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Aug 29, 2021

A Direction to Walk

A Direction to Walk

Passage: Exodus 13:17-22

Speaker: Matt Petty

Series: Ignite

Category: Sunday Sermons

Keywords: sermon, ignite, sermon series, bible study, the way, trusting god, pillar of fire, how to be saved, can i trust god, gods promises, salvation from sin, exodus chapter 13, fire in scripture, saved from death, right place and right time, what does the bible say about faith, cloud by day pillar of fire by night, does god leave me stranded on my own

As we continue our sermon series called Ignite, where we look at instances of fire in scripture, we look into Exodus Chapter 13, where we see the Israelites being led through the desert by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. What we can take away from this bible study is that God is the sole maker of our way, and the holder of our salvation. Even when we don’t see the end in sight, even when we cannot understand our circumstances, even when we feel we’ve been left stranded, God is always faithful, and His promises always come to be. He is faithful to lead us where He wants us to go because we are His. God’s way is eternally better than ours, and He puts us in the right place, the right way, and at the right time. Do you feel stranded and left in the dark? Are you dealing with understanding God’s timing in life? Then take a minute to reach out to us through burnthickory.com/next

Well, good morning church I am excited about this morning. You know, the Bible tells us to give honor where honor is due. And this morning, we are going to do just that. We have the Stephens family with us if you're new to our church, the Stephens family is the family of our former Pastor Mike Stephens, who was here for 32 glorious years, especially for Betty, those were fabulous years. We're excited this morning because a couple of months ago, the Georgia State Senate passed a resolution in the capital for the life of Mike, to honor Mike's life. And this morning, I just want to read part of that resolution over you guys and just allow us just for a minute to celebrate Mike, to celebrate this family and just to continue that legacy on. So let me read part of this to you because it's really good. And it really does describe his life if you knew him. It's a resolution, "Honoring the life of Pastor Mike Stephens, and for all other purposes. Whereas the state of Georgia mourns the loss of a distinguished citizen with the passing of Mike Stephens, who passed away on January 29, 2021, after fighting a battle with COVID-19. Whereas Pastor Mike was born in Smyrna went to Osbourne High School enjoyed a long, rewarding and admirable career as a pastor in North Georgia. And while he was here at Burnt Hickory for 32 years, Pastor Mike paved the leadership and growth for the church that grew from an average of 150 in attendance to impacting over 4000 people. Pastor Stephens worked closely with the staff and church directed by God and leading him towards the achievement in the mission to passionately pursue God and passionately pursue people. And he did so with such love, eagerness, faithfulness, which was part of his daily routine." I'm going to read a couple of the next whereases because if you know anything about a resolution, that's how everything starts. But I want to point out a couple of things that says, "Whereas the members of Burnt Hickory, have attributed the healthy growth and unity and church leadership to Pastor Mike and his leadership, Pastor Mike also served and continued to serve after leaving that place, and an interim church to give leadership during critical times when they had no pastors. Pastor Mike was an authentic leader who loved the Lord, which his life and love overflowed for all people. His love for people extended worldwide through his passion for not only here, but missions to other countries. He was loved and known." And this is actually in a resolution. And I love it, "for his wacky sense of humor." I didn't know you could write that in here, but you can. "For his wacky sense of humor, confidence, unending availability, speaking the truth of God's Word, and longing to be with his savior. After his life of success, he remained humble and gave all the glory and honor and ownership to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, therefore, let it be resolved today by the Senate, that the members of this body join in honoring the life of Pastor Mike Stephens." Can we just do that same thing this morning? Can we honor Mike and honor this family and give them the credit where it's due?

Amen. You know, a couple of things about this moment, number one, how incredible is it, and I'm going to present this to you guys, how incredible it is that not only us here in West Cobb get to celebrate the life of Mike, but now just even across the state, they saw the life and the legacy. And we are all a small part of what that looks like here. Let me give Betty just a couple minutes to say what she needs to and hey, it is the 11 o'clock service, and we got nothing but time Betty, you go for it.

