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The Prayer Shift

Eric Walsh

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How to go from prayers of complaints to prayers of power.

Presenter

Eric Walsh

Pastor and Physician

Recorded

  • September 10, 2017
    11:00 AM
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This message was presented at the AMEN Missions 2017 Bible Conference: “Shaken but not forsaken” in Cape Town, South Africa. For more resources like this, visit us at www.amen-mission.co.za. AMEN – Advent Message to Every Nation.

 

This talk is entitled the Prayer Shift. The Prayer Shift.

 

Let’s pray. Father God, we thank you Lord for this opportunity to study your word once again. Ask Father God to make me just a nail upon the wall, a rusty sorry nail, Lord, and upon that nail, Lord, ask that You hand a portrait of Jesus Christ. Be with this presentation, in this seminar, Father. Lord, we many of us are going through things and we need a prayer shift. Be with us now, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

 

So take in the prayer thing up to the next level in a sense is this talk. And we start in the Book of Exodus. So this is one of those talks that I do that kind of dovetails back around. And we start with the book of Exodus in the fourteenth chapter and verse 10. And the context and you never want to read the Bible out without putting everything back into context. So, I jump into the middle of the story; but this is after Moses has already convinced pharaoh that he should let the children of Israel go. You remember the final plague, the death of the firstborn, has already happened. If you had put the blood of the lamb on a post outside the house what happened? The angel of death pass over and that's why we get the Passover, pass up. It applies to us today - the blood of the Lamb is on the post of your heart, the angel of death passes over, right? So, they let him go.  

 

Pharaoh, you have to imagine. Pharaoh was divine in the mind of the Egyptians. He was god. He was one of their gods. And his son was the son of god. When his first born son died, it was an attack on the divinity of Pharaoh himself. In fact, I've heard someone argue that God was merciful because Pharaoh himself would have been a firstborn child most likely. Pharaoh could have been killed in that plague and that maybe why he actually was like “look, just go.” Not only was he probably grieving the firstborn in his house; but he probably also recognize that he himself could have been died. This God is so powerful that he could have taken him out.

 

So Pharaoh let them go. But you gotta understand; if he's supposed to be God and he lets the slaves go, who will believe he's god any more? So, if you kinda study the thing, the people around him, his advisors, probably began to say, “Listen, you've got to go get them. First of all, if they leave and not come back, no one's going to believe you’re god ever again. Number 2, who's gonna build all these pyramids and stuff you’re building. You've got to go get them back because I'm not doing all that work.” So can you imagine? At some point, his pride rolls back up in him.

 

Now, here's what's interesting about the Book of Exodus, actually Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, Satan was not really named for who he is in those five books. He's called the serpent in Genesis, right? And you know who he is and Revelation confirms that when he says that old serpent called the devil. It confirms that he is who that is; but there are some who argue that God did not mention Lucifer or Satan in the first five books of the Bible because they were coming out, and when Moses wrote them, they were coming out of such great superstition in Egypt that to introduce an evil being might have been confused with introducing another god. And so the first five books of the Bible, he’s not mentioned. That’s one explanation I’ve heard.

 

Now Pharaoh of course gets mad and he goes after them. Now, well let me read this and we’ll go “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. And they said unto Moses, (Now watch what they do. Boy, some cantankerous folks, these children of Israel.) 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?”

 

They turned to Moses. Now, ok, again you got to put in context. They did see ten powerful plagues hit Egypt. They’ve seen mighty Pharaoh bow and let them go. They've seen miracle after miracle after miracle over the last months, how long the process took. And the first sign of danger, Pharaoh haven't even caught up with them yet, “Weren’t there? Was the cemetery not big enough in Egypt? Really Moses, yet the thing is I had to get killed.” That's literally what is and I mean really “really Moses why have you dealt with us like this? Why did you take us out of it?” Now, did Moses take them forcefully out of Egypt? They were singing and dancing. They were carrying all Egyptian stuff. They were happy. They were stepping. They were rich. They were good to go. They were thrilled when they left Egypt. Meriam sings a song. Does a dance. Thrill. First sign of danger, that's their response.

