The Path Forward

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As we get started this morning, we’re going to do something a little different… I’m going to give clues to you about a particular computer game… and your goal is to see if you can figure out what game I’m talking about.
This game Was developed by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium or MECC. It was first released in 1985 for the Apple II. It was designed to teach students about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life. In this game, the player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding a party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley via a covered wagon in 1848.
The player can choose to be a banker from Boston, a carpenter from Ohio, or a farmer from Illinois. Each profile starts with a specified amount of money to spend at the supply store before beginning their journey. After the player sets off from Independence, Missouri, there are several landmarks along the trail where players can make decisions, shop for supplies or rest. Players can purchase supplies such as oxen to pull the wagon, food to feed their party, clothing to keep their party warm, ammunition for hunting, and spare parts for the wagon.[4] some of the landmarks along the way include: the Kansas River, Chimney Rock, South Pass, the Snake River and Fort Walla Walla. When approaching Oregon's Willamette Valley, travelers can either float a raft through the Columbia River Gorge or take the Barlow Road.
If you haven’t guessed, it by now… the game we’re talking about of course is the Oregon Trail. (picture)
Which was wildly popular during the 1990’s and went on to sellover 65 million copies.
Of course, if you know anything about the game, you realize that you play a character who lives out many of the difficulties during the mid-1840s as they travel along this renowned trail. As a game player, you have to make decisions earlier. How many oxen to buy, how many supplies to load up with, what time of year to set out, and a host of other key details. The choices don’t get easier along the way, in fact, you have to deal with dying oxen, snake bites, exhaustion, typhoid fever and even the occasional dysentery…
You see, I personally know the sadness that I felt as a 7-year-old boy from shooting 3 buffalo and maybe even the elusive snake… only to find out that we lost 2000 pounds of rotting meat, because my pioneers couldn’t seem to eat 3 buffalo in 2 weeks.
But while we laugh and look back on the memories of this game, we can all relate with the enjoyment of the game. And the fun times that we had playing it on our computer…(which on a side note, took 7 minutes to start up and 2 extra minutes to load the cd we put in…)
You see would anyone be as excited to play a computer game if the main goal was to decide what types of chips your characters would eat? Or if your mission in that level was to help them pick an exciting tv show? Man sign me up! No of course not.
You see, God is excited as we live our lives in the adventure he’s called us to. It doesn’t mean we don’t have times of rest… but there should also be times of action. If you remember last week, we began a series on moving forward. and started discussing how God gets our attention ahead of time with signs… and this morning… we’re like those just at the start of the Oregon trail, who are over at the country store gathering supplies.
You see, we’re setting out for the venture ahead… but the question becomes, what path do we take? In other words, as we begin 2022… what road do we navigate?
You see, when we begin to discuss the path ahead… Guys it excites me… As your pastor I want good things not only for us as a church, I want great things for you in your own life…Guys can you be excited and dreaming of what God wants to do in and through you this year ahead? What do you dream about God doing in your life and with the church? What is God calling you to in your families or with your work in the year ahead… You see, my hope and prayer is that we would be positioned for the road ahead… so that as we venture forward, God does amazing things in our lives, in our families and through this church.
So, with this in mind. Turn with me to the book of Exodus chapter 6. Which is where we’ll start.and our message this morning is: The Path Ahead 1. Should be one God is traveling before you. (Follow the leader) 2. May be bumpy (may not be the easiest) 3. This path should bring Glory to God.
1. The Path ahead Should be the one God is traveling on
As we dive into scripture this morning. I want to recall where we left off last week. You’ll recall that the Israelites have been living in Egypt for over 400 years. And as of late they are serving as slaves to the Pharaoh who hates the Israelites. He starts to kill of the baby boys, he increases their work requirements by demanding that they produce the same number of bricks only now, they have to get their own straw… and he ‘s ruthless towards God’s people, the Israelites.
What we see in scripture, is that God elevates Moses to a position of leadership. And appears to him to lead the people out of Egypt. Exodus 6:5-8 explains 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”
So, God hears the Israelites cry. And though what’s interesting is though 10 plagues appear, the bible tells us that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart… and yet, on the final plague, which we now know as the Passover… that God is now going to exit the Israelites out of Egypt.
Exodus 13:17-22 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”[b]
20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
You see, as we consider the text, we notice verse 18 that says: “God led the people.” (OR guided the people) The people didn’t reason with God what the best route was and pray that he would accept their voyage or path ahead… No God was showing them the best route, because he knew what was best.
Guys the point is God went ahead of them… God Led the way, God went before them so they would know what path was best.
You see I think of kids this morning who play the game follow the leader, or Simon says… in these games as you know, the objective is to do what the leader is telling you to do. And if you do what you’re told and listen to the leader then ultimately… you win the game… in the same way, God calls us to follow after him… and as we submit to his will, he leads us. God in front.
Psalm 119:104-105 says: 104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path. 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
You see as we begin a new year… the first key goal for following the right path is to make sure that God is going before us and that he is leading us on the path that he has in mind. That we are submissive to his will and that he is the one leading us forward.
How do we know if it is the right path? We seek the Lord. We read his word and we spend time in prayer… and as we do so, we may not have a physical light… but God’s word lights our feet, and he speaks to us where we are to go next.
You see, every time that you read the bible you’re reading the word of God, and the Lord is speaking to you on some level. Now in the Greek, there are 2 words for the word - word. One is Logos which is the written word of God or the bible. And of course, there are general truths which guide our course of life.
