It is so beautiful to know what the Lord has planned for us. This psalm that you heard that has been a source of strength for so many for so long capsulizes God's plans for Israel but is symbolic of his plans for all people. You see God gave a little rehearsal of his big plan there with the children of Israel in the land of Egypt. Egypt has always been a type of this world, and the things of this world that God has planned an escape from. Then when He led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, He led them out following their acceptance of the Lamb. Jesus is God's lamb. But they accepted the Passover lamb. And they were to remember this every year and be reminded that they were saved because of the death of this substitute in this lamb. And God performed beautiful miracles for the people.
Several times when I read the story of Moses, I thought to myself, there was probably only one person in the whole universe that could have enough patience to work with a bunch of people like that. God has been so good to me in giving me a congregation of people that love God. They're easy to work with, if they get mad they do it off in a corner somewhere and I never hear about it. But poor old Moses, when he tried to give them God's word, why there was one fellow in particular that would stand up there and tell the people don't believe a word he's saying, he's lying to you. Do you know what I would have done with a guy like that? I would have banged his head against the wall. Then I would have got some type of a real good gag and put it in his mouth. Israel was about the most stubborn, rebellious people that have ever existed. But God still loved them. And in spite of their failings, their hurts, what they did. God said I'm not trying to get even with these people, I'm trying to help them. And so when he could get their mouths closed long enough from their complaining he said here stick some food in your mouth real fast, I am taking care of you, I'm giving you water to drink.
If God would have recorded against Israel in his books in heaven he would have certainly had a big book. But God has let us know that He does not record failure, but there are two things that brought the wrath of God. There are two things that take you out from under the covering of God. Those two things are rebellion, where your spirit rebels against God, you don't want Him anymore. And idolatry. You can read through the Old Testament and you will find that whenever Israel rebelled, it caused the wrath of God to rise up against them. And there was only one way back, and that was repentance, and someone to take the judgment that was there for them. I have four things I'm going to talk about today. One, were going to look at the times that we are living in today. Two, we're going to look at God's plans. Three, we're going to look at human response to God's plans. And fourth, we're going to look at God's answer for these things.
We today are living in the same confusing times that Moses was in. There were some of those people of Israel that literally exploded with faith and excitement with what God was doing. There were some that didn't. But our day as we know is a day of great awakening. God has rolled up his sleeves; God has sent forth the hosts of heaven. God's angels are moving through this world. People by the thousands are turning their lives over to God that haven't had the privilege of the human voice. In various parts of the world. One report that I had was that in the Burma area, there was one community of over one hundred thousand people, no person has ever been their with the gospel but some angels came in and told them God's plan. These people have the same basic gospel. They're living for God and are experiencing healings in their midst. They are baptized with the Holy Spirit; some of them have even spoken in English as God has baptized them with the Holy Spirit. And those who visited, a group from the army were so amazed. The enlightenment in caring for one another, it wasn't the heathenistic practices but the light of the gospel. The Bible is not only for the spirit. There's the soul and the body. There's the social life, there's the physical life. God made it real to these people. This is just a little example, all over the world it's happening.
Brother Elijah when he was here said that he took several trips back into the Bush country. He said he was in areas that made him shiver even though he could blend into the scenery there because as you know he's a black man. But he said even then he felt very uneasy there, but he said he came across large groups of people who were worshipping and praising God with a new life in them. When I mentioned to them what the Lord had let me see of God's plan in reaching people, he said this answered something to me. He said I've been to Bible school and I learned that people couldn't be saved unless somebody talked to them and he said it was such a puzzle to me and here they knew the Lord as well as I did, maybe even better. It was such a simple faith. He was so glad when I told him about that. This is happening today. God is moving. God has a plan. He wants to reach people. He has a backup plan. He would first of all allow us to work with Him; He's given us the right to be His partners. But because God is God and He's not going to be caught short, God has a backup plan. And he'll get his job done. God is moving by His Spirit. Oh what tremendous days the Lord has allowed us to live in. Some of you that are here today, you may not know God but there's been a drawing on your heart. God brought you here. God wanted you to feel the excitement and the life of this group of young people up here who love God. God wanted you to know that He has your name already written down and He's brought you to this place today to tell you, "hey confirm your reservation, slip your hand in mine. I already have your name written, reach out, put your hand in mine." And let new life come to you, new hope, a new horizon opened up before you.
