Luke 3:22 As He came up out of the water, the voice of God spoke audibly from heaven saying, "You are My beloved Son, I am well pleased with You" Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan (His baptisim) and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
Most of us, given a choice, would actually resist going into a barren, empty, romote wilderness, yet that is exactly what God chose for His Son.
Often, new levels of Spiritual growth and insight are followed bybeing ushered into a wilderness experiences…. This will be true as we enter each new level of blessing in this year ahead. God goes beyond “show and tell” and moves us into the realms of “reveal and experience”….
Jesus embraced this barren setting as a positive process in His ministry, rather than a negative experience to be dreaded.
The question we are asked in all of this is…. ”will we allow God to use our time spent in the wilderness as a means of empowering us in a greater measure”?
We are continually faced by great opportunities that are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems….
Jesus Continually Returned To The Wilderness to prepare Himself and draw strength and wisdom from the Father…
Luke 5:15–16 “But so much the more went there a fame abroad of Him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. And He withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed”
The greater the demands on His life, the more Jesus headed for the treasures only found while in the wilderness.
The Bible, gives us many examples that illustrate what God can accomplish in our lives through the wilderness experiences.
When Israel was held captive in Egypt, God said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say, ‘Let my people go three days’ journey into the wilderness’” (Exodus 3:18).
Little did they know that it would become a place of incredible times in God’s presence and His miraculous provision for them. Here they would experience God’s glory and His might as He fought for them and gave them one great deliverance after another.
To avoid the wilderness, is to avoid experiencing the supernatural…
Exodus 14:3 “Gather together the chariots and the weapons because we are going after them. They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in (trapped them)” That’s what the Devil always wants us to believe and wrongly interpret what God is doing through the wilderness…what Pharaoh thought would destroy them, only strengthened and equipped them!
GOD REVEALS THAT HE IS JEHOVAH JIRAH, OUR PROVIDER, IN THE WILDERNESS
Exodus 16:15 “And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna (we’ve never seen anything like this) for they didn’t know what it was……..” We must trust God in the wilderness, because we usually don’t know how to interpret what He is doing in our lives…
Jesus fed the multitudes in the wilderness…. It is a place of weaning us from other dependencies that are not of Him. In the wilderness, He wants us to once again, rely upon Him as our main source… The greatest hindrance to faith is self reliance…The wilderness strips you of self reliance and demands that you lean on the everlasting arms….
The wilderness IS A PLACE OF TRAINING FOR BATTLE. God is teaching you to bring down your giants that want to separate you from the blessing, and steal your promise through the wilderness training….
1 Samuel 17:37 The same LORD who delivered me from the Paw of the lion and the bear (in the wilderness) will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" Deal with your monkeys and God will give you a gorilla!
God Establishes Us In The Wilderness
David was hiding for his life, in the wilderness, at Ziklag, it says….
1 Samuel 30:6 David was greatly troubled. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. Another version says “iron entered into his soul’
It was in the wilderness that the Apostle Paul was established in the Christian faith, and was equipped and anointed by God…
Listen to Paul… Galatians 1:17 (After my conversion) I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into the wilderness of Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then, after three years, I went to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.
GOD USES THE WILDERNESS TO BREAK STRONGHOLDSfrom off of our lives…
The nation of Israel cried out for release from Egypt’s bondage, and their deliverance came to them, walking out of the wilderness, In the form of Moses…who was shaped and prepared by the wilderness for such a time…
Psalm 74:14, tells us that the spoils of victory (the crushing of the head of Leviathan) will be given to the people of the wilderness.
GOD WILL BRING HIS WORD TO YOU IN THE WILDERNESS
You can coast along on the Logos word, but you begin to dig down for the Rehma word (the specific God breathed, word for your specific situation) when you begin your walk in the wilderness…When Moses went up to the mountain of God, he was needing a Rehma, God breathed word, and he received a word etched in fire, by God’s own finger!
THE LORD’S BRIDE (the believers in Christ) WILL BE FOUND, COMING OUT OF THE WILDERNESS, To be gathered unto Him…
Psalms 84:5 Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. V.6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, (dry, barren wilderness place) they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. V.7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
I want to share the testimony of a young man in the bible. A fine, vibrant, young man who has kept himself unspotted from the world. He was a young prophet with a promising career! He dedicated himself to serving the Lord….. Hosea had reached the time in his life that the Lord had carefully prepared him for marriage. And the Lord said unto him, "All right Hosea, (his name means deliverance), I have a wife for you!" Hosea says, "OOOOh boy, which one Lord?" "Is it that pretty thing over there?" “No” "Mary?" "Sally?" "No?" “is it sweet Caroline” “No”… it’s " Bertha the stripper”? "....say that again, Lord… "You want me to go where?" "Lord, that's the red-light district!" "That's the worst neighborhood in the city!" "What is my wife doing there?" "OK, OK, OK, Lord, I'll go, I'll go, Lord!" "But, this better be good!"