The other word is rhema which is a specific word for that God speaks to us for a specific situation that we’re going through. Romans 10:17 says: So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The word for word here is rhema, which is a specific word of God for us in our seasons of life.
It’s the idea that when you’re reading your bible and a particular passage or word jumps out at you, that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you a specific rhema word for the particular situation that you’re and so
Here’s the point, as we navigate what’s ahead… God’s word both his logos and rhema word speak to us and give us direction.
You see, Even in getting ready for this mornings message… just being honest with you I was navigating through where God was leading me… and sometimes, God shows me right away, and other times, it doesn’t come as quickly… but I stopped, I prayed that the Lord would show me where to Go… and he told me to
Get back to his word for Guidance.
In your own lives, with your families, with your employment, with the year ahead… with challenges… with obstacles and opportunities… as you read his logos… he will meet you where you are and give you wisdom through rhema instruction, through a specific path to travel. God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path.
You see ultimately, God wants us to get in his word, and spend time in prayer, and as we do so, he led us and help us to navigate what’s ahead. God will help us to follow his steps and lead us to where he calls us.
The path ahead May be bumpy
Exodus 14:10-16 10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.
And yet friends, the path ahead may be bumpy.
Now for a moment I want to distinguish a key concept for us… there are those paths in life that are bumpy because we’ve chose to sin, and the bumpiness we feel is the effects of our sin… but this morning, our focus is not so much on that… but rather, on the bumpiness that we feel when we’re doing the right thing.
1 Peter 2:20-21 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
And so, the path that we’re discussing this morning is the idea, that in follow the Lord… that there may be bumpiness ahead.
You see, I think of traveling on New Hampshire roads in the spring time. New Hampshire by the way is known as the granite state… which, every spring, we’re reminded what is name the granite state. You see, unlike Ohio (which is really warm all the time) New Hampshire is freezing during the winter months. And by the time the spring roles around, the frozing ground thaws out and the granite (or rocks) under the surface of the road begin to move. When this happens… the pavement also moves, and your left with bumps in the road or potholes. (by the way do we have those here in ohio?)
But here’s the key… sometimes, in order to get somewhere in New Hampshire, there is only one way to get there and that is on the bumpy roads… it doesn’t mean that the roads are always bumpy… but friends. Sometimes, they are…
Here's the point I’m trying to make this morning, sometimes in life… God allows us to go through difficulties, not because it feels good, but because that’s where growth takes place.
Exodus 14:29-31 says: 29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
You see, Sometimes in life, God may require us to go through something. You know it’s funny in life, we tend to prefer the path of least resistance. In fact, most of us are familiar with the green button for the office with the word “easy” on it… and to be sure, if this button excited...
You see, before they would exit out of Egypt they had to go through some difficulty. God didn’t call them around the Red Sea, what did God do? God called them to go through, the Red Sea… Friends, sometimes in life, we have to go through the Red Sea… and sometimes, it may not make sense…
But how awesome would it be to have been there that day if you had experience of seeing the Red Sea divided as you marched through on dry ground? Can you imagine going through the red sea? In fact, I found this week that the Red sea has over 1200 species of fish and 250 species of coral. Imagine the excitement that you would have had as your no longer a slave, but you have a future in front of you. Imagine being with your friends and family as you saw the miracle that God did right before your eyes. Imagine walking on dry ground, through this Red sea and looking to your left and to your right and seeing a massive whale or a beautiful dolphins (picture) swimming next to you as you journeyed ahead.
You see friends, sometimes God calls us to go through some things in life… but man, what a ride. I can’t tell you how many experiences I’ve had as a Christian where I see the hand of God and say, “man I can’t imagine not walking with the Lord… how much of life would you truly miss out on?!”
In your own life this morning friends, the road ahead may be bumpy. And yet that’s what we’re called to. Matthew 16:2424 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
Guys, the road ahead maybe bumpy… we may have to go through some challenges, and yet… our ultimate destination is worth every step along the way.
Our last point this morning is this: Does The path ahead bring Glory to God?
Exodus 14:16-18 God tells us Moses: “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
You see friends here’s the point… God didn’t need to harden Pharaoh’s heart, but he chose to… and ultimately it would lead to God’s glory. (Some of your translations may say honor)
You see, if you want to know a little secret… the very reason that we exist to worship and bring glory to God. You see worship is not just something that we do on Sunday morning. It’s also not just a type of music. But instead, it should be our lifestyle in which we’re giving up ourselves and submitting to God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Psalm 150:6 says: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
You see ultimately, we must come to a point where we say, who am I doing this for? Will this decision glorify God? In fact, most of you remember the bracelets from several years back that said WWJD?
Or what would Jesus do… and Guys here’s the question this morning… as God leads us forward, are we doing things for Him? Or are we doing things for ourselves?
Call Lisa forward as this time as we prepare to close out…
Proverbs 3:5-6 says 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.[a]
You see friends, this morning, if you are committee to God… he will establish your plans. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
A few groups I would like to speak to this morning:
1. Are we committed to God in the year ahead so that whatever he would ask we would do?
2. Maybe things don’t feel so good at the moment and things are Bumpy, God meets us there this morning.
3. Are we living our lives to bring Glory to God? So that whatever you do whether in word or in deed, that we’re doing all things unto the glory of God.
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