Well if you would please take out your Bibles and turn in them in the Old Testament to the second book in the Old Testament, which is Exodus Chapter number 13. Exodus 13. Today marks the first time in 14 weeks, [since my surgery] that I am here to share a message with you on a Sunday morning. [While I’ve been back at work…(applause), well that is sweet of you. That is sweet of you.] I have been back to work since April the 1st in some capacity. I just haven’t had the privilege of being with you. I want you to know I count it a great privilege to be here this morning with you.
Now over those weeks a lot of the conversation I had with you fell into to two categories: The first category was “How are you feeling Bruce?”. And so I just wanted to share with you that I don’t know for sure, maybe I am about 90% right now. I have been told even before the surgery that it would take about one year to feel the way I did beforehand. I did talk with my doctor at Mayo recently and he told me it would be about 3 years before all the nerve damage would recover. So that gives you a little bit of an update on that level.
Another category of conversation I have had with a number of you…people have said to me, “You know, we can’t wait until you get back. We can’t wait to hear how God sustained you, how God got you through all of that.” And that is part of what I want to share with you today. It has been a wild ride. From 5:30 PM on December the 5th when I heard that my biopsy was positive for prostate cancer through the shock, through the research, through the medical advice, through my surgery at the Mayo Clinic on February the 20th–I just want to you know that there has been a lot that has gone through my mind. But my core strategy has always been the same. My goal was to go through this experience “flying by instruments”. That is what I want to talk about today. Flying by instruments.
Now, we are not going to a verse-by-verse exposition of a passage. We are going to be looking at what I believe is highly valuable and practical biblical principle. That is that God desires every believer to walk by faith. So we are going to have a threefold plan today. We are going to looking at three different things. First of all, we are going to look at a classic spiritual analogy. A classic spiritual analogy. The second thing we are going to look at today is some real life Old Testament examples. Some real life Old Testament examples. And then the third thing we are going to do is we are going to look at the practical challenge. So that’s our plan; a classic spiritual analogy, real life Old Testament examples, and then we are going to look at the practical challenge of things.
So we want to begin by looking at a classic spiritual analogy. Now for me this analogy goes all the way back to 1970. In 1970 I heard a message delivered by Hal Lindsey and in that message he took the concept of an airplane of flying by instruments and he drew parallels with that analogy to walking by faith, to operating by faith. Those of any of you who know anything at all about flying will know that there are two ratings of pilots. There’s VFR and IFR. VFR is Visual Flying Rules. IFR is Instrument Flying Rules. Now even if you are only rated for VFR (Visual Flying) obviously you still have to know the gauges of an airplane to fly it at all, but when you are rated at that level there is still some reliance on clear weather and daylight to orient you as you are flying.
The danger is, especially if you go into a cloud bank or you find yourself in a storm or in a dense fog, the danger is that you might fall victim to what they call “spatial disorientation”. In spatial disorientation what happens is that our body’s senses, our sensations, our feelings don’t really match reality. For example, you could be in a plane and you can be banking to the right but you feel like your banking to the left. You could be a plane that is ascending and yet you could actually be feeling like you are flying in a level manner.
And so the idea is that you must learn to rely on the instrument in the airplane to orient you to reality. Now many of us have flown in big planes. How many people have flown in smaller planes, slightly smaller planes? Quite a few of you have. This is especially noticeable when you are in a small plane. I remember a number of years ago I was flying in a single engine plane and I was thinking about this whole idea of spatial disorientation. I knew that we were ascending up through a cloud bank, I was aware that was what we were doing. But while we were in the middle of the cloud bank, at times I had this sensation that we were going up. At times I had this sensation we were going down. At times I had the sensation that we were banking but our course never actually changed. That’s the importance of getting an IFR rating – Instrument Flying Rules rating.
Now there are several key instruments in flying. I have never really been a pilot but I do know that one of them is what’s called an Attitude Indicator. On that particular gauge you have a colored area, usually these days at the top, that is symbolic of the sky. Then you have another a colored area at the bottom that is symbolic of the earth, and then you have this band in the middle of the Attitude Indicator. And that band shows you the relationship of your plane to the earth. So if it is like this [both arms out, left arm down, right arm up], then you are banking to left. That is, you are banked to left in relationship to the earth. If it like this [both arms out, left arm up, right arm down], you are banked to the right and if it is like this [both arms straight out], you are level.
