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"Where Do I Go From Here"

By Pastor Russell R. Williams
Arlington Baptist Temple, Arlington, TX

Text:  Exodus 12:29-33, Joshua 3:4

Introduction: Graduation is always a mixed bag of excitement over what has been accomplished in your life and the excitement, fear and wonderment at what lies ahead.   [From Joke]... WHO'S GLAD--DAD OR GRAD?

It was graduation day and Mom was trying to take a picture of their son in a cap and gown, posed with his father.

"Let's try to make this look natural," she said.  "Junior, put your arm around your dad's shoulder."
The father answered, "If you want it to look natural, why not have him put his hand in my pocket?"

[From Joke]... I CAN'T WIN

A poor student was explaining his grades to his irate father. "You just can't beat the system, Dad.  Last semester I decided to take basket- weaving.  It's a snap course, and I figured I would sail through.  Know what happened?  Two Navajos enrolled, raised the class average, and I flunked."

Moses had finally graduated from being a shepherd on the back side of the dessert to being the emancipator of the nation of Israel.  The children of Israel had graduated from the bondage and slavery they were under with the Egyptians to now being a free people for the first time in their lives.  The question for both Moses and the nation was, “Where do I go from here?”  You see, obtaining something is just a small part of the package, what to do with it after you get it is another thing all together.  Exodus 14:15 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:” Let’s notice some things that await as they go forward and then we can learn a little of what lies ahead for us.

I.      Goals ..... Dreams

“Climb every Mountain, forge every stream, follow every rainbow, until you find your dream.”

        A.      PROMISED LAND - was ahead, it was a land that was said to be flowing with milk and honey !  Song: “I Am Bound For The Promised Land” “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye, To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie.  I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land, O who will come and go with me?  I am bound for the promised land.”

        B.      WILL OF GOD - Romans 12:1-2  ...

“WHERE ARE YOU HEADED?”   Howard Hendricks uses this illustration to emphasize the importance of setting goals and establishing objectives for your life:  "In all my travels this has never happened to me, and I hope it never happens to you:  Imagine that I board a plane leaving Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for Chicago.  Twenty minutes into our flight the pilot comes on the speaker and says, `Well, folks, we're leveling off at our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet.  By the way, I know this flight is booked for Chicago, but I thought we would just fly around instead and see the countryside.  We'll land whenever we're low on fuel.  I really can't say where we'll end up. We'll just see what happens.'

   "Imagine such an announcement!  A flight like that not only would be ridiculous--it could be perilous!  Yet a lot of guys are no different in terms of life:  just flying along.  Where are they headed?  There's no telling.  Certainly they don't know!  Worst of al, they don't seem to care.  They sort of have the attitude, `Wherever I end up, that's fine by me.'

    "Now few guys would dream of doing that in their jobs, but the amazing thing is, they'll do it in their marriages, with their kids, in their spiritual and personal lives, and so on.  They have no direction or aim.  They just drift."   [Iron Sharpens Iron by Howard and William Hendricks.  Moody, 1995.  Pages 48-49.]

II.     Obstacles - Things real and imaginative, Mountain or mole hill.

        A.      Red Sea - first obstacles, how to get over it !

        B.      Sinai Desert - extreme conditions, no water, a lot of heat,
                    no food, no shelter, a lot of sand !

        Winner’s don’t quit and quitters don’t win !  Any thing you do worth while will have obstacles !

**John 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

... "KEEP ME FROM TURNING BACK!"

A missionary to Thailand named Miss Hammer faced many obstacles in her work, and she saw few visible results despite her earnest endeavors. Her confidence was in the Lord, however, so she refused to yield to despair.  Her only desire was to "plow out her furrow for God," no matter how stony the field or how difficult it might be to sow the seed.  In 1962 this gallant servant of Christ suffered a cruel death at the hands of a heroin addict.  In her last letter to a friend she quoted a poem which not only told of the great trial of her faith, but revealed her holy determination to go on serving God without flinching or retreating in the face of overwhelming odds.  This bit of verse, which so aptly expressed her feelings, is a touching commentary on a life completely dedicated to the Lord:

My hand is on the plow, my falt'ring hand;
But all in front of me is untilled land.
The wilderness and solitary place,
The lonely desert with its interspace.
The handles of my plow with tears are wet;
The shares with rust are spoiled, & yet,
Out in the field, ne'er let the reins be slack;
My God! my God! keep me from turning back!

