I’m fully persuaded God allows a lot of the stuff we endure to come our way, because it sends us running right back to the prayer room! At least in trouble God gets to hear our voice! But should this really be the only time God hears from us? When we're in trouble? And He's the last lifeline left? When was the last time did you hear God speak? When God speaks one thing we must realize. When God speaks it won’t be in the form of man. It won’t be in the form of man’s opinion. It won’t be in the form of man’s intelligence. It won’t be in the form of man’s understanding. It won’t look like man. It won’t sound like man. It won’t feel like man. And it won’t be man. It will be God!!! God doesn't require a job interview. He doesn't hire and fire like most bosses, because He's more our Dad than our Boss. He doesn't look at financial gain or loss. He's not prejudiced or partial, not judging, grudging, sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need. This is why so many people cannot find direction from the lord. They’re too busy trying to get.... Man’s approval. Man’s opinion. Man’s wisdom. With all of man’s wisdom, with all of man’s understanding, with all of man’s intellect, it cannot give the peace of mind that the Holy Ghost gives. Your whole world may be falling down around you. You may be facing a test that is life shattering. You may be looking into the face of death himself, but if you can get into a place where the voice of God can be heard. The Holy Ghost is a Promise, Comforter, Teacher and Guide. “It will lead you unto all truth” When God speaks something is going to change!!! He spoke to the Void of darkness in creation and light and life sprang forth!!! He spoke to the frogs in Pharaoh’s river and they plagued his house. He spoke to valley of dry bones and they came to life again. He spoke to the blind and they began to see. He spoke to the dumb and he began to speak. He spoke to the leper and he was made clean. He spoke to Lazarus and he rose from the dead. He spoke to the storm and it was made calm. And He is speaking to you today. We need to let God’s word into our lives. God’s word is like the sweet manna in the desert. It’s the cool water to the parched lips. Hosea 4:6 ... My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Who’s people? God’s People! People who should be living a blessed life! People who should be feeling the power of God in their life! They are reduced to poverty because they could not hear God’s word! I wonder what blessing would flow in our lives if we would only hear from God. This is why the Holy Ghost is so important to the believer. Does it bother us that we can’t hear from God? Do we weep for lack of His voice? Do we cry out in the darkness ...”Who art thou Lord”? Does it bother us when we can’t hear Him? “OH that I might know HIM!!!” “OH that I could hear Him speak to this church”. “OH that His word would go forth” “We go down to our knees, or we go down to oblivion.” When your back is against the wall, worship your way out. When the enemy is coming against you, you need to worship your way out. Your worship is never wasted. God just wants us to be alone with Him. Your worship will not be wasted. You have to put your mouth on your mountain. Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. God is able to take your anxiety and place it with His peace. Peace on the outside comes from knowing God on the inside. Lord I commit every bit of my life to you. Show me the way. Thank you for guiding us Lord on this uncertain journey called life. WHEN YOUR BACKS AGAINST THE WALL – hit your knees, raise your hands and praise God through it all! People are watching and God is worth worshiping. Paul & Silas were en route to prayer meeting (church) and interrupted by a woman with a demonic spirit. She was the first “Damsel in Distress.” She made her living as a fortune teller. Paul and Silas in kindness but boldness shared her future was a dead end without trusting Christ as Savior. True friends and genuine Gospel preachers will tell you what you need to hear NOT what you want to hear. When Paul shared Jesus with her the demonic spirit immediately departed from her and she got gloriously saved! Moments before she was enslaved by Satan but now a daughter of God. HAVE YOU EVER DONE THE RIGHT THING and yet, got in trouble. Paul and Silas extended grace but got grief. They just honored Heaven but now going through Hell. The leaders escorted these two Christians to the town square and didn’t bless them but beat them, shackled them and tossed them in prison with their “backs against the wall.” When you are in prison (solitary confinement) you do a lot of thinking with time on your hands. The SITUATION was Paul and Silas were honoring God. They were going to church but God orchestrated their steps and enabled them to bring church to this woman in need of God. She now got her reservation for the Palace but they got thrown in the prison. Paul and Silas learned their SALVATION was still their SOLUTION. When your back is against the wall we need to do two things like never before. PRAY – Paul and Silas began to pray. “When you are down to nothing – God is UP to something.” Plus, when you kneel before God you can STAND before any man. We need to fear (respect) the Lord more than worry what man can do to us. God is eternal. Man is temporal. PRAISE – At their lowest point they worshiped God on High. You cannot worship anxiety and the Almighty at the same time. We need to stop telling God how big our mountains are and start telling our mountains how BIG our God is! They never pouted but began shouting praises