 

Now the interesting thing and that maybe in another slide but I’ll explain it here. God was leading them. Who was leading them? God. How did He lead them? There was a pillar of a cloud by day, a cloud that led them by day and a pillar of fire that led them by night. God was the G.P.S. system. He led them through the mountain straights, up over a mountain range down into a sea bank, so that as they're coming up over the mountain and coming down the other side, they land in a semi lunar space that still exists, a semi lunar space where they land on the bottom and they are now confronted with the Red Sea. They can't go to the left or to right. There's no left or right. They're stuck. They can go backwards but think about going over a mountain.  They kinda get narrow and slowly go over. That's why when they, the ones that are toward the back, that are slower ones, maybe some of the older folk, you know, whoever was in the back, they actually were still up on a mountain, they can look back and see Pharaoh had got his best chariots. He got the one with the terrible boost. He got his best weapons, his best soldiers and Pharaoh was coming for them. They could see the dust from the horses and the men running, them shouting and they're like “oh, oh, the mightiest army on earth. It's coming for us and we don't have one weapon.” That's the emotion you get out of the story comes from that background.

 

Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt,” They’ve been telling Moses, leave us alone. And then it says, “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.”  That’s deep. Now, let me tell you something. You know, and from my own history and from what I understand, people would rather die than be slaves. I mean, the stories in North America, the Caribbean, are replete. The Maroons: if you want to study some fierce soldiers, study the Africans who were trapped, taken to those islands, and the Maroons who fought the British. They beat the British so bad in Jamaica. They woot the British in Jamaica. After awhile the British left them alone and let them stay up in the mountains to this day. To this day, they have Maroon towns in Jamaica where the British never control them. Hedes shook off slavery before any other nation in the world shook off slavery. They’re people who are willing to die to be freed.

 

I gave you that context to tell you the mount of mental slavery that affected the Egyptian, I mean the children of Israel in Egypt was so powerful that they preferred slavery to freedom. If freedom might risk their lives, that is a twisted really deep sense of slavery that they had.

 

So, one of the things that pops up here is doubt. I talked a lot about doubt on this trip to South Africa and the three things about doubt that I highlight in this talk. Now remember, there are many other things you can highlight; but here they are. (1) Doubt is contagious. Doubt is contagious. Doubt is contagious. If one person in the congregation starts to doubt something that thing starts to spread. You doubt. Watch this; you start to doubt the leadership in your church that spreads. You have to be careful: judge not the Lord's anointed and do His prophet no harm. Be careful when you doubt that you're more about prayer and lifted folk up than you are about bringing folk down. Churches get destroyed like that. Number 1.

Number (2) it’s contagious because if a false doctrine comes in and folks have not been studying, a false doctrine will spread like wildfire. Doubt is contagious, first thing.

 

Doubt is also addictive. Sounds strange; but when people start to doubt they will quickly go back to doubt every time they have a problem. It becomes their elixir for the pain of their problems. They will begin to treat their difficulties with doubt rather than with faith and what they'll say is “See, I knew this would never work.” You know anybody like that in your life? As soon as some go wrong, “I told you, this would never work.” “Men, you don't think anything ever works.” It can become addictive and you can literally every time something goes wrong, you go to doubt rather than going to God, rather than going to faith. So it can be addictive.

 

 What's most important for this talk is that doubt becomes amnesic. What doubt does to you if you begin to doubt is doubt causes you to forget the good that God has done for you. Doubt functions to cause you to have like when we do certain procedures like a colonoscopy and you know, you know, you don’t probably know what colonoscopy is, you don't really want people to remember what happened to them. So I give them medicines that make it so you don't remember what actually happened. Doubt is like that. When people start to really doubt God, they start to forget all the good that God ever did for them.

 

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 what?) for ever.  Never again. The Lord shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace. God is going to do the fighting, just relax. Everything is going to be fine.

 

So I'm gonna switch now and I will come back to Moses and the children of Israel and I wanna jump to Psalm 77. The Bible, if you read in the title of the Psalms 77, it usually says a psalm by Asaph, it is what it will say. The Spirit of Prophecy tells us that David wrote this song. Seems like there's a conflict; but Asaph was a musician and I would have to believe the David and Asaph teamed up to write this psalm. That's the way I look at it. But this is a powerful song. We're told that Asaph actually was with David, Solomon and maybe even into the time of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. So, Asaph saw heart break in the castle, in the worship services, he followed this thing and he saw some difficult tough stuff, and so this psalm really is him crying out to God when He has given up on God. When he's done what?