God is doing a speedy work in people's lives. One man that accepted the Lord in my office, an LDS man, but he was away from God. Many of the LDS like many people of other faiths have already met Jesus but this man hadn't. He was looking towards works, he didn't know the Lord. God brought him in somehow and at first he was leery about me touching him because I wasn't a priest or a bishop. I told him, "well, you shake hands with Gentiles so put your hand here anyway," and so he let me shake hands with him. But God did something with this man when we shook hands. I didn't feel one thing but God somehow triggered a dynamic spark that went through this man and he jolted as an electric shock. He said, "I can't believe it, I've never felt anything like this in my whole life. I felt a current of electricity go clear through me," and he turned his life over to Jesus. Yesterday I had a call from his wife. She said he was in the hospital, almost ready to slip into the gates of heaven. Very severe coronary but he wanted me to come up. He said this touch of God, the awakening of his spirit was something that had been so real to him since he was in. He just wanted to talk to me. And I feel the Lord is going to bring him back because there is such a beautiful touch of the Lord. God is doing so many wonderful things and He's doing a speedy work. Many of you that have only known the Lord for a few weeks or a few months have grown as much in the Lord in a few weeks or months time as some people have in 20 years, because God is stirring you on. The Word is being made clear to you. You're opening your heart in prayer, you're wanting to pray for the sick and see the power of the Lord move through you. It's a tremendous thing what the Lord is doing in our day. He is creating a speedy work but He's also giving a strong growth. It's not the growth of a pumpkin but of an oak tree.
Not only is it a great time to be alive but these are also days of caution; days of great danger; days when many, many people fall into a slumber and someone next to them with this growth and this excitement and cannot come out to the services often enough. There coming to the church not only to see what new thing that they can hear but their coming because they've prayed for individuals, they've invited them, they want them here. They're excited about seeing what God is doing and there's a work that they're doing, they're not only observers or hearers but they are doers of the Word. But there is this danger of people a little more folding of the hands a little more slumber, a little more rest. After all I feel like maybe I put in my term in service for God, we'll let someone else do it. And after all maybe I get enough church once a week. And I've heard that before, why I should hear it again. There is restlessness, there is a slumbering, there's unhappiness, there's a groping, there's a lack of purpose in the midst, and it's like two rivers flowing side by side. The one with a clear cool stream, the other that is dead water that's not moving that has a stench within it. But when we look at God's plans, God's plans were never for his people to settle down and to coast and say everything is as it ought to be and I'll just coast along in this way. God's plans were that he might provide us, oh hallelujah.
This Psalm that Mike read, I was reading it in the Living the Bible and several other translations and I put down some of the things that God has planned for his people because it's God that's doing it. He's not bringing us to a place of hurt, of wait. God's plan is to relieve the pressures of life. Not to add more pressures on you. It's to relieve those pressures. His plan is to lighten your burden, not to make it heavier. But there are people who are groaning under their burden for living for God. But if God puts a burden on you He'll also make bigger muscles for you and give you bigger wages for it. His plan is to provide for your needs. Not to lead you into destitution and poverty. His plan is to provide and this is what He did with Israel, he gave them bread from heaven, he gave them water. It lasted forty years while they were there. His plan is to not rob the spark from your life but to put sparkly in it. There are many people today that say I'd give my life to the Lord alright but I have enough troubles of my own already. They've been looking at the wrong people. His plan is to care for you and to guide you through the dessert experiences. Israel got the notion; they said, "Hey Moses we're going to charge you and God together here. We're going to bring an indictment against, we're going to include you and God together. It's you and God that have brought us up out of the land of Egypt. We had the best onions in Egypt you ever saw, we can't even grow good onions out here in the wilderness. And we had a lot of garlic." But they said to Moses, "now you and God have collaborated to lead us out into the wilderness to a place where there is no water or food. Our souls loathe this light bread. And you've brought us out here to let us die in the wilderness." You see God's plan was to guide you through the dessert experience to a place that He has promised. Not to let you die in the wilderness. His plan was to stand by you, not to forsake you. As Gideon said to the Lord, "it's your fault God that we're in this spot. You've forsaken us; you led us out here and left us." God said, "Not so. My plan is to stand by you and I will never leave you nor forsake you. And you can tell the world the Lord is my helper I don't have to be afraid." God doesn't take you to heaven on a flower covered blanket and coast you along and say, "Hey angels go real easy, that person is so delicate there, don't shake it too much, take it real easy and gently. Cover their heads so the sun doesn't get on it. And make sure they only have a little baby food diet because there in pretty bad shape, they can't eat anything else. And just take real good care of them and carry them to heaven on a flowery bed of ease." God didn't plan that for you. God planned something better than that for you. Praise God. And he will see us through.