See if you want to get an IFR rating the key ideais that you have to learn, (now listen to this one) to distrust your feelings. You have to learn to distrust your feelings and trust in the instrument. You have to believe that the instrument is more reliable than your feelings. If you don’t, you’ve had it. In fact, if you go into a storm without the ability to fly by instruments, or heavy clouds or a fog, you can become disoriented within 10 seconds.
I heard the story of a Los Angeles area pilot of a smaller plane. He was only VFR rated–and not due to his flight plan–but he realized suddenly he was low on fuel. He had very little instrument experience. And the airport that he needed to get to so that he could get more fuel was completely fogged in. So he called to the tower and he said “What am I supposed to do?” And they said, “Well the only thing we can do is try to do what is called a tower directed descent. We will try to guide you by the radio down through the clouds and through the fog”. Basically then they gave him the instruction to descend to 5000 feet. This is what the recording in the tower went like: He said “I am now descending to 5,000 feet.” He said “I am now entering the fog bank.” And then suddenly he said, “Help! Help! I am out control!” He ended up crashing. He made a grave error: he chose to fly by his feelings instead of trusting in the instruments.
You know a famous illustration of this occurred with John F. Kennedy Jr. who only was rated VFR. And he became disoriented, and he also made the grave error of trusting his feelings over the instruments. It cost him his life along with his wife.
There are a lot of parallels in this between real life and our spiritual life. Especially when we are facing difficulty. You see we have this–we should just admit it–we have this natural tendency to operate the way we feel. We have that natural tendency. There will be times even as believers when we find ourselves flying into darkness. Times when clouds and storms will overtake us, when life will fog us in and we don’t see how we are going to survive. Sometimes those storms will come to us as medical storms, I’ve just been in one. I’m not interested in another one too soon… just been there. Sometimes those storms will be more relational in type, relationship issues going on. Sometimes those storms will be more vocational storms, issue that relate to our jobs or school. Sometimes they will be more financial type storms, monetary issues, difficulties and struggles.
You know there are only three categories of people. Three categories of people: those who are in the storm right now, those who are coming out of the storm, and those who are approaching the storm. That’s it – only one of three, you have to be in one or the other. But here is the idea: as we fly into darkness or life begins to fog us in, we have a choice to make. Just as that pilot does up in the plane. We can focus on the circumstances or we can focus on the sovereignty of God. We can trust our feeling, or we can trust His promises.
See the choice is that we can operate by the human viewpoint. The human viewpoint just says “Well, you know – stuff, it just sorta happens, there is no rhyme or reason to it”. Human viewpoint says, “I just have to cope with this on my own.” I’ve got try to survive the best that I can. We can choose to operate by human viewpoint or we can choose to operate by divine viewpoint. Divine viewpoint says that everything that happens in my life has been allowed by God. There are no accidents, there never has been with Him. He always has a plan. Divine viewpoint says that His strength is my hope.
Now here’s what God desires from you and from me. He desires that we would fly by instruments. That we would operate by faith. He desires that we would trust his promises rather than our feelings. His word is really the instrument that gives us the true orientation to reality. Let me just share with you four, four promises from God’s word that are really what we need to gauge this reality in our life. Now, write these down, Okay? You are going to need them soon! Write them down. You don’t want to be wondering two weeks from now, what were those verses Bruce mentioned?
First verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. That is an anchor point. 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Another one: Romans 8:28 God works all things together for good to those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Another basic promise is found in Psalm 55:22 Cast your burdens on the Lord and he will sustain you. And then, after Psalm 55:22 we have 2 Timothy 1:12. This is one of the verses I chose as somewhat of a theme for me. I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted unto Him until that day. You see, these promises are our true orientation to reality.