I can't go a couple of minutes. That's way too long. But we are so grateful. And that was such an unexpected surprise. And we're just so thankful to Bruce Thompson, I think who initiated it, Mike and Marty had spent some time and at some events with him, and he had gone to DC with him. And so, we're just so appreciative and it's such a legacy for Mike, he just, you know, in this church that's just still home for us. And he loved everybody here. The staff, you've got a great staff still. But this just is something special for the three of us that we will just always cherish. It's just a wonderful legacy and Mike would have loved it. Thank you. Bless you guys. Let's give them one more hand for being here today. Thank you.

All right, well if I know Mike well, which I do, he will say get over that and get into the Bible. Amen. Exodus chapter 13. If you have a copy of Scripture today, I want you to get with me there. We've been in this series where we've been watching God work through these events to ignite some things in some people's lives over the last couple of weeks. And at the end of every week, we've just been asking ourselves, God, what are you trying to sear into my soul? What are you pressing into my soul? What do you need to push me into, guide me into and I've loved looking at these stories, where God uses these fire events, whether it was Moses and the burning bush, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, or was Isaiah seeing the Lord high and lifted up in His Holiness or last week, it was Moses at the base of the mountain coming out of the glory and fire of the Lord and burning the calf. That was an awesome, awesome story last week. Well, this week's story or event out of Exodus 13, has the potential to be one of the biggest events that can set the trajectory not just for the children of Israel, but for our lives, for our walk with the Lord and for our hope, and quite possibly could be my favorite one of the children of Israel as a whole. Wait a minute, Matt, you say that every week last week was for Moses, this one is for the children of Israel. So, Exodus 13, let me read it to us. We'll see where we go from there. All right. Exodus 13:17 says, "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that way, was shorter. For God said, 'If they face war, they may change their minds and then we returned back to Egypt.'" So, God led the people around by the desert road, through the Red Sea, the Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle. So, Moses took the bones of Joseph with them because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. And Joseph said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones with you from this place.'" Verse 20, "After leaving, Sukkoth, they camped at Eltham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them and the pillar of cloud to guide them on their way. And by night," here's our reference to fire this week, "by night, a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, left its place in front of the people." Well, I love this event, but I can just feel the tension in the room when you read an event like this. When you look back at scripture like this, you're asking the same question that I'm asking when I read something like this, and that is, what in the world does this have to do with me? What does this have to do with me? And that is a valid question. If there's anything as your pastor, I can teach you always ask that question, God, why in the world are you telling me a story about some Jews, leaving Egyptian captivity, going into the wilderness? It has nothing to do with me. To which I would say, yes, it does. It has everything to do with you. And it has everything to do with me. And it has everything to do with your walk in the Lord and my walk in the Lord and all of us cumulatively following the way. So, here's what we're going to do this morning. This morning, I'm going to give you the flow. It's nothing fancy for all of you guys that are type A and you'd like to know where you're going right your threes on the enneagram. Let me just tell you what's going on this morning. I'm going to read the text. We're going to look at the text, we're going to pull some principles about God's way. Alright? How he leads us and then at the end of this, we're just going to ask God to show us His way. Show us what He wants for us and to show us that it's better for us. And then we're going to just ask God to give us a clear direction for what it is. Let me pray to that end. Lord Jesus this morning, in these couple of minutes that we have, God, will you just press into our souls that you have a way, an eternal way and God move us to walk in its Jesus. Amen. Amen.

