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Going Forward With God

by Julius Hovan

Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Words of Life broadcast, our effort to share the good news about our wonderful Lord Jesus. And we are so glad you have tuned in. Maybe you have a friend or relative, someone you can call and say, “Hey, tune your radio to this station and hear a good message from the Word of God and share in the good singing and, thus, it will be a blessing to you.” We hope you will stay tuned and listen to what God has to say to you today.

If you are familiar with the Old Testament story of the nation of Israel when they were captives in Egypt, God saved that nation from the terrible judgment coming upon that nation when they followed God’s instructions and God’s orders that they slay a lamb and sprinkle the blood on either side of their doorposts, that then when the death angel passed over they would not be struck by that terrible judgment that came upon Egypt. And we are aware this led to their release from captivity and they began their march to the Promised Land of Canaan. The story begins and is furthered in the second book of the Word of God, Exodus chapter 14 and they face an impossible situation. They have marched out of the area of Egypt where they were. They have come to the sea and there the sea is before them. Somehow they have to get across. They look up and pharaoh’s army is pursuing them from behind and they look all around and there is nothing but mountains surrounding them. They have nowhere to look but up. And thankfully with a good leader like Moses that is what they were able to do.

And so we begin this message by reminding us all that the upward look of faith always leads us going forward in victory. God specializes in helping his people get out of a dilemma, out of a difficult situation and leads them to victory. And so in spite of a hopeless situation, God gives them a commandment. “Go forward,” he says. And, indeed, when they followed God’s command, the results were striking, indeed. Listen to verses 13 and 14 in Exodus chapter 14 where we read: And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. Jehovah shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Here is the call of this great leader for a personal reliance on God. If we are going to progress forward, if we are going to gain victory in the Christian life, we are going to have to rely upon God. And so here is a reliance that freely reposed which rested itself in the Lord freely. He says, “Don’t fear.” The proverb writer reminds us in Proverbs 29:25: The fear of man brings a snare. Fear is a terrible thing to have to deal with in our lives. It results in intimidation, in entrapment. It betrays our relationship to our wonderful God and his love for us. And 1 John 4:18 reminds us: Perfect love, that would be the love of God, casts out such fear.

And so this reliance upon God is very fundamental to our love for God. If I love him and understand who he is, I will rely on him. And if I try to substitute something else in place of that, fear will enter in. I must make a personal decision of faith that I am going to freely rest in God. But not only do we see these people freely resting in God, but firmly resting in the Lord.

Moses says, “Stand still,” in verse 13 or we could say, “Be firm.” This trust is an unshakable trust with a great faith. With all the testing, looking around and seeing all that was seemingly impossible, yet they stood firm in their rest of the Lord.

Job, that man who suffered so much, said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”

We are going to go forward in our personal reliance on God, we must freely repose ourselves and firmly rest ourselves in him. But notice the fullness of their trust and their rest. They were willing to prove God’s ability to do his work as we must in our lives as well. Philippians chapter three and verse three says: Rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. If we can learn to somehow be letting go of self and the flesh, and trusting what we are able to do and letting God have his way, what a difference it will make. It means we are trusting God to do in us and for us what we cannot ever achieve in our own strength.

Many believe that after God saves them, when they become Christians then they have to live on their own and be perfect. What a lie of Satan that is. You will never be able to do that in your own energy and the energy of the flesh. You must without question put your complete and full trust in the Lord.

In the church in Galatia, the apostle Paul had a problem that he had to write about and he deals with it in the third chapter with these words, verse one. O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified? This would I learn only from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are you now perfected in the flesh?

In other words Paul is saying, “You Christians, you started out trusting God, resting in God, with faith in God. Somehow or other you have given up on that and tried to do it on your own and look what a mess in your life and in the church at Galatia has been the result. Our restless and our anxious self effort gains nothing except ulcers maybe and progression in the Lord, then, is non existent. The people of Israel were powerless to dry up the sea, to level the mountains, to annihilate the host of Egypt. Only when they let go of self could they see God do what he did. And he reveals the next step for them going forward. It involved not only a personal reliance on God, but a practical obedience to God.