Now the Apostle Paul seemed to describe the condition of the children of Israel. That bunch of people became a wretched nation. They had everything they could ask for. There was the cloud of God's presence; there was the fire; God even brought divine water out of the rock and they had everything. But they were a wretched people. The apostle Paul, after he gave himself to the Lord, discovered that it's possible for a person to be wretched. Wednesday night I asked a question to the people here if it was possible for a person after they gave their lives to Jesus to be wretched. And I thought maybe they'd be nice and say if you give your life to Jesus everything is going to be real good and you're never going to feel bad; feeling bad is only for the unbeliever. I almost fell off the pulpit when everybody in the building raised their hands, that they've had some wretched times. And I guess it's good to be honest, that's what Paul was being in the 7th chapter of Romans. Paul said that he cried out in verse 24, "oh wretched man that I am." He said, "I can't lift myself out of my troubles, I'm trying to, but I can't do it. I can't lift myself out and the problems that I'm in. I'm wretched." We might ask Paul, "Paul why are you wretched?" He said, "I'm wretched because I'm looking at my failure, at my own hopelessness." He said, "I've tried to do some things." He said, "the good that I would do, I do not, and the evil which I would not, that I do. I don't want to do those bad things I want to do those good things and I'm just not doing it. And I'm looking at myself and the more I look at myself the more wretched I get." Did you ever do that? Wretched is one step lower than miserable. That is the base that misery stands on; Wretched. He was looking at his own failure. He said, "There's no way out. Nobody can help me." Then he looked around at other people. Misery loves company. Pretty soon you have a whole bunch of people with their heads down. Here's another bunch of people saying, "Hallelujah, Jesus is on the throne, He's coming, look what God's doing." And these poor wretched people, I know I can't make it, I'm going to have to face God with all that record of things and there's no way I can, and I've tried and I want to serve God and there's nothing to do; I'm lost. Oh yeah he forgave me of my sin alright but I just hope Jesus comes pretty soon to get me out of this mess that I'm in. Oh wretched man that I am. Doesn't that feel awful to feel wretched? I feel that the enemy is leading some people into the same trap that Paul found himself in before he got wretched. Looking at their own inabilities, looking at their lack of production, looking at their weakness, looking at other people's problems and their weaknesses, looking at circumstances that are bad that they're not able to change. It really boils down to one thing. In looking at all of these things they heap upon themselves condemnation, I'm condemning myself because of situations, because of things I've tried but I can't do it. Who will deliver me, these poor people that are down here with me can't do it, and I can't do it. Who will deliver me? But I'm glad that the apostle Paul didn't end the story there. He swung into that beautiful testimony of faith in the first verse of chapter 8 of Romans. I thank my God through the Lord Jesus Christ there is victory. I'm going to take my eyes off of my own failings, I'm going to turn them to what He has accomplished and I'm going to feel new strength coming. My acceptance of Him isn't based on what I've been able to accomplish but in what He has accomplished. And you start coming up out of it. And you stop looking at church as a burden. I'm damned if I stay at home and I'm wretched if I go. Isn't that an awful situation? But there is now no condemnation, I got rid of my condemnation when I looked and saw that Jesus didn't come to condemn me but he came that I might have life. And he condemned sin in his own body, he carried my condemnation already. I can walk, I can move forward in faith and in strength because of what Jesus has done. "Paul, how'd you get rid of it?" He said, "I got rid of it by making a discovery, not to base my happiness on my own abilities or inabilities, on my own achievement. But on what He has done for me." Praise God.