 

This is one of the few times in the Bible, the Bible actually records someone spiral into doubt and despair and they give up on God. Yet, in the same psalm, there's a prayer shift, and Asaph comes around the other way. So any time you're doubting and struggling, Psalm 77 is one of the best psalms to actually read and study.

 

It starts out, I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and He gave ear unto me.”  So, he starts with a prayer. So there are stages of doubt and this is the first list. There are two lists in this talk. This is the first one.

 

Stages of doubt. This is a form for me to show you that this is actually the introduction. This is not the actual list yet. I told you this was a little more complex. I must with thinking on this when I was writing my dissertation because I got all these phases and components. Stages of doubt. Start with your pre-trial understanding of God. So when a trial hits you, the first thing you do is you think about God and you think about Him the way You understand Him. That only makes sense right? You think about Him the way You understand Him. If You think of God as this cold callous vengeful God that is looking to condemn you and destroy you, when doubt and trial comes, that's the God that you're going to be dealing with. In other words, you're going to make that your God, you're going to deal with that as if that's the way God is. It is very important you understand that God is merciful, and He's gracious, that He’s long suffering. When trial comes, you need to know that because if you don't understand that, you think I'm being punished, God is unfair, I don't deserve this. So you start with a pre-trial, your pre-trial understanding of God.

 

Secondly, in the stages of doubt before we get to the real stages, you seek God based on that understanding when trial and trouble is coming. So what happens? If you think God is cold and calculating, that He's mean and merciless; when trial comes, are you going to go to that god for help? Probably not. A lot of people, you want to say, “Why wouldn’t you turn to God?” Because their view of who God is - is off. A gentleman, a brother just told me that a lot of people don't really know who Jesus is. They go to church and they don't really understand Christ is. If you don't really understand who Christ is, you can't really pray right. You can't really seek Him right. If you understand the length to which He’s gone to save just you. And I like when I was a kid, they would say, “Listen if it was only you on earth, He would have still come and died just for you. If all the other billions of people had never been born, He would have died just for you.” So you gotta understand who God is and when you enter into trial that will make you through.

 

So, stage number one of doubt - The trial itself hits. So, you have heard my testimony. I went through the stages. The trial hits. Psalm 77:2 - In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. Have you ever been in such trouble that nothing could console you? You were just, it was all worry, trial and trouble all the time. Well, the trial hits. You got a day of trouble. You seek the Lord and man you can't sleep at night, you gonna see how bad it gets.

 

So after the trial hits, you feel pain, discomfort and you react with complaint and this is the second step in the stages of doubt.  Psalm 77:3 - I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. The second stage of doubt is once you get hit by the trial, the second stage is like the children of Israel, you complain, “Lord, weren’t there are enough spaces in the cemeteries in Egypt that we could have stayed there and been buried there, one of the pyramids there or something?” Right? You start to complain. Understand that when you go to trial and I use my Ellen White quote yesterday on this, when you go to trial, your complaining and blaming other people will cause you not to reap the benefit of the trial. If you don't say, “Lord, what is it you want me to do? What am I supposed to learn? What is it about me you want to work on or change?” If you don't get there, you complain and you're missing.

 

Number three - you become overwhelmed at the lack of resolution. He says, “I complain that my spirit was overwhelmed.” Look at what happens. He says, “Thou holdest mine eyes waking:” meaning, I can’t sleep. I am so troubled that I cannot speak. You get to a point where you can't even verbalize what you're going through. It's so deep and I've been there. It's just so painful, guttural, deep, that you can even express to someone else what you're going through. So you become overwhelmed at the lack of resolution. Then you think of better times and search for the God of those times. In other words, you start saying, “Well, God was good to me before. Why can't He be good to me now?” “I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance to my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” You start saying, “Wait a minute God, you were good before why aren't you good now? You know, You helped me before why aren't You helping me now? You start to question God based on time and when you do that then you start to say, “Well, maybe God wasn't really good at all.”

