At the Edge of the Red Sea…

God definitely works in mysterious ways. I have seen this in my own life recently and I want to share with you what God has shown me. Lately, I’ve been battling a waiting game with God and with life and it almost seems as if life is going to beat me down. But through studying God’s Word, reading a book, and reading a friend’s blog, God has given me a sense of hope and encouragment. Check it out.

1. I have been reading a book titled The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. The book is about drawing circles around your dreams, your family, your problems and, most importantly, God’s promises. This book has made me realize that I do not pray with enough faith and that I need to be more bold about my prayers. There was a section in the book where the author talks about the Exodus. The Israelites have just escaped Egypt and have just reached the edge of the Red Sea. They can’t go back because the Egyptians are coming after them. Batterson compares their situation to our lives today.

  • “All of us love miracles. We just don’t like being in a situation that necessitates one. We hate finding ourselves between an Egyptian army and a Red Sea, but this is how God reveals His glory. We want God to part the Red Sea when the Egyptian army is still in Egypt. We want God to provide for our need before we even need it. But sometimes God waits. And then He waits longer. At first, the Israelites can see a dust cloud in the distance. Then they can hear the hooves of their horses and the wheels of their chariots. Then they are so close that they can recognize the faces of their former taskmasters.”
  • “Sometimes God leads us to a place where we have nowhere to turn but to Him; our only option is to trust Him. So why does God wait until the very last second to make His move? Why does He let the Egyptian army get that close? Once again, the God who provides just enough parts the Red Sea just in time.”

This section really hit home. I believe I am standing at the edge of my own Red Sea. So after I had read this, I prayed and envisioned myself standing at the edge of the water. In this vision, I was crying out to God to hear me and to not leave me here standing with no way to get through. Even though I’m still standing there, he heard me.

2. A couple days had passed and I was running late for work but I wanted to read some Scripture before I left for the day. I decided to read a random Psalm because they are always uplifting. I turned my Bible to Psalm 77. My prayer vision was written down in front of me. Verses 1-3:

  • “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.” 

But what really got me was verses 16-20:

  • “When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths. The clouds poured down rain; the thunder rumbled in the sky. Your arrows of lightning flashed. Your thunder roared from the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world! The earth trembled and shook. Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters— a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.”

What? If that’s not God hearing and listening to me then I don’t know what is! But that’s not all…

3. Later that day, I was looking through my inbox and received an email that my friend Tiffany had a new blog post. She has been writing and studying through the book of Exodus. I decided to read it and it was as if God was saying, “I know I told you that I heard you earlier, but I just wanted to remind you in case you forgot.” God used her to speak to me. It was quite a blessing and a reminder that God hears.

  • “If you’re going through a season where you feel like you’re in the wilderness and this is the worst possible predicament you could be in right now, be encouraged! It may seem like you’re going the lengthy way around, but God knows the best route. While you’re traveling the “long way,” remember it’s His way and this specific route was mapped out because it’s helping you dodge those big, discouraging “Philistines” in your life. Just like God lead the Israelites “by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea,” so He may be leading you by way of the wilderness, too. And, it may almost be time for Him to part that Red Sea in your life, so stick with it. Chin up!”

I’m going to be honest, I’m still standing at the water’s edge, but I am more encouraged than ever. I know that God will part the Red Sea, not only at the right time, but in HIS time. If you are reading this, please say a prayer for me!

If you are standing at the edge of your own Red Sea, be encouraged! God’s got it. I encourage you to study His Word, pray hard, and fellowship with His people. If you would like me to pray for you, just leave a comment below.

God will deliver.

Sermon on the Mount: Jesus Teaches about Revenge

Matthew 5:38-42, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

When someone makes us angry or does wrong to us, the first thing we want to do is make them angry or hurt them. Our natural desire is to get revenge. The people in Jesus’ day were no different. Imagine how many hearts were pricked when Jesus spoke about doing good for and loving those who hurt us. Only God can give us the strength to love people this way. It’s not our natural will but the supernatural will of the Father.

v. 38 – “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…”

Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 19:21, “Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”  This original law was given to judges to use to administer punishment that was fair to their crime. However, people in Jesus’ day in time were using this principle to justify their own personal vengeance or vendettas. Jesus clears up this misunderstanding and gives us 3 examples of how we can love and show mercy instead of revenge.

