The Wilderness

February 3, 2002 AM
Pastor Chris Abernathy
Columbus, Georgia

If you would, turn in your Bibles with me to the book of Deuteronomy chapter eight. Deuteronomy chapter eight. And when you reach the book of Deuteronomy chapter eight, please signify by saying amen. In Deuteronomy chapter eight, we will look at verses two through verse six. Verse two through verse six. It says,

2. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

3. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.

4. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

5. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.

6. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

Let us pray.

Most holy and gracious heavenly Father, we thank You for who You are this morning. We thank You for what You do. Hide Your son behind the cross, that Your people would see You and not me. And Father, as I decrease, I ask that You would increase. Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Now Satan, you are bound. And you are loosed from your assignment today.

Father, we give you glory. We give you honor and praise. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

God commanded the Israelites to remember all the things that He had done for them when they traveled those many years in the wilderness. God reminded the Israelites of His provision and of His sovereignty. He explained (glory to God) that everything allowed in their lives had great purpose. And it had a plan (glory to God) for them.

When we look at the body of Christ today, God is allowing many of us to go through a wilderness experience. He’s allowing us to travel down that road over and over and over and over and over and over again. Because He’s trying to get us to learn something.

He was trying to get the Israelites to learn something–that He is sovereign. He is God. He can do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it, however He wants to do it. Glory to God.

He explained to them that even though you were traveling down the road that you had never been before, that He was still sovereign in their lives.

Many of us are traveling down roads that we’ve never seen, that we’ve never been down before. Glory to God. But just like the children of Israel, instead of not leaning to our own understanding, we are trying to lean to our own understanding. And we’re messing up the purpose. And we’re messing up the plan.

They were in a place that they could not control. Many of us are in a position and in a place that we have no control over. We’ve searched and we searched, and we’re searching, and still searching for a way out. But we have come to the place where we have figured out that there is no way out, that I have been placed here by God. And God is trying to teach me a lesson.

But how do I respond to the lessons that He’s trying to teach me? How do I spend my time thinking about what He’s trying to teach me?

You are in a hard place. And you keep on being in a hard place. But after a while you got to come out of that hard place.

They were in the wilderness all of those years because they did not learn the lesson. Many of us continue to go down the road of financial hardship because we have not learned... Oh, you don’t hear me today. I’m talking to myself. We have not learned the lesson.

Many times He has taught us that if we do this, this will happen. He has told us not to do that, because that’s going to happen. And we make promises to Him, that, “God if You’ll just get me out of it this time...”

It’s like that drinker, that when he’s drunken, and so drunk. And he gets down on his knees and starts vomiting. He says, “Lord, if You’ll just deliver me this time, I promise I won’t do it again.”

He begins to bless us over and over again. But every time we find ourselves back in that same predicament over and over again. It’s time for us to learn the lesson. You must don’t want to hear this today.

He was trying to teach them about who He was. We’ve walked in the body of Christ five and ten and fifteen and twenty years, and still in the wilderness. I know you need to hear this today. We still don’t know where we belong. We still don’t know where we’re going. We’re going down a road aimlessly. We don’t have a plan. We don’t have a purpose. But yet and still can’t nobody tell us nothing.

God is trying to gain our attention. What about those instances in your life that did not make any sense? What about those times in your life (glory to God) that you tried to come to terms with something, but you just had a lack of understanding about it? How did you learn from those experiences? How are you learning from the place that you’re in right now?

Are you responding with anger? Are you responding with bitterness? Are you responding with rebellion? Or are you lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting anyhow?

He was trying to teach them something. He was trying to cause them to have understanding that they were not in control. God uses the things that we cannot understand or control to bring about our good and His glory. He brings those things that we do not understand to bring about our good. Listen, listen, listen.

Those things that you don’t understand are going to cause all the things to work together for your good. And in the process of it working for your good, it’s going to bring glory to God.

Nothing about our lives surprises God. And He reveals what He wants to reveal in His own timing.

When Jesus rose from the grave, after three days, Mary came. She didn’t try to figure out how the resurrection occurred. All she knew was that Jesus was risen from the dead.

But when she got to the disciples in Mark chapter sixteen and verse eleven, they had a problem grasping it. Because they were trying to lean to their own understanding. It wasn’t until they actually (glory to God) came into His Presence that they truly believed. I don’t know what was going through their minds at the time. But they lacked understanding.

Many times when we lack understanding, it will cause us to stop. But in the mean time, when I don’t make... In some instances when I don’t understand, I still need to keep on going.

What has happened? And you’re thinking about it so hard that you can’t praise and worship God like He deserves. There is something on your mind that is holding you down. There is something on your mind that’s holding you back.

Because when I think of His goodness and all He does for me, it doesn’t take Him doing something new. I can look in my past. And I can realize how good God has been.

So if He brought you out before, won’t He do it again? He’s the same yesterday, today, and forevermore.

Now listen. You all need to make it a little bit harder for, a little bit easier for pastor to preach this morning. Let me see a few smiling faces out there today. Hallelujah somebody.

He was trying to show them that even though you’re in a place and you don’t understand why you’re there, that you still need to trust Him. You still need to embrace the Word. You still need to embrace your God in spite of your lack of understanding.

As we soar through the clouds of life, He gives us safe landings. You may be in a position right now where you are soaring in your life. But you seem as though you’re going to have a crash landing. He will give you a safe landing, no matter what the situation, no matter what the circumstance.