 

You get to the stage 5, we say maybe God isn't good after all and Psalm 77:7 says, “Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will He be favourable no more?”  You get so bad in your trial that you start to say, “Maybe God isn't really all that good. Maybe He's never going to be favorable, maybe He never going to treat me right again.” And you get to a point where you really just begin to question God and His goodness. Then, of course, by default, you begin to question His word. Psalm 77:8, it says, “Is His mercy clean gone for ever? Does His promise fail for evermore?” So, now, you start saying, “Well, maybe the Bible isn't right?” This will start happening about this stage. You stop coming to church. You stop doing devotion. You begin to almost intentionally detach from God and the things of God because you're so angry with God. You start to question Him. Then you question ultimately, “Is God even able to save anyway?” Psalm 77:9. He says “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up His tender mercies?”

We talked about the difference of grace and mercy. I'm a Christian because of grace and mercy. Grace and mercy is why I'm a Christian. I love the Seventh day Sabbath doctrine and the 2300-doctrine. I love the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation; but without grace and mercy, none of that really matter. Grace and mercy is why I'm a Christian and the difference between Protestant Christianity and almost every other religion in the world is every other religion in the world almost every other one tells you you've got to work your way into salvation, work your way into paradise, work your way into nirvana, work your way and out of Purgatory and into Heaven, you got to work, work, work, work, work. Only Christianity says, “Listen, even if you work all day, every day, you’d never work your way into it to perfection.” It is a free gift of God, grace and mercy, by the blood of Jesus Christ. Once you begin to question that, you won’t come to church now. Now you tell another focus not going to church.

 

But something happened. Psalm 77, and I said, this is King James version, Amplified Bible of the same verse here, “And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.” The Amplified Bible really gives you another look at it, it says, “This is my grief, That the right hand of the Most High has changed [and His loving kindness is withheld].” In other words, God has change where you get to.

 

Number 8, the last stage, you begin to believe that God has changed. Not that you changed, He changed. And once you start to believe this, you’re not going to church and you try to get other folks to stop going to church. You're so angry with God; so confused about God, the doubt has now crept in so deeply that you want nothing to do with God. Once you begin to believe that God is not trustworthy that He can go back on His word; that He can change. We begin to drift into great darkness.

 

So, there’s a prayer shift. The good news about this psalm is that it doesn't stop there. I don't know that I made it in the Bible if it stops there; but here is where it goes with it. Asaph in his troubles and you get so David in there.

 

Change is the very nature and direction of his prayer. This prayer shift holds a key to dealing with doubt. It is a secret to successful prayer and power in times of trial.

So here's the list; the second list. What did I tell you? So, the second list now is how to shift your prayer for power - shift your prayer in times of persecution, in times of difficulty, making the shift.

 

No. 1 - Focus on who God is by focusing on what He has done. Remember in the last presentation. What’s the first thing you do? You praise God. Always remembering how good God is, always reminding yourself, always telling God how merciful, wonderful and worthwhile He is, how worthy He is of praise. Here, similar. Focus on who God is by focusing on what He has done.

 

So before I go to the verse, this is when I talked about three Hebrew boys yesterday. You know why they were able to stand in front of the fire not at all worried? They knew who God was? They never, they not even for a split second, did one of those boys, at least based on the Scripture, not for a split second did they question God. So the question in their mind was never what God was able to do or what He was going to do or what He would do. The question for them was “Will they stay faithful to a God that they know is faithful? That they'd know is able?” When you pray and you get into these doldrums and life is hard, you gotta focus on who God is. Psalm 77, the verse that we read initially, “I will remember the works of the Lord. Surely, I remembered thy wonders of old.” Watch this - The reason the Bible gives you the stories it gives you is so that when you get into trial, you can go back and remember David running from Saul. You can go back and remember Abraham dealing with the pre-incarnate Christ pleading with God on behalf of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And God said, “Abraham is my friend.” The stories in the Old Testament, if you go back and you focus on what is the thing, those guys were flawed. They weren't perfect. David had a man killed, slept with his wife. I mean, if some of, any of us did that in our church this morning, I don’t know if they would let you in two blocks of the church. Yet, David is a man after God's own heart. Are you getting what I'm saying? When you get into trouble, you gotta go back and look at how God delivered them.

