The Red Sea Rules: “God Means for You to Be Where You Are”

There are so many good portions of this book that I could share a post a day for weeks, but I’ll limit myself to just a few quotes over the next couple of days, and I’ll encourage you to read the book yourself.

Here’s a section about trusting God during difficult times.

Red Sea Rule #1: Realize that God means for you to be where you are.

“Consider these men and women who, through no fault of their own, found themselves beset with soul-disabling difficulties while trying to follow God:

Hagar, a single mom, was forced into the desert with her boy to die of thirst.

Joseph, wanting to fulfill divine dreams, was seized, stripped, sold as a slave, and imprisoned in Egypt.

Moses was caught between the splendors of Egyptian royalty and thankless affliction with God’s people.

David, being anointed by Samuel, was pursued by Israelite troops.

Hezekiah, seeking revival, was trapped by the most powerful arm on earth, bent on annihilating his people.

The Lord’s disciples sailed at His command on Galilee only to face a terror-filled night of storms and waves.

The Son of man Himself, fulfilling the Father’s will, was nailed fast to wood and left to hang by his hands until dead.

The apostles, trying to preach this Crucified One, were horsewhipped.

The leader of that apostolic band later told his readers: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (I Peter 4:12).

In other words, Christians shouldn’t be surprised when, in seeking to do God’s will, we find ourselves trapped in painful, frightening, difficult, or impossible situations. Life is hard–especially for Christians. We have a determined enemy seeking to devour us. “In the world,” Jesus warned, “you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).

Then He added: “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

God allows our faith to be tried, and He permits troubles to crowd into our lives. Sometimes they seem more than we can bear, but Christ can bear them.”

~quoted from The Red Sea Rules by Robert Morgan, pp. 9-10

I was particularly struck by the reference to Christ’s enduring the suffering on the cross for our sins. He could have avoided the trial, but he “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:3). He cried out to the Father to be delivered from the trial, but the Father said “No” and essentially said, “You need to stay where you are to accomplish my purpose for you.” That trial involved suffering and death, but it fulfilled God’s plan of salvation. That trial also resulted in Christ’s resurrection and glorification and made the way for our salvation.

Hebrews 12:1-14

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

The Red Sea Rules

Probably because I am a recovering legalist and because I have read some about Keswick theology, I tend to shy away from books that recommend steps, methods, or processes to becoming more like Christ. I had seen this book in bookstores and on Christian websites, but the name and subtitle were a huge turn-off to me. However, my pastor’s wife recommended it, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the book a timely reminder to walk by faith. And the “rules” and “strategies” are more like “principles” that are applicable all the time.

Before I share a few things about faith that I’ve learned recently from this book and other sources, I thought I would list the rules and post the Scripture passage the book is based on.

The Red Sea Rules

  1. Realize that God means for you to be where you are.
  2. Be more concerned for God’s glory than your relief.
  3. Awknowledge the enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.
  4. PRAY!
  5. Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work.
  6. When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.
  7. Envision God’s enveloping presence.
  8. Trust God to deliver in His own unique way.
  9. View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.
  10. Don’t forget to praise him.

Exodus 14:1-15:21

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea.For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the Lordhardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Theysaid to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14  The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16  Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

19  Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 cloggingtheir chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27  So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31  Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

15 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a man of war;
the Lord is his name.

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea,
and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
the floods stood up in a heap;
the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
10 You blew with your wind; the sea covered them;
they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

11 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
12 You stretched out your right hand;
the earth swallowed them.

13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
14 The peoples have heard; they tremble;
pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
15 Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed;
trembling seizes the leaders of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
16 Terror and dread fall upon them;
because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone,
till your people, O Lord, pass by,
till the people pass by whom you have purchased.
17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode,
the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
18 The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

19 For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the Lordbrought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. 20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them:

“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

“By Faith”

This week I want to share some things I learned about faith and how God words from the little book The Red Sea Rules. To start off the week, here’s a hymn by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend.

“By Faith”

By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God’s own hand
A place where peace and justice reign

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth

By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name

Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty
& Stuart Townend

Prayer for Japan

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.

Click here for before and after pictures from the NY Times.

While some areas have shown signs of recovery an have made remarkable progress, many areas of northern Japan still have piles of debris heaped up on the sides of the road, the people are living in makeshift homes, hundreds of bodies have not been identified, and thousands are still missing. We need to continue to pray for the people of Japan and volunteer aid and donate money to help in the recovery efforts.

