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Greg Laurie - Between Impossible and More Impossible

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    Greg Laurie - Between Impossible and More Impossible

Let me start with a question. Have you ever been in a situation where the only way out was God? In other words, if God didn't come through for you, you were dead in the water. Maybe it was a report from a doctor. They said, I'm sorry, there's nothing more we can do for you. Maybe it was a financial catastrophe and you were on the brink of collapse. Maybe it was the death of a loved one and you thought I cannot survive this. That's a very situation we find Israel in, in this story before us. Now, as we all know, God delivered the Israelites from the land of Egypt, and now he's going to take them to that land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey, Canaan's land.

But the problem is as they were approaching this land, they were being chased by the Egyptian army. And they found themselves backed up with a red sea behind them and a really big army coming toward them. They were literally between the devil and the deep blue sea, between a rock and a hard place. They were basically facing an unconquerable army and an impassable sea, but God was gonna come through for them, and it looked like it was impossible, but the good news is with God, nothing is impossible. That's what the Bible says. So off they go, but interestingly, the Lord did not direct them in a direct route to the land of promise. He led them through a much harder, longer route, that in many ways made no sense.

But in fact, it was part of God's plan, and it's explained in Exodus 13, verse 17, when Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the promised land. God said, if the people are faced with the battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So the Lord led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. We'll stop there. God did not lead them the shortest way or the easiest way, but it was the best way, the best way. And God always leads us in the best way. And there was an amazing GPS system. The Lord set up, I talked about this last time, it was a cloud by day, it was a fire by night. So when the cloud moved, you moved. When the cloud stopped, you stopped.

Same with the fire. I have a love hate relationship with GPS. Like, there have been times I'm driving in my car going down the freeway, and the GPS says, turn right at the next off ramp. I'm like, you don't turn right at the next off ramp, you stay on the 405. Turn right at the next off ramp. Turn, okay, finally I turn off, and I pull over to the street. Okay. Go left, go right, go. Now, get out of your car, jump up and down three times. Wait, what? Go in the In-N-Out burger order something, take the food, and leave without paying. Get arrested. Wait, who's programming this?

So then recently I was driving, and I programmed my destination on my gps, and I'm cruising along on the 55 freeway, and the GPS says, turn right at the next off ramp. I know you don't turn right at the next off ramp. So I kept going straight and I hit traffic. Oh, and I thought gps was trying to help me. So I had to apologize to artificial intelligence. I'm sorry, GPS. But listen, God, God's GPS is always right. It will never mislead you. You know, we need God to direct us because God's way is better than our way. We think we know what's right, but many times we don't, it's like parents raising a kid. What if you let your children decide what they wanted to eat every day. For breakfast they'd have what? Captain Crunch. For lunch, Frosted Flakes. For dinner, the kid would say, well, I'm trying to cut back on the sugar, so I'm gonna go with Honey Nut Cheerios.

This isn't good for you kid. This isn't even real food. I have to get the right food in your diet as well, and God does the same. Okay, so here now are the Israelites and God's gonna lead them through the Red Sea. Let's go to Exodus 14, verse 3. Here's what happens, "the Lord is saying, 'The Pharaoh is gonna think, "The Israelites are confused. They're trapped in the wilderness"! And once again,' the Lord says, 'I'll harden Pharaoh's heart, and he'll chase after you. I plan this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know I am the Lord!' So the Israelites camp there as they were told". What kind of a military strategy is this?

Okay. So the Pharaoh's gonna think you're all gonna die because you're backed up against the Red Sea. That's a plan. So what do we do? You just stand there look like prey to a predator and he's gonna go for this. He's gonna go for this hook line and sinker and sure enough that's what the Pharaoh did. He heard about the Israelites? He says, let's go kill 'em. See, the Pharaoh's heart was hard. That verse says that his heart would be hard. You know what's interesting? In the Book of Exodus, miracle after miracle was done to convince Pharaoh. Moses walked in, threw his staff on the ground, it turns into a snake, probably a cobra. He picks it up by the tail, by the way, never pick up a snake by its tail.