Now let me just share with you another amazing fact about trials and difficulties and adversities. They are all tools in the hands of God. They are all tools in the hands of God that He utilizes to teach us to fly by instruments. If I were going to share the simple core of my perspective through everything that I have been through–that would be my whole goal, at the core, is that I would fly by instruments. That I would walk by faith. That I would not be dictated to by my feelings. And I want you to know that I have had all of them: every feeling that you could imagine related to what I have been through, I had it. But I don’t want to be dictated to by those things. I didn’t want to focus on the circumstances. I didn’t want to operate by human viewpoint. I wanted to fly by instruments. You know this is a classic spiritual analogy. I tell you when I first heard that, it became riveted in my mind. I have never forgotten it, never forgotten it.
There is a second thing we want to look at today. Not only that classic spiritual analogy but also some real life Old Testament examples. That is why we are in Exodus chapter 13. You know, sometimes people wonder about the value of the Old Testament and yet two times in the 10th chapter of First Corinthians Paul tells us that the things happen to those in the Old Testament happened as examples for us. In other words, we are to go back and look at some of these events and realize that what they went through and how they responded to certain things, happened as examples for you and examples for me. And so we want to look at some things in the book of Exodus.
Now when we come to chapter 13 we are really diving right into the middle of things. I just want to remind you of what is going on here. This is the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, and centuries before the events in Exodus God had promised to Abraham, and his descendents (which would be Israel), the land of Canaan. Israel had spent 400 years in Egypt as slaves to the people of Egypt. And I want to remind you that historically Egypt was the greatest nation at the time on the earth. They had the greatest army. So it would be somewhat like being slaves as foreigners in America. God promised through Moses that He was going to deliver them from Egypt and God was going to lead them to the promised land of Canaan.
You remember the story of what goes on. You have the ten miracles that occurred, the ten plagues that fall on Egypt, and you have to remember that the people of Israel saw all of this happen, they saw God work. They had the picture. They were just these people who were nothing more than people who formed bricks out of clay. I mean they were the lowest form of laborers in the nation. They had no social standing. They really had no freedom. And Egypt had the greatest army of the greatest nation on the face of the planet. So God begins to bring these plagues–and Moses kept saying, let my people go. The final plague, you remember, is what we call Passover. That is where God says I am going to take out every first born in the country and if you wanted to be delivered, you had to be delivered by the blood of the lamb that was splashed up there and splashed there and splashed there on the door post. Which, of course, formed a cross, a future picture of Christ, the lamb about which we sang a few minutes ago. He who shed his blood for us.
Well, you remember the story. It is an amazing one. Without any army against the greatest military nation on the face of the planet, without any weapons, they are allowed to go free. And not only just to go free–you remember what ends up happening–the Egyptians say “Here, take all of our gold, all of our riches”, everybody emptied their IRA [retirement account] and said “Take it with you, just go!”
Now while all of that is going on, keep that in mind, and I want you to notice the last couple of verses in Chapter 13. As they go out into the wilderness, they head to the land of Canaan, the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way and a pillar of fire by night to give them light that they might travel by day and by night and He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night before the people. You just have to picture everything that has gone on: the ten plagues, the deliverance, they walk out rich and they are not just left alone, by themselves. You have this pillar of cloud that leads them around in the daytime and a pillar of fire that is there every night. I mean, God is emphasizing “I am with you guys, I am with you”.
Now, God had a desire for them. God’s desire is that they would fly by instruments. That they would trust not in their feelings, but in his promises. They would trust not in the circumstances, but in the sovereignty of God. That was the plan. Notice what happens in Chapter 14 in verse 2. The Lord is speaking to Moses and He says “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back.” Now they are one the way to Canaan and he says turn back towards Egypt “and camp before Piahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; and you shall camp in front of Baal-Zephon, opposite it, by the sea. Basically what happened is they turned back and they ended up in a box canyon, in essence. They had the Red Sea on the one side, to the south, and to the west they had mountains. Not a very good military maneuver, but God had a plan.
If you will notice in versus 3 and 4 Pharaoh is going to say Hey, they are wandering around aimlessly, they don’t know what they are doing, they are shut in. And then, notice, he [God] had a plan at the end of verse 4, The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. So what ends up happening? They end up in this little boxed-in region where they are boxed in from three sides and the king of Egypt, verse five, was told that the people had fled and Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart – they said, What are we doing letting them go with all of our money, we have to get back all of our IRA’s–everything is gone! So he makes his chariot ready and he took his people with him and he took six hundred select chariots, the best of the best, and all the other chariots of Egypt were also there, and notice what ends up happening in verse 9, the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and the chariots and the horsemen and all of his army and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahirot, in front of Baal-zephon.