And the reason He does it is to inspire us to trust Him. Your safe landings might include a revelation of God’s love. Your safe landing may include protection from making bad decisions. Your safe landing may be a renewed depending upon God. He’s not going to leave you, and He has not left you.

Safe landings are even evident when He disciplines us. In Deuteronomy four, eight, chapter eight, verse four through six, he said,

4. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

5. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.

God reminded them that even in the midst of Him (listen) disciplining them He was still providing for them. Even in the midst of God having to chastise you, He will still provide for you. The devil is a liar. He’s not going to stop taking care of me because I made a mistake, because I messed up. He will still take care of me. Because He chastens them that He loves.

They didn’t understand at the time. But God disciplined the Israelites to help them walk in His ways. And not only to help them walk in His ways, but to be able to experience the fulness of His blessings.

In the body of Christ today it seems as though there are only a few of the saints that are able to (glory to God) experience the fulness of His blessing by having good health (glory to God), by having powerful spirituality, by having material wealth. But God has ordained it for every one of the saints.

Even when He’s chastening you, He’s providing for you. He was letting them know that in that time when you were getting your whipping, the raiment that you had on was still brand new. Though you’ve been walking a hard road, your feet have not swollen up.

You may be in a hard place right now. But the Bible says no good thing will He withhold from them who walk uprightly. He is trying to get us to a place that no matter what’s going on around us, we can still worship Him in the beauty of holiness.

In verse seven he said,

7. For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of foundations and depths that spring out of the valleys and hills;

Even though the Israelites could not see it, God longed and promised to bless them.

See, you are in a place right now where you cannot see it. But He’s longing to bless you anyway. Because He’s promised that He is going to bless you. We’re too caught up in our situation right now. We can’t see out of the box. We can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But He’s longing to bless you.

Saints of God, no matter what you are going through right now, keep your trust in God. Don’t trust in man, but trust in God. The Bible says cursed is the man that trusteth in man and makes flesh his arm, and whose hard doth departeth from the Lord.

Because if you put your trust in man, man will let you down. And when you allow man to let you down, then your heart will depart from the Lord. But if I put my trust and my confidence in the Lord anyway, anything I ask according to my, His will, He hears me.

In Jeremiah thirty-three and three He said, “Call upon Me, and I will answer thee. And I will show thee great and mighty things that you don’t even know about.”

He was trying to get them to the promise. But they were just a little bit too stubborn and set in their ways. When I become stubborn and set in my ways, it’s a dangerous thing. Because when God is trying to do a new thing around me, I’m telling God no. I was happy where I was.

They had murmured. And they had complained. In Numbers they said, “We remember the leeks and the onions that we used to eat back in Egypt. Have you brought us out to this wilderness to die?”

No, He doesn’t have you in that wilderness to kill you. He has you in that wilderness to bless you. It’s a place of surrender. It’s a place of submission. It’s a place of breaking.

Saints, if I took a poll today and I said, “How many people are truly happy?” I guarantee over fifty percent would not raise their hands. And some that do raise their hands are faking it.

Where is your joy located? He wanted them to have joy in Him and not joy in things. He is our provider. And that’s what He was trying to get across to them.

I know, I know, I know that you’ve heard about the children of Israel over and over and over again. But what about when it’s real for right now? It means that I need to hear it again.

Instead of walking in the promises and walking in the Glory, we’re walking in a place where we’re not trusting Him any more. We’re irritated at every little thing.

When people are unhappy, they’re irritated at every little thing. They argue and complain and fuss and fight over every little thing. They always look to the negative and never to the positive. You look for a positive thing to come out of their mouth. But it’s always something negative. It’s real. On jobs instead of Christians working as unto the Lord, we’re cussing out our bosses.

He’s trying to get us to a place that we would understand that He is sovereign. Stop trying to control it yourself. Make a decision today.

In Jeremiah twenty-nine and verse eleven, God said,

11. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

When you need a reminder to keep you going, look back and see where the Lord has brought you from. See where He has brought you from. Because you have an expected end. Your end should be expected to be blessed. Come out of that depression. Come away from that oppression. Come out of a spirit of anger and bitterness. And dwell in the Presence of the Lord. That’s where He’s calling us to.

In Psalm forty-six and verse ten He says,

10. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

God is saying to rest and to trust in His supremacy. Rest today. All of those things that are on your mind, put them to rest.

All of these things causing high blood pressure, causing diabetes, causing all of these things, because we’re not resting in Him. Do you hear what I’m saying? Don’t tune me out now. Too much on your shoulders. Release it. And say, “Lord, I’m giving it to You. And whatever You need to do, Lord God, You do it.”

Our anxiety keeps us from letting go control. Our carefulness... God wants to carry all of our burdens for us. You’re not in that place, in the wilderness where you are, for it to bring heaviness on you. That’s not why you’re there. He’s trying to teach you something. He’s trying to teach you something.

When you say, “Lord, I just can’t take it any more,” He’s taught you something. When you finally come to the point where you say, “Lord, I can’t do it no more,” then you finally got the point. Oh, you don’t hear me tonight, today. Because He didn’t want you to do it from the beginning. He wanted control. That’s what He wants from us. That’s what He wants from you. That’s what He wants from me.

This is a message this morning to help us wake up a little bit. You see, sometime when we start to get deeper and deeper in God, we think that we don’t have to lean on Him any more. But the deeper I get, the more I’m leaning. I’m trusting Him. That’s what I’m doing. I’m giving Him control of all of me.

Everything that concerns me, Lord, You’re in control. And those things that I do not understand are going to cause all things to work out together for my good.

Come on, give God a handclap of praise this morning.

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