Hosea 1:2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hascommitted great whoredoms, departing from the LORD.(something is happening that is bigger than Hosea, or Gomer, or the circumstances they find themselves in)
Hosea 2:14-16 Therefore, behold, I will draw her with that which she cannot resist, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her vineyards in the wilderness, and the valley of Achor (the place of trouble) for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, says the LORD, that you shall no more call me Baali, but you shall know me as Ishi.
You know, when we live clean, and try to be separate, and keep ourselves for God’s purposes and plan, we think that God will take the thorns off of all the roses in our lives….. So, Hosea says "Which one Lord?" "Her?" "Why, she's a... a... uh...(choke, cough)...a loose woman, a harlot, a tramp, you don't want me to marry her….(is there anyone else up there I can hear from)?" "What are all the other prophets going to say?" "I'm going to be disfellowshipped, what about my reputation, Lord?!"……..
Hosea, is about God taking you out where you would never have chosen to be, if you were doing the choosing! This is about God revealing himself to Hosea and how he feels about compromising Christians….
And the real miracle is not that he married her. He did marry her, but that’s not the miracle! That was obedience, that was submission and subjection! That was saying yes to God! But the miracle was when HE SAW HER HE LOVED HER! "Oh God, I never thought I could feel this way!" "If you would have told me that I could have feelings for somebody like her I would have said “get thee behind me devil........" When’s the last time you went to bed weeping for sinners, and groaning out of love for souls?
"I'm thinking about her all the time, she's on my mind!" "Everybody says I'm crazy, they don't want me to marry her, and they say she won't be a good wife for me! "She’s messed up, but I love her!" "Gomer......Gomer...... your name means complete, but you have never really been complete!" "My name, Hosea, means deliverer, and I have come to make you complete!" "Take my ring and come on over to the house of deliverance!
He loved her. Love will make you put up with things that you never thought you would put up with!
God was trying to get somebody to understand what It’s like to love someone who doesn’t love you back, to love what He loves, and to weep over sinners, and those who may even hate you! He was trying to get us to understand what He had gone through to reach out to the unwanted and unloved, and He used Hosea as an illustrated sermon to make us to know the height, depth, and the breadth, and the length of the love of God!
Have you ever been in a place where your promise was also your problem? Nobody could know it, because you put on the face, and you look like you should look! Gomer here, represents God’s people who are not truly committed to the Lord….and there’s a conflict going on in her spirit! She is restless, Hosea has been good to her, she feels guilty, she's trying to stay in the house, where she knows she belongs, but she is restless! She even had several children while she’s with him, but she was restless!
*…She started disappearing for long periods and coming back with weak explanations! She kept staying away longer and longer, and he was taking care of the kids and doing the things that she should have been doing. Then Hosea began to notice that the kids didn't even look like him! Later the test will tell us that they were children born of her wanderings, her meanderings, her affairs! The first was named, “He’s probably mine”, the second was named “I think he’s mine”, and the third was named “I know he’s not mine”! And yet he still took care of them like they were his own!
How many things have you birthed that God didn't have anything to do with? But He still took care of them because they were yours! How many choices and decisions have you made that God didn't tell you to make and yet he blessed you even though it did not look like Him?
Then, One day, Gomer went out and she didn't come back! Mrs.Complete, Mrs. “all that”, went out and left Mr. Deliverance in the house! What makes the prodigal son end up in the hog pen, the backslider slip, slide back into bondage, and what makes us lose our peace, joy and our fervency, and turn into ordinary,complacent, church folk when we used to be praisers and worshippers and people who had passionate love for God?
"Gomer......Gomer.....you should have been back by now!" Maybe there is somebody you know today, that should have been back by now. They've been gone too long. I know theysay they have many reasons, but they’ve been gone too long! They’ve been making those same excuses for a long time….
Down by the market place he heard Sounds like one of those human auctions. No need to look over there. Just a bunch of pottery and junk and a few sex slaves to be sold.
Jesus said, "You worship what you do not know, but the hour cometh and now is, that they that worship Him must worship in the spirit and in the truth, for the FATHER SEEKETH such to worship him"
The search is on, God is looking for somebody! The Bible saysthat, "the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth looking for someone.........."
He is looking for Gomer, her name means complete, and she hasn’t lived up to her namesake yet!
Judas, the one who sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, had a name that meant “God be praised”. And Jesus never gave up on him, but he refused to live up to his name, and with all the effort of heaven, he spurned it all… The Father God was so committed to find the wayward children, that He came wrapped up in Mary's womb of flesh, searching for His love! Looking! And searching! "O Jerusalem.............how often would I have gathered you as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you would not..." “I am come seeking to save that which is lost!
Hosea couldn’t believe his eyes after all he had done for her… "Oh God, she's up on the slave table!" "What happened to her?" "There's mud all over her clothes, her hair is matted, her clothes are torn!" "That can't be the dress that I bought her!" "She looks a mess!" "What is she doing on that slave table?" "That's my wife!" "I know she looks bad, I know she's dirty and muddy, outside and inside, but you don't want her anyway, you don't think she's worth anything, you wouldn't give anything of value for her, but I will! How much does she cost?" "What does it take?"…. "I'll give it everything I have just to hold heronce again!"