 

When Hezekiah got the letter from the King of Assyria saying that he was gonna destroy Hezekiah, rip him to shred, do all this stuff to him. Hezekiah, the Bible says, Hezekiah takes the letters and the Bible says, He lays the pages out in front of him and Hezekiah weeps and cries unto God over those letters. And the Bible says that, that night God sends an angel. How many angels? One angel and the one angel wipes out 180,000 of the of the troops of the Assyrians. So when you get into trial, you gotta go back and remember His wonders of old. In New Testament, the apostle says, those stories are for your admonition. Hezekiah wasn't perfect. We find out in a story. So sometimes you beat yourself up because you're not perfect. Because you're not perfect doesn't mean you're not God's chosen; doesn't mean you're not His child; doesn't mean He's not going to use you; doesn't mean He's not going to forgive you. He forgave David. And I doubt any of the. Hope that you didn't do what David did because I mean it was pretty cruel putting a man on the front of the lines; but you get my point. They're given to you.

 

So you've got to go back; but it's not just the wonders in the Scripture, you've gotta be intentional about remembering what God has done for you. Go back and think about. Sometimes when I get in, “Oh Lord, I'm in trouble,” I go back and I remember how I agonized over him when I had exams in medical school. I go back and I remember the patient that died on the table; flat-lined as I was taking care of a patient and I prayed and the woman came back from the back to normal sounds. We gave her medications and everything; but I thought for sure she was gone. And I laid my hand on that woman and prayed that woman before was all over that woman sat up; but I could go on and on.

 

When I get into about, I've got to stop myself. Don’t let doubt creep in. You remember when you did that you'd pass your board so you could practice medicine? Do you remember? I mean I can just go through all the time back to my childhood. You got to keep. That's why a prayer journal so important. You go back. I go back and read some and “Wow, how God work that thing out. Why am I worried about this one if God worked that one out?” Start your prayers not with your complaints but with an acknowledgment of who God - Praise.

 

No. 2 - Tell others. You want to make the prayer shift? Here's what tell others means: pray with the testimony in mind. Pray with the testimony in mind. You’re going through something, “Lord, I ask You to deliver me so I can go before everybody and tell the world just how wonderfully You delivered me.” Pray with the testimony in mind. Tell others. Here’s what it says, “I will meditate also of all Thy work and talk of Thy doings” Psalm 77:12.

 

A problem comes, you say, “Thank you Jesus for the test, for my test is going to become a testimony.” Why is that important? Because you remember 10 percent of what you read, 20 percent of what you hear, 30 percent of what you see, 50 percent of what you see and hear, which is why I like using these slides, 70 percent of what is discussed with others, 80 percent of what is experienced personally, look at number one where you learn the most, 95 percent of what we teach to someone else. That's why testimonies are so important. Did you get that? They're important because they remind you of how good God is number 1. Number 2, that's why doing Bible study with people are so important. By teaching other folks what you believe, you learned what you believe a whole lot better.

 

When I was in medical school, we had a big disadvantage. There were a few Adventists and there was a Jewish young lady who studied with us. And we stopped getting instruction on Friday afternoon. The test was Monday morning. So everyone else as soon as classes are over on Friday went, got something to eat. They went home. I guess what they did they studied all Friday night, all day Sabbath, all weekend, so they had a 24 hour jump on us in studying. And what we did is on Saturday after Sabbath, we came back together at the medical school. And myself and another Adventist guy, and this Jewish girl, and we would teach each other the lesson. We put up on the board and don’t have enough time. We have late, late night studying and get up as early as we could, start all over again. And by God's grace, all of us in four years went through medical school just as it was opposed to.

 

Teaching someone else is important. Testifying of what God has done is important, not just to fortify the strength and faith of others. By giving the testimony, there is a conscious acknowledgment of exactly what God actually did for you.

The third thing: Question everything but God. You can question your boss; you can question your Pastor; you can question your spouse; you question your child; you can question whoever you want, when you’re going through a trial. Don't question God.