Always get him right behind the head, because if you pick him up by the tail, he'll strike. He picks up his stick or a snake rather, it turns into a stick again, plagues of frogs, plagues of lice, the Nile river turning to blood. All of these things happen to convince Pharaoh when we read, Pharaoh hardened his heart. Then we read and God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Wait, what? That's a contradiction. No, it isn't. Both things are true. You see Pharaoh hardened his heart repeatedly and the Lord effectively hardened his heart, meaning he strengthened it. God will not force you to believe. If you put your faith in Christ and follow him, he will strengthen you in that commitment. But if you go against God's will in a continual pattern of sin, you'll be strengthened in that as well.

And Pharaoh effectively went beyond the point of no return. There is a point of no return. Jesus spoke of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is the unforgivable sin. You say, oh man, I might have blasphemed him sometime in my life. Now, it doesn't mean you insulted the Holy Spirit once. The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin and bring us to Christ. To blaspheme or to insult him means to reject the work he has come to do. So, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit or the unforgivable sin is the rejection of Christ. Every other sin can be forgiven if you repent of it. But if you reject Jesus Christ, the Bible says, how can you escape if you neglect so great a salvation? The Pharaoh had gone beyond the point of no return.

So now here are the Israelites, they're facing the Red Sea. Here comes the armies of Egypt. What do they do? What would you have done? You would have done exactly what they did. They freaked out. Look at Exodus 14:10, as the Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. And they said, weren't there enough graves for us in Egypt? Here was their problem. They always wanted to go back to Egypt. The whole time, they're in the wilderness, even though the Lord's providing them this amazing food called manna, and leading them with the ultimate GPS system, and everything is taken care of, they're always saying, oh, I don't know, I kind of wish I was in Egypt still. I missed the good old days back in Egypt. You know, it's just a thing they kept going back to, it took one night to get Israel out of Egypt. It took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel. And so they blamed Moses, verse 11, "They said to Moses, 'Why did you bring us here to die in the wilderness?'" Wow.

That brings us to our next point, point number three, when facing an impossible and more impossible situation, pray. When facing an impossible and more impossible situation, pray, call out to God. Yes, they freaked out, but they also prayed. Look at verse 11, they cried out to the Lord and said to Moses, why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Now, they were complaining in their prayer. Listen to this. Did you know it's okay to complain in a prayer? Oh, that's sacrilegious. Excuse me, have you ever read the Psalms? David did a lot of griping, but he didn't cry out against God, he cried out to God. Even Jesus hanging on the cross said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

So bring your complaints, bring your questions to the Lord, but the key is bring them to the Lord. That's what they're doing, Lord help us. We don't like this one bit, and they prayed. It reminds us of one of the stories of the disciples out in the Sea of Galilee, and a great storm came and Jesus was on board. So they woke up Jesus and they said, "Don't you care we're going to drown"? And then Jesus came out and stopped the storm. But the thing is they did call out to Jesus. And that's what we need to do, when panic sets in, it's time to pray. If your knees start shaking, kneel on them. I love what we see now. Here they are facing this Egyptian army and that was a scary army.

That was the most powerful military on earth. Here they come in their chariots, and their stallions, and their swords, and their spears, and their shields, and helmets. And here are the Israelites just standing there with their kids, you know, and their livestock, Moses has a stick and not a lot more. They're like, we're not really an army and the Red Sea is behind us and the Egyptian army is coming toward us, and now they look like they're in the worst situation possible. But I love what we read. We read that Moses says to the people, "Stand still," Exodus 14, and the Lord himself will fight for you. Stand still, that's the hardest thing to do, isn't it? We want to take things into our own hands. But the Bible says, wait on the Lord. Those that wait upon the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. The Bible tells us. When you're in a place like this, it's not a bad place to be.

Warren Wiersbe, a great Bible commentator said this and I quote, "When human resources are gone, then divine resources can go to work on behalf of those that trust God". End quote. So when you're led by the Lord, make your move. Look at verse 15, the Lord says to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving, pick up your stuff, raise your hand over the sea, divide the water". So the Israelites can walk through in the middle of the sand on dry ground, or the middle of the sea on dry ground. You know, there's a point to wait and there's a point to pray, a moment to pray. And then you gotta move. That sounds strange. No, you gotta always pray. Well, yes, pray, but there's a moment to move. When intercession is passed, intervention has come. It's time to take action.

