Introduction – On New Year’s resolutions
For most people, the new year is a time to reflect and do a personal inventory. We look back and forward as we set goals and New Year’s resolutions for our next trip around the sun.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always felt it better to adjust my mindset and re-calibrate my thinking when the new year arrives, instead of setting lofty goals that I know I won’t keep in the long run.“In 2021, place your faith more fully into Him. Let Him be God.”
This year, I’d like to encourage you to do the same. In 2021, place your faith more fully into Him. Let Him be God.
Increase your faith in all that He is and in all that He has done, is doing, and will do.
This lesson contains 3 commands that Moses gave to the Israelite’s before the crossing of the Red Sea. They are, “fear not,” “stand still,” and “see,” and each will help you to increase your faith in the new year.
13) And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14) The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.Exodus 14:13-14(KJV)
Before we look at them in detail however, I want to talk about why faith is so important for the Christian, and why we often find it hard to place our faith in God in difficult times.
A “little” faith vs. a “full” faith
We struggle often to give things over to God. All of us, at one time or another, tend to hold tightly onto everything in our lives that we are afraid to surrender to Him.
Sometimes we give Him control and acknowledge that He is in charge, other times we do not.
This inconsistency when it comes to faith causes tension in the lives of Christians, because without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6)
What is more, you cannot become a Christians without faith. We believe in Him for salvation, and in so doing we trust that He is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb. 11:6)
That means that faith informs our salvation (believe), our conception of God (He is) and our sanctification (rewarder).
This is why when we cannot please God through faith our Christian life quickly becomes languid and prone to fear; we forget who He is, what He has done for us, and what He is still doing for us.“A “little” faith is dictated by fear, pride and unbelief, while a “full” faith is defined by belief, obedience, and surrender.”
We so easily forget that faith is not blind trust, that God is always working, and that we don’t follow fables, but a person. (2 Pet. 1:16)
In fact the Christian walks only by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7) Faith is also the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)
Faith is powerful and Christianity is reasonable, that is we have every reason to believe it is true. It’s actually harder to not believe in Jesus.
Ultimately, we get tripped up most often not because we don’t have faith, but because we have little faith. (Matt. 8:26)
A “little” faith does not honor God though. A quick look at the spectrum between a little faith and a full faith shows why.
A “little” faith is dictated by fear, pride and unbelief, while a “full” faith is defined by belief, obedience, and surrender.
The first is natural, the other Godly. The former serves man, the latter relies on and glorifies God.
So often circumstances, situations, anxiety and others determine our level of faith. These tell us what we are and are not to give to God.
However, the Bible tells us to cast all our cares upon Him for He cares for us. (1 Pet. 5:7) That takes humility and admitting that ultimately we have zero control and power over our lives.
This is why the preceding verse commands us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. (1 Pet. 5:6)
We must remember that by Him all things consist. (Col. 1:17) That is, if you are a Christian, you are His!“So often circumstances, situations, anxiety and others determine our level of faith. These tell us what we are and are not to give to God.”
He will never leave you or forsake you. (Heb. 13:5) He is your Father and you are his adopted son, and He wants you to trust Him.
That is why He seeks to save the lost, and why the Holy Spirit woos us to come to salvation through faith that comes by hearing God’s word. (Lk. 19:10, Rom. 10:17)
Additionally, if you are risen with Christ (born again), you are to seek those things which are above, and to set your affections on them and not on the things of earth. (Col. 3:1-2)
To clarify, God does not want us to be apathetic and passive, simply throwing up our arms and letting Him handle everything with no effort of our own. That is unpractical, unscriptural and ill-advised.
We live, and we have work to do as believers, but in that work we must keep our minds set on Him and be ready to serve Him, knowing all along the way that He is with us and is ultimately controlling all with His hand. (1 Pet. 1:13)
Christianity is often defined as having a relationship with God, and that’s what happens after we believe in Him. As such, a relationship only thrives when it is two-sided, when one side has faith in the other.
If you are struggling with having a full faith you’re not alone. We all struggle with it, but remember you’re not alone. God is your advocate, help, comforter, savior, and Father. He is your everything. He sought you, bought you and He desires your faith and trust in Him for all your days this side of heaven.
Now that we have a firm grasp on the importance of faith, let’s turn our attention to Moses’ commands, and look at 3 specific things that can help us have a full faith this new year.
Crossing the Red Sea by faith
Our main verses chronicle one of most monumental events in the entire Old Testament; the parting and crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites and Moses.
Verses 13-14 take place right before the sea parted and they crossed over.
In the lead up to the event, the caravan had left Egypt and hit a dead end.
They were stranded betwixt mountains and the Red Sea. They had no where to go. It seemed like all had been lost.“When life throws us a curve ball, when we are tested, then fear, like a wave, overtakes our past faith in God in a flash.”
The glories of their deliverance from Egypt were suddenly swept away when their faith was overcome by fear. It’s like that for us too, our salvation is a miracle from God, and when we first become Christians we find ourselves on a mountaintop of faith.
Yet, when life throws us a curve ball, when we are tested, then fear, like a wave, overtakes our past faith in God in a flash. This is exactly what was happening to the Israelites.
Pharaoh was on the approach, with army of at least 1,200 in tow. He was ready, and capable of taking the Israelites back into slavery. (Exo. 14:9)
The Israelites panicked and lost sight of God. Instead of looking for Him they “lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid.” (Exo. 14:10-12)
What followed was a total erosion of their former belief, and much complaining. It was so bad that they wished they had never left Egypt.
