Going Through The Wilderness

Rev. Paul Price

 

When you read the Old Testament, the majority of it is God’s dealings with Israel in the wilderness, and then dealing with them after they’ve crossed Jordan into Canaan. They were under many, many leaders, and there were evangelists, if you want to call them that, prophets that brought Israel back to God from worshipping idols. It seems like they had a turn in their mind. They’d always turned to idols, it seems. But since Nehemiah’s day, I don’t know what happened, it seems like all Israel has never forsaken the fact that there is only one God. They seemed to establish something from that time until now. But I am using this to explain something to you tonight. When you become a Christian, the patterns, types and shadows of our Christian experience are in the Old Testament. These things happened in the Old Testament for our own examples, and for our admonition; to teach us something. It’s important that you realize that this old book is a good Book. It has a lot of good lessons to teach us. You may wonder, “Why did God lead Israel into the wilderness? Why didn’t He just cut right across?” He said, “Because you are going to face the enemy, the
Philistines.” They were a powerful people and God was fearful of Israel turning around and going right back. So He took them the long way around. The scripture uses this word, “And the Lord led them about,” which means He didn’t lead them straight through to the land, He took them a way around. You ask why? We are about to find out. As a young convert coming to God, I can remember, when I was filled with Holy Ghost, and baptized in Jesus Name. I started to walk with God and was full of excitement, full of the thrill of the experience, but ignorant of what was ahead of me, and what was required. I had no idea. And so I began to realize as time went on, that there’s some part of my old nature that thought I had a handle on Him, and then all of the sudden the feeling kind of left, the exuberance kind of left. And some of the excitement kind of left. And then in the old flesh, things begin to come up, and they begin to look better than they ever looked before. And then you begin to wonder, “What’s taking place?” Don’t be deceived. We all go through that. Nobody escapes that. We all go through the wilderness. The purpose is to teach you that God is your all in all. Jesus Christ is your all in all. And so He’s going to take you through the wilderness to teach you some things. The wilderness is where you really realize that you had a carnal nature, and you really realize that you were REALLY in sin. You realize that the arm of temptation, or sin, is pulling on your mind to get you to think and rethink it over again. That’s why you need to put your foot down and say, “Lord, I believe.” Believe the Word of God. Put your finger on the chapter. I don’t feel a thing. But devil, and flesh, you read this verse. The Bible says He’ll never leave you nor forsake you. You say, “But I don’t find Him. I don’t feel Him.” That’s alright. He’s here. He hasn’t forsaken me. He’s
the God I serve. Quote that scripture to the devil. That will help you because when you reaffirm the Word of the Lord, it convinces you and the devil you mean business. Now, if you want to get through the wilderness, learn to hear His voice early, and He’ll lead you through it. You’ll get through quicker.

In Hosea 2:14, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her vineyards from thence, and the valleys of Akor for a door of hope. And she shall sing there in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” I want you to notice the Lord said, “I will allure her into the wilderness to speak comfortably unto her.” He’s talking about Israel. When God brings you into the wilderness, He does it to speak comfortably unto you. You thought He wanted you to go through a parched desert with old mesquite brush and everything. No, He wanted to speak to you in the wilderness. I want you to hear His voice in the wilderness. Start listening to the voice of the Lord in the wilderness. Start believing that God’s going to say something to you in the
wilderness. It’s dry and parched, yes, but I’m listening for the voice. And the Lord’s arm of mercy and His comforting hand is what makes the wilderness an experience that brings you and God nearer together than anything in your life. If you can grasp the importance that when you feel discouraged, or when you feel
the lowest, or whatever it may be, it’s a shame that we should be such weaklings to let little old feelings throw us around. We ought to stand up and put a foot down and tell the devil and the flesh, “You’re not going to turn me around. I’m established.” What happens is this – while you are waiting for that comfortable sound it takes a lot of patience, it really does, to hear the voice of the Lord. He was in the desert, in a cave, and Elijah heard the still, small voice. Did he hear it the first day? No. Many days passed by. Then he heard it. I’m here to tell you, you will hear it. YOU WILL HEAR IT! There’s a voice that comes from God to your own heart, and I want you to hear that voice. Open your heart in prayer.