Let's illustrate. Let's say you're having problems in your marriage, and how many of you are married? Raise your hand? You're married. Okay. A lot of you are married. How many of you are happily married? Raise your hand? Not as many hands, interesting. So this will really relate to you. Let's say you're having problems in your marriage and wife, you're praying for your husband. Lord, would you speak to my husband? He needs to show me more affection. He needs to do the chores I asked him to do, he needs to be more patient with me. Just change my husband, we pray. And meanwhile, the husband is praying, Lord change this wife. She's always nagging, she's always complaining. She doesn't appreciate me. Well, look, why don't you just do your part? There's a point to pray. But the Bible says, husbands love your wife as Christ loves the church.

Why don't you do that guys? Are you doing it? I'll answer it for you. No. We all fall short of that, don't we men? Right? We fall short. We don't love our wives as much as we should. But then the wife is told by God, respect your husband. Isn't that interesting? God tells a husband to love his wife, and God tells a wife to respect her husband. That doesn't mean that husbands should not respect their wives, nor does it mean wives should not love their husbands. But it is interesting to note, there are distinct commands given to each. See men need respect, they need respect and they need a sandwich. We're not all that complex ladies. We just aren't. Just to say to your husband, I respect you. I admire you. I love you. I thank you for providing for me all these years.

You know, that goes a long ways with a guy. But hey, guys, girls need love, need to love them. You need to show affection toward them. They need to be reassured. These are important things, right? So do your part. There's a time to pray, but there's a time to take action. What about somebody you need to forgive, someone who's hurt you? Someone has slandered you, and you say it's so hard for me to forgive. I've been praying, Lord help me forgive them. Why don't you just go do it? I'm not feeling it though. Doesn't matter, just do it. The Bible says be tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you.

You know, one of my favorite heroes of Christian history is a lady named Corrie Ten Boom. Have you heard of her? How many of you have heard of Corrie Ten? Okay. She wrote an amazing book called "The Hiding Place". So Corrie was a young lady living in Holland during World War II. She was a strong Christian, along with her father and her sister, and the Nazis were hunting down Jews arresting them and sending them to concentration camps. So Corrie and her family hid Jewish people in her home. Hence the title of her book, "The Hiding Place". One day as the gestapo figured it out, they arrested Corrie's father, Casper Ten Boom, her sister Betsy, and Corrie herself. The father died quickly because he was an elderly man. He was very frail.

Betsy and Corrie were, ended up in a camp called Ravensbrück, and Betsy was just a godly, saintly woman and she died. And then Corrie was released on a clerical error, but in reality, it was the providence of God. So she lived out her life traveling the world telling people, there is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still. She described herself as a tramp for the Lord, and would speak all over the place. I heard her speak once it was amazing. And she was in Germany a few years after the war was over. She had spoken the topic of forgiveness. At the end of her sermon, a line of people wanted to shake her hand and suddenly a man approaches her and he says, Fraulein Ten Boom. I don't know if you remember me. She had a flashback.

This man standing before her, she remembered him as a Nazi in the concentration camp doing horrible things to her and her sister, she filled with rage and anger, and her fist clenched and she grit her teeth and he says, Fraulein Ten Boom, I was so moved by your message, and I'm asking you to forgive me. She said I couldn't do it. And then she said, in an act of obedience, I extended my hand and I shook his hand and I said, I forgive you brother. She said it was like a bolt of electricity went down my arm, and threw my hand and I felt this burden of unforgiveness lifted off me at that very moment. You see what happened there? She didn't wait for the emotion. She just did the motion, she just did the right thing. And so there's a time to pray, and there's a time to move, and that's what we need to do as well. So they took this great step of faith and obeyed the Lord.

Bring me to point number five, to face the impossible, you must walk by faith, not by feelings. To face the impossible, you must walk by faith, not by feelings. Look at Exodus 14:21, "Moses raised his hand up over the sea, the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind, and the wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. And the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground with walls of water on each side". Wow, it had been easier to airlift them over. But the Lord took them through. Imagine for a moment, walls of water on each side. Have you ever been to one of those amazing aquariums and big huge sea creatures? Just walking along, woah look at the whale, look at the dolphins. Keep walking. And they walked, and they walked, and they walked. It took a while to get across the Red Sea.

