Over the past 2 weeks during “the ROC” (children’s church) we have been learning how to connect, first with God and then with others. Our lessons are looking at the life of Moses, seeing how he connected with God and then with others, with the purpose of helping them connect with God. Here are the previous 2 lessons:
This lesson on connecting in faith is going to teach us how Moses led unfaithful, fearful people to have faith in the Lord and trust Him in the midst of the difficulties of life.
As we pick up our story of Moses, he was born under difficult circumstances but because the mid-wives had connected with God, his life was spared at birth. After he was born, his life was in danger again but because his family had connected with God, they protected him and spared his life with the help of the Lord. He was raised in Pharaoh’s household, given the best education possible. As a young man, he has a burden for his people, the Hebrew slaves and he spends time with them. One day he saves the life of one of his fellow countrymen and in doing so, ends up taking the life of an Egyptian. Moses flees to the desert and spends 40 years of his life there living his life as he pleased. God calls Moses and invites him to join in on His plans for His people. Moses answers the call and is sent to Egypt to deliver the Hebrews from bondage. God grants Moses success and he is leading the people to victory when disaster strikes.
I. Moses and the Sea
Pharaoh changes his mind and sends his army to pursue the Hebrews, who are unarmed and untrained in battle. The Hebrews have the sea blocking them on one side and cliffs on the other two side with the Egyptian army in hot pursuit. The people are afraid and angry so to counter that, they begin to complain openly against God to Moses. They had just seen God free them from the world super power and have quickly forgotten His power and faithfulness. They need someone to teach them about faith. Moses steps in and reminds them of God’s goodness and faithfulness. This is all found in Exodus 14:10-16. I want to focus in on what Moses tells the people.
13 But 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 . 14 “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.”
Moses trusted the Lord because God had taught him how to trust along the way, step by step. He had a personal relationship with God and taught the people how to know and trust God. Moses understood that it is important to focus on the Lord and not the circumstances when going through difficult times. The people saw the sea and the army and forgot about the Lord. Moses has to remind them of who God is and why they should turn their focus back to Him. They obeyed and the Lord did a miracle, parting the Red Sea and the Hebrews walked across on dry land. As the Egyptian army pursued, the waters enveloped them and they all perished. It was a true miracle. After witnessing this, Moses led the people in worship.
This story reminds me of a similar story with Peter in the New Testament. I would like to examine that story and see what we can learn.
II. Peter and the Sea
This story is found in Matthew 14:24-33. The disciples are in a boat on the sea. The weather has turned bad and the boat is struggling. The disciples are afraid. To top it off, Jesus is not with them. They are alone and afraid. Early in the morning, as it is hard to see and a bit eery outside, the disciples see Jesus walking toward the boat, walking on the water. At first they do not think that it is Jesus. They actually think that it is a ghost. They are afraid all over again and actually begin to scream. Jesus calls out to them and tells them not to be afraid, instead, to take courage. Peter, who is the bold one of the group, takes courage and calls out to the approaching figure, “if you really are the Lord, command me to walk to You on the water.”. Jesus calls out to Peter and tells him to come. Peter obeys. As Peter begins to walk on the water, he has his eyes fixed squarely on Jesus and he is successful. Along the way, Peter looses focus and turns his eyes from Jesus to his circumstances. He is walking on the water, the wind is strong, and the waves are dangerous. He immediately begins to sink because he is afraid and worried more about the circumstances than keeping his eyes on Jesus. This is similar to what we saw in the Old Testament with Moses, the people, and the Egyptian army. Peter started off like Moses but quickly turned into the Hebrews who were afraid because their focus was wrong. Peter was overcome by fear but he does recover because as he begins to sink, he remembers the Lord Jesus and cries out to Him. Jesus was ready to help at any time but He wanted Peter to call out to Him instead of focusing on the difficult circumstances. Jesus rescues Peter and helps him into the boat and immediately the storm is calmed. Immediately after experiencing this, the disciples begin to worship the Lord, recognizing that He is the Son of God. When you trust the Lord to go through difficult situations, you are drawn to worship Him because of who He is and what He is able to do. The Hebrews needed to be taught by Moses and the disciples needed to be taught by Jesus. Through both of these examples, we learn invaluable lessons for overcoming fear and trusting in the Lord.
III. Encourage one another in faith
If we are going to be honest, all of us struggle with fear. It is a part of our sin nature. It is something that that we must all overcome with the help of the Lord. God does not want us to walk alone. That is why He placed us in the body, to be with other believers and connect with them so that we can encourage one another to good deeds, especially when facing difficult circumstances, knowing the fear factor that we all have. In Philippians 2, we see Paul teaching this to the believers in Philippi.
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
We are all very different yet we are all the same. We all need encouragement, especially in our daily battle against the fear that wants to overcome us. This is the wisdom that king Solomon gives us in the book of Ecclesiastes 4:
11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
We need the Lord and we need each other. Our faith can get weak. We can easily focus on the wrong things and we need each other to remind us to focus on Christ, especially in the midst of life’s storms. May the Lord help us learn to walk by faith and encourage one another in faith.