III.    Dangers ....

        A.      Soldiers - Out to Get Them: Egyptians 

**Ex. 14:5-15  600 chosen chariots, captain over each

        B.      Sickness - disease, or plagues

        C.      Serpents - poison snakes

        Life is full of real dangers - no matter what we do !

**Matt. 6:25-30 “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

IV.     Temptations ......

        A.      Complain

-lack (food, water), lot (would God we would have died in Egypt)

**Phil. 2:14  Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

        B.      Criticize - leadership -

Ex. 14:11-12 “ And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?  Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”   When on the Mt. Top - did not know what...

        C.      Compromise

**I Cor. 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Illustration: “Every Boy Is A Gatekeeper” Many years ago in England a farmer was one day at work in his fields when he saw a party of horsemen riding about his farm.  He had one field that he was especially anxious that they should not ride over.   So he sent one of his boys to the field, telling him to shut the gate and then watch it, and on no account to let it be opened.  The boy ent as he was told.  However he was scarcely at his post before the hunters came up and ordered the gate to be opened.  This boy refused to do this, stating the orders he had received and his determination was to not disobey them.  Threats and bribes were offered to him but they were all in vain.  The boy refused to open the gate.  After a while one of the hunters said in commanding tones, “My boy, you do not know me.  I am the Duke of Wellington, and I command you to open that gate that I and my friends may pass through.”  After hearing the duke, the boy lifted his cap and stood uncovered before the man whom all England delighted to honor, then answered firmly.  “I am sure the Duke of Wellington would wish this gate shut and that none should pass but with my master’s permission.”  Greatly pleased, the old warrior lifted his own hat and said: “I honor the boy or man who can be neither bribed not frightened into doing wrong.”     Then handing the boy a sovereign, the old duke put spurs to his horse and galloped away.

                Every boy is a gatekeeper, and his Master’s command is, “Be thou faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10).  Keep the gate of your mouth fast closed and allow no evil company to enter.  When evil companions would tempt you to lie, to deal falsely, to disobey yours parents, keep the gates of your earts fast shut against such temptations.

V.      Victory ....

1 Cor. 15:57-58 “ But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Conclusion: .. “HOW GOD WORKS”

Chuck Swindoll tells the story of the "preacher who saved up enough money to buy a few inexpensive acres of land.  A little rundown, weather-beaten farmhouse sat on the acreage, a sad picture of years of neglect.  The land had not been kept up either, so there were old tree stumps, rusted pieces of machinery, and all sorts of debris strewn here and there, not to mention a fence greatly in need of repair.  The whole place was a mess.
    "During his spare time and his vacations, the preacher rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He hauled off the junk, repaired the fence, pulled out the stumps, and planted new trees. Then he refurbished the old house into a quaint cottage with a new roof, new windows, new stone walkway, new paint job, and finally a few colorful flowerboxes.  It took several years to accomplish all this, but finally, when the last job had been completed and he was washing up after applying a fresh coat of paint to the mailbox, his neighbor(who had watched all this from a distance) walked over and said, 'Well, preacher, looks like you and the Lord have done a pretty fine job on your place here.'
    "Wiping the sweat from his face, the minister replied, 'Yeah, I suppose so...but you should have seen it when the Lord had it all to Himself.'"
   Swindoll concludes, "Even though God could operate completely alone on this earth, He seldom does.  Almost without exception, He uses people in the process.  His favorite plan is a combined effort:  God plus people equals accomplishment."
   [Laugh Again by Charles Swindoll.  Word, 1991.]
 
 

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