Michael Youssef - Treasure That Lasts - Part 8
The moment you take counsel of your fears, instead of faith and courage, and moving forward, you will experience defeat. And beloved, I've seen it in my life, I've seen it in the life of many, because it happens to individuals, it happens to ministries, it happens to companies, it happens to churches, and it happens to nations. Whenever you stop advancing in faith, and you begin to retreat in fear, whenever you cease to move forward, you will go backward.
You see, whenever you stand still, or you stand in the crossroads, you have only two choices. You either take counsel of your fears and begin on the road to defeat and retreat, or you exercise faith in the living God and move forward with finality. You know and I know how fear has imprisoned more people than Alcatraz. Fear put more people in chains than we can ever imagine. Fear stifled many a creativity. Fear destroyed many a dream. Fear is the number one enemy of Christian witness. Fear is the number one enemy of doing anything great for God. And Satan loves it, he loves it. He loves it this way.
I hope you already turned with me to Exodus chapter 14 and we're gonna look at verse 10, beginning at verse 10. As we continue in this series of messages of how Moses came to the point in his life when he was able to turn his back on the world's gold for the sake of God's glory. We saw how nine different supernatural power of Yahweh being exercised against the Egyptian gods. And then in the last message, we saw how the tenth and the final, the grand finale of them all, the tenth judgement of God was final. And here we see the Israelites marching out of the land of the slavery after 400 years in the pit mud of Egypt. Under Moses's leadership, they are coming into freedom. They are coming into liberty.
But the moment they confronted an apparent impossibility, what did they do? "We have a great God," right? God did all these things in Egypt to deliver us, to set us free, he's going to do something to deliver us again. God manifested his power ten times before our own eyes, and he's gonna do it again. Is that what they said? No, certainly not. They did what most of us do when we face a mountain of impossibility. We panic, we do. Let's be honest with each other, we panic. In front of them, there is the Red Sea, and they were in the wider section. Behind them, what some have estimated 600 war machines, chariots, led by Pharaoh himself, not his generals. Beside them, there is the desert, and there is a mountain.
And at that point, they had three options. But before I look into the Word of God, I want you to think with me. Because what I'm gonna share with you, I know it's my testimony, but I know also it's the testimony of most of you. Whenever you attempt to do great things for God, whenever you attempt to move forward with your Christian walk, whenever you attempt to do something of significance in your Christian walk, in your Christian life, you're gonna hear three voices. Not two like they do in the movies, you know, you got the devil on one side and the angel on the other, and speaking to you and all that stuff, that's Hollywood.
You actually hear three voices. You will hear the voice of the devil who will say to you at that moment, "Retreat, go back, give up, give in. You can't succeed. You gave it your best shot, now that's enough. You are not making any difference". But then you're gonna hear a second voice, and that's your voice. This is your voice, your own voice. Don't underestimate that. You'll hear your own voice which says to you, "Stand still, look for a way out. Try to hang in there, baby". Or get on the phone, tell everybody, you know, you wanna hear, so hopefully something will work out. But then there's a third voice, it's the voice of God. It's the voice of the Lord. He will say to you, "Go forward, onward march. Trust me, trust in me and in my promises. Be of good courage. Lean on me. Call upon me. Listen to me".
Those three voices all are evident right here in Exodus 14 and I want to show them to you beginning at verse 10. Follow with me please in the Scripture. "As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians. So they were terrified, and they cried to the Lord". Not only that they were fear stricken, but verse 11 tells you that they turned on Moses. I'm gonna explain that in a minute. And they fabricated a statement that says we never wanted to leave Egypt, right. After 400 years dancing the two-step in the brick vats of Pharaoh, and they say, "We never really wanted to leave," right.
That you would think that after being in the mud of Egypt, making bricks for the Egyptians, after receiving the whips of the Egyptian slave masters on their back, they were ready to go anywhere, do anything, but no. They wanna go back. They wanna go back. Why did the Israelites want to go back to the mud of Egypt? Why did they wanna go back to the whips on their backs. Why? Fear, fear for their life, right? And you know what? I'm gonna level with you. That's natural, that is natural. I'm not here to tell you that if you've ever been in that kind of a situation, that's not-oh, no, no, that's natural. They saw Pharaoh's mighty army barreling toward them, they saw the Red Sea shining before them, shimmering, and all they could see is death.
And so, Moses cried to the Lord. How many of you know that sometimes we do the right things for the wrong reason? They cried to the Lord. Moses cried to the Lord, that's the right thing. But they cried in panic. They cried thinking that God is not gonna provide for them. That's the wrong reason. As a person who faced red hot fear, the worst kind of fear that you can think of, it's very natural to be fearful at times. It's very natural to be apprehensive at times. It's very natural to be anxious when you're facing a mountain of impossibility. It is natural, but listen to me. What you do with these natural feelings of fear and anxiety is gonna make the difference between whether you become a victor or a victim. Can I get an amen?
But the Israelites did something else which is also natural. They turned on their leadership. Now, none of you know anything about that. God is invisible. You can't see God. But leadership is very visible. They can see Moses. And so they sarcastically said to Moses, "Were there not enough graves in Egypt"? Can you see the sarcasm here? If you don't, let me explain to you. Egypt was filled with graves. I mean, pyramids are everywhere. Verse 12, "Did we not say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone, we would rather serve the Egyptians"? Oh, really, when did this happen? How many of you know that people lie when they feel threatened and out of fear?
As a matter of fact, everything I've read and everything I've studied says that fear is the number one reason for lying. Here you watch, and you listen, and you hear there's not a single evidence of them saying we don't wanna go, we wanna stay here. We love this mud. I mean, it's up to our knees, we love it. We love making bricks for the Egyptians. Oh, Moses, we miss the lashes on our backs by the slave masters. The only ones that complained is when Pharaoh doubled their work because they wanna stop Moses, but now that's stopped. They were very happy to see the wonderful work of God. They were very happy to see the miracles, one after another, against the gods of the Egyptians.