This is a prayer by John Piper posted on Desiring God on March 12, 2011.

Father in heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.

O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.

And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.

Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.

Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.

May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures’ pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.

In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.

Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.

And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.

O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.

In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen.

 

Mid-Week Message: “In the Arena of Now with the Gospel”

This sermon informed my understanding of Ephesians 6:10-20 and explains how this passage fits in the overarching message of Ephesians.

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

“In the Arena of NOW with the Gospel,” preached by Bob Bixby at Morning Star Baptist Church on 8/14/2011. You can find a PDF of his notes here.

Weaving God’s Word into Your Prayers

Pastor Forehand has occasionally referenced praying God’s Word, and even before he came to Trinity, I was doing a little study on that practice, since I’d read several authors who encouraged it. I came across a relatively short, informative article called “Speaking God’s Language” written by Joni Eareckson Tada and recommend it to you as a tutorial and model for praying God’s Word back to Him.

Here are a few selections from the article:

“When we bring God’s Word directly into our praying, we are bringing God’s power into our praying. Hebrews 4:12 declares, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.” God’s Word is living, and so it infuses our prayers with life and vitality. God’s Word is also active, injecting energy and power into our prayer. Listen to how God described His words to Jeremiah: “Is not my word like fire . . . and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29). Scripture gives muscle and might to our prayers.”

“I’m convinced God enjoys it when we consciously employ His Word in our prayers. It shows Him the importance we attach to our requests. It demonstrates we have thought through our petitions and praises and lined them up against the plumb line of Scripture. It underscores to Him the high regard and appreciation we attach to His Word and demonstrates that we sincerely seek His heart in the matter for which we pray. Using God’s Word in prayer–Scripture praying, as it is sometimes called–gives a divine familiarity to our words, earmarking us as servants who possess a working knowledge of the most powerful prayer book ever written: the Bible.”

“Often it’s good to quote an entire passage, substituting a person’s name for the pronoun in the passage. Colossians 1:9-12 is a good example of scripture to pray this way: ‘I ask God to fill Susan with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And I pray this in order that Susan may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work she does, being strengthened with all power, so that she may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the Father.’

Remember, God’s Word is alive, active, and powerful. Prayers laced with the Word of God not only bring about fundamental changes in people and situations, but such prayers keep us in touch with God’s priorities. Weaving God’s Word into our prayers brings His purposes to the forefront of every request.”

HT: JT

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”

I sang this in church last night. After Pastor’s sermon in the morning contrasting selfishness and servant-hood, the line “Once strangers chasing selfish dreams, / Now one through grace alone” seemed particularly appropriate. I also love the line “For hands that should discard me / Hold wounds which tell me, ‘Come.'”

I love this song! So many good lines and so much truth.

Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I find a place to stand,
And wonder at such mercy
That calls me as I am;
For hands that should discard me
Hold wounds which tell me, “Come.”
Beneath the cross of Jesus
My unworthy soul is won.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
His family is my own—
Once strangers chasing selfish dreams,
Now one through grace alone.
How could I now dishonor
The ones that You have loved?
Beneath the cross of Jesus
See the children called by God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus—
The path before the crown—
We follow in His footsteps
Where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us
To be His perfect bride;
Beneath the cross of Jesus
We will gladly live our lives.

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”
Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Prayers from II Thessalonians

Paul weaves prayers for others and praise to God throughout his letters. Here are some selections from II Thessalonians, in which these prayers are prevalent.

II Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

II Thessalonians 1:11-12

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and everywork of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

II Thessalonians 2:13

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

II Thessalonians 2:16-17

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

II Thessalonians 3:1-5

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

II Thessalonians 3:16, 18

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Punishment vs. Discipline

Today while preparing for a Bible study on Ephesians 6:1-9, I reviewed the definitions of “punishment” and “discipline” because a proper understanding of those terms will inform your understanding of verse 4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

pun·ish·ment, n.

A penalty imposed for wrongdoing

dis·ci·pline, n.

Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.

Strong’s Concordance, paideia

the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body

We tend to confuse the ideas of punishment and discipline, so this can create difficulties when we read passages like Hebrews 12:3-11. Keep in mind that “discipline” means “training” as you read these verses.

 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary orfainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

What really struck me as I studied is that verses 3-4 describe Jesus Christ’s taking our punishment for our sins, so we could be disciplined (trained) as children of God (verses 5-11).