My friends, we must not omit that. A very decisive decision has to be made here. It followed the word of command. Theirs was not to reason why. Theirs but to do or die, someone wrote many years ago. Duty calls us forward. There is no reason for indecision because the situation is difficult. Life is full of those.

Often when we seek God’s guidance we get hung up when it is decision time. We have to move. Indecision of movement shows a lack both in my mind and heart. If we hesitate we will totter, we will wiggle back and forth, we may well fall back and even be lost in the decision we are trying to make. A decisiveness is involved in our practical obedience to God along with our personal reliance upon him.

And so the directive comes as we go back to Exodus chapter 14 and there we find the directions that God has given through his man Moses as we will recall. You are to go forward. God will fight for you and he will be your peace.

Oh, the children of Israel had seen Moses do some very unusual and wonderful things with that rod he held in his hand. It was a symbol of divine authority, divine power, of discipline. And where he pointed it, that is where they were to go. Might we say that today the rod of God, the direction of the finger of God is through his Word and by his Spirit? He uses those two things to point us in the right direction. Maybe he uses the Words of Life radio broadcast to call to your attention the need for putting faith in God and going forward with him. And we can find and go forward with such direction from God. We will see the progress that we make.

“He who follows me,” Jesus said, “Will not walk in darkness, but he will have the light of life.” John chapter eight and verse 12.

The proverb writer, the wise man said this. The path of the just, the path of the obedient man is like the shining sun that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

There is going forward.

Eleazer in Genesis 24:27 puts it in a rather interesting way when he says, “As for me, being in the way, the Lord led me.” Are you in the way? Are you in the place God has led you, God has chosen to put you there and you have followed? You have put your reliance in him and now you are being obedient and walking in the way to which he has called you? This is that way that God has created for you, that you should walk therein. What good news to know that he cares enough to provide a way for us. And so to go forward with God is to do so with a sense of purpose, with specific direction and this guided way is also a guarded way. Listen to verse 19, ‘The angel of God who went before the camp of Israel removed and went behind them and the pillar of cloud removed from before them and stood behind them’. Here is the protection of God with the angel, with the cloud. In verse 22 in that same 14th chapter of Exodus says: And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon dry ground and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left.

My friends, when we are practicing a practical obedience to God, it will involve a decision. It will involve following some directions. And, yes, it will involve something that leads to division. In the 27th verse we are told this about the experience here. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared and the Egyptians fled against it and Jehovah overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

When we go forward with faith in God, with our reliance upon him and our obedience to him, it often results in a division between our old life and our new, between those enemies, those difficulties, those evils that kept us from God. Egypt would now be separate from the nation of Israel by the sea of death and by the destiny to which God would lead them. This would ever be a decisive and divine place for them to think about.

Very often they looked back at this. Listen to 30 and 31 in that concluding part of that chapter.

Jehovah saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore and Jehovah did upon the Egyptians and the people feared Jehovah and they believed in Jehovah and in his servant Moses.

The enemy was there before them, now defeated, and they could go forward.

I would ask myself and you, as well, if you are a Christian and you are trying to live the Christian life, does your obedience lead you to be divided from your old way, your old life, your old habits, maybe even some old friends? Does it separate us from what God hates and what God has condemned? And are we aware there are things that God does hate? Does this division that comes when I am committed to God cause me to fear God’s judgment against sin? And he is going to do that and I am going to believe in his goodness to his people, including me, if I am a Christian.

 

I am going forward then. If I have dealt with such fear, if I have plugged in to such faith, I am able to go forward not backward for the good Lord. So here is your personal reliance upon God and your practical obedience to God. And here is the beautiful conclusion to it all. It will lead inevitably to a purposeful experience of God.

