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The Long Route

The Long Route

Hey, guys, welcome back to Grace Nation Ministries, I hope you guys are doing well. I felt a call to do a sequel on a sermon that I previously wrote called, Prayers for Pruning, it was a powerful sermon. So, as we journey into this next sermon, I pray that God will do some amazing things as we venture through this together.

So as we all know, God’s way is always better than anything that we would be able to come up with. However, we rarely act like this. Most of the time we see that God’s way is much harder, and leads down a more challenging path, which in our mind seems illogical and unreasonable.  Sometimes this can be seen as, your car not starting, and needing a ride, getting sick and missing an outing with friends, or failing a class and needing to retake it. All of these things seem like major flaws, with negative impacts, while in actuality it could be the hand of God in motion.

Let me tell you a personal story, and If you have followed Grace Nation then you will probably know what I am talking about however I am going to recap it here as it directly applies to the sermon.

I have started reading this book, called “I don’t have enough faith to be an Atheist” when I started reading it I thought for sure it was just going to be a book that bashed the Big Bang and brought up all of the evidence that sent the theory of evolution down the toilet. However when I started reading it, it started talking about a lot of interesting topics and ways to share the Gospel to atheist’s. It went into the topic of, even if we had all the evidence that God existed and you could physically hold God in your hand and see Him with your eyes that people would still reject him. After it talked about that it gave some real world examples of how this happens.

Well I have a youth group meeting on Wednesday nights and I have about 3 hours in between school and the time that I arrive at youth. I usually fill this time counseling others, or meeting with mentors. However this time when I was planning my weekly meeting before youth I felt a different call for some reason. I knew for a fact that it was God calling me to go out SOMEWHERE and share the gospel. So I rallied up the troops, which consisted of some of my closest friends and we headed out. My thought process was why sit around at Starbucks and talk about peoples problems or mistakes.

  1. If all we do as Christians sit around and talk about how we can be better Christians is all we do we are actually making no progress.

So we headed into a local neighborhood. We had probably gone to about 8 houses and got all kinds of responses. We saw people who thought that they were going to heaven because they were catholic, and we saw people who had truly given their life to Jesus.

As we approached the 9th house something interesting happened. one of the guys with me knows who lived at that house. he got instantly nervous  and knew that even though he would rather skip the house, that this was something he had to face. Keep in mind the people in this house had openly rejected Christ time and time again. As we walked up the front porch and knocked on the door no one answered. I could see my friends face, PHEWWWWWW!!!!!! I chuckled a little bit by his reaction. So as we walked down the drive way, we see a car in the distance. It was literally pouring and we were soaked. We really couldn’t see that far down the road, all we knew is that a car was nearing us and it had lights on. As it gets closer, it takes a left and pulled into the drive way where to their surprise 3 guys where standing. They stop in the middle of the driveway and role down the window. There was a Mom and a son in the car probably about 15 years old.

BOOM… The door has opened to share the Gospel. After we spend about 10 minutes with them just sharing the gospel and the true Love that Jesus has for them individually I proceeded to ask them if they would like to accept Jesus as Lord. TO MY SUPRISE THEY SAID YES!

So I led them through a simple prayer and we gave them some tracks and tickets to a movie that our church is holding where we can get to know their family a little bit better.

We went to 12 houses that night and two people surrendered their lives to Christ, and it is truly something that I will never forget and I am certain they wont either!

This is directly quoted from the post The Night God Showed Up

Well here is the one thing that I neglected to talk about, and the reason I did not bring it up in that post was that I was saving it for a future sermon, and here we are. Let me describe for you how my day went before God working in us to bring people to Christ. So after school, I was driving to the meeting place, and we were planning to meet around 5 pm. This would allow enough time for us to go into the neighborhood and walk around for about 2 hours. However, on the drive over there, the traffic began to pick up, and I was getting anxious. At about 5:30 pm I was halfway to the location, and I was sweating, I thought this was a for sure sign that God did not want us to go out today for some reason, I was getting angry. I finally got to the location around 5:45 pm, I stepped out of my car and felt a few drops on my arms. I looked up and saw a barrage of rain heading down. That was it… youth was going to start in about an hour, and I was so downcast, I prayed and felt a sudden charge of courage to go out anyways despite the rain, so I started walking over. On my way over my youth pastor stopped me and while his intentions were completely harmless I had to say no. He asked me to help set up the room that night for youth; I thought it might be another sign not to go, but I was able to push through it with the encouragement of my friends and we moved on. As if it couldn’t get any worse, when we walked into the neighborhood, there was a big amount of caution tape blocking the walking paths because they were all broken up and destroyed. I started laughing out loud because the first thought that came to my mind was that the devil was taking one last shot at stopping us from going into this place to share the gospel. We walked up to this one house and knocked on the door; no one was home. So we walked away like we did for every house that no one answered. As. we were walking away a car pulls into the driveway, we turn around and stop them in the driveway in the pouring rain, and shared the gospel with them. God Saved them.