He says, “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” Did you know? A lot of times, we pull that verse out of context to teach the sanctuary message. God’s way in the sanctuary and it is true. Put it back in context. Do you see what he's really using the sanctuary for? He's using the sanctuary message as a way to build the faith and encouragement of the people of Israel. He's saying here, as he's going through the trial, and he's turning the table, as the prayer is shifting, what Asaph and David are doing is they're saying the sanctuary message tells me “I don't have to question God.” The sanctuary message tells me “He's faithful. He will do what He said He will do.” The sanctuary message anchors your faith because it tells you the great extent to which God will go to save you.

 

Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. There’s no need to question. He does wonders. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.  Redeem Thy people. I mean listen. He's faithful. Remember that doubt you question whether or not God can save. You don't question God. As that prayer shift happens, you know that God saves. You recognize it.

 

But the fourth one is my favorite. No. 4: Remember, what you fear fears God. What you fear fears God. Watch this. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.

 

So, Asaph now does what he tells you to do. He says he goes back to where we left the children of Israel. Remember we left the children of Israel. They’re at the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s coming up behind them and in panic, “where there not enough spaces in the graves back in Egypt.” Asaph says, what you didn't understand is that when God's presence got near the Red Sea, the water saw God and the water was afraid. You didn't know water had emotion, did you? The water was afraid. In fact, the Bible says the depths also were troubled; the very Red Sea that they thought was an obstacle was actually a subject of the Most High God. They had nothing to fear because they didn't understand the water was simply a gatekeeper for God. And once God showed up on the scene, the water itself was all shook up. When Moses just simply did what God told him to do, poof the water obeyed. And I don't know how He did it. I've been telling you all weekend that Jesus and God can defy the laws of physics. So, I don't know if the water just decided to climb up, the molecule just decided to climb on top of the other. I don't know if they pull back and frozen. So I don't know what happened. I wasn't there. But I can tell you that when the children of Israel walked across the Red Sea, they walked across on dry land. There wasn't one puddle of mud, not one. They walked and they get to the other side and shake the dust off.

 

 I like this one too. Number 5 says Faith grows when there are no footprints. Faith grows when there are no footprints. This one is critical for those you are trying to find which direction you're going in life what's next for you. Psalm 77:19 says, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters…”  That's him talking about how they get across the Red Sea. He says, “And Thy footsteps are not known.”

 

Okay. Let me make sure I don't miss the pieces of this one as I like this one. What he said is listen, “God led them into a trap.” Did you get that? They followed God into a trap because God can't be trapped. So the trap was not for God, it was a trap for them. They follow Him. Watch this. If they have known where God is leading them, a lot of them might have not followed. God often does not tell you where you are going because if you knew where you go and you wouldn't follow, number 1. Number 2, it takes no faith to follow if you know exactly every step you have to take. It develops your faith when there is ambiguity as to where God wants you to go. I’ve talked to many people at this conference and last week in Port Elizabeth who are trying to figure out what does God want me to do, what does God want me to do next, where is God trying to lead me. And there’s a lot of ways to answer and look at it. But by not knowing, it causes you to have to pause and talk to God instead of complaining. The children of Israel should have been praying. Some of you, “I don't know, my Lord, I don't know what I would do next. I don't know where this career is leading me. I don't know where to go to school.” He does not give you the exact. It's not like the steps pop up on the ground, you just follow along. If the weight God allow to move you, He sometimes has to shut a door you think you’re supposed to go through and open a window and when He does that you learn to trust Him that He is a God that does not just use doors, He's doors, windows and a little doggie doors that a dog can crawl in. He'll open up what needs to be opened up for you if you trust Him.

 

The sixth thing if you make the prayer shift: Remember that God's purpose is bigger than your problem. This resonated me when I went through the stuff I went through. And the Lord said of them as we go back to Exodus 14:15 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me?” Its like “Guys, Moses, what are you crying for?” There are some things we beg “Oh, Lord”, like “just shape up and I’ll handle business. “Speak of the children of Israel.” What is it I’m supposed to tell them? Go forward. That's the message. The whole sermon that day was Time to go, we're moving forward. We will not stay here in fear. “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on (what?) dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh...”