You know, when it comes to following the way or actually, when it comes to following directions, here is a truth that we all know is true. Either you fall into one or two categories, either a, you are a person on this side that can follow directions, right? You can follow them, somebody can hand you a set of directions, somebody can tell you what to do. And you feel like that you can walk those directions out, or B you fall into the category over here, where you are just directionally challenged in almost every area of your life. And you usually don't fall in the middle. And God somehow no matter how many marriage counseling sessions that I do, God puts the directionally challenged people with the people that can actually follow directions and it seems like he works out an incredible, incredible harmony. But this has been the truth since the beginning of time, right? As from the beginning on, people started following the stars to get to locations, they moved into following maps, and then they moved into following campuses. And then we went through that awkward stage of the MapQuest printed directions. Does anybody remember printing out your directions, which by the way, if you're still doing that, hello, it's 2021, quit, they were terrible. You think it's bad trying to look at your cell phone and drive, you try to look at your half-printed stuff from your dot matrix printer while driving down 285, and knowing where to get off the exit, and you always forgot to print out the directions how to get home. So, then you had to try to figure out how to go backwards on the directions and then you just looked frustrated. Right? Amen. We've all been there. Your millennials out there. You don't have a clue what we're talking about. We don't even like you. All right, it's okay. It's fine. I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. Because here's what I do know about millennials, and we got to go. But eh, it's the last service, I know this, you hand them jokers a map and they're lost forever. Right? Amen. God forbid we ever lost GPS in this world. We can never fight a war again; we can never get anywhere again. We might not even be able to find grandma's house at this point. Because what do we do? We type it in ways we follow the purple line. I mean, that's all that we do now in life. But here's what I want to say, following the way doesn't just...it doesn't just have to do with directions and navigation. It has to do with God. And God does have a way for us. And as believers in Jesus, what we're called to do is we're called to follow the way and for some of us following the way is a big struggle in life. It really is. And that's okay. Okay? It's struggle for all of us. Some of us, we have a little better grasp on it. So, this morning, we check in with the children of Israel, we check in with God's chosen people, and they have just left Ramses have just left Egypt proper, coming out of slavery, they're in their first step into this journey, where God is going to lead them. And we get to see how God works in providing the way in front of them. And we check in with them in verse 17. And one of the most misunderstood six words of the whole Bible. And let me just read them to you, because it's going to get us into our principles. It says this. Exodus 13:17 says this, "When Pharaoh let the people go." Now put your finger there, because we're going to talk about that. Don't read this text and go, ah, that was so nice of the Pharaoh, he must have been such a great guy, he must have had a warm heart. He just had a heart-to-heart conversation with them. And so, you guys just go, that's fine. You can go play in the wilderness. That is not what happened. In fact, Pharaoh did not make the way. Alright? And I want you to feel that because God made the way, God made the way. In fact, here's the first principle number one for following the way. We've got to get to the point in our relationship with God that we realize, number one, that God is the sole maker of our way, and our salvation. God is the maker of the way. It wasn't Pharaoh that made this way.