The chapter following Exodus 14 tells us in verse one: “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel, both Moses and the great nation. And they sang this song unto the Lord. And they spoke saying, “I will sing unto the Lord for he hath triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

My friends, this was no nebulous, vague experience with the people of Israel. This was a definite experience in their lives. Notice that God’s timing was involved. Their outburst of praise to God is related to the point in time that God had ordained when he would lead them forth from captivity in their spiritual journey as they progressed away from captivity in Egypt.

Too often Christians show a lack of progress. We are not much different, not much more spiritual, not much more knowledgeable in the Word than we were, oh, last year, the year before. When was your last experience with God? Are you one of those that says, “Oh, I remember when”? Are you one of them who says, “Oh, the way it use to be”? My friend, God’s time is such that he wants us to have that experience with him on a regular basis.

In the fourth verse we read these words in Exodus 15, ‘Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he has cast into the sea and his chosen captains are sunk in the Red Sea’.

Here is God’s time and now God’s place in this biblical experience with the nation of Israel and their enemy. The shores and the waters of this great sea would ever be the place that they talked about. They told their children about it and their grandchildren, and wrote about it in their history. David often, in the Psalm, described God or experiences with God in terms of some place because it was there God met him in a special way.

Is there a place where God has met you? Maybe in a beautiful place where nature shows its beauty, maybe in a church worship service, maybe in your quiet time in your own closet, wherever it might be. Oh, time, God works in time and we need to look back and find the time and the place as God leads us in a straight line along his path. God’s time and place include God’s aim.

Here is a new experience of wonder. They could not contain themselves when they said in verse 11 of Exodus 15, “Who is like unto thee, oh Jehovah, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness?”

Yes, this God is God alone. And your experience with him will bring about a brand new experience of wonder. One of the marks of your spiritual health and progress is this sense of wonder and awe about God and his person and his work. Oh, I am afraid there is so much irreverence today about holy things and about God and they are things that lead to stagnation and backsliding instead of going forward. How sad when spiritual things fail to fill our souls with wonder and we no longer have the joy expressed here.

Here is an expression of wonder. But in that first verse that we read a moment ago there was a new expression of worship. They sang to the Lord. Wonder will lead to worship. You will tell God of his worth, of his value, of his place in your life and his importance. The emphasis is upon God, upon God’s mighty doings.

Self and its needs had filled their minds and their words, but now as they burst forth in song, self is completely forgotten. There is a sheer rapture of lauding the praises of their great deliverer, Jehovah God. This worship is an overflow of joy produced by the Holy Spirit, a sense of wonder, an experience of worship led in verses 14 to witness.

Notice what it did to the people around them. The peoples have heard. They tremble. Pangs have taken hold on the inhabitants of Philistia. Then were the chiefs of Edom dismayed, the mighty men of Moab trembling took hold upon them and the inhabitants of Canaan melted away.

Here is their witness. When we have the experience of wonder with God, when we have properly worshipped him and known him, it will be noted. We will be salt and light to those that are around us. They will be affected, maybe not always responding, but they will note there is something different about us and they witness in this experience that our God is to be exalted and he is strong and they were willing to tell that.

As we bring this lesson to its conclusion this morning, are these principles of progress evident in your life? Or maybe even in your church family? Do you personally rely on God freely and firmly and fully? Is there a practical obedience in your day by day life to the word and will of God? Can you name the purpose that God has given you, the experience you have had? Can you recall a time when it took place? Can you put a finger on the place where it happened? Are you aware of God’s purpose for your life? Oh, how about our wonder and our experience of worship for God? And, oh yes, our witness to others.

And so if these are lacking, would you seek to turn to God and go forward with him? May we all forget what is past and press forward, as Paul said, to the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus. Go forward and do it with God. And, my friends, if you are not a Christian, these blessings cannot be yours. We would be happy to help you learn how to become a child of God. Get in touch with us. We can send you printed material and help along the away. God bless you this day.

Julius Hovan preaches for the Bohon Church of Christ, near Harrodsburg, KY

 




One Response to “Going Forward With God”

  1. Jurjen says:

    Please take notice that pronouns that refer to God should always start with a capital: He, Him, His etc. After all, He is God and not an ordinary person.



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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33