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Sermon - The Pathways of God
 Isaiah 43:16

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The Pathways of God

"Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters" (Isaiah 43:16)

The context of this verse, which extends from Isaiah 43:15 to verse 21, describes the deliverance of the nation Israel through the Red Sea, an inlet from the ocean which separates Africa from the continent of Asia.  You’ll find similar imagery in Psalm 77:19-20, where we read these words: “Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, and Your footsteps were not known; You led Your people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron."  God is reminding His people in these references that He delivered them.  They did not deliver themselves – HE delivered them.  God’s beautiful word picture in these verses is encouraging, and it has great purpose in your life and mine.

The actual deliverance of the people is reported in Exodus, Chapter 14, where we find the nation Israel encamped at the edge of the Red Sea.  God could have led them northward toward the Mediterranean Sea, where they would have merely walked across on a dry peninsula of land with far less problems outwardly, but here they were, in trouble, with the Red Sea in front of them, mountains on both sides, and the Egyptian Army was behind them.  They were trapped.  Do you ever feel like that?  Also with them was the Holy Spirit of God, who was a great Buffer between them and the Egyptian Army, all through the night.  He is Protecting you, too, right in the middle of your trouble, all through the “night” of your life here on earth.

Some years ago, we attended a three day "Stand Down," an event that was presented annually, until officials simply stopped sponsoring them.  It was a time when homeless U.S. Veterans were given a place to sleep in Vietnam-style tents; get medical attention, showers, haircuts, clean clothes, and they were even given solutions to their legal problems.  Many of the homeless Veterans gave an account similar to this one: They previously had a job (often it was a good one); they had a family, a home, probably hobbies, a pet or two, along with a desire to be self-directed and they wanted to have a good time in life.  It was often the self-direction and need for a good time that brought many of them ultimately to life on the streets.  In some cases it just – happened.

And now many of them continued to hope they could eliminate alcohol and other drugs, find a place to live, get a job, and reunite with their families.  Almost all of them were very open that they had turned to Christ at some point in their great need.  They were not safe on the streets and they did want safety.  Of the many Veterans we talked and prayed with, only two had not made a decision for Christ.  Most had reached "bottom" and could only ask God for salvation.  There was no other way for them, and He is the only way for you and me.

You have a Red Sea in your life.  You may not recognize it yet, and indeed, it may be in the future, where you could not possibly know it is there.  (Don’t be afraid; just trust in Him).  You were built to love God, to need Him and to have faith in God through the Son.  To the extent you are self-willed, there is likely to be trouble ahead for you.  God can take you on a gentle path, but if the more difficult way is offered through the “sea” of life, it will touch your greater need – to bring you to a deep faith in God through Jesus Christ.

It is estimated that the opening in the Red Sea must have been more than two miles wide in order to accommodate the millions of people who went through the sea that night, along with their animals, carts and belongings.  Israel wasn’t the only group to make the attempt, by the way.  The Egyptians (Isaiah 43:17) were very brave and went in after them, but they were killed when the waters crashed down upon them.  The one group entered through faith in God as expressed through Moses, but the Egyptians did not have faith, and they died.  The faith of one man and the grace of God saved the lives of millions.

Your "Red Sea" might be cancer, or paralysis, job loss, the death of a loved one, divorce, or any number of maladies that are common to mankind.  One or both of the following will be part of the reason you (or someone close to you) will have these difficulties: God is bringing you to the point where you will have no longer have faith in yourself but will trust in Him (2 Corinthians 1:9); and also so you will become useful in His service, enabled to comfort others who run into a similar “sea” in their lives (2 Corinthians 1:4-6).

God only allows trouble for His little ones with great reluctance.  Often, from an outward perspective, we bring these things, these troubles, upon ourselves, and the message here (as many of those men and women attending “Stand Down” had decided), is to quit blaming and start trusting in Him.  He loves you, forgives you and wants to save you.

In Isaiah 43:19, we find that He will "make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" – for you.  He is not partial.  He loves the people of Israel, who were rescued by His "path" in the Red Sea.  He loves His prophets, He loves His people.  He loves you and longs to bring you through.

In verse 20 of Isaiah 43, we see that He gives "drink" to His people.  Are you thirsty for God today?  Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that He would give her "living water" (John 4:10).  This "water," this refreshment, is given to all who simply trust in Christ.  He is your gentle, well-watered Pathway to eternal life with God (John 14:6).

In John 4:14, Jesus said, "whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; but the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

You may be in the midst of terrible turmoil right now, surrounded by impossible problems.  God loves to solve the impossible and longs to demonstrate His love to you.  First you must come to Him, and then you should ask for His help.  Let’s pray together:

Father, I come to you right now, in Jesus’ Name.  He really is the "way" for me.  I confess that I have held back areas of my life, and I have placed MY will ahead of Yours.  My need to run my own life has exceeded my desire to trust in You.  I come to You now, Lord Jesus, and I give myself to You.   Send Your Holy Spirit to fill me, protect me and show me the way.  I surrender, Lord.  I am Yours.  Forgive my sins and make a Pathway for me.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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