1. v. 39 – “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…”

What would you do if someone slapped your face? You would probably want to slap them right back. But Jesus is saying that if someone does this to us, we should let them slap the other cheek. There probably won’t be very many instances where we get slapped in the face but the world will slap us with insults. “Jesus is here saying that the true Christian has learned to resent no insult and to seek retaliation for no slight. The true Christian has forgotten what it is to be insulted; he has learned from his Master to accept any insult and never to resent it, and never to seek to retaliate.” (Barclay)  Tough words to swallow. But God has commanded his followers to be set apart (Rom. 6:22) from the world and to do that we must start by loving those who hurt us.

2. v. 40 – And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

Most people in that day only owned one cloak and 1 or 2 tunics (a long garment). Jesus is saying that when someone sues for your tunic, you should give your outer cloak too. D.A. Carson explains, “The follower of Jesus will throw in the outer coat as well, even though this latter garment was recognized by Jewish law to be an inalienable possession.” Carson goes on to explain the principle, “Even those things which we regard as our rights by law we must be prepared to abandon.” The point here is that Jesus doesn’t want us to get wrapped up in defending every single right we have. He would rather us abandon our coats to meet the required debt than to offend our opponent. Are we so tied up in clinging to the things of this world rather than the things of God? As followers, let us abandon our cloaks for the cause of Christ. “Jesus replaced a law with an attitude; be willing to suffer loss yourself rather than cause another to suffer.” – W. Wiersbe

3. v. 41 – “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

In that day, a Roman soldier had the legal right to seize a civilian to help him carry his burdens such as equipment or weapons for one mile. Jesus is addressing this particular issue because most everyone he was speaking to had probably walked that mile on one occasion or another. An example is Simon of Cyrene being picked from a crowd to carry Jesus’ cross. Why would Jesus tell his followers to walk 2 miles instead of the already dreaded mile? Barclay explains, “What Jesus is saying is: ‘Don’t be always thinking of your liberty to do as you like; be always thinking of your duty and your privilege to be of service to others. When a task is laid on you, even if the task is unreasonable and hateful, don’t do it as a grim duty to be resented; do it as a service to be gladly rendered.” Jesus wants us to help carry the burdens of others (Gal. 6:2) with a cheerful and right attitude of heart. He even wants us to be cheerful and joyful through our persecutions and trials.  He doesn’t want us to be bitter or angry about the situations laid upon us.  The only way we can achieve this is through God’s holy, supernatural spirit. God will use this area of your life to prune and define you. Will you pass the test?

  • “Jesus calls for a revolutionary response in a difficult situation – cheerfulness. The kind that would cause a hardened soldier to say, ‘What’s with him? This person has something I do not understand.’ Ridiculous? Impractical? Pollyannaish? I do not think so! This is the way Rome was won! Revolutionarily righteous people possessing revolutionary joy even when treated unfairly call everyone’s hearts upward.” – Kent Hughes

v. 40 – “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

Jesus’ message here is that we should give cheerfully and willingly. We should not loan to every person who comes along but when we see someone in need we should not be a “penny-pincher” but give to them with love and generosity. Jamieson says we should, “measure our giving by Christ, who gave everything, rather than by laws or percentages.”

These commands seem impossible. And they are if we are trying to walk in the flesh. Only the supernatural spirit of God can help us to resist the evil person and allow us to love as Christ loved.

Father,

Transform our hearts, minds & lives that they may reflect you. When someone hurts us, give us the strength to show them love instead of hate. When someone strips us of our pride, help us to show humility. When someone asks us to carry their burdens, help us to do this with joy. Set us apart for your glory. In your Son’s name, Amen.