Notice verse 10, as Pharoah drew near–you can almost picture the clouds of dust that are going up on the horizon, like what they do in Oklahoma when we have those big winds and dust on the horizon – and the sons of Israel looked, and behold the Egyptians were marching after them and they became very frightened. Some of the translations translate that term, ‘terrified’. You can translate it ‘panic’. Now, how did they respond? Did they say, “God, we know that you promised us the land in Canaan and you promised to deliver us from Egypt. We just can’t wait, Lord, to see what you are going to do”. Is that what happened? Well, notice verse 11, then they said to Moses…I mean it is amazing what has gone on. Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Incredible. Notice they go on to say in verse 12 Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, “Leave us along that we may serve the Egyptians? …It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
You see, they are missing something very important in God’s economy and that is that setbacks for us are really setups for God. Setbacks for us are really setups for God. That was true here. That was exactly true here. You know what is interesting? In verses 13 and 14, we find out that Moses…the nation maybe wasn’t flying by instruments…but Moses was flying by instruments. Notice what happens. Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” Now, I want you to understand, there is no spiritual gimmick that he is using here. I mean, he saw the dust of the Egyptian army the same as the rest of them. He also saw that they were boxed in. He was exposed to the same circumstances. But you know what he was saying? God is bigger than the Egyptians. God is bigger than this difficulty. God is bigger than the problem.
Of course, we all know the outcome of this. We all know how the Egyptian army was destroyed. On the strength of one man’s faith, the greatest army was wiped out. Now I just love the realness of the word of God. I love the fact that verse 15 is here. I just love the fact that verse 15 is there. You almost have to read–I mean you hear the statements in verses 13 and 14, Moses saying “Hey, don’t fear, stand by. The Lord is going to be here”…I am flying by instruments. Something else must have going on because in verse 15 the Lord says to Moses, Why are you crying out to me? Apparently, Moses, after his big statement, turned to the Lord and said “Oh Lord, do something. Do something.”
I am just reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 17:6: he said, Even when you have faith like a mustard seed. Even a little bit of faith, you know, I [God] can do good things with that. Sometimes we know how God wants us to respond. We know that God wants us to fly by instruments and we are seeking to fly by instruments, but while we are doing it we are at the same time wavering a little bit. Our knees are knocking just a little bit.
I went through this exact same thing all through my experience. I have been seeking to fly by instruments, but I am going to guarantee you there were some times when I was making some statements, but I was really saying on the inside: Lord, do something. Do something. God’s response in verse 16 is basically to Moses, Just act on the promises. Just act on the promises Moses. I have been with you before. I have sustained you before. I have given you grace in the midst of trouble before. Just act on that, rely on that.
Of course, we know what happened. This was such a spectacular experience, the complete deliverance by God, that basically chapter 15 is a long song that has been composed by the nation of Israel. There is no way you can get fully into the emotion of all of this. You almost have to picture this happening, and then they compose this song where they are just praising the Lord, praising God. In fact, if you look down at verse 20 it says that Miriam .. took the timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and they were dancing. Yeah, Yeah, God is Good! God is great! Look what he did! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! They are getting into this. It is exciting. But God was not through training them about the importance of flying by instruments.
Just a few days later. Chapter 15, verse 22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter, therefore it was called or named Marah. This was a place that had poisonous water, apparently it never had a name before, so they named it in Hebrew, Marah, which meant bitter water, poison water. So they come to some poison water and how did the nation respond? Well God, we know your promise. We have seen your faithfulness, we thank you, Lord, this is the will of God for us. We can’t wait to see what you are going to do. We look to you God to sustain us.
Is that how they respond? Look at verse 24. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” The word that is translated grumble here is the word that basically means to complain. It means to gripe. They started griping. And God ends up providing, graciously, in verse 25 but we learn a little clue about what is going on in their life–and what goes on in our life–in verse 25. At the end of it, it says There he made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. He was just testing them. [God was saying] Do you understand that a setback for you is a setup for me?
