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“So, take a deep breath and recall this deeper secret of the Christian life: when you are in a difficult place, realize that the Lord either placed you there or allowed you to be there, for reasons perhaps known for now only to Himself. The same God who led you in will lead you out.” ―Robert Morgan, The Red Sea Rules
Red Sea Rule #1: Realize that God means for you to be where you are.
"But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth will tell of Your righteous acts, of Your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again." Psalm 71:14-21
This morning we begin our study of the little book by Robert Morgan called The Red Sea Rules. The subtitle of the book is 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times. I have so many friends that have been plunged into the deep, deep well of grief already in 2019. I myself am in the final stages of penning a book called The Heart That Heals: Healing brokenness through the promises of God. So I know this is a real problem for many of us, me included, and I'm excited about spending the summer with you diving deep into the Word of God and The Red Sea Rules!
Just this week I was rereading about Rule #1, and when I got done, I thought, Oh, I needed that! I had heard it before, but I needed to hear it again. We all need to be reminded time and again about what it means to trust God. I’m not alone here, am I?
Is there any parent here who’s isn't concerned about a child? Maybe it's an adult child that's living a life away from God. Or maybe you're the child, concerned about aging parents? I find myself in both of those places today.
Maybe you have recently gone through a divorce or you see that as a possibility on the horizon. What about health problems? Have you received news about a serious illness? For some of us, this chapter of life is a tough time of transition. Maybe you’ve just moved and you’re trying to get established in a new place. Maybe a good friend of yours has just moved away. Or, like me, maybe your child has moved away. Those are big transitions. Difficult times. Perhaps a loved one has recently died, and you are trying to adjust to that tremendous loss. You know life will never be the same. I have a friend who just this spring lost her 6-year-old daughter (you can read about that here) and another friend who lost her best friend suddenly.
Trials! We all have them to different degrees, and we all need to learn how to trust God with them.
What does trusting God really involve?
One thing I love about The Red Sea Rules is that the book breaks down faith into ten identifiable segments. As a whole, it summarizes so well some of the basic biblical principles about what it means to trust God, and we need this!
Today, let’s look at the first rule: Realize that God means for you to be where you are. The trial you are facing is not the result of some colossal cosmic blunder. Your trial has not caught God off guard. This hardship is not something that has occurred outside of God’s control or apart from His love. God means for you to be where you are at this appointed time.
Rule number one: realize that God means for you to be where you are, is not something that the author of this book dreamed up by himself. It’s a principle of faith that we find throughout God’s Word. Think about the account that we find in the Old Testament book of Exodus. The Israelites are standing on the shore of the Red Sea. There in front them stretches what seems to be an endless and impassable expanse of water. Marching toward them from the rear are the vengeful armies of the Egyptian Pharaoh. The children of God are stuck!
“He knows the way He taketh,” even if for the moment we do not.”—J. I. Packer
How did they get into this situation?
Why are they standing there on the shores of the Red Sea? The Bible tells us that it is God who has led them there. Let’s look at what the Bible says about the Israelites in Egypt. The story begins in the book of Genesis.
As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him,
"Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions." Gen. 15:12-14
This is where the story of the Red Sea begins. God told Abraham that his descendants would live in a foreign country. God knew what would happen to them in Egypt. He knew that they would become slaves in that country. But this passage also says that God would punish the Egyptians for the way that they enslaved His people and that He would rescue them from the bondage of Egypt. God knows what is going on. His people are securely in His hands. That is the story of the Red Sea in a nutshell.
This prophecy made to Abraham, of course, comes true. The Israelites do go to Egypt. At first life is good for them there. But then things take a turn for the worse. The Egyptians get worried about how many Israelites are living among them. They start to oppress the Israelites. They enslave them. They kill their babies. But then God raises up Moses to lead them out of Egypt. By following the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, God leads them right to the shores of the Red Sea.
On the shore of the Red Sea, the Israelites stand scared to death. But it is God who has led them there. It is God who has placed them in such a precarious situation. They are there by God’s appointment and for His purposes.
That’s the way that God works with His children. The New Testament tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised that we have to face trials and go through hard times (I Peter 4:12). When we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances, we should not think that God has abandoned us or made some mistake. Red Sea Rule #1: Realize that God means for you to be where you are. He has a purpose, and He has a plan.
The same God who led you in will lead you out.
The memory verse that goes along with rule #1 is Psalm 71:20:
"You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again." Psalm 71:20
“You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again.” Isn’t that a remarkable statement? God, You have made me see many troubles and calamities. That’s a pretty bold statement, isn’t it? But I know, God, that I can count on You! I KNOW that You will revive me again.”
What Rule #1 DOES NOT mean:
Let’s be sure that we understand what this rule DOES NOT mean. It is possible to misunderstand this rule altogether and apply it to our lives in a manner that is not biblically correct. There are three things that this rule does not mean.
What Rule #1 DOES mean:
So, what DOES Rule #1 mean? It means that we say to God, “Lord, I don’t like what’s going on and I don’t understand what’s going on. But I believe that I am here in this situation by Your appointment and for Your purposes. I believe that just as You led me into this situation You will lead me out.”
Think also in the New Testament about Peter. Peter’s example is especially important because Peter got himself into so much trouble! Remember how Peter makes that great boast to Jesus about how he is never going to deny Him? All of the other disciples may deny Him, but not Peter! Right? However, when the pressure is on, Peter caves, just like all the others. But that doesn’t catch God off guard, and it doesn’t stop God from fulfilling His purpose for Peter. Jesus says to Peter, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). That’s a fascinating statement. Jesus knows what Peter is going to do. He knows that Peter is going to turn away and deny Him. So before he even denies Jesus, Jesus talks to him about what he should do when he turns back. No surprise here! Jesus has a purpose for Peter even after Peter miserably fails. Have you miserably failed? Jesus has a plan!
Evil things may have happened that have caused you a great deal of misery. You may have all kinds of questions about why this has happened. But rest assured of this: God has not abandoned you or forgotten you. You are where you are by God’s appointment and for His purposes. The same God who led you in will lead you out.
“...in His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows. Let me say I am here, (1) By God’s appointment, (2) In His keeping, (3) Under His training, (4) For His time.” ―Robert Morgan, The Red Sea Rules
Read The Red Sea Rules: Week 2 here.
This week's discussion questions:
Can I challenge you to memorize Psalm 71:20 with me this week?
"You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again." Psalm 71:20
portions of this post are quoted from www.efcbemidji.org
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