Think with me, had the Israelites gone back to Egypt, had Moses said, "Look, I've had enough of you, go back," you might as well cancel all of what God did here in Exodus 12. You might as well cancel Abraham's faith. You might as well send Abraham back to the Ur of Chaldeans. You might as well undo the history of Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph. Not only that, but you might as well cancel their history and invalidate their future. For it is from the loins of some of these people was the seed of Saul, and David, and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Elijah to say nothing of the fact in the loins of some of them was the seed, the human seed of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
All of their future was waiting as they stood before the mount of impossibility. I wanna confess to you my mind cannot fathom. I really could not. I tried, but I cannot fathom what would have happened had they gone back to Egypt. Ask yourself the question, please, please let those words from the Word of God ring in your heart. How many times God wanted you to go forward, but you take counsel of your fears and you went back. How many times God wanted you to go forward and be liberated from that addiction, but you keep on going back. How many times God wanted to bless you his way, but you were instant on being blessed your way. How many times did you hear the voice of God saying, "Go forward in faithfulness to me," but instead you went back. This is not so you can dwell on that, it's so you can move forward.
Did you know that God never blesses the person who looks back? Well, Mrs. Lot is a monument to that. I mean, she is a monument for looking back when God says go forward. The rest is history, as they say. At Kadesh Barnea, these same people who began to move forward, ten of them came back and they said we cannot go forward into the Promised Land. As a result, they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years. In Luke chapter 9, Jesus asked two men to follow him. Each of them, each of them had their own different excuse.
Listen to what Jesus said in verse 62 of Luke 9. I know to some modern ears they may think this is harsh, but it's the absolute truth, because it came out of the lips of our Lord Jesus. "No one who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the service in the kingdom of God". I didn't say that, Jesus did. You see, Satan wants you to go back. Your voice says, "Just hang in there, baby," but God says move forward. Look at verse 13 of Exodus 40. Moses, doing his best under the circumstances, difficult circumstances, and he said to them, "Don't be afraid, stand still". I'm sure standing still probably slightly better than going back, but not much better. It's not good enough. Standing still was good, but not good enough.
Moses had faith, but not to move forward with finality. Moses had faith, but not to understand the necessity of acting upon that faith. Moses had faith, but it was passive faith. Had they stood still, it would have been just a holding pattern. Had they stood still, they would have died in paralysis. Had they stood still, they could have the same result as going back. Suicidal, my beloved friend, listen to me, it is suicidal to think that you, and you, and you, or me can stand still in our faith walk with Jesus. It is suicidal. Faith is moving forward. Faith is risking, risk taking. Faith is moving out of your comfort zone. Faith is investing and trusting God for the return.
Here's the truth. Standing still is an impossibility, because your faith is a climb, and you're either going forward, or you're going to go backward. You can't stand still on the incline. And I have to confess to you that I personally fear complacency more than any other single issue. I don't anywhere near worry about money, or worry about numbers, or worry about programs, or worry about anything more than I'm deeply concerned about the spirit of complacency creeping in. If I could pull my heart out of my chest and place it before you, you would see that my biggest fear, my biggest concern is complacency, critical spirit, and inward looking. It is a truth, test it.
Complacency, criticism, and inward looking, they all go together. They do, they really do. They go together. It was Charles Spurgeon who once said, "Those who have the gift of criticizing are those who wrapped up their spiritual gift in a napkin". Satan said go back, Moses said stand still, but God said go forward, go forward. Look at verse 15. Here's what God said to Moses. He said, "Why are you crying to me? Tell the Israelites to move forward and move on". Moses obviously is in a posture of prayer. And as far as Moses was concerned, this is a time to cry to God. But as far as God was concerned, this is a time to get off your knees and do something.
During the years of 1985 and '86, I was in deep in prayer. I prayed and I fasted. The Lord was doing something in my life, I didn't know what it was, and I prayed. The Lord showed me clearly that he wanted me to birth this church. Did I say, "Oh, great, Lord, yeah, let's go"? No, I didn't, I didn't. Matter of fact, during that time of prayer, I told no one, not even my wife, it was between me and God. And I heard God very clearly saying birth this church. But I was apprehensive. I was concerned, I was fearful, I was worried. And the Lord saw the need for me to get this thing out, and literally God sent a man who forced it out of me, and as soon as I said that to him, he broadcast it to several... I couldn't get it back, and I was forced to do this. Literally, God says if you're gonna keep quiet about it, I'm gonna get it out of you.
Surely you know my absolute commitment, this church's absolute commitment to prayer and the importance of discerning the mind of the Holy Spirit. Surely you know that. But God taught me something back then that I pray to God he's teaching every one of us today from his Word. That there is a time to pray and there is a time to act. Spurgeon used to say to his congregation, "It is time for the church to be done discussing and get to work". He continued, he said, "I believe in eggs, but we must get chickens out of them. I don't mind how big your egg is. It can be as big as an ostrich egg, but if nothing is in it, clean away the shell".
And then he continued, "While committees waste time on resolutions, you do something. And while societies and unions make constitutions, you win souls for Christ. Too often we discuss, and discuss, and discuss, and Satan is laughing in his sleeves. It is time to be done with planning and do something, do something, do something," end of quote. God was saying to the Israelites when you move forward, I will part the Red Sea for you. When you move forward, God is going to remove the obstacles. When you move forward, God will do the impossible. When you move forward, God will bless you. When you move forward and do your part, God is gonna do his part. When you do the possible, God is gonna do the impossible, amen, and amen, and amen.