In 1 Corinthians the 10th chapter he said these people murmured and complained and he said those things were examples to us that we need not fall in the example that they did. God said in spite of how you may feel inside I have something for you if you will take it. Don't loath it like Israel did. It's angel's food. I can see some of the people as they recognized it was coming from the hand of God, boy I've never tasted anything like this. It's something you can eat every day. You can fry it, you can boil it, you can eat it raw, you can bake it, and you can mash it. It was a food you could make cakes out of. It tasted like honey and it had such a good taste. And there was enough everyday where they could get their supply. The reason why people get wretched, there are some that say I'm too lazy to get mine everyday. I'm a good shrewd business man. They get what they think is a pretty good blessing. They stick in their cuperd. But do you know what happened to that manna? It was only good for one day. The second day it was full of worms and it stunk. And isn't it horrible when a believer has an experience that stinks, and is full of worms. The thing to do is toss it out, get out where you got the other. Get some fresh. And you know Jesus you can get some fresh angels food. Turn to Isaiah. I'm going to have you underline a portion of scripture. Because the Lord brought this to me in a supernatural way. I've been reading the word for a long, long time. But I want you to know you'll never exhaust the resources of the Word. It's something fresh, there's something new all the time. But God here was speaking to Isaiah and was telling him that one of the things that Israel was guilty of was idolatry, and that all of the other things had the same thing. In going into that sort of a thing he said they were feeding on ashes. And the reason they were miserable, they were feeding on something that had no nourishment. Isaiah 44:20. If you hear someone say to you I just don't feel like going to church, I was there two weeks ago. Let's sit down here and stay at home together and talk over our troubles. You let them know that there's no nourishment in talking over the troubles. It's feeding on ashes. Here's the verse. He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And there are some deceived hearts among God's people, they're honest hearts, they're sincere hearts but the enemy has deceived them. Saying, "Hey this thing is wrong, that's wrong, we can't help ourselves, we're getting weak. Let's find some other people that look the same way and we'll feed them a few of our ashes and maybe we can get a cluster of people that will feel ashes like we feel ashes. And we don't want to come out to the Wednesday night service; after all we have a pile of ashes we better feed on instead of what the Lord is bringing in, this angel's food. We have a good ash pile here. Let's go to church today, no I'm going to have some more ashes. And after awhile these people are so weak, spiritually they don't know what they're going to do. You know why? There's no nourishment in ashes. But there's nourishment in manna. How about feeding on that manna? Don't let a deceived heart turn you to an ash pile. As long as God is on the throne, as long as the manna's still coming down from heaven. Don't feed on these ashes and here's why. "Remember these oh Israel. For you are my servant. I have formed you. You are my servant. I will not forget you. Furthermore I want you to know I have blotted out as a think cloud your transgressions and as a cloud your sins. Return to me. Get out of the ash pile for I have redeemed you." That ought to make you jump. Then he said, "don't just come to me, let the world know, sing oh you heavens, for the Lord had done it. Shout you lower parts of the earth, break forth into singing you mountains for the Lord has redeemed Jacob and glorified himself in Israel." This is what the Lord says your redeemer and he that formed you from the womb. "I am the Lord that makes all things, that has stretched forth the heavens alone, that has spread abroad the earth. That makes diviners mad, and that turns wise men backward and makes their knowledge foolish, that confirms the word of his servant and performs the counsel of his messengers. That says to Jerusalem you shall be inhabited to the cities of Judah. You shall be built and I will raise up the decayed places thereof. The places that you feel have been weakened," and so on. God will raise them up. That says to the deep be dry and I will dry up the rivers. Then he goes on telling his plan, he knew all about what was coming. But God has a message for every one of us today. Let's not feed on ashes. Let's do like Paul and when we cry out I can't be delivered, no one can deliver me. So God has to say turn your eyes to Me for I am your deliverer.