And that's the Christian life. We walk, and we walk, and we walk. We walk by faith, not by feeling. We put one foot in front of the other. Some days we feel it, some days we don't. But the Bible says, the just shall live by faith. Being a Christian or a successful Christian has been defined as long obedience in the same direction. And I wonder if you're facing a Red Sea right now. I wonder if you're looking at what seems to be an insurmountable obstacle. Well, there's no thing that you're facing that's bigger than God. God is bigger than your problem. I don't know what you're facing. Maybe it's a physical problem. You know, you're sick, or you have a disability, or old age is just kicking in and you're thinking, oh, man, this is hard.

You know, think of the great Apostle Paul. This is a man that did miracles by the hand of God. Paul prayed for a person to be raised from the dead. Paul prayed for people to be healed. Paul wrote words down in letters that we now call the Bible. Paul went to heaven and came back to tell the story. This is Paul and Paul was sick, so you would think man, he's a super saint, whatever he had asked for, he'd get it. Just name it and claim it man. Paul said, Lord, I'm sick. I have this thorn in the flesh. We don't know what this thorn in the flesh was, but he says there was given unto me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan sent to buffet me. Three times, I asked the Lord to take it away, and the Lord said, my grace is sufficient for you. For my strength will come through more in your weakness.

I know we don't wanna go through Red Seas. I know we don't wanna go through valleys. I know we don't wanna go through fiery trials. Sometimes God will airlift us over, but a lot of the time he walks with us through those difficulties. Isaiah 43:2 says, "When you go through deep water, the Lord says, I'll be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up: and the flames will not consume you". So on they walk and they're done.

Now, the last ones coming through. Come on. Come on. Come on. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. We're done. All of a sudden. The Egyptian army says, ah, let's go. Let's get 'em. And they come through the dry ground and their chariots with all their equipment, and the waters come back heaping on them and they all drowned. Some people would say that's not fair. The poor Egyptian army. Interesting how they died, drowning. Wasn't it the Pharaoh that gave the command to drown all the Jewish baby boys? Hm. Looks like he reaped what he sowed. The Bible says, don't be confused about this or deceived. God is not mocked.

You go Greg, you're wrong. People mock God all the time. Oh, I know. But listen to what the rest of the verse says, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man shall sow, he will also reap. Now that's all not all negative. It says if he sows of the flesh, he'll reap corruption. But if he sows to the spirit, he'll reap life everlasting. You'll reap what you sow. Sow a thought reap an act. Sow an act reap a habit. Sow a habit reap a character. Sow a character reap a destiny. It all starts with what you think. So when you sow to the spirit, which means come to church on Sunday, I mean, here that's a good start. Open your Bible up in the morning. Pray about things. Surround yourself with believers that will encourage you. That's called sowing to the spirit. You'll reap life everlasting. But if you sow to the flesh, you'll reap corruption. That's what happened to the Pharaoh, he reaped what he sowed. One final point, and I'm done.

Number six, after overcoming the impossible, give God the glory. After overcoming the impossible, give God the glory. Look at Exodus 15, verse 1, "Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord. I'll sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously. He has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, he has given me victory. This is my God and I will praise Him. My father is God and I will exalt him". I love that. Did you know that's a first recorded song in scripture? No, I'm sure they sang before this, but this is the first time it's recorded. This is called the song of Moses, and by the way, we will be singing the song of Moses in heaven. So this is a hit song. This is a big deal. They're giving God the praise. You know, we're so quick to call on God when we're in trouble. Are we as quick to give praise to God when he gets us through the trouble? The answer is no, but we can change that.

Now, I want you to think for a moment, have you come recently through a hard trial, or through a Red Sea of sorts, or through some difficulty? Have you? You can nod your head if you have. I can see. Okay, good. Have you given God glory for that? Oh Lord, help me. Oh Lord, come through for me. Great good. He came through for you. Thanks God. See you next crisis. No. Give him glory. Lord, thank you. Specifically, thank you for what you just did. I acknowledge that as an answer to my prayer. You did that, and I praise you for it.
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