In the moment of that day when all of my frustrations were surrounding me, I didn’t know why God had me going through everything I was going through. I was simply trying to go and share the gospel, little did I know that God’s timing and God’s hand was on the situation coordinating every move we all took so that our paths would meet at the exact right time.

Let’s take a look at The Long Route:

Exodus 13:17-22 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Josepha had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

Let’s take a look at one of the three points that I have for you today!

1. The Israelites chose to follow God. 

”But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.”

Have you ever had a leader that you were reluctant to follow? I think we all have, whether it is a boss that you aren’t a big fan of, or possibly a pastor that just didn’t fit your fancy. Well, I think that there is something that we can pull from this verse, and that is that the Israelites were not even a bit hesitant to follow God in this situation. You see the Israelites did not HAVE to follow God, however in their circumstance they saw that God had provided for them in the past and that His works were good, so it just made sense to follow Him. They did not hesitate, you don’t even see the Israelites bat an eye, they had no clue where God was going to lead them, or how God was going to take them to their destination (They didn’t know they had a destination.) If we take some time to reflect on our life, we can see how true this is for us, even today.  one of the best examples that every Christian can relate to is Grace.

2. God Led Them

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

You see this is so amazing! Like we should sit back and read this verse a few times, honestly! God LED THEM and He promises to lead us in our life and in the trials that we are going to face. He will always be there just as He was there with Israel, you see and the cloud and pillar of fire had a much larger purpose that just for direction sake. If you don’t know much about the desert environment, then I will give you a glimpse into the impact that the cloud and the fire had. You see during the day the desert is extremely hot and the cloud provided much-needed shade so that the Israelites would not dehydrate as fast. At night the desert gets extremely cold and temperatures drop very low, the pillar of fire, was essential in keeping the camp warm while they traveled, and helped them not get sick from the harsh conditions. God did not just lead them, but he provided for them during the journey! You also see examples of this when God provided manna and quail for food in the desert. God is always providing for His people, even if they turned their back on him for a short time. (Which you see a lot in their history) This proves to us that when God begins to lead us on a journey, that we can trust in His provisions and that His guiding hand will be with us throughout every step of the way.

3. God took them the route that would benefit them the most, The Long Route…

 

While the short route in this scenario seemed simpler and just overall a more common choice option, you see that God did not choose that. God knew that that route held discouragement, it held a lot of death, and it would result in a lot of heartache that they were not prepared to handle YET. You see the 40 years could be seen as a punishment yes… however, I would argue that it is preparation phase, a time in which God could carefully craft a new generation of people who would be fearless in His name and trusting in God’s provisions and grace. Take a look at this verse which supports the argument: “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” You see God knew the people’s hearts and he knew that if he led them down the shorter path that the heartache would be too much and they would return to Egypt promptly. That was not what God had planned, and thus it didn’t’ happen.

So how can we apply this to our lives? We can look at Israel for many things, many things good and bad, you see Israel didn’t always have that faith, and we see the repercussions for their lack of reliance on God. I mean God provided everything on their journey and they still turned back every now and again. However, GOD, STILL DELIVERED THEM!!! I think we can take major comfort in that fact, I mean the only bigger example of Grace is Jesus Himself. It is by grace that God delivered them into the promise land, even though it took a lot longer than what they wanted or expected. However by the time that they were able to enter, God had prepared them to handle this, what seems like a daunting task.

You see the traffic that I was stuck in, the rain that held me back, and the sidewalk closures were my desert, this was God leading me in a path in which I was not expecting nor that I thought was the right path. God provided in a time that I was certain I was stuck in, I was positive that I would be ineffective that day, and God completely flipped all of my expectations and replaced them with His realities of grace and guidance. The result of God’s hand in my situation was the saving of 2 souls, me entering my metaphorical promise land all due to the hand of God playing His role in my life, and me submitting to that and following through.

Remember this, when you see that things are getting rough, or things seem to divert from the path that you thought you were headed down, this may be a sign from God; that He is calling you to submit to His will and allow His hand to guide you. The long route will be rough, and it may cause some pain, however, we see constantly throughout scripture the constant provision of God when we follow His will that He will take care of us, take heart in God’s grace, His love, His provision, and His steadfastness.

Dear Lord, I just thank you for this time that you have so graciously given us to just take a second and dive into your word. Lord I pray that you will have your hand of provision over every this week and that you will give us the encouragement to see your hand working in every situation in life. Lord I thank you for every thing.

-Amen

 

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