Their faith had gone from full to little in an instant. However, the author of Hebrews tells us that they crossed the Red Sea by faith. (Heb. 11:29)
So what happened? How did they go from panic to faith in God? Moses’ 3 commands give us the answers.
Moses’ first admonition to them was that they “fear not” because God was on their side.
Remember, God fights for you. (Ex. 14:14) He has prepared a way for you, an expected end, and He will finish the great things He has begun in your life, and will bring you back to Him in glory. (Phil. 1:6)
No one can hurt your soul. (Matt. 10:28) We are on the side of victory. No matter what happens this side of heaven, we have already won. (Jn. 16:33)
We are more than conquerors through Him. (Rom. 8:37) We fear not because He gives us peace that passes all understanding. (Phil. 4:7)
When your faith is little, fear not. This does not mean that we are never to be afraid or scared. Emotions are normal, things will scare us and life is scary.
Yet while we must acknowledge fear, we must not serve it. They say love makes people do crazy things, but I think its fear that does.
In the end, those who serve their emotions will only be controlled by them.
He acknowledges fear in death, and recognizes that he will walk through a terrifying experience. However, notice that his greater allegiance is to the fact that God is and will be with him, and that He will comfort him and bring him through to the other side and to eternal glory. (Ps. 23:4)
Don’t let fear control you. Have faith that God is on your side, that He will bring you through any and every circumstance, even when your feelings tell you otherwise. Feelings are not facts, but faith is based on God’s eternal facts and promises that endure forever. (Ps. 117:1-2)
Moses’ second command was “stand still.” He was conveying that it was not in their own strength to win the day, but in Gods.
Sometimes in life, you have to stop. You have to stop jumping to conclusions, and instead respond neutrally and moderately to the things that happen to you. This means looking up to God before looking out for answers.
Again, this doesn’t mean we don’t do our Godly best in this life, what it means is that we act in accordance with faith in God.
Everything you do in life must be done in tandem with faith in God’s working in you.
There are times when we do all that we can do, however God’s strength is never exhausted. Sometimes the best thing that He wants for us is for us to raise a white flag in defeat and let Him take over.
Many Christians are afraid to tell God they can’t do anymore, but that’s not something to be afraid of at all.
As fallen humans we like to think we are better and more powerful than we really are. The reality is that apart from Him we can do nothing. (Jn. 15:5)
While that sounds scary, its actually one of the greatest blessings He gives. His yoke is easy and His burden lite because He is part of our life.
Where man says you have to control your fate and find success in yourself, God says I am your success, I am all that you need.
Therefore, we need to stand still and reflect on that each and every day. Remain in the moment, stand firm and know that God’s strength is what will get you through.
It is also important to remember that when we work, God gives the increase. (1 Cor. 3:6-8) Everything in the Christian’s life including salvation and every action taken after salvation, is done because He works through us. (Eph. 2:8-9, Phil. 2:13)
To increase your faith, be still, know that He is God and that you are not, and rejoice in that. (Ps. 46:10)
Moses rounds off his commands to the Israelites by telling them to “see the salvation of the Lord.” (Ex. 14:13)
He is reinforcing that God will fight for them, but He is also telling them to expect that God will come through and not to miss it.
A “little” faith misses out on the blessings of God. It allows fear to overshadow everything, leaving us to miss blessings that are right in front of us.
Sometimes, our faith becomes so small that we no longer think we are saved because we have lost sight of the miracle of our salvation. It was the same way with the Israelites, they had forgotten what God had done for them in Egypt.“When is the last time you saw God work in your life or in the lives of others?”
But the truth is that God did bring them out of Egypt. In addition, if you are a believer, He saved you and He will never let you go.
Nevertheless, we must continually remind ourselves of what God has done.
Remember, we walk by faith, not sight but our faith is not blind, through faith we see God working. We must be vigilant.
When is the last time you saw God work in your life or in the lives of others? Are you spiritually in tune with His promises and workings?
I’m not talking about seeing visions. I’m referring to seeing salvation in others, prayers answered, lives changed and healed, persecution overcome, worship given and knowing the sweet warmth that can only come by being a recipient of the love and fellowship of other Christians.
When you see each Christian in your life, when you see your church and in the times when you see prayers answered, you are seeing God working.
When we love God, He manifests Himself to us, because out of our love for Him we keep His commandments and have faith. (Jn. 14:21)
To increase your faith, fear not, be still…and see!
As we turn the calendar over to 2021, many of us will undoubtedly set New Year’s resolutions. However, the greatest thing that we as Christians can do this year is set out to increase our faith.
In today’s lesson we looked at why faith is so important in the life of the Christian. We compared a “little” faith with a “full” faith and then looked at 3 commands by Moses that can help us as we set out to increase our faith this year.
The first command that Moses gave to the Israelites before they crossed the Red Sea was to “fear not.” We do not have to fear because God is on our side.
The second was to “stand still.” We must be still and know that we will overcome challenges in our lives by God’s power alone, not ours.
Lastly, Moses said to “see the salvation of the Lord.” We must continually remind ourselves of what God has done and be aware of the countless things He is doing in our lives each and every day.
Surely, when we cast out fear, stand still and see God, our faith will rise!
May the peace of God be with you in the two-thousandth and twenty-first year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Soli Deo gloria!
Encampment of Pilgrims, Jericho, 1839. David Roberts (British, 1796-1864). Color lithograph. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Ohio C. Barber Estate through Andrew C. Squire.