Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 2, 2012

"As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 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? 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!” 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. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:10-18

God's people found themselves in a dilemma, trapped between the Red Sea and the charging Egyptian army. Not an enviable situation. Their best case scenario seemed to be a return to slavery and the worst case was probably being slaughtered.

They found themselves feeling very vulnerable and unsure what to do. The options they had to choose from were both seemed risky - give up and turn back or trust God and Moses for something they had never seen or could not imagine. It was a very hard decision, but that's what a dilemma is! The way out of a dilemma is to make a bold decision. And hopefully, the right decision! When you face a dilemma the next decision you make is HUGE!

The decision they faced was this, "Should I trust my gut or trust my God?" Would they follow their fears or would they face their fears with faith? When you feel vulnerable it is easiest to retreat to your comfort zone rather than risk commitment to the unknown. That is how slaves remain slaves and victims remain victims.

They had become slaves not by their own decision but by the decisions of people more powerful than them. And while they were in slavery they didn't have the freedom to make decisions that mattered. That's the point of slavery isn't it? So now they were free and they had to learn to make decisions that would keep them free. Remaining free requires right decisions.

In this study series we are doing on "HIMpossibility" - What Should I Expect From God? we are operating from the theme - "our expectations of God arise from our experiences with God and those experiences come from our encounters with God". Following 400 years of being slaves these folks didn't have a lot of experiences with God. However, based on their most recent encounters with Him, they should have been a lot more positive! He had sent plagues to break the iron will of the Pharaoh and not only were they set free but they were given the wealth of the land in the process! And everyday since they saw God leading them through the cloud and the pillar of fire. And, by the way, while they were in the throes of this dilemma, that very same pillar had moved between them and the attacking Egyptians for their protection. There was plenty of evidence to cause them to trust the Lord! But would they?

Like you and me, they were one decision away from solving their dilemma. They were also one decision away from turning back to slavery. Would they draw from their recent experiences with God and base their expectation on those powerful encounters or would they give into their fears and surrender to slavery again? This was the most important decision they had ever made. How do you make good decisions in the midst of such pressure?

Look, listen and learn!

Look at how you got here. Did God lead me here or did my bad decisions lead me here? If you know God led you in to this vulnerable situation you can be sure He will lead you out of it. Let that certainty guide your decision.

Listen to those in leadership above you. If you have a godly leader who regularly hears from God listen to him because listening to him is like listening to God. More importantly, listen to God! If what your leader is saying syncs with what God is saying to you commit to it.

Learn from your previous experiences with God and especially, learn from your most recent encounter with God. See how He is leading. Hear what He is saying. Also, learn from the bad decisions you may have made in the past and avoid repeating those.

The story of the Red Sea has a happy ending because a good decision led them out of a bad dilemma! They looked over their journey, they listened to Moses and they learned what God can do to people who are willing to trust forward and not turn back!

If you are facing a dilemma you just need to make a decision. But that next decision will be a big one! Are you looking? Are you listening? Are you learning?