In the Song of Solomon there’s a little statement made that refers to the wilderness as well. It says, “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” I want you to notice that when you come out of the wilderness, you should come up leaning upon the Lord. There is a lesson here, and you should be able to grasp it. And that is the wilderness was never meant to be a place where you didn’t talk to the Lord. It was never meant to be a place where He didn’t show His love for you. It was never meant to be a place of sadness and discouragement. It was meant to be a proving ground. It was meant to be a place for the Lord to reveal his care, his love, and his kindness to you in that circumstance, in the wilderness. Did you notice that in the wilderness everything is already provided for you. It’s already provided for. That’s why it’s difficult sometimes, when the Lord’s trying to teach you how to be able to draw water out of your own well, and you have been so used to having the Lord give you water out of a rock. It came so easy. It seems like when you came into the Lord’s house and were filled with his Spirit, it was a gusher that just
filled and thrilled your soul. That’s fine, that’s great, that’s wonderful.

But did you ever think about the fact that the Lord gave you that as a gift. Did you ever stop to realize that that artesian well can be sung to, can be opened  up and the fountains of the deep can be opened to where your soul reaches out? And that is taught to you in the wilderness. You’re taught to be able to have
sufficient supply. No matter what it was, God supplied every need in the wilderness. Your clothes were provided for you. Your shoes were provided for you. Your food was provided for you from heaven. And the water was supplied for you. You lacked nothing. The Lord said, “When you went through there, you lacked
nothing.” The only thing that suffered was the carnal man. It’s hot on the head. It’s sand on the ground. The weariness of eating manna every day. And the way of the wilderness was not beautiful. It was not lawns and trees. It was scrub and sand and rocks. It didn’t look good. But the Lord was trying to teach us that He wanted to be the lover of our soul. He wants to be our manna from heaven. He wants to be our drink in the wilderness. If we could learn that it’s not to drive you from God, but to bring you closer to Him. Sometimes we get spoiled and  we say, “Preacher, tell me something to make me feel good. Prophet, prophesy smooth things unto us.” But when you fall in love with your Savior, if you really love somebody you want to hear them talk. If you really care for somebody, you want to get an expression out of them. And the Lord wants the return of an expression back to Him when we’re in the wilderness. Then we can
say, “Lord, as long as you’re with me in the wilderness, I may have sweat running down my face, my feet may be tired of walking but to have you by my side makes heaven on earth for me.” Don’t think it’s some strange or unusual thing. God didn’t mean it to be that. You don’t need to make it that. Now Israel, what
does the Lord thy God require of thee? This is what He asked them in the wilderness. He said, “This is all I require, to fear God, walk in all of His ways, love and serve the Lord thy God with all of thine heart and with all soul, And keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I have commanded
thee this day.” He mentioned that that’s what He required. You can do that in the wilderness. In Deut. 8 he says these words, “AII the commandments which I commanded thee this day shall ye observe to do that ye may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swear unto your fathers. And thou
shall remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness.” Don’t forget it. What did the wilderness do to you? It humbled thee, proved thee to know what was in thine heart, whether thou couldest keep the commandments, or not. And He humbled thee, and He suffered thee to hunger, He feed thee with manna, which thou knewest not. Neither did thy fathers know, that He might make thee know that man does not live by bread only but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord thy God. Your raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell these forty years. Thou shall also consider in thine heart that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chastens thee. Therefore, thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” I would hope that you would go back and read those verses again. I’d like to help you to see that God is trying to get you to learn how to walk with him, how to talk with him, how to live with him. The scripture tells me that He loves me enough to care for me. He’s going to feed me, supply my needs, he’s going to chasten me, he’s going to care for me, he’s going to speak comforting to me. This is all done while I’m going through the wilderness.

