moses and says, “Why are you crying out to Me?  Tell the people to get moving!  Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea.  Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.”  (Vs. 15-16)  Moses’ encounter with God helps us know how to access God’s power.  Throughout their wilderness journey, we will see it repeated.  If you want God’s power for your future, the first step is to admit you’re weak without Him.  Make a determined effort to pray when you feel like complaining.  It will lower your stress level and prepare you to listen for what God has to say.

God’s Power for Your Future

But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”’

Exodus 14:13 -14(NLT)

I’ve often wondered what it must have been like to be among the people of Israel during their exodus from Egypt.  They’d been slaves for some 400 plus years.  Then, a leader rose up among them named Moses, and he was commissioned to deliver them out of Egypt and take them to the Promised Land.  The interesting thing is that, over 400 years before, the very God who would perform all the miracles to get them out of Egypt told Abraham that his descendants, the Israelites, would be enslaved in a foreign land, but after 400 years He would deliver them with great wealth!  That prophecy is in Genesis 15:13-14 (NLT) Then the Lord said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years.  But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth.”  I don’t know if they had access to the promise, but, if they had just done the math, they would have known that deliverance was on the calendar!  The God who was with them in the present was the same God who gave the promise to Abraham in the past, and He is the same God who is in the future!   He knows the beginning from the end!  When millions of Jews were led by Moses out of Egypt, they didn’t go empty handed!  Even though they were poor slaves, God caused the Egyptian slave owners to look upon them with favor and give them their wealth!   Look at this verse in Exodus 12:36 (NLT) The Lord caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth!” Just as God told Abraham over 400 years before!  They would leave with great wealth!  They, then, found themselves at the Red Sea.  They were stuck and couldn’t go back to Egypt, and they couldn’t go forward into the sea!  So they began to turn on Moses and Aaron, complaining that they were all going to die!  The whole Egyptian army was chasing them, and there was no place to turn!  This is where God is going to teach them how to access His power for the future!  Look at what Moses told them again in Exodus 14:13-14.  “But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid.  Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.  The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.’”  God had not led them out to die on their way to the Promised Land.  When Moses turned to the Lord in prayer, God told him what to do.  This week, we are going to look at how to access God’s power for our future!  Just as God knew the future for His people then, He knows the future He has for you! You can trust your future to the God who is already there!

How to face the future

Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.  Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.”

Hebrews 10:24,25 (TEV)

In Scripture, the Day of the Lord is a reference to the day when Jesus Christ will come again and bring justice to the earth.  The early church lived in that expectation.  It will be a day of reckoning, a day of judgment, and a day of victory!  Jesus spoke about this day, and the signs that would precede His return, in the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 and 25. The Apostle John described, in graphic detail, the events that will lead up to the final battle and the end of this world as we know it. Jesus warned us to be ready, to be alert, and to look for His appearing! Does that cause excitement and anticipation for you, or does it cause fear and worry about the future?  In the book of Hebrews, people were living in perilous times of persecution and trial.  Because of their struggle in the present, they needed a hope and a future to look forward to.   In essence, the author of Hebrews said, “If I’m going to overcome worries about the future, I must shift from being reactive to being proactive.”  It’s only natural for us to be reactive.  It’s human nature.  Yet, with the wisdom and grace of God, we can be proactive.  We can face an uncertain future with greater confidence when we trust our lives to the God who is already there.  Here are five proactive responses found in Hebrews that enable us to face the future:

  1. “Let us be concerned for one another…”
  2. “Let us help one another to show love…”
  3. “Let us do good.”
  4. “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together…”
  5. “Let us encourage one another all the more!”

You and I have an opportunity to live out these responses this weekend at home, at church, and in our community. Christ followers in the New Testament recognized the value of believing and belonging.  Faith is more than believing.  It is about belonging to a family of believers that are concerned for one another, who help one another to show love, and encourage each other to do good as they meet together in worship.  If you don’t have a church family and you are in the Houston area, we welcome you to join us.  Every child needs a family, and every child of God needs a church family.  Following the last Sunday morning service on every campus, we are having our Membership Class.  I hope you will consider checking out the Woodlands Church family.  You don’t need to face the future alone.

God cares about your future!

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.  He’s the same God who holds you in His hands.  Jeremiah wanted Israel to know that God had a plan for them.  Despite the circumstances of their captivity in a foreign land, Jeremiah said that God was not through with them.  He had a future for them, and it was a hope-filled future.  The problem was that many of them were trying to control their own future.  Others were so worried about their future that they couldn’t live in the present.  So Jeremiah gave them this amazing word from God.  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give  you hope and a future.’”  (Jer. 29:11 NIV)  God wanted them to know that He cared about their future, and that He controlled the big picture.  God cares about your future as well!  Despite the difficult circumstances you may be facing, even when it seems that all hope is gone, God has a hope and a future for you.  God is for you. He’s not out to get you.  When I get discouraged and anxious about the future, I like to look at the back of my Bible and remind myself that, in the end, we win!  When you know that, you can stop struggling to control your future and surrender to Christ’s care and control.  How do you do that?  Jeremiah gives us wise counsel for how to do that in the following verses, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”  (Vs. 12, 13)  Are you seeking to know the future more than you are seeking to know God?  When you stop struggling to control the future and surrender to Christ’s care and control, you will come to know the God who holds your future in His hands. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul put it like this, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 4:6,7 NLT)