to the Lord while in prison. The guards heard about their God. Convicts heard their carols of Christ, singing of their Savior and their HYMNS about Him!! Once again, these lost, shackled sinners couldn’t make it to church so their witness brought church to them! EVEN in jail!! PROBLEMS – Will tempt you like never before to compromise, cut corners, cheat and leave Christ out of the equation. WORD OF THE DAY: “When you are TESTED. God can be TRUSTED.” Your world may shake but the Word of God never moves. Faith in Christ is a firm Foundation. When you read and trust God’s Promises your problems will evaporate and experience the PRESENCE of God in a powerful way. The Bible says: “I have yet to see the righteous forsaken” and true to His Word, the Lord sent an earthquake, the jail cells flew open and Paul and Silas were set free. The irony is they were free even when hand-cuffed. With the Lord we find liberty and you cannot contain God in a box or handcuffs. Atheists are actually in “prison” while walking with no shackles but Christians are free even in confinement. Paul and Silas shared the Gospel with their jailers and led him and his entire family to the Lord (while they were in prison). Your disappointment may be a Divine Appointment to shine God’s Light and love to dark people in dark places (even dark prisons). The next time your back is against the wall may you be reminded to honor Christ even in your darkest dilemma. Plus, others are watching how you deal with adversity. Let them see the Almighty in you. Have you ever felt like your back was against a wall? Ever been between a rock and a hard place, with nowhere to turn? Or maybe you’ve put in a lot of time going down a winding avenue of life only to find it is a dead end. Moses was a great man, and a great leader. He’s a great model for all men and fathers today! At this point in the story he has led God’s people from slavery to freedom, and all 2-3 million of them are marching toward the Promised Land. It’s the Exodus from Egypt! “Out of Africa!” Free at last for the first time in over 400 years. The NT confirms this is a picture of our salvation from sin, the wicked taskmaster that seeks to hold us in chains of bondage, bitterness, and burdens. “He set me free, He broke the bonds of prison for me I’m glory bound, my Jesus to see, and glory to God, He set me free!” They are marching out, ‘high handed’, rejoicing in their new freedom when suddenly they encounter... A shady picnic pavilion? No. A golden city of riches and happiness? No. That’s where the TV evangelist lives on the monies from the simple minded who believe that’s what the Christian life is all about. No, they encounter a big brick wall...a problem. The Problem Have you discovered yet that being saved doesn’t insulate nor isolate you from the problems of this sin cursed world? For those who insist on believing salvation is the end to problems I say, ok, but it’s the front end! Struggles and difficulties continue, and oft times increase when you get saved, for now you have a new enemy coming after you! Pharaoh is a picture of Satan pursuing his losses. The Christian life is not lived in straight lines. God deals us detours along the way, and they are for our benefit. A straight line from Egypt to Canaan would have been about 150 miles NE and would take less than 2 weeks to traverse. But God takes them SE...the long way around. 13:21 The glory cloud seems to be leading in the wrong direction, though. The same happens to all of us. We have a goal, a destination in our mind, some place we want to go, something we want to become or achieve. Sometimes we even know that God is in it and wants us to get there, but we just can’t understand why it’s taking so long. Can you relate? God’s delays are not denials. Don’t be discouraged if God has you on a detour route...He knows what He’s doing! “My Lord knows the way thru the wilderness...all I have to do is follow!” Another lesson: God knows what we can handle. If He led them in the straight line to Canaan, they would have passed right thru the land of the Philistines, brutal warriors who were blood thirsty. But God’s people were not ready for that. They weren’t seasoned warriors, they were slaves w/ no weapons of war. Well, as if this detour God has them on isn’t enough, God then leads them right to the banks of the Red Sea, just as the Egyptian Army is sent to pursue them. Now they’re hemmed in and pinned down. There’s no way out. Mountains of either side of them, a sea in front of them, and Pharaoh’s military is fast approaching. It’s a dead end. Their back is against the wall. Ever been there? Their problem now turns to... The Panic 14:10-12 Thanks a lot, Moses. And, um, we told you so! But you wouldn’t listen. “Let my people go!” You just had to have your way...and now we’re all going to die! They’re questioning his leadership. God has used him to lead them to freedom from slavery, and now they’re questioning his ability to hear from God and do the right thing. But God had seasoned Moses for such a time as this. While they are speaking words of fear, Moses speaks words of faith... v. 13-14 3 commands: · “Fear not.” It’s the same thing the angel said to the virgin Mary when she learned she was with child. It’s the same thing Jesus said to His disciples in their little boat in the midst of a great storm. It’s the same thing the angel said to Mary Magdalene when she was baffled at Jesus’ body missing from His tomb. To each of these God was saying, “You may not understand your circumstances right now, but don’t worry, I’m still in control!” Ill.