Now, I have had different ones express various things about how they felt. The five senses are what we live by in the natural. And we get so used to those five senses that if we can’t find the way with those senses, we seem to step back out of the way and say, “I don’t know what’s happening. I can’t figure it out, Because my five senses can’t tell me what’s going on, I am confused.” Then you take your confusion and multiply into it how you feel. You can feel completely miserable. You can actually feel restless, in turmoil, in frustration. And all of that’s true. But, in reality, what is happening is an unrestful feeling. It’s a turmoil feeling. And the Bible says the Lord wants to give you rest in the wilderness. Now to get that into you is going to take some doing. That’s why you can’t be discouraged with yourself while you’re going through it, because you don’t feel content. You feel miserable, you feel frustrated, and all that goes with it, But mark it down, if you’re going to nerve the Lord, make yourself love Him. Don’t wait until you want to love Him. Make yourself love Him. I command my affections towards my God. I make my flesh say He is my God. Don’t let your feelings dictate how you feel. I’m not saying it’s not real. The flesh and the mind and the feelings have a great bearing on us and how we react. But, if you can realize, God speaks beyond the feelings to
tell you that He’s able to give you the strength that you need to be His child. Just humble yourself and just keep on walking. You may not feel like walking, but keep on walking. You’ll walk through the valley of the shadows of death. Don’t stop walking. Keep on walking clear on through it. How do you feel? If you
test your feelings you might back off on a lot of things. You know how to teach your feelings how to feel? You tell your feelings, “I’m going to feel good about this.” You tell your mind, your head, yourself, “I’m gonna feel great about something. I’m not gonna allow myself to go into that mood again.” What do you
do with that mood? Rebuke it, and say “I’m walking through this in the name of the Lord, and I’m loving God all the way through it.” You have to go through the wilderness. You can’t bypass it, you have to go through it. Just make up your mind to go through it with a lot better attitude than you had last time. Make up your mind, “I’m gonna make myself.” When you feel like you don’t want to do something, you back off and that’s it. I know it’s not easy, It is not an easy task, But you have to come to the place somewhere, “I can’t let the circumstances take me like a whip and beat me back and forth at will. I’ve got to take command of it in the name of the Lord.”

I want you to know, the wilderness is not meant to be a lonely place, though it may make you feel lonely. The Lord said, “I want to speak comfortably to you in to wilderness. I want to give you a good, cool drink of water. I’m going to be like a rock in a weary land to you.” Sure, this world is not going to be easy to go through. There’s a lot of garbage to go through. But He said, “I’II watch over you. I’II keep you clean and holy. I’II protect you from the darts of the adversary.” There’s something about walking with Jesus on a
wilderness journey, that it is great knowing that His words are comforting your soul.

If you only know your duty while you’re going through that hard place. Just keep on doing your duty. There may not be any inspiration in it, but do what you’re supposed to do. Just do it” You’ll find, eventually, when you come out of it, that God will speak a word to you that will revolutionize your mind. I mean, the devil can oppress us, and that’s a torture to go through, but if you can just listen and hear a still, small voice that comes into your soul, there’s something about that still, small voice. It made an Elijah come out of a cave.
He’d been in that condition for days. It wasn’t just a little while. It was days that had passed. Now if a prophet feels like that I can see how we can feel like that at times. But it’s no time to quit. Elijah said, “I’m quitting!” That’s what he said. “I’m going to quit being a prophet.” Thank God the Lord didn’t accept his resignation that easy. He’s under a juniper tree. He says, “Everybody’s backslid. The whole country’s gone to the dogs. And I’m the only one that’s left.” That’s how he felt. You have to generate some spiritual fervor
to put God in notice that you’re still loving Him. Tell the devil, “I’m still serving God.” I don’t like to have to preach like this. I feel like He’s so great and so wonderful. Why am I trying to encourage you to keep encouraged? Because the flesh is a detriment to your soul. It tends to drag your spirit down. You have no excuse for that. We may go through the hard places, but we have no excuse to let anything come into our lives that puts doubt and unbelief in our spirits. You may be tested, alright, don’t forget that. But remember, He said, “I’II never leave you nor forsake you. I’m going to speak comfortably to you in the wilderness. I’m going to give you water in the wilderness. I’m going to take care of your clothing in the wilderness, take care of your shoes in the wilderness, and your feet won’t swell if you just keep walking.” The Lord wants to know, “Do you really love me?” He keeps asking that question.