It was God that made this way. In fact, let's flashback to who these people were. This is important. All right, I'm going to do it quick. But it's important to see how God had been involved with making the way for a long time 430 years prior to this even. God in His province in his sovereignty, for some reason don't know why sent this kid named Joseph to Egypt as a slave. It doesn't get much better or much worse than if your brothers sell you into slavery. It's what happened to this guy. His brothers sold him into slavery. He went to Egypt, God continued to bless Joseph, rose him up through the ranks into power in Egypt, and Joseph saved Egypt from a famine. God gave him a message and gave him a dream. They stored up food for a long time. They became the superpower of the world because God did this for Joseph in the middle of all that, but God also provided Joseph a way to save the children of Israel, to bring them into Egypt, but they got put into slavery. God continued to bless His children in captivity, in bondage. They continued to grow in number, grow in influence, grow in strength. And this is this whole time that we see the children of Israel in Egypt to a point to where the Pharaoh said, this can't happen anymore. And he started to lock them down even harder. Started to make it hard for them, started to beat them, make the severity of their situation worse than any other group of mankind saw at this time. Till one day, God said, enough is enough. Enough is enough. And in fact, God did this. He started the process of getting them out of Egypt. In fact, listen this to this in Exodus chapter 3:9, God speaks to Moses and says, and this is God talking "Now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now go, I'm sending you to Pharaoh and bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." Wait a minute, man. I thought it was Pharaoh that let the people go. Oh no, God provided the way. What happened? Moses obeyed. God provided the way supernaturally to these people remember the 10 plagues, one for each of these mythological gods where God was a showing off a little bit going, oh, you got animals? Not anymore. Oh, you got the Nile? Not anymore. God supernaturally started the system of getting them out, showing them the way until the last plague, the Passover, where God provided the lamb which gave the symbol of salvation and ultimate deliverance, which ultimately points to Jesus, right? The Lamb of God, what did John the Baptist say in John 1? John saw Jesus coming to Him. And he said, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." So, we got to see that God provided them a way to put the blood of the Lamb on their doorposts, the death angel passes over and then finally Pharaoh, he let them go. He didn't let them do anything. God did. And God does for us. You see, Pharaoh finally got to the point where he was like Mo, take those people and get out of town. Go! I mean, it's like The Beverly Hillbillies. Take your animals, take your stuff, take everything you got, and get out of Egypt. Go! But I want you to see something what happened here, God provided the way. God provided the way I know; I keep saying that. But I want you to lean into this just for a minute and know this, we are not responsible for the way of salvation.

We're not responsible. Some of you grew up in faith systems that told you that you needed to provide the way. That you needed to be good enough. That you needed to be cleansed enough on your own. That you needed to weigh your good and your bad. And at the end of life, whichever one of those is the most. That's where you're going to end up. Listen, that is too much weight for you to carry, it's not for the eternal Maker of the universe. God provides the way, and His name is Jesus. God gave us the way and His name is Jesus. We see it with the children of Israel here and we see it with us. In fact, John 14:6 clearly says, "Jesus answered them, 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." So, feel this tension, right? While we're not responsible for providing the way to salvation, we are responsible for walking out our salvation. It's what we're seeing in the children of Israel, the rest of the Book of Exodus, we get to watch God, lead his children. God, show His children His way, God be in front of His children. Never take from God the role of salvation, but always walk out what he has provided. That's what we're seeing right here. So be encouraged. God is the maker of the way. But number two, I also want you to see this. God's way is eternally better than our way. Now look at your neighbor and say God's way is better.

No, no, no, no. Do it like you mean it. God way is better. God's way is better. Look, here's the deal. I know that sounds so Elementary, I know it sounds like oh Matt, are we going to pass out the color sheets and color that one? I know it sounds like that. It does. But let's at our core of who we are many, many, many of us, this is where we struggle. We think that our way is better than God's way. We think this. Now look, we will never with the fists in the air, well, we maybe look at God and go, I hate your way. We're not going to say that. We're never going to just outright deny the way, or you probably wouldn't be here today, if that's kind where you are. But we do claim that our way is better than His way. We claim it by our actions. And we claim it by following our heart. We claim it by saying statements like, hey, this is my life, God, this is my call God, I know what you're saying, but I'm going to go do this. We claim it by statements like my body my choice. We claim it with statements like, hey, I'm just going to follow my heart. I'm just going to follow where my desires lead me. I'm just going to do what I think is best for my family. Can I just be really honest, cause I'm going to anyway, when you submitted your life to Jesus, which is a lot of you here, if you're not, you're off the hook for this one for a minute. When you submitted your life to Jesus, your way became a so far back to God's way. So far, your way became secondary. And I know, the moment I say that I can just feel the air leave the room. Because God Bless America our way matters. But in Christ, it matters way less than His way. Way less and here's why. You know, some of us think that's a really doom and gloom statement. And I can just, I can almost just be like feel whoa, okay Matt, I got it. But it's not a doom and gloom statement for me to say God's way is way better than your way. And here's why. Let me explain why. Alright? Put your big boy pants on. This is big. Does anybody know more than God? No. He knows all you can't know more. Is anyone wiser than God? No. He is the foundation of all wisdom that tries to put itself up to being anything. So, when you put that no one knows more than God, nobody is wiser than God, that means this.

