WEEK 4: CREATING SEPARATION
In week four of Stretch Marks, Pastor Don preached that sometimes God has to create separation in our lives so that He can bring us out of fear, into the divine destiny He has for us.
2 Corinthians 5:17
In Exodus 14, Moses was leading the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt where they had been slaves. God was taking the Israelites through a process of separation. They were leaving behind a life of slavery in order to enter into the life God had for them.
In our lives, God is continually separating us from things that are familiar, in order to bring us to better things. We get separation anxiety because the process of separation can be painful, but it is important to embrace as we move forward in our faith.
We get in trouble when we try to separate what God has joined together or when we try to keep joined things that God is separating. Whenever God creates separation in our lives, we need to recognize it so we can receive the new thing He is doing in us.
THE DISTINCTIVE FEATURE
Moses had a high tolerance for separation. God brought him through six stages of separation in order to prepare him to lead the Israelites. He was separated from his mother at birth, separated from his native people in Pharaoh’s house, separated from Egypt when we fled to Midian, separated from his weaknesses and excuses at the burning bush, separated from Midian when he returned to Egypt, and finally separated from Egypt again when he took Israel through the Red Sea. Because of all these separations, Moses didn’t look or sound like anyone else. He had distinctive features that were created by separation. These distinctions qualified him to lead God’s people. -If we’re going to be effective in the calling God has for us, we need to embrace our distinctions. Our God-given destiny is always driven by our distinctions. God uses the separations that life throws at us in order to create our distinctive features. The separation we face prepares us for our divine destinies.
When God made the world, He spoke into the darkness and created light. Then He separated the light from the darkness. That’s the same thing He wants to do in our lives. We are new creations in Christ, and God wants to separate the new from the old, the light from the dark. The word sanctification means set apart. When God sanctifies us, He separates the things that were in our lives before we knew Christ from the things that came into our lives when we came to Christ. He sets us apart, like Moses, and gives us distinctive features for our calling.
THE COMEBACK ROUTE
As the Egyptians were traveling out of Egypt, God told them to turn back and camp by the Red Sea. He told them to go back to a body of water that was impossible for them to cross. They did what He told them to do, even though it didn’t make any sense. But then the Israelites started to have doubts and fears once they were caught between the sea and the Egyptians. God led them that way to deal with their doubts and to destroy their enemies. -Like the Israelites, sometimes we prefer the security of slavery to the uncertainty of deliverance. We get scared of the Enemy when we make steps to follow God. But the devil has more reason to be nervous than we do. He is already defeated, and he knows what will happen if we ever get free and really start following Christ. He’s scared of us. We need to follow God’s route, so that God can create separation between us and our doubts and fears, in order to defeat the Enemy. Creating separation is all about knowing which route to take. And knowing which route to take requires knowing the voice of our God.
THE SECOND STRETCH
God told Moses to stretch out his staff. When he did this in faith, God separated the sea. Then the Israelites passed through on dry ground. The Egyptians followed in after them. Then God told Moses to stretch out his hand a second time. When Moses obeyed, God closed the sea over the Egyptians, utterly destroying them.
God didn’t bring the Israelites to the sea to get them out of Egypt. He could have taken them another way. He brought them that way to kill their enemies. When God brings us through deep waters, it’s because He can’t drown our doubts on dry land. He wants to take us to a place where it’s deep enough that we’ll depend on Him.
God didn’t just want to get the Israelites out of Egypt. He wanted to get Egypt out of them. He wants to do the same in us. Jesus made the first stretch on the cross. That stretch made the way for our salvation and for us to know God. But now that we’ve put our faith in Him, we need to take the second stretch. We need to stretch our hand back over the water God brought us out of, so that He can destroy our fears. The first stretch was so that we could pass through. The second stretch is so that we will never go back ever again.
INTRO: REACHING THE GOAL
Recap this week's sermon with your Life Group. What was your favorite part of this week's message?
This week's sermon was based out of Exodus 14, a well-known passage of Scripture that depicts Moses parting the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape the Egyptians, who had once held them captive as slaves. What new perspective on this passage did you gain from this weekend?
As your Life Group begins to share, ask a few follow-up questions to help them apply this week’s message to their lives.
THE DISTINCTIVE FEATURE
God separates what He speaks from what He didn't create. Growing up, what's something you saw in yourself that made you different from the people around you?
Pastor Don preached, "Your destiny is always determined by your distinctive." When people see your life, what distinctive features do you want them to see?
Talk about a time you stood out as "different" because of your faith. Internally, how did that affect you?
Has anyone ever asked you why you were doing something differently than everyone else? In those situations, how do you explain your faith to people?
THE COMEBACK ROUTE
God created separation between the Israelites and Egyptians in Exodus 14 through a pillar of cloud. What are some struggles you see in the world around you that you're thankful God is protecting you from?
Pastor Don used the illustration of a "comeback route" in football to describe how we can create separation in our lives. What is one thing you know you have to separate yourself from in order to live for God? •Sometimes, it can feel like God is leading us the long way towards our destiny. Do you ever feel like that? What is God teaching you through that route?
Knowing your route is the key to creating separation. When faced with difficult decisions in life, how do you practically invite God to lead you in a certain direction?
How do you know if you're following God's direction, not your own ideas?
THE SECOND STRETCH
God commanded Moses to stretch his staff over the sea to part the waters, and again to cause the water to crash back down on their enemies. Think about a time in your life when God clearly created separation for you. What practical things did you have to do in that situation to make sure you were following God?
What doubts, fears, or personal insecurities typically arise when you are trying to live for God? How do you work through them?
Pastor Don preached, "God can't drown your doubts on dry land." Right now, what would you consider to be a "step of faith"?
Give an example of a struggle God has brought or is currently bringing you through. What boundaries do you have in place (mentally or physically) to make sure you don't go back?
- In this season of life, what new way can you commit to serving God?
Follow up that question with any variation of these:
- Are you currently volunteering at church?
- Who can you invite to church?
- How can you be more generous with your time or money? Have you ever considered leading an Life Group of your own?
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP?
Your first Step is to sure that you have began a relationship with God through Christ. If you haven’t asked Christ to become your personal Savior, forgive your sins and be Lord of your life that is your Next Step.
Are you feeling anxious about your current situation? Perhaps God is creating separation from what is familiar to take you places you never dreamed possible. Your Next Step is to relax in the freedom of knowing God is up to something and you can trust him.
Do you feel like you are going backwards instead of moving forward? Sometimes God allows us to move backwards to create separation fro, out enemies. Your next step is to discount any discouragement you are feeling and finding joy in the fact that God is working in your behalf.
Take time to discuss with your Life Group the struggle some of you are facing. Pray that God will continue to stretch us and too give each of us peace knowing that God is working for his purpose and rejoice that we are becoming more like Christ as we are stretched.