Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Do Something!

Week 4 in our 6 week study on "True Faith" 

True faith means trusting God enough to take action.
What happens when following God’s direction seems to get people into trouble? Sometimes steps of faith seem to lead down a dead-end path. This was the case for Moses and the Israelites while fleeing slavery in Egypt. God had miraculously spoken and proven His power through 10 plagues that resulted in their freedom. Then the Israelites found themselves caught between the Red Sea and an angry mob of Egyptian chariots. As they cried out to God, His reply was simple: “Stop worrying and do something.” Often it is easy to become paralyzed in our faith while praying about what to do next, especially when we feel that there is no way out of a situation—one that we followed God into because of humble obedience. Teenagers will be encouraged to step out in faith as God directs their paths through prayer; they can take action knowing that ultimately He is the one at work on their behalf.

Hebrews 11:23-29 (NIV)
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. 29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

Exodus 14:10-31 (NIV)
10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 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? 12 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!” 13 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. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 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. 17 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. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am theLord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemenfollowed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” 26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. 29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Supporting Passages: 
Exodus 1:22–3:10, 7:14–12:38, 14:1:9; James 1:22–23

God’s people should be characterized by radical faith that results in obedient action. Moses, his parents, and Israel knew that they were God’s people. This identity influenced how they lived, and others could see God through their lives. - A person’s regional origin within the United States can often be identified by his or her accent or dialect, such as a Southern drawl, a Cajun lilt, or a Northern reference to soft drinks as “soda” or “pop.” SEC football fans are renown for their hard-core devotion to their respective teams. Target employees are known for their red shirts and khaki pants. As Christians, we should be known for our faith in God—a faith that shows itself in our obedience to His Word.

1. Faith in God focuses on the eternal (Heb. 11:23–27).

When Moses’ parents decided to hide him, they directly disobeyed Pharaoh’s edict to kill all Israelite male children when they were born. They chose to protect their son because they saw in him a visible sign of God’s favor (Heb. 11:23, Acts 7:20). Moses then grew up in Pharaoh’s household as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, where he could have enjoyed wealth, privilege, and power. But he opted to leave a comfortable life of pleasure in Egypt so that he could be identified as one of God’s people. He gave up worldly pleasures because he looked to the eternal (Heb. 11:26). He chose to forego the fleeting pleasures of the earth because he knew that in doing so he would receive a future reward from God that would far outweigh anything that this world could offer. Moses knew that the pleasures of Egypt would not satisfy him, and his view of the eternal dictated the way that he lived in the present. Moses valued God and looked to the future with Him more than he valued the world. When attending a 3D movie at the theater, you get a special pair of glasses to wear. These glasses enable you to enjoy special effects in the movie that you would not have been able to see without the glasses. Like 3D glasses alter how you perceive events on the movie screen, keeping your eyes on Christ enables you to recognize what is truly important in life and to live for eternity rather than for the moment. Although sin seems pleasurable, faith looks ahead and sees that the consequences of that choice are not worth the momentary pleasure. There is a greater pleasure to be enjoyed––Christ, and full satisfaction is found only in Him. Do you live for the present, or does your view of the future dictate how you live today? Does the way that you live indicate that you value God more than you value the things of the world?

2. Faith in God results in obedience to God (Heb. 11:28–29).

The last of the 10 plagues that God used to make Pharaoh free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt was the death of the firstborn in each family. God commanded His people to spread the blood of a lamb on their doorframes so that the Lord would pass over their house and not kill the firstborn. This act led to the institution of the celebration of Passover (Ex. 11–12). Although putting blood on a doorframe might have seemed farfetched, Moses trusted God to keep His word (Heb. 11:28). The people of Israel further demonstrated their faith in God at the Red Sea. Although their lives were in danger and escape from the Egyptian army seemed impossible, they believed God’s promise to save them. At the critical moment, Moses and Israel responded in faith to God’s command to go forward (Ex. 14:15). They obeyed God and walked across the dry ground of the parted Red Sea. As a result, they experienced God’s salvation. Moses’ faith and obedience encouraged the people of Israel to be faithful (Ex. 12:28). Moses knew that without obedience faith is meaningless because faith shows itself in action (Jas. 2:20). In the remake of the motion picture The Karate Kid, Dre Parker (played by Jaden Smith) trusted Mr. Han’s (played by Jackie Chan) knowledge of kung fu. As a result, when Mr. Han instructed him to spend hours taking off his jacket, hanging it up on a peg, and putting it back on, Dre did it. He didn’t understand why Mr. Han had instructed him to do such a seemingly pointless task, but because of his faith in Mr. Han, Dre did it. Dre soon found that his mundane exercise taught him skills in kung fu. Our faith in God means that we believe His Word. But true faith goes beyond an intellectual belief and pushes us to action. Our faith is not true faith if we do not obey God with our actions. If we do not keep His commandments and live according to Scripture, then we must evaluate the authenticity of 
our faith (1 John 2:3–6). You cannot have true faith in God without that faith manifesting itself in obedience to God.