That means that God knows every single option that is in front of you, when He guides you. Every option, that means that while your life is a string of events that goes from A to B, God is sitting at C, watching these strings of events, knowing what's coming up in front of you, and giving you the way to walk. But yet we with our limited horizon think that we have the audacity to stand in front of eternal God and go God, I knew better than you and know more than you. Can I just tell you that God knows every option for your life at the moment of your birth? And He begins to put you on a plan that you're not creating. He's creating it. All he's asked you to do is to walk the way, walk the way, get on my way, my way, He says is eternally better. And God knows all the options. He's not limited by earliness. He's not limited by a fall. He's not limited by selfishness. He's not limited by what, 90 something years at best on a planet. He's the eternal God, His way is better than our way. And as a result of that, I want you to let this sink in God's way is always the better way. Listen, even when it's a long way. It's always the better way. But man, how many of us have looked in the face of God when we know this is not the way? Where God's like, just hang in there. In fact, right, this principle down. God's goal is to get us to the right place, the right way, at the right time.

God's goal is to get us to the right place at the right way at the right time. But I'm going to warn you. That many times this way looks different then our way. I'm going to warn you. In fact, let's check in with the Israelites. You see in the text, verse 17, "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country,” now circle this, "though that was shorter." You're feeling it now, you're seeing it now. You're seeing our lives worked out in the Israelites. God did not take them the short way. Let's talk about this for a minute. God didn't take them the close route. If you remember from your early civilization class, the via Mars was the road that went from Egypt, there was a major trade route in this whole area, went from Egypt, straight through Canaan, that God had given these people. It would have taken them as seven days at best to walk from Egypt to Canaan, but God did not take them that way. By all earthly standards, this would have been the way to walk. If you would have punched it into Was this would have been the way, it took you to go. But God's way is not always our way. God's way, even if it's the long way, it's the right way. Look at verse 17 again, "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road to the Philistine country, though that way was shorter. God said, 'If they face a war, they might change their minds, and they may return to Egypt.'" That's returned to bondage, returned to sin, return to destruction. Verse 18, "So God led the people around." Say the word around. Man, you know, you've been there in your life where you feel like God is leading you in a big old circle and you don't know where you're going. Watch this, though. "So, God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt, ready for battle? To which my first question when I read this text, and please ask questions of the Bible, was why in the world, does God take us the long way? Why would God ever take us the long way? Let me give you three quick answers.

Number one, God takes us the long way to grow us. He takes us the long way to grow us. Check into the Israelites life, what's happening in their life? If they would have just popped over to the promised land, could they have celebrated all sufficient, all knowing, all glorified provider God of the universe when they walked into the promised land? No, they couldn't. Why? All they had was the story of their forefathers. All they had were these 10 plagues that was it. But what did God do in the wilderness? God taught them some lessons that you can only learn through experience. And as a result, generational fate began to grow, that we are still learning from today. James 1:3 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. Listen, the galvanizing that happens when God takes us in ways that we don't think that are the way we think he needs to take us, are what shapes us. He grows us, but not only does he grow us, number two, he protects us. Sometimes God doesn't take us the short way because He's protecting us even when we don't know that we need to be protected. Even when these Israelites check in with Him for a minute. They're coming out of bondage, right? They're coming out of slavery. They've been there for over 400 years. They knew nothing about war. Now, verse 18, is a little bit misleading where it says that they kind of marched out. The NIV says that they marched out ready for battle. That's really not the best way to put that term in Hebrew. They didn't March out with pitchforks and AK47's ready to light up their armies. That's not what's happening here. Okay? They came out as bricklayers and farmers and homemakers. They didn't know anything about war, the better translation there is that they came out in lines, orderly ranks, as if looking like an army. They weren't an army; they were a bunch of hodgepodge farmers that was coming out that have never fought anything. They just made bricks. If they would have ended up going the short way, catch this, they would have been obliterated on day one. They would have been killed on day one.