Well, it goes on. In chapter 16, verse 1 Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation, verse two, of the sons of Israel grumbled [Griped] against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt , when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Hunger guys! We are hungry and we don’t have any food. And they are complaining and they are griping.
You know that one of the chief ways that we express faith to God is that we give thanks to him when we are facing difficulty. You see, when we gripe, when we complain, and when we grumble, even if it goes to another person, but it is really aimed at God, what are we really saying to Him? Let’s be honest. What are we saying to Him? “You don’t care. You don’t care. You are not really in charge. You don’t have any answers God”.
You see, that is what we are communicating when we are griping and complaining and grumbling. That is why Peter said in 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety upon Him– and you know what it goes on to say– “because What? He What? Cares for you. Throw all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. They are hungry, they don’t have any food. Well, God graciously again, verse 4, The Lord said to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in my instruction. I am testing them to see if they will be flying by instruments.
So then, this is the introduction to what is called “Manna,” where everyday except Saturday for the next 40 years God had this manna fall down from heaven. You know, God has a tremendous sense of humor. He really does. He says I am going to rain down bread, and in verse 15 this is when it first happens, it comes down out of heaven and the text says, When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” Which in Hebrew is the word “Manna”. They said, “what is it?” and God said, “That’s it’s name!” So every day they had to go out and collect some “what is it?” so they could eat.
Well, the story goes on, if you turn over to Chapter 17, you know God was really giving them the major league water test. First they had too much water at the Red Sea to deal with, you know, and then they had poison water to deal with. Now in chapter 17 they had no water to deal with. Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel, verse one of chapter 17, journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. Surely, now they are going to say. “God, we give you thanks that we have no water. We are going to trust you Lord. We want to fly by instruments, God. We believe that what seems to be a setback is a setup for you.” Is that how they respond? Well, verse 2: Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water they we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled, (they griped, they complained) against Moses and said, “Why now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
Now, if you haven’t caught on yet, Israel is a picture here. Israel is a picture of our fleshly tendency. What they were developing in their life was a pattern of unbelief, and so much of it was focused on everyday things. What that translates into for you and me, is it means that everyday things are important to God. He wants to use everyday things in our lives to teach us to fly by instruments. They are important to Him. The opportunity was there for the nation of Israel to fly by instruments. The opportunity was there for them not to focus on circumstances. The opportunity was there for them not to be dictated by their feelings. The opportunity was there for them to believe that God has a plan. The opportunity was there for them to find His strength their hope. But their pattern was they didn’t do that. When you have a pattern of unbelief in your life–I’ll tell you something–it leads to certain things in your life. It leads to no joy in your life. It leads to finding yourself chafing under the circumstances that you are dealing with in your life. It leads to discouragement. It leads to spiritual failure. And you end up–if you have a pattern of unbelief in your life–missing the spiritual victory that God might have for you. You end up missing some of the blessings that God has planned.
You know, what was actually going on with the Nation of Israel was a series of little tests. Little drills before the big heat was coming down. I mean, the big heat was coming down. Because they were headed to the land of Canaan and there were giants in the land. It was a heavily, heavily fortified arena and here are all these brick makers headed right for that. That was the big heat that was coming. So they had an opportunity to fly by instruments. An opportunity to trust God before the big deal came in their life. Think about your own life. A lot of the things that you go through, those little tests, those little drills, are setting you up for the big deal. Some of you might think, I have never had a big deal.” Relax. You will. It will come. It will come.
Turn with me to the book of Numbers, a couple of books to the right, Chapter number 13. These drills God was taking them through were preparing them for the big heat. Chapter 13, verse 25, when they finally, the nation, got to spying out the land, they went in to spy out the land. There is so much here. They came back to give a report and the report was verse 27.. “ We went into the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. It is an incredible place!
Then you have verse 28, this is from 10 of the 12 spies, Nevertheless (if you mark in your Bible, you need to underline the word nevertheless) the people who live in the land are strong; and the cities are fortified and very large. We saw the descendants of Anak there. Amalek is living in the last of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.” But then notice Caleb, who was one of the other two, he says “Wait a minute, wait a minute, we should by all means go up and take possession of the land for we shall surely overcome it.” But notice verse 31, The men who had gone up with him (the other ten) said, “we are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the...whole nation .. a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants… the people whom we saw .. there are men of great size. We also saw nephilim (the sons of Anak, the giants who lived in the land) and we are like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” We don’t want to go there!
