- Sermon Notes
When Troubles Rise
Intro: Stuck in the sand
In our lives, troubles can rise quickly and with no warning. They can also linger much longer than we’d like them to. The way we react to and endure through these difficulties can drastically influence the outcome.
Today we are looking at a story of success in unexpected and unyielding difficulty. When Moses and the Israelites find themselves in peril, they respond with a boldness that only the Lord could back.
Read: Exodus 17:8-15
Israel had just begun their journey to the Promised Land, but they had already been through so much. From the crossing of the Red Sea, to bringing drinking water out of a rock, God had provided for their every need up to this point.Then, suddenly, they find themselves under attack!
Attacks can come at inconvenient and unexpected times. We can easily feel overwhelmed when we are caught unprepared, but the right response is so important when those challenges come. Turning to the Lord- who is our “very present help in trouble”(Psalm 46:1)- is the best thing that we can do! God is our great covering, and when troubles rise we can respond in confidence.
I. Respond in Confidence
- This surprise attack on Israel seemed unprovoked. The Bible gives no immediate context to Amalek’s hostile action. We know that Amalek is descended from Esau, the rival of Israel, but that is the only evident prompting.
- Moses quickly devised a plan of response that kept God at the center, therefore assuring Israel’s victory.
- When we are faced with unexpected and daunting issues it can be difficult to respond well, even if we know what we ought to do.
Illus. Scuba Scare
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
- Moses was wise and bold in his reaction. He chose Joshua- a capable leader- to address the problem head-on, while he dedicated himself to praying over the battle.
Illus. Eisenhower Matrix
- Moses delegated the physical battle. He knew that it was more important for him to tend to the spiritual. He was confident that the Lord could hand them the victory.
- This is the sort of response that we can have. We should be bold in the Lord, as well. Trusting that He is our greatest hope.
- These are some of the words that reassure me most. What a great source of confidence. What else is there to say? God is for us!
A.God Will Win
- The Israelites had been slaves- workers, not warriors. They shouldn’t have stood a chance against an army that plotted, prepared, and caught them off guard. Yet, there is no recorded moment of pause or uncertainty among the ranks. Did they finally understand who was on their side?
- When we are caught off guard we can feel pinched, stressed, and defeated. However, we need turn confidently to the one who owns the battle.
1 John 5:4, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
- That’s who we are, by faith, born of God. We can stand in that faith, assured that the God has overcome the world.
- If we can have confidence in the strength of the Lord, right from the start, we well be set up for God’s best outcome to unfold.
Illus. Shooting hoops
- Don’t delay when it comes to doing things the right way. As followers of Christ we need to remember where our strength is. Jesus has the victory, He has overcome the troubles we face.
- Moses knew where the victory was. He took on the urgently important issue of seeking the Lord’s favor. Moses didn’t forget that the fate of Israel was in God’s hands.
B.Prayer is Powerful
- As morning came, everyone got into position for the battle. Joshua and his fighting men went to engage their adversaries, and Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed the hill overlooking the conflict to seek the Lord. Moses raised his staff over the battle, hands lifted to heaven.
- That staff had become a symbol of God’s miraculous intervention. As it rose and fell, so did Israel’s success in battle.
- Moses’ hands and staff, raised high in the air, represent an appeal to the Lord and a surrender to His might.
- Inviting God to do His work in the midst of difficulty is one of the best things we can do. Prayer, seen or unseen, can powerfully shape an outcome.
- You don’t always know in what ways the Lord is intervening for you. Some things are revealed to us, while others remain unseen until God’s correct time.
- God’s hand can shape the course of our lives, and guide us through trouble like nothing else can. This is an important truth to recognize.
- The connection between Moses’ posture and victory in battle sent a clear message. We rise and fall at the mercy of the Lord.
- It was important for everyone to know that God was the one who caused their success. If Moses had not acknowledged and sought the Lord’s help, what hope would Israel have?
- It’s the same for us. Our victory is dependent on the Lord’s favor. That’s true in our lives, in our families, and in this church.
Matthew 21:21-22 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
- Jesus isn’t coy about prayer’s influence. He encourages and empowers us to pray, teaching that it is powerful and catalytic. And when you pray, you can ask that His will is done in our lives and others’.
Illus. Tell the mountain
- This is the sort of faith that Moses demonstrated for us. Seeking God was part of his key strategy. His response was right. Let’s be confident that
prayer is effective, and be bold enough to pray for mountains to be moved. Knowing that God will hear you!
II.Endure to the End
Illus. 2 Mile Time Trial
- Moses was facing a trial of endurance as well!
- It’s actually surprisingly difficult to keep your arms held high. But that appeal to the Lord needed to stand. Moses needed to keep his hands lifted for the whole battle.
- With the tide of battle hinging on his posture, things looked dire as exhaustion set in.
- The troubles that rise in life can last much longer than we’d hope. Your first response may be right, but even the best of us can get worn down over time. Still, we can’t afford to lose our right spiritual posture when we get tired.
A.Don’t Go Alone
- Moses’ stood in strength for as long as he could, but then he began to waiver. This is when we see something illuminating happen. Those who went with
him, Aaron and Hur, pull up a seat for Moses, grabbed hold of his arms, and support him for the rest of the day- all the way until sunset.
- What if Moses had gone up that hill alone? Moses was a mighty man of God, but he needed help when things got too heavy for him.
- When the trial is long, and you are running out of strength, you can remember that you don’t need to do it alone.
Illus. He Who Travels Fastest…
- It’s easy to feel uncomfortable when others come along side us, but if Moses- great leader of the Israelites, who ushered them through the Red Sea
and out of captivity in Egypt- can have the humility to accept help, so can we.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
- A powerful verse, but we often stop there. The next verse is just as important.
Philippians 4:14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
- It is good when we support one another. It’s part of God’s plan for us. That’s why we are called to walk out our faith in community, not isolation.
- Just as Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses and lent him strength, we can help each other through a multitude of trials: longstanding, or sudden.
- Now, what if Aaron and Hur had refused to go?
- It’s easy to think that people like Moses don’t need our help. At times, we see their strength in the Lord and think, “Well, they are covered.”
- It’s good for us to help each other when things are hard, even if we don’t immediately recognize the need.
- There are many opportunities for us to come along side our peers and leaders, even in the context of this church.
Illus. Spraying weeds
- There is so much value in the things that we take on. Even if they seem small, anything we take up is weight off of another’s shoulders.
- Yes, we need Moses, but we also need Joshuas, Aarons, and Hurs. We need all members of the body of Christ to boldly go where they are called.
- With all of this, one of the best things you can do- and one thing we should all do- is pray for one another!
Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
- We can help one another persevere when trouble persists. If we commit to lifting each other up in our actions and in our prayers, we will all go so
- Even when the battle is long, we can go together knowing that the Lord is our banner.
A.The Lord is Our Banner
- After the Israelites had prevailed against Amalek, Moses set up an alter and called it “The Lord is My Banner”.
- The flag that Moses flew was the Lord. This was a statement about what Israel stood for and who stood up for Israel. They based their identity as a
people on their relationship to God.
Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
- Is the Lord your banner? You can look up and know that your covering is the Lord. If you are his child, you are under this glorious banner.
- Turning to God when trials come will usher you through and on to God’s perfect outcome. With Him as our banner, we can start well and stand strong
until the end.
When troubles rise suddenly or last for too long, do your eyes look up to the Lord?