They would have been taken over day one, they would have been slaughtered. Why? Why would they have been slaughtered? Number one, that wasn't the way that God wanted them to go. And sometimes when you walk out of the presence of the Lord, God allows you to have the desires of your heart. You ever been in one of those seasons before where you walked away from God, and you felt like every house of cards in your life was just crumbling at that moment. That's a merciful God going, Hey, that's the desire of your heart. I'm going to give it to you. And when you get tired of following after that way, just turn back to me. It wasn't the way that God wanted them to go. But secondly, they would have gotten slaughtered because that's the way the Philistines were. Philistines were hardened battle warriors, probably descendants of some Crete’s from long time ago. But if they would have walked into these Philistines, they had no idea how to fight at this point. God hadn't gotten them to that reason. The third reason which I thought is the absolute coolest reason is if they would have walked down the via Mars that was the short road this good road, they would have come across five different Egyptian outposts, military outposts, and they would have never made it past. But catch this, God in His sovereignty, in His wisdom, checked them up in the middle of this March is a no, no, no, don't go that way. That's the shore way. Don't go that way, God, that's the way the world's telling me to go. Don't go that way. That's the way that'll get us there the fastest. I'm telling you, God is saying, don't go that way. I'm just trying to protect you. I'm just trying to cover you. Listen, the next time you feel like your way is better than God's way, you need to realize that He sees, and you don't.

He sees and you don't, he protects us. But number three, another way God takes us the long way is that He just wants to provide, He wants to just show us His power. Sometimes God doesn't give us that short desire of our heart because He wants to show us His power and show us how He provides for us. How many of the stories of our faith through the rest of the Book of Exodus would have been lost if they would have skipped over in seven days to the promised land? We would have lost the Red Sea and watching the army get slaughtered. That's one of my favorites, we would have lost the manna that we talked about last week, no grocery store needed just go pick up the bread of life that is pointing to Jesus, who is the bread of life. We would have lost water coming out of Iraq that satisfied their thirst which points to John 4 when Jesus said, "I'll give you living water that satisfies your thirst." We would have lost the mountain story with the presence of God gave the covenant of God and the promises of God and God's power rained on these people. We would have lost the 1000s of years of Jewish history of them looking back to these moments in the desert, if they would have gone the short way. Let me ask you something, are you about to jump on the short way, knowing that it's not God's way? God's way is always better than your way and my way, the dangers of the way were too great. Catch this, but they couldn't see them. But if we could see as God sees we would always do as God says. God was showing them have got a plan for you.

Just don't push back on it. So let me just boil this into our life for a minute. What part of God's plan are you walking away from right now in your life? Because you're seeing a short way to somewhere else? What part of His plan are you being asked to do some things that your work that you know, are a shortcut, but they are not God's plan of being righteous in your life? What part of Holiness are you trying to skirt around because it just seems easier if I just go this way? What part of a toxic relationship are you hanging in right now that you think may get you somewhere, may get you some clout, may put you in some friend group that is not God's plan for your life? God's way is always eternally better than our way. Alright, let's get back to the text. It gets kind of weird. Verse 19. "Moses took the bones of Joseph with him. Because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath he said, 'God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place." 430 years earlier Joseph made the statement Hey, God will deliver you one day and look when I die don't bury me just put me in a box and embalm me. It's in the Bible. You can read it. Put me in a box and embalm and do not bury me in this godforsaken place. Take me to the promised land. Take me with you. Look at verse 20. I love this. "After leaving Sukkoth," this word Sukkoth literally just means a temporary tent village. So, catch on to what God did. God brought them out of bondage, brought them out of their sin, but He left them in the temporary spot of Sukkoth. Isn't that what He does for us? When God delivers us, He doesn't take a straight home to Canaan. He leaves us in this world. He leaves us here. They're heading to Canaan but they're temporary in Sukkoth and watch this. They camped in Eltham. The word etham just means a place of work a place of toil. It can mean plow share. It symbolizes yes, you have been delivered. You're still on this planet. But there's difficulty ahead. Isn't that where we are in life right now? God delivers us, puts us temporarily on this earth on our way to our Canaan, but He tells us in this world, you will have troubles. You will work to keep going on the edge of the desert or on the edge of the wilderness. Don't know which one yours says, it's the same thing. So, what does this show us about God's direction in our lives? Sometimes or oftentimes number three God's way seems impossible. It seems impossible.