—Someone has said there’s 366 times the Bible admonishes us not to fear, and if that’s true, there’s one for every day of the year, including this leap year! Fear is when we can’t see God thru our circumstances. Faith is when we see our circumstances...but thru God! We can be troubled on all sides, but not perplexed. They looked left and right, front and back, and there was no way out. But there’s still another direction to look...and that’s up! I believe God wants our backs against the wall sometimes so we’ll do just that. You see, He gives water to those who are thirsty, not full. He heals the sick, not those who are well. · “Stand Still.” We don’t like to be told to wait, do we? We want to do something. We want to try to help God out, or help ourselves out. Just standing still is unthinkable in our society today. The most popular words in advertising today are: Now, Instant, Immediate, Fast. We don’t like to wait. If someone is ahead of us in line, we are pacing. No wonder the concept of waiting on God is foreign to us. But the Bible says... Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Waiting on the Lord is when we quietly and calmly trust Him until He provides clear direction. It is the opposite of panic. It’s different than trying to fix things or make things happen. God answers prayers all right, but unless He says ‘yes,’ we don’t like His other answers. We don’t like ‘no’. And we also don’t like it when His answer is ‘slow.’ We take that as a ‘no’ as well! Or when His answer is ‘grow’ [you’re not ready] we take that as a ‘no’ too. We want Him to say ‘go’ when often His answer is ‘stop’. Let go and let God take over. If God did let us have our way we’d quickly see how little we can do in our own strength and we’d never see what God can do in His time and in His way! Ill.—how often I see pastors who won’t take God’s answer of ‘wait’, and they take matters into their own hands and create a boiling pot full of trouble. What if Moses hadn’t been a good leader? For one thing, if he had taken a vote they all would have returned to slavery. How about if he had weighed his options, humanly speaking, and tried to make a way across the sea. What were his options? Hmmm ... Row vs. Wade? No boats, and too deep! Stand still, stay with God, and don’t get ahead of Him. You could try in your own strength to swim across the Red Sea, but if you would have just waited He was just about to part the waters for you. Ill.—I know of a pastor who was given a new car. He had a nice one already, and could have sold it, but he had a family in the church whom he knew needed a car. He purposed in his heart to give it to them. But before he got to them they went out and got a loan they couldn’t afford because they ‘had to have a car’. If they had just waited and prayed, God had a plan in the works for them! Fear not, stand still... · “And see the salvation of the Lord.” When our back is against the wall is when God does His very best work. “Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities!” Because when God gets us out of such a jam it is clear Who deserves the glory and we are quick to credit Him! Notice that this miracle came in 3 stages: 1. The diverting of the glory cloud. v. 19-20 God gave them a cloud, not a map, compass, or gps. This cloud served 2 purposes. To guide them, and also to shelter them. They were in an arid desert place, very hot by day, very cold by night. This cloud sheltered them from the searing sun and then it turned into a heavenly heater at night [pillar of fire] It’s nice to sleep w/ a pillar! Well, the cloud moved behind them like a wall between them and their enemies. And He’s not only our Savior, He’s also our protector! David in the Psalms said He’s my high tower, my refuge, my shield, my defense. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. Psalms 73:23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. I don’t have a problem believing in this miracle. God made the sea and the dry ground under the water. The liberals say, no, it’s a misprint; it was the Reed Sea, which was more shallow, only a few inches in many places. Well then God did an even bigger miracle in drowning the entire Egyptian army in ankle deep water! Can you imagine being there for this great miracle?! Moses was just a man, and in his hand was a simple rod, but when he held it in the air in obedience and faith, it became the rod of God! We like to joke about Moses sometimes...and it is a funny thought 3. The drowning of the Egyptians. v. 23-28 Pharaoh was reaping what he had sowed. For what was it that Pharaoh had done to all the male Jewish babies? Drowned them! “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap!” Maybe your back is against the wall. Be encouraged, fear not, stand still, and see what God can do. God didn’t deliver His people from slavery only to drown them when they were cornered. And God didn’t save you only to forget about you now. The problem and the panic led to this miracle and then the praise followed, which we’ll look at tonite, along w/ your testimonies. What Red Sea has God brought you thru? What giant body of water are you still facing? How can we encourage one another? Prayer Will: Get you in, Get you Out, Get You Through. Never underestimate the power of prayer. "If you can believe, you can achieve". Show God Your Faith and He’ll show you His Faithfulness. God said trust Him, all you need is a mustard seed of faith. Dream big, trust and obey. Today, choose to release everything that has tried to hold you back, get ready to embrace what is about to come forth. Whatever you are not seeing in your life you got to call it forth.