 

Why did God lead them into a trap? Because God said, “Listen, I'm gonna deal with this empire once and for all. And by dealing with them, when you get to the Promised Land, you're going to get to a people who heard about what happened to mighty Pharaoh and the folk you're going to conquer will already be afraid of you.” God was working for them three steps down like playing chess. I like to play chess on my phone. Because I don't want get Alzheimer's. If you will not keep using your brain, you will get it. So I got all the little things on the phone I’m doing in my spare while seating like when I’m at the airport. So God was three, four steps ahead like in chess. They were worried about the Egyptian. God was already dealing with the Canaanites for them.

 

Sometimes you’re dealing with the enemy in front of you, you don’t realize God has already dealt with the one in front of you, He has dealt with the one three four days down. “And I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians…” Who? The very people who oppressed you for the last 400 years, they're going to know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. Who's gonna know? The very nation that had to let you go; they're going to know that I am GOD.

 

Ellen White says this in Patriarchs and Prophets. She says, “God in His Providence brought the Hebrews into the mountain fastness before the sea, that He might manifest its power in their deliverance, and signally humble the pride of their oppressors. He might have saved them in any other way (any other way) but He chose this method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in Him.” So one, He wanted to humble their oppressors. Can you imagine when word got back to Egypt? When it got forward to Canaan? But the children of Israel themselves now understood God delivers. There is nothing too hard for God.

 

The last one in making the shift: Remember that the Lord is still our Shepherd. When you’re going through stuff, you gotta remember the Shepherd leads you in a ways, sometimes the sheep don't understand, you know. “Man, there’s some rocky terrain that has taken us over. I don't understand why He's bringing us around this way.” You don't realize the Shepherd notice wolves on the easy path. So, He’s leading you on a more difficult path that's the safer path. The Lord is our Shepherd.

 

He says a Psalm 77:20, “Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” The Lord is our Shepherd and we are His flock. Why sheep? Why does the Bible use sheep so much? In fact, I would argue, in the country of my favorite, one of my favorite preachers, Walter Vieth, that one of the best arguments against evolution is the sheep. Sheep don't make any sense. They can't fight. They don't have no porcupine thing to stick people if they come after them. They can’t skunk people. They can't run fast. They have no defense system. Think about a sheep. It's a woolly. I mean it just. There's a big ole white target. You can see from all the way across the field. And on top of that, they are dumb; the dumbest animals in all of creation. A pig is unclean but a smarter than a sheep.

 

Watch this. There's a reason we're sheep. Because we're defenseless. We honestly can't defend ourselves against the enemy. Right? There's nothing you can do to really fight. And we think we can - the devil come and gonna shake up. Nope. The devil come and I’m gonna call upon Jesus. Call on the name of the Lord. Not only are you defenseless, spiritually we're often not that bright. We do continue to make the wrong decision over and over and over again. The only way the sheep has survived all the millennia because he never, according to evolution, he should have adapted some mechanism to stay alive he never did. It’s because the sheep needs to hear and understand the voice of the shepherd. As long as the sheep understands and hears the shepherd, the sheep will be all right. We are the sheep.

 

Patriarch and Prophets, Ellen White says, “The great lesson here taught is for all time. Often the Christian life is beset by dangers and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin before and bondage or death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly go forward. (Watch this, don't miss this.) We should obey this command even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness and we feel the cold waves about our feet.”

 

You go forward. Now, I skipped the whole part of the story and that is, that verse when we talk about how the lightning flashed and everything. Remember, there was a cloud. The cloud lifted up that they were following that got them into the Red Sea. It lifted up over the mountain, carried itself all the way back to where Pharaoh was and dropped on Pharaoh and lightning was flashing and the Egyptians were in a cloud. So the whole time, He got all those people cross the Red Sea. How do they all have time to get across? Because Pharaoh was in a cloud and lightning and all kind of stuff. The ground was trembling. They didn't know. They couldn't go anywhere. They were frozen while the children of Israel walked in safety on a dusty sea floor.

 

You might come across some dangers; maybe difficult to perform the duties of being a Christian; your imagination picture every type of ruin, bondage, even death. That's where your mind will often go; but the voice of God will speak clearly to say go forward. Don't be afraid. We should obey this command even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness. I like what Ellen White says here, and we feel the cold waves about our feet. As you think to go into the Red Sea and the water touches you, you know, it was a time you go into the sea and the water, you touch “Whoa.” He said, “Go forward.” The obstacles that hinder our progress will never disappear before a halting doubting spirit. Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty disappear and there remains no risk of failure or defeat will never obey at all. Unbelief whispers let us wait till the obstructions are removed and we can see our way clearly but faith courageously urges and advance hoping all things, believing all things.”

 

I like this one. Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty disappear and there remains no risk of failure or defeat will actually never obey at all.  Obedience, by definition means, you take some risk trusting God. So, make the prayer shift. That's the last slide.

 

And I can tell you when I was going through my trials; Psalm 77 was an important psalm. I could sympathize with the first half of it when Asaph says, “Look, maybe God just forgotten to be good. Maybe God has changed. Maybe, I mean, maybe He's disappeared.” But then you stop and you start to remember all the times you needed God before and you say, “He’s still that same God.”

 

You see when David got to Goliath. The power of that story is when David gets the Goliath and all of the hosts of Israel are afraid. Everybody's shaking in their boots. David hears Goliath blaspheming the God of Israel, speaking ill of his God. David, a boy, looks around and all these grown men who are supposed to be soldiers and the army of the Living God and all day men can hear all the reasons not to deal with the giant, you know, how David justifies the fact that he's gonna fight? And it's such a strong justification. And Saul, “okay, take my armor, you can have it.” David says, “Your servant was watching his father's sheep and a bear came and I slew the bear.”  And he said, “And a lion came and I killed the lion.” He says, “And this uncircumcised Philistine (that's literally what the Bible says) shall be as one of them.” You get that? It was providential. David says, “Wait a minute, if God could have a boy kill a bear” (now there are bears in Africa, bears are no joke). “If God could have a boy kill a lion” David said, “By common sense reasoning, I don't have to worry about a giant.” Are you getting what I'm saying? God has sent bears into your life that you have to deal with. Trials that are bears for you to deal with and He sent lions into your life and you had to deal with those lions. The difficulty of your past, of a mistakes you've made, of overcoming hatred, problems in your family, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity. I don't know what the bears in life that you had to deal with are; but God gave you the opportunity to deal with the bear and the lion because one day God is going to call you like David to deal with the giant.

 

Shift to prayer - remember that God help to deal with the small challenges. I'm telling you. They seem like big challenges, those exams that I was taking, seem to me the end of the world. But now, it was an exam. You understand what I’m saying? And God had shown me much deeper, heavier, bigger things to deal with in this life than exams as important as those exams were. Make the prayer shift and God will always show up. Amen.

 

Any comments/questions before we go? How much time do we have? One minute.

Alright, so let’s pray. Bow your heads.

 

Father God, we thank you Lord for Psalm 77 where Asaph and David make this prayer shift and begin to remember Your goodness, Your mercies, Your graciousness, the wonders of old. Help us, Father God, to pray remembering who You are and who You've been not only to us but who You’ve been through out the ceaseless ages of eternity. As we leave this conference, help us go forward praying differently, understand that our God is a real God. We are not speaking to walls and ceilings. We are speaking to the King of the universe. And Father God, You hear our prayers. Many times Lord, You've already answered them before we speak them. Let our prayers be bold. Let us come boldly before the throne room of grace. This is our prayer in Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.  

 

 

 

This message was presented at the AMEN Missions 2017 Bible Conference: “Shaken but not forsaken” in Cape Town, South Africa. AMEN Missions, a supporting ministry of the Seventh Day Adventist Church is a youth-led ministry seeking to inspire young people to be Bible-based, mission-focused, and Christ-centered Christians. Our aim is to assist in taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world in this generation starting in South Africa. For more resources like this or to find out how to support this work, visit us at www.amen-mission.co.za. AMEN – Advent Message to Every Nation. This recording was produced by the Preparation ministry.

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