They are at the mouth of the wilderness of the desert going, no God. There's no way you're asking me to do that. Isn't that where a lot of us spend a whole lot of our faith time at? It's like God, you can't be asking me to do that. You can't be asking me to walk there. You can't be asking me to walk away from them. They were farmers and brickmakers they were fugitives and now they're going down a path that seems so confusing and impossible that there's no way that's what God wanted them to do. Let me just ask this. What is it in your life right now that you're putting your hand up to God going, no way God, that's impossible? Is it jumping in and giving Him your life? Maybe for you it's jumping in and making this place home, this church home, maybe for you, it's setting aside time in your schedule to pour into the local Body of Christ. Maybe for you, it's somebody in your workplace that you know, good and right God is calling you to share the gospel with. Maybe you have never trusted God to the point of giving, because it just looks impossible to you. Remember, God is the maker of the way. God's plan is always better than our plan, even when it seems impossible. To which God would say it is impossible, if I'm not with you. Either we believe that, or we don't. But here's number four. This is what I've been waiting through the whole series to get to. God will faithfully lead us in the way that he's called us. He will. In other words, God's not going to leave you hanging. He won't do it. Look at verse 21. "By day the Lord went ahead of them," aren't you glad that when you're walking in the Lord, He is always ahead of you? "In a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way." Now think about this cloud for a minute. This is not some little cloud like the size of a basketball up in front of them, this cloud would have covered the whole camp of Israel 2 million people, this cloud, it would give them direction, it would move in front of them, and they would move to be under the cloud. It would stay in a place. They would stay there; it gave them direction. But it not only gave them direction it gave them protection. This cloud where were they going, they were going into the desert, the desert is not a great place to be during the daytime you will burn up and your feet will melt off. But God gave them a cloud over them that gave them direction and gave them protection. Man, that's incredible. It was over the whole camp, it shielded them from the sun. It gets even better though and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light. Now this pillar fire is not this little, short dude walking in front of them with a stick with some fire on it. This pillar of fire was big enough to be a luminescence presence over the whole camp.

Now catch this that's massive. A million people camped in the wilderness, but the fire of the Lord was big enough to give light to the whole camp. The whole camp that is there. And when that fire moved, even at nighttime, what would they do? It gave them direction. But also, what happens in the desert at nighttime, it gets freakishly cold. The fire of God gave them comfort at night. Man, this is incredible. This is incredible. because it gave them light it gave them heat it gave them comfort it gave them direction and give them protection so that they could travel by day or by night. That's not a big deal for us. We flipped the headlights on in fact, they come on by themselves, right? And we drive to where we're going. They couldn't do this. It gave him a tactical advantage, right? And keep going, one of the most encouraging verses in the Old Testament. "Neither the pillar of cloud by day, or the pillar of fire by night, left its place in front of the people." If you've heard nothing else in this whole series, hear this; God is faithful. He is so faithful, in fact, be confident of this Philippians 1:6 "He who began a good work in you will," be what? He will be graceful, "He will carry it on to the day of completion in Christ Jesus." Our Lord, God will not start in you what he does not intend to finish in you. He won't do it. But that's all good, Matt. I get that. But I don't have a fire in front of me. That's what I'm asking. I don't have the physical manifestation of God in front of me. How do I know God's way? Two ways. Number one, through His Word, through His Word. Think about it. These people didn't have the word of God. It wasn't even written yet. They had nothing but the stories of their forefathers and a couple events in Egypt. What kind of faith that it takes to do that? We have 66 books of the complete revelation of God. In front of us don't say you want to know the will of God, if you're not willing to read the Word of God. You can't do it. It's an oxymoron. Number two, He leads us through His Word number two, He leads us through the Spirit. You say, Matt what are you talking about spirit? Catch this. We no longer have the fire in front of us. The fire has moved to within us. Act chapter 2, "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly, like a sound of a blowing violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house while they were sitting,” sounds like Isaiah a little bit, verse 3, "they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and it came to rest," where? "On each of them." It moved from being the presence, a general to the presence personal. Look at verse 4, "and all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit." So, here's the deal. Before we go looking at God, going God I just need to fire in front of me. I just need to fire to walk front of me to walk behind me God's going I put it in you. Now, follow it. Follow it. Here's my question as we end the series. Will you let the Spirit of the Living God show you the way, show you the way, not your feelings, not culture, not best practice, not what the media tells us, not what education systems tell us?

Will let the Spirit of the Living God through the word of the Living God guide you down the path of the living God. Why? Because His way is the only way to salvation, because His way is eternally greater than our way because even though His way may seem impossible, God will faithfully lead you in the way even when it's the long way. Lord Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you. That as we leave the bondage of sin and shame that You give us the way. With your heads bound your eyes closed. There's one thing that we didn't point out in the story. And it's this. The children of Israel could have stayed in Israel. They could have stayed there. They could have, they could have made the decision that hey, slavery is not too bad. At least I might have some food, got some things going here. I would rather choose the comfort of knowing where I am over the adventure and life that God has to offer. So, this morning, which one are you going to choose? Which one are you going to choose? Are you going to take the step to go God here I am. Send me, here I am God and walking into the fire, but I know that you're with me? Moses said here I am God. Send me. I'm walking with you. Moses came off the mountain and said no, no, no, no, not the little g gods, the big g God. The children of Israel said, Bring the fire. Lord, this next moment of invitation I pray that people that need to give their hearts to Jesus today, we took a step from where they are in boldness, make their way to the front of this room over towards the next step sign and look at whoever greets them first and say I need the way, I need Jesus and they'll do the rest. God, I pray for those that need to join this church today. They may jump online onto the next steps form, or they may just do the same God walk up to the front of this room as the 30 that did Discover Life today luncheon and just say hey, I need to make this place home.

God, I pray for a whole lot of us today. You need to say hey I've been following my way, but from this point on, I'm going to follow His, it's in Your name Jesus. Amen. Amen.

Let's stand and sing.

 

Follow Along with the Message


A Direction to Walk

August 29, 2021

Exodus 32:17–22
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.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.” 20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

Principles of Following the Way

1. God is the sole maker of our and salvation.

Exodus 3:9–10
9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
John 1:29
…John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 14:6–7
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

2. God’s way is better than our way.

Psalm 107:7–9
7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. 8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

PRINCIPLE: God’s goal is to get us to the right , the right way, at the right time.

Exodus 32:17–22
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.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

Why Does God Take Us the Long Way?

1. To us

James 1:2–4
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…

2. To us

3. To provide and show us his

Exodus 13:19
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”
Exodus 13:20
After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert.

3. God’s way often seems .

Jeremiah 32:27
“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

4. God will lead us the way he called us.

Exodus 13:21
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.
Exodus 13:22
Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
Philippians 1:6
…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God Leads Us

1. Through his

2. Through his

Acts 2:1–4
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit...

Additional Notes

 

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