I would give anything to hear her say “I love you”, once again!
Hosea was willing to buy something that was already his, and pay more than the asking price, but that's what redemption means, you know!" To re-deem, to buy back, to buy out of the slave market place, to get her again! God is declaring in this story, I want them back! I’m the redeemer.
That's what He did for you and me, and that's what salvation is! When I couldn't get to Him, He came to me! When I couldn't find him, He found me! When I was locked up and tied up in my sins and in my bondage, and I didn't know how to get out, I tried to be somebody else that I couldn't be, but when I blew it He said, "Just be still, I'm coming to get you!"
He said, "I'm going to raise you up." You’ve been down low, but I'm going to raise you up! I know all about you, and nothing is hidden from me but I'm going to bless you anyway! I know you been unfaithful, but I love you! I saw it all, but I still love you!I'm going to raise you up!
That's what makes a real worshipper, into a worshipper! When you understand that God knows all about you, and He loves you anyway, and He says He is going to wipe your tears away from your eyes! He’s going to lift you back up again! He’s going to clean you up, He’s going to raise you up! He’s going to be your deliverer and set you free!
Well Hosea, paid more than she was worth, and came up close beside her and he lifted her off of the auction block and he took her away from those who did not see her potential and her possibilities!
"There have been times when You couldn't find your way out of this, but He has said, I’m going to take you by the hand, and pull you out...."
God will pull you out! When you’re down, He will pull you out! When nobody will help you or make an effort, He will! Your identity is not your circumstances, you are not a slave, you are more than your habit, you are more than your childhood, more than your pain or problems, and God has sent a deliverer! The deliverer is going to make you complete! When you were what you were…and you were less than…. He called you complete, when you felt like a nothing and a reject, before you saw any change, the deliverer came to make you complete! He pulled usout!
Hosea said, "Is this how you feel about me, God?" "You mean you’ve been loving me like this?" "When I was wrong, andmessed up?" "Lord, I never knew how much you loved me!" "I'm sorry I hurt you!"
Hosea pulled Gomer out of the mess she got herself in….. Just like you and I, did not get out on our own, He pulled us out! Touch someone and say, "He pulled me out!"
When he got her out he said, "I am going to give you the valley of Achor for an inheritance, I am going to restore everything that the devil took away from you!" Achor means calamity transformed to blessing. Trouble turned into joy, and despair into hope.
He told her, " When you were still a mess, I washed you and I cleaned you up, I justified and sanctified you, now I am going to glorify you!"
She looks at him and says, "Alright, you own me, you bought me, I'm yours fair and square, whatever you want me to do, I'm your love slave, I'll do it Baali!" (Baali means; My master) That’sabout obligations, duties and requirements….. So, he says to her, "I didn't buy you to enslave you, so you would just change masters…..I bought you to set you free!" "Woman, thou art loosed!" He said, “you are used to people doggin' you and abusing you!" "I don't want to be your Baali, don't call me Baali, you shall call me Ishi!" (Ishi means; My husband, One I am intimate with) "I am not your master, I am your husband, I am a covenant keeping God!" " I am going to be everything to you!" "Whenever you need me, call me Ishi, for I am your husband, I have intimate knowledge of you!"
When people want to know how you were blessed, tell them Ishi did it! Single ladies, and single again ladies…
You’re not looking for Baali, let me tell you, Ishi is your man! God wants to be known by the ones He created for fellowship… He wants us to know His intensity, His passion, His intimacy, and His power.
Oh the price He paid for us…..He's going to be smitten as a sacrifice for sin and for transgressions. He's going to be wounded, and bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement shall be upon Him, and by his stripes mankind will receive healing.
Some of you have been invited! And you can't figure out what is going on in your life! You have been invited into the miracle of the wilderness! There's some things that you can't get out of a book, a tape, Greek or Hebrew, you just have to go through it. The further you went into it, the more you understood some things about God you would not have understood any other way!
You have become part of His wilderness miracle!
He wanted you to know patience, so He exposed you to problems!
He wanted you to know power, so He exposed you to pain! The only way He could teach you what He needed to teach you was to take you through those things!
This Corona wilderness is a time of amazing opportunities everywhere you look. The things which are happening now, are the greatest creators of open doors so you can present the eternal message of hope and faith. Be vigilant in all of this and seize the day. Every believer has the answers to the questions the world is asking. Start by listening and ask the key question, "Can I pray with you"......
This wilderness you’re in is about moving you from Baali, to Ishi.From “Master” to “My beloved”…. the one who knows you like no one else does and is completely committed to you, and is with you all the way through.
Let me paraphrase some of the 23rd Psalm as I close…
“Yea, though I walk through the wilderness of shadows, You arewith me. You anoint me with your wilderness anointing. You set a banquet table before me with all I will need. You cause my cup to run over. Surely goodness and mercy shall be the angels you set before me, and Your presence will go with me all the way”!
The apostle Paul tells us… “Having done all stand therefore, and see the glory of God!"