“Simon, do you love me?”
“Yes.”
“Simon, do you really love me?”
“Yes.”
“Simon, do you really, really love me?”
“Yes, yes, God, I love you.”

It’s important that you realize that God needs a response from you. I’II tell you what I do. How many have ever felt like you were oppressed by the devil? The Bible says that. How many have ever felt depressed? Sure, everybody has. But let me show you something. The difference between oppressed and depressed – oppression is an outside pressure that the devil brings upon you; depression is the inside of my mind putting me in a downward position. We have it. There’s no question about it. Some folks say they’ve never been depressed and others say, “I’ve had to fight depression.” It can be physical, it can be spiritual. But I’ve discovered that when that great remorse comes, your mind is heavy and it’s not picking up anything here, and you can feel like you have no energy, no care. I can relate to that. But my mind says, “I know I feel rotten,” but there’s a Holy Ghost that says He’s going to renew my mind. Sometimes it’s a physical change that comes in your body. Sometimes people go through an operation and they come out in a heavy depression. A woman who has had a child goes through a heavy depression. That’s physical, chemical, it’s in the system. It’s from within. When the devil oppresses you, he comes from without. He may do it through a person. It may be a close connection. It may be somebody on the job. It seems like they come along and want to oppress you. They want to make it harder for you. They want to torment you and put you under pressure. That’s from without. That’s not something only a few people go through. I’m here to try to
help you to see that these struggles are because we’re human beings. We leave on the earth. These are the common things. Don’t think for a moment that because you’re Christian you somehow have jumped out of your flesh and become an angel. We’re still human. And the Lord said, “I will be your guide. I will be your
comforter. I will be your helper. And I will speak comfortably unto you.” Start learning how to hear that voice of the Lord. When you feel bad, start learning some lessons. Don’t wait until you get over it because you won’t know what you’ve learned. You say, “If I go by my feelings, I’II jump off the bridge.” Yes, there’s times the devil will encourage you to jump off the bridge. All kinds of thoughts go through your mind. And there’s always that sweet little feeling, “If I could somehow just be able to vanish and be gone, and get out of all this.” But you don’t. You’re still here. Whether you’re Christian or not, you’re still a human being. Where you used to use dope and drugs, and partying, and trying to blank your mind out, and trying to blank everything else out, and try to have a good time in the world, and spend yourself, you’ll end up in the
hospital like that boy with two gunshot wounds in him. He’s going to die unless God intervenes. No matter what we go through as a human being, Jesus said, “I am able to make you able to go through it.” Don’t get the idea you can’t go through it. You will go through it” When there’s gonna be a birth you can’t back out.
“I’ve changed my mind.” Too late. There are some things you HAVE to go through. I don’t think we should be babies about it. Now, it’ll hurt. Some people really suffer, and they really go through a painful experience. There’s no way to get help going backwards. You must make up your mind, “I’m gonna keep walking. Eventually, I’II walk out of the valley of the shadows of death and I’II walk in to the divine garden of his glory and his presence, and the Spirit of the Lord will be my strength, and be my Comforter, my helper. He’ll supply every need I have.” The wilderness has to be gone through before you can get to Canaan. Whatever it takes to go through it, pay the price. Go on through it*

The wilderness is that carnal nature that I have coming up in front of me so I can choose whether I am going to obey that or obey the Lord. Israel, in the wilderness, was constantly up against that. Those adults that were over twenty years of age, every time they had a hard spot, they talked about organizing and
going back to Egypt. The young ones, twenty years old and under, we don’t hear anything of them until after the forty years is up. When the forty years is up, and all the old timers are dead, in the wilderness, they talked about a land that was filled with milk and honey. They talked about a land that was filled
with grapes, pomegranates, and almonds. It was beautiful. Whenever they got over to the Promised Land, they felt like it would just be given to them. The Lord  told them that every inch of ground their foot touched was theirs. He never just hands anything to you. You have to possess. And when you possess it, you declare war against the inhabitant of the land that you’re going to live in. You declare war against all the adversaries in that land. This land that you’ve got right here, declare war, and be able to clear it away so God can rule and rein in our lives. The Bible said that when they came to Jordan, Deuteronomy was written as Moses rehearsed it from the very beginning of his ministry. He said, “God is going to take Joshua and lead you across. I’m only going to lead you this far.” But he told them over and over again, “What has happened in the past should help you have faith for the future.” Israel was a people that had been raised as
slaves for generations. And they got into the land of the wilderness, but they never could get out of that slavery attitude. They couldn’t become soldiers. They were just slaves. And they murmured against Moses like they murmured against the taskmasters, and against Pharaoh. They did that their whole lifetime
and they died in the wilderness. Only two survived. Joshua and Caleb. That’s all the old men that there were when that forty years was up. There was nobody older than Joshua and Caleb. Think about that. They had all those young people converted to faith. The Bible said that Joshua had all of those twenty years and
under in that day, now they are sixty years old, but they are full of vigor and youth as though they were twenty. Those people that saw all their generation die in the wilderness, they never got out of that. God doesn’t intend you to always live floundering around, making a big deal out of the feelings. After a while,
you’ve got to get up, plow some fields, plant some corn, fight a giant, kill a bear, and kill a lion. You can’t just sit back and cry and say, “Boo hoo. I just feel bad today.” Get up and go. Get your sword. Go to fight. Go to battle. Win the victory. After a while, you can lay down and rest a while. In the land of  Canaan it was a spiritual warfare, in which you had to become the aggressor. And Joshua, reviewing what you would call his troops, the leaders of all the tribes, said, “the Lord said for us to cross Jordan.” Now, that’s the big step. Jordan’s over its banks. It’s not the time to cross Jordan. You can’t jump it. It’s big. And this multitude of people have come to that river just like they came to the Red Sea forty years ago. You see, God keeps proving every generation. He’s going to prove you and your generation. He’s going to reprove the children’s
generation. You’re going to all face your Jordan. You have to cross it. Joshua, before he went to cross it, called these leaders in of all the tribes, and laid out the plans. These men that were leaders, said to Joshua, “Everything you have commanded us this day, we shall do. Any man that will not obey your command,
they will be put to death.” When you’ve got agreement and honor enough behind you so that the men that stand with you against the flesh and devil, you will conquer it. But if we’re going to flounder around and listen to some of these little old philosophers try to philosophy and listen to all of that, then you can stay on that side of Jordan. We’re crossing Jordan. Not everybody that left Egypt got across Jordan. They died in the wilderness. They didn’t make it. They died. But those that were gonna make it had made up their mind that they were going to live for God. And so they said, “Joshua, whatever you command, we will do.” Do you see why it was so easy when they must marched around Jericho thirteen times? Name me one person that complained about that. The Lord told Moses to tell the people to go across the river, and they stood and began to murmur and complain. When they got out three days journey beyond the sea, they began to complain, “There’s no water.” These people didn’t complain about what they didn’t have. They had confidence in what they did have. They had a promise. They had a God. They had a sword. And when Joshua gave the command the day they were to go across the Jordan, he said, “Everybody take a bath, clean your clothes, get things ready, pack up, get ready to go.” And when the priests took that old ark and put it upon their shoulders and went out there, and when their feet touched the waters, old Jordan stood back. It was day of glory. It was a day of victory. Those old timers that died years ago in the wilderness would have delighted to see that day. But they would have said, “I don’t believe it.” It’s about time we started believing God and quit talking about the folks that don’t believe it” The wilderness journey is to prove, do you believe it, or don’t you believe it? I have never to this day been plagued by people that
didn’t live for God. When I was a teenager and some of my friends left the Church, and didn’t serve the Lord, if never bothered me. I felt sorry for them. I never felt sorry for myself. I never did feel like I was missing something leaving that world out there. I never felt like I had to go back and get anything out of the world. It was gone. The biggest thing I had to deal with was my own nature. That’s why when you cross Jordan you ought to settle it. We didn’t cross Jordan to go back, we crossed Jordan to conquer every king in this country. And Joshua did well for a long time. He got rid of thirty-two kings. He should have kept on going with it. He got rid of that many of them. And when you begin to fight the devil and get rid of a lot of your habits, and a lot of your old nature, and get it put under the blood, just thank the Lord in the name of
Jesus. But when you wake up, you wake up in the desert. In the wilderness. You begin to wonder what it’s all about. The Lord’s going to teach you how to fight. He’s a God of victory. But He’s got to have a soldier. He’s proven it over, and over, and over again that when people listened to His voice, they conquered,
they overcame. This is a day when God needs soldiers that can identify themselves and salute the captain. There are a lot of stories of various campaigns of war, of where they burnt the sailing ships and said, “We’re not going to go back until we conquer the land.” They burned the bridges, “We can’t cross. We’ve got to fight,” and so on. Well, by the help of the Lord, I’ve burnt the bridges, I’ve burnt my boats, I’ve put my foot on the ground called the Ground of Promise, and I’m standing on that ground. I’m still happy with it. I’m
thrilled with it. It’s the best thing that ever happened to my life. To me, it’s still joy unspeakable and full of glory. I love the plan of God, I love the way of the Lord, I love what He does, I love His Word, I love the ministry, and I love the saints. I feel in my spirit and my soul that I haven’t got much longer to wait to hear that trumpet sound, it’ll happen before long. I want to meet Him in the clouds of glory. I’m not waiting just for that day. I still say it’s time to fight a good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal things. I’m thrilled
about the things I’m learning about God in these latter days.