3. Faithful obedience to God proclaims His glory (Ex. 14:10–31).

When God commanded Moses to lead the Israelites across the Red Sea, He declared that His work on His people’s behalf would show the Egyptians that He is the Lord (Ex. 14:18). The Egyptian army recognized God’s power on behalf of His people even before the Sea was returned to normal. They had seen the sea parted and the Israelites easily cross over, and then they had experienced difficulty in pursuing them. They declared that God was powerfully working for His people, and the Egyptians had no chance against Him (Ex. 14:25). The Israelites themselves recognized the faithfulness of their God to save them and His great power. Their action in response to His commands reinforced their faith and commitment to Him (Ex. 14:31). Their faithful obedience in response to God’s commands resulted in His glory being made known to others and their own faith strengthened.
In the motion picture Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy’s teacher Chiron gives Percy a gold pen and tells him that it is a powerful weapon that is only to be used in times of great distress. In a time of great distress, Percy finds that the pen is actually a sword. If Percy had not been willing to try the pen as a weapon, then he and his friend would have been killed. Ultimately, he trusted Chiron, used the pen, and found that Chiron had not failed him. His trust in Chiron was strengthened because he chose to believe his teacher’s instructions. If you are a believer, then you can trust God to keep His word even when your circumstances seem desperate and when life seems hopeless. You can trust God to be faithful because of His character. He is perfect, and as a result He will keep His promises and uphold what He has said. Our obedience to Him demonstrates His faithfulness to the world and shows His power in the way that He works through our lives.

So what's the big idea of the passage?

Consequences result both from radical faith and radical obedience. Faith in God and obedience to God lead to an increased faith as believers see God respond to them with faithfulness. However, unbelief and disobedience result in God’s judgment. Is your life characterized by faith and faithfulness or by doubt and disobedience? Would you rather experience God’s judgment or God’s blessing? Are you living a life of radical faith in God?

In the book of Genesis, we learn about God’s special relationship with Abraham and his descendants. God made a covenant with Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people, and promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan. God renewed His covenant with Abraham’s son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. After a night of wrestling, the Lord gave Jacob a new name, Israel, and thus his descendants were called the Israelites. Jacob fathered 12 sons, but Joseph was his favorite. Joseph’s brothers conspired to get rid of him, and Jacob’s favorite son suffered many indignities because of them. But God had a plan for Joseph and for the Israelites. While separated from his family, Joseph rose to a position of prominence in Egypt. Because he was a wise administrator who helped the Egyptians prepare for a severe famine, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt. Joseph was eventually reunited with his father and brothers, and with Pharaoh’s blessing the extended family settled in prime Egyptian real estate. As the book of Genesis draws to a close, the Israelite population was flourishing in Goshen, where the people “were fruitful and increased greatly in number”. As the book of Exodus begins, the story line changes dramatically. Joseph and his brothers were dead, and a new king had assumed the reins of authority in Egypt. The Israelites were viewed as a threat to Egyptian homeland security, and Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrew people. But God still had a plan for His people: A baby named Moses was about to be born.

God had a plan to deliver His people from bondage in Egypt. But before the people could experience His salvation, they had to exercise faith. In this passage, the Israelites faced a moment of truth: Would they return to slavery or continue to follow Moses down an uncharted path toward an uncertain future? Moses had confidence that God could be trusted, and he acted accordingly. Ultimately, the people followed Moses’ leadership, and God delivered them safely across the Red Sea, allowing them to escape their Egyptian pursuers and to move closer to the Promised Land.
Just as God was actively involved in the lives of the Israelites, God is also actively involved in our lives. He has a plan for us that leads to abundant life. God is all knowing, all-powerful, and present everywhere. We can trust our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer with our future.

Through Moses’ example, God challenges us. Do we dare exercise faith in God as boldly as he did? Moses’ parents instilled in their son an abiding faith in the Lord. Time and again, Moses was forced to make a choice. Would he be paralyzed by his circumstances, or would he step out in faith and obey God, trusting that the Lord had a plan through which He would include Moses? Moses was called to demonstrate his faith in dramatic fashion, which in turn gave others the courage to step out in faith. Do you demonstrate the kind of faith that inspires others to act? What is holding you back from trusting God enough to take action?
If students learn to exercise faith in God as teenagers, they will be better prepared to face the challenges of adulthood courageously. Students face a myriad of decisions every day, and often it is easier to go with the crowd than to take a stand and make a God-honoring choice. Encourage your students to consider the areas in their lives in which God is calling them to act. Learning to trust God with seemingly small problems paves the way for trusting God with bigger issues. Who or what makes students fearful of acting in obedience to God’s call? Urge your students to consider what a modern-day Moses would look like. Point out to them the ways in which they have already exercised faith. Remind them that when they act in faith, they inspire others to do likewise. God can be trusted. Don’t just stand there—do something!

Small Group Questions:
  • Why is it so hard to trust God and step out in faith even when you are certain that God is leading you to take that step?
  • What are some things that you have done in the past to help you take a step of faith?
  • What step of faith is God asking you to take today?
  • How are you better off by stepping out in faith than by never expressing faith?
  • How much influence do others have on your life that hinders you from living the life of faith that God calls you to?

Show these slides. Afterward, ask: What would you think about in the moments right before a big event like the ones shown in these slides? What emotions would be running through you in that moment? Allow students to respond. Point out that there are moments in life when we are called on to take a big step of faith. Say: The reward of that step of faith is on the other side.

No comments: