Trinity
United
Methodist
Church

 

God's Glory Revealed:
 Through Victory

(Exodus 15:1-3, 11-13)

Today is the last day of the message series entitled God's Glory Revealed as we briefly consider how God's glory is revealed through the victories in our lives. And how fitting it is that we address victory on this All Saints Sunday.

But before we consider the victory we celebrate on this day, I first want us to look at another great victory, a victory that serves to set the stage for all victories to follow down through history, for the victories we experience today, and for the victories we will most certainly experience in the future, and that's God's deliverance of the Israelites from slavery.

Now our scripture reading this morning actually picks up with the journey of Moses and the Israelites right after they've crossed the Red Sea. Pharaoh's armies, who were in hot pursuit were now stopped and were swallowed up by the waters of the sea. And as a result the Israelites were delivered from their captivity in dramatic fashion and were finally free.

Now just after experiencing first-hand the miraculous work of God on their behalf, Moses and the Israelites stopped, celebrated, and gave thanks to God who delivered them, who saved them. God had delivered them from slavery and was offering them a new life.

Moses recognized the magnitude of the victory, so right then and there on the banks of the Red Sea Moses was not only praising and giving thanks to God, but he was also in affect saying to his people, "God didn't bring us this far so that we could brag on ourselves and thumb up our nose at everyone else with an attitude of 'hey look at us now.' He brought us to this point so we could make life about him, so we could live for the one for whom all glory should be given."

You see in that moment of great salvation there was also now a great responsibility to be realized: the Israelites were not to revel in their own glory, but to reveal God's glory through the victory they experienced.

In the same way God delivered the Israelites, God didn't deliver this congregation to a new ministry anointed by the Holy Spirit so we could turn inward and revel in an attitude of "hey look at us now," but rather to take on the responsibility of revealing God's glory to others through our ministry and our lives. We've been freed from the slavery of "this is the way we've always done it" and have been given a new life and victory in Christ.

And also like the Israelites on that day long ago, all the saints that have died in the Lord have been delivered from the pains of this world by the hand of God, and they now stand on the "other side" giving God praise and glory.

But you know what? It doesn't take great pain, great events, or even death to realize God's victories in our lives. We experience victories all the time; we just sometimes don't see them.

God is constantly active in our lives and provides us with Red Sea victories, great and small, more often than we may realize. For example, God has delivered many from the depths of sorrow, oppression, persecution, and God has delivered folks from illness, broken relationships, addictions, pain, abuse, uncertainty, confusion, and the list just goes on and on. And I'm sure many of you here today can witness to deliverance and Red Sea victories in your lives. The Red Sea victories we experience may also come by a different or unlikely path than we expect. For example, last week we learned of a person who broke their toe, and in the midst of the exam it was discovered this person had cancer on her foot. Now the cancer can be treated and a Red Sea victory realized. God's victories are our victories, we need to claim them and then give God the glory.

But let's not confuse deliverance with curing or restoration to things the way they once were. And what I mean by this is we may not be completely cured of a disease or completely restored from a situation we're experiencing, but we can be delivered from it. The Israelites were freed from physical slavery, but their lives would not become lives of comfort or lives without challenge. As a matter of fact after some time in the desert some of the Israelites suggested they go back to Egypt, where life was hard, but they were at least being fed daily by their enslavers. You see the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea still faced challenges and hardships as they journied to the Promised Land.

Deliverance means we've been rescued or freed from a constraint or condition that is holding us captive. It doesn't mean that the constraint or condition just goes away and all is well. Now in our deliverance we can be cured, but that's not often the case.

For example, we can be delivered from the affects of cancer, even though we aren't cured or restored to "normal" or to what once was. A person can be delivered from alcoholism, but they're still an alcoholic and should never drink again.

God's deliverance allows us to no longer be held captive or overwhelmed by our experience to the point we become totally controlled or defeated by it. We can never change the past or what has happened to us or to someone we love, but we can shape the future by how we respond to the circumstances we're experiencing.

Simply stated we can choose the path of victory or the path of defeat. We can decide to stay with the Egyptians in slavery, or move forward through the Red Sea, trusting God will show us the way and will provide for us even when the way might be rough going. The point is the choice is ours, no one elses.

Let me use my stroke as an example to illustrate what I mean. The clot in my brain from my stroke will remain, that part of my brain is damaged forever and there's no changing this fact. Now, I could dwell on this fact to the point I'm held captive by it or so that it consumes me and eventually takes over my life, perhaps even to the extreme of turning away from God. Or I can claim and embrace the fact that my brain is damaged and move on.

I can't change what happened, I can't go back in time to prevent the stroke from occurring, but I can shape my future by allowing God to deliver me from my circumstance.

In the midst of my hospital stay as I thought about my future I had two choices: become enslaved to what the stroke had done, or focus on how God could deliver me from this situation. I chose deliverance. And God did deliver me, through physical therapy and medications, which were God's chosen tools of deliverance in my case. And as a result I have been delivered from the affects of my stroke, and have moved on. This is one of my Red Sea victories. Again, like the Israelites I have been delivered. And notice I said delivered, not cured.

Now although I am no longer held captive by the affects of my stroke there are restrictions to what I can and can't do. Like an alcoholic can never drink again, I can no longer ride roller coasters or engage in activities that may cause my head to snap around quickly. So my life isn't the same as it once was, I wasn't cured, but I was delivered.

And now as a result of my deliverance there's great responsibility for me, not to revel in my own glory of deliverance, but to reveal God's glory to others through this victory. And to continue to recognize God and his actions in all aspects of my life. Part of this responsibility includes sharing my story with others, as I have several times with you to illustrate a point in one of my Sunday messages.

Now with regards to the Red Sea victories we all experience David Nasser suggests we consider the following questions to help us remain victory-focused:

  • How many times in our lives, at the end of our Red Sea victories, do we remember to stop and give thanks?
  • How many times in the midst of great victory do we understand that there is great responsibility to not get all puffed up, but to give thanks to God?
  • Have we celebrated the moment of victory to the exclusion of celebrating the giver of the victory?
  • And do we get all caught up in looking at all the hard work we've put into a victory and give a little too much glory to ourselves?

You know, excluding God from our victories is so easy to do, not because we necessarily set out to do so or intentionally want to take credit for what God has done, but sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the emotions of the moment that we forget to recognize that God is the one who delivers us to new life through these victories, both great and small. And in the great and small victories of life we need to remember that it's only because of God's hand we are where we are, and we need to give him the glory for it!

I'm fully persuaded if we constantly live with an attitude of thankfulness, no matter the situation, we will see how God is involved in all aspects of our lives and we'll be ready to give him glory in all our victories. Then after we remember God in our victories, the mark of his glory in our hearts will remain in our lives even when we find ourselves in front of a Red Sea that hasn't yet parted.

Now as you know today is All Saints Sunday, the day we remember the saints of our faith, and to celebrate God's greatest victory through Jesus Christ. And as the saints live in us, with us, and for us we celebrate with them today our common Red Sea victory over death, as we hold onto the hope-filled promise of God that those who believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will experience the ultimate victory of eternal life. A victory, not possible by human hands, but only possible by the grace of a God who loves us deeply.

But also know that the victory of eternal life is not a victory yet to come but a victory to be received now. We live in this victory the moment we receive the gift of Jesus. By giving our lives to Jesus, we on this side of the cross, have already crossed the Red Sea and now need to offer our praise to God in thankfulness, and make sure he receives the glory in our worship and in how we live, God ought to be lifted up in how we witness to our faith, and in how we minister to others in and through this church family. God's victory in and through Jesus Christ is our victory as well. And God deserves all the glory we can muster.

So as we experience the Red Sea victories in our lives may we never revel in the truth of our victories, but rather always give thanks and give glory to the One who makes all victories possible. All praise and glory to the Victor! Amen!

In addition to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible the following resources inspired and/or were used in part in the preparation of this sermon: 1. Glory Revealed by David Nasser 2007.

Read other messages by Pastor Wade