These latter years of my life (I’ve been preaching around fifty years) I’m more in love with Him tonight than I was in the very beginning. I’m more convinced than ever, He’ll never leave me or forsake me. I’m more determined than ever to learn to know Him better, and to fellowship His presence. I’m not going to spend my time trying to convince the gainsayer, let him go. I’m not going to spend my time to argue with the world, or carry some placard out here to some worldly political scene. I’m in love with Him, and by the grace of God, that kingdom that He’s got for me, that’s where I’m going to find my place. I’m a citizen of another country. I’m just passing through this one. And all I ask you to do is let me go through it. That’s all. I’II let you go ahead and have your bars, and have your booze, and have your dancing, and have your parties. I’m just passing through your world. What you’ve got, I have no need of. You can have it all. But there’s on thing that I’m looking for. I’m waiting for a bright day to come with a shout of glory. And I’m going to hear a voice out of the heavens. That will be my day. This is not my day. If the Lord tarries, I want
you and your children to be solid as a rock when I go.

I know in whom I have believed. He is everything the Book said. Living in Canaan is so much better than living in the wilderness. Come on across. Come out of the wilderness. What is a wilderness? It’s where you made up your mind and told your flesh that you’re serving Jesus Christ. And flesh, I’ve crucified you
in the wilderness. I’m going to walk in the Spirit of the Lord. I’m living in the presence of the Holy Ghost. I’m serving the true and the living God.

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