Chapter 14, verse 1, Then the congregation lifted up their voices and … they wept…And … the sons of Israel…OHHH! Here we go again! Grumbled against Moses and Aaron….. Would that we had died in the land of Egypt…that we had died in this wilderness! Verse 5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who spied out the land, tore their clothes. You’ve got four people flying by instruments. Four people. You come down to verse 11 and you get to the bottom of what the real issue is. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me?…How long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?”
Hebrews 3:19 says “they did not enter the land because of unbelief.” They didn’t enter the land because they weren’t flying by instruments. The real issue is they didn’t believe, they didn’t walk by faith. Just a quickie footnote. You can’t miss the footnote. Alright? Turn a little bit more to your right. Just after the book of Deuteronomy to Joshua Chapter 2. We can’t go in there! They’re fortified! There are giants there! It ain’t going to work. God said he would give us the land but we can’t go there!
Now notice what happens later on when the two spies sneak in. Joshua Chapter 2, verse 9. They come to the house of Rahab and Rahab says, Chapter 2 verse 9 of Joshua “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and we heard what you did to the two kings of the Amorites …. And when we heard, (verse 11), our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man–even the giants–because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
What she was saying is that if the Israelites had just walked across the border and said “Boo!” they would have had the land. But they wouldn’t fly by instruments. You see when we don’t trust in his promises, when we don’t remember his sovereignty, when we don’t give him thanks, when we don’t look for him as our hope, we are going to miss his provision. We are going to miss his victories. We are going to miss the blessing. The classic spiritual analogy. Those are some real life Old Testament examples.
Now there is one final thing we are going to look at and that is the practical challenge. The practical challenge for me, the practical challenge for you. That is basically “How are you are going to fly? How are you going to fly? Setbacks that are setups are coming in my life and in yours. There are storms ahead. Are we going to focus on the circumstances? Are we going to let our feelings dictate? Are we going to operate by the human viewpoint? Are we just going to try to cope on our own? Or are we going to focus on the sovereignty of God and trust in his promises and operate by divine viewpoint, and look for his strength to sustain us?
I want to share with you that while I was in Albuquerque at the Family Life Marriage Conference, a very matter of days before my surgery, I had an individual come up to me and they said “We believe that God is going to fully heal you. We believe that you will be fully functional after your surgery.” I didn’t really say anything to them, but my response on the interior was “I am not really sure what God’s plan is. And I am willing, by faith, to accept the outcome.” I didn’t do that because I felt like I wanted to do that. I had to believe that the greater encouragement would come if I am not fully functional after the surgery, but I know God has a plan and God can bring encouragement either way. So by His grace, what I want to continue to do is to fly by instruments.
What is some Life Response that each of us can have in light of what we looked at today? Life response: two things we can all do. Number 1, would be to embrace His promises. To get our arms around them. We have already mentioned 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and Romans 8:28 and Psalm 55:22 and 2 Timothy 1:12 and 1 Peter 5:7. I want to add another one that you can put your arms around. Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. We need to embrace his promises. I don’t know what that might mean. It might mean that you write these out on cards. That you memorize them. That you put them in the front of your Bible. For the storm is coming.
Second life response we can have today is just to remember the daily choice we have. Remember the daily choice that we have. Are we going to focus on the circumstances or on the promises? Are we going to say, Ah, I don’t know…things just happen, OR, There are not accidents with a sovereign God? We have a daily choice to try to cope on our own or to trust him by faith. A daily choice. I’ve got it. You’ve got it. How will we choose?
Let’s pray together.
Oh, God, help me to practice these principles. Help all of us to realize how great You are, how much You care, how much You love us and how much you want us to fly by instruments, and to be walking by faith. I have no doubt that when, even though we don’t understand everything that is going on, when we get to the end of it all it is going to be so clear that You are great and that You are good. We pray that you would be glorified by our lives and we pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.