Darrel Turner - Going Forward - 2011

Exodus 14:15 – “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” We can be assured that every time the Lord speaks to us, it is a message to go forward; He will never speak a message to us to go backward. Many voices, and our own human nature, only have a message to go backward but every message we hear from God in this convention is a message to go forward in His will, where there is deeper, richer blessing. Moses spoke this to the people but the message came from God. I appreciated that David has already encouraged us to read God’s word. God has different ways of speaking a message to our hearts. He speaks to us as we gather like this before Him, and it is a message from Heaven. He speaks to us when we bow our knees in prayer and come humbly before Him. He also speaks when we read His word because all that we read in the chapters of God’s word is a message from Him, through His prophets, His servants, through Jesus’ life and ministry.

I will never forget when I was exercised about going into the work and I finally had the courage to write to the overseer in our province. He wrote back, “I would like to meet you.” I didn’t know him because he had recently come to our province from another province. He was an older man and I went in fear and trembling. But they were fears that I didn’t need. I found a very gentle, wonderfully wise man and these are some of his words of advice. “When you begin in the ministry, don’t worry about the preaching.” That was a great relief to me because it was one thing that scared me out of my wits! But he said, “Get acquainted with God’s word.” It is when we get acquainted with God’s word and seek to feed our own souls that we will hear the voice of God to our hearts and it will be a message to go forward.

It is good to understand the situation this day when God said, “Go forward.” Do you know what was in front of them? The Red Sea. There was no way forward. Behind them was the army of Pharaoh, and it was not a friendly army. It was an enemy army seeking to destroy them. Where to go? The message was to go forward, but where was the way? God opened a way where there was no way. If we are willing to take a step in faith, He opens a way as He did for these people. I am sure many of them would have felt, “This is the end.” Have you ever come to a situation like that? But what seemed like the end to them that day was just the beginning of a journey with God. We will come to situations where God asks us to do something and it seems impossible. But what seems like the end to us is just the beginning with God. God opened up that sea and they went through on dry ground.

Paul wrote about that. I Corinthians 10:1 – “I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” It was a tremendous experience for them and what we want to experience is to be baptized unto God by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and by the baptism of water. I Corinthians 12:13 – “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” That experience of the children of Israel is a type of our baptism. The baptism of the Holy Spirit comes first, just like Paul said. When they left Egypt, the cloud overshadowed them and led them. In their beginning steps with God they experienced the wonderful provision of God and they proved the keeping power of God. Then they came to the Red Sea experience and that is the way it should be in our experience. The baptism of water will mean nothing to us if we don’t know the baptism of God’s Holy Spirit first. It comes before the baptism of water and continues after the baptism of water. The word “baptism” means to be completely immersed, and these people were completely immersed in that cloud as it protected them. We want to be completely immersed in the Spirit of God, fully led by the Spirit of God in all we do, then we will know the blessing of God in our walk with Him.

So, they went through the Red Sea and there was a journey ahead. The waters just came back again and what did that do? It separated them from their old worldly life in Egypt forever. If we are led by the Holy Spirit then the baptism of water, when we understand what that baptism means and we are willing for it, will separate us from our old worldly life and we will keep going forward with God. When they got through that water, then what? They couldn’t jump on a train and head for the Promised Land; it was a journey of steps with God. It would be an overwhelming thing if we could see it, that big body of God’s people taking steps towards the Promised Land. In two years’ time, they were right there at the Promised Land. Numbers 13:1 – “Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.” Those men brought back evidence of the goodness of the land. They picked a cluster of grapes so big that it took two of them to carry it between them on a pole. Wonderful!

I love the beautiful picture we have of that in Ezekiel. Ezekiel 20:6 – “In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands.” God picked the best for His people. He looked over the earth that He created and couldn’t find better, and that is what God has promised us if we will go forward with Him. “A land flowing with milk and honey.” Butter comes from milk, and it is one of the richest foods we could eat and we have experienced that with Australian butter; it doesn’t get much better. Honey is sweetness and that is what we are going to experience. There is nothing richer than the love of God and nothing sweeter than the peace and joy we have when we walk in the will of God, in obedience to His wonderful will. But this was the Promised Land; it is not Heaven. They had enemies to fight there, but there are no enemies in Heaven. Some disobeyed and lost out, but there will be no disobedience in Heaven. So this is a message to go forward, deeper into His promises for us and it gives us a little foretaste of what God has planned for us through the countless ages of eternity. Twelve men went up and came back with this beautiful sample of what was there, but ten of them said, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” Numbers 13:20 – “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, 'Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.'” Caleb, that dear man of God, said, “Go up.” He calmed the people. The message was still to go forward but there were only two, Joshua and Caleb, out of all those people and Moses wasn’t able to turn their hearts.

So, they were right there in the Promised Land; they had journeyed and proved the help of God and they were ready to enter deeper into His blessing but, no, they stopped. Why? Hebrews 4:6 – “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.” Revelation 21:8 – “But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” This is a whole list of people that will never enter Heaven, but their place is in the lake of fire, that is hell. The two types of people that lead the whole list is the fearful and the unbelieving.

I appreciated the message of faith yesterday. There is something we need if we are going to go forward, and that is faith. Hebrews 12:1 – “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” If you read through the book of Hebrews you will understand the sin that so easily besets us is unbelief. I see many times where my progress has been hindered and I have hesitated because of unbelief, not trusting. When we don’t trust, that is unbelief. Many, many things confront us as we walk with God and give us the feeling in our hearts that we can’t do it. That is unbelief. We need faith and we need the love of God. They feared the enemy in the land but, as Melanie was telling us, perfect love casts out fear.

There is something else that is very important if we are going to go forward. Exodus 33:13 – “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.” This is Moses speaking. God said, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” What did Moses answer? “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Moses understood how important it was that he had the presence of God with him. We won’t go forward without the presence of God and if we go in our own will and according to our own thinking, the presence of God will not go with us. If we don’t have the presence of God with us, we will be going backwards and that is a horrible destiny that we never want to experience. Going forward gives us a destiny that God has planned for His true people.

Deuteronomy 1:42 – “And the Lord said unto me, 'Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you.'” When the children of Israel turned away from God, the message was, “Go not.” The reason He wasn’t with them was that their hearts were filled with so much unbelief and they turned away in hardness, so He couldn’t be with them. God cannot be with a heart lifted up with pride. But they went up in their own strength anyway and the enemy came down and destroyed them. If we are going to go forward, we must have His presence with us.

The Lord said to Moses, “I will give thee rest.” We experience rest when we have the presence of God with us. In spite of the enemy that is all around us, we can have rest and peace in our hearts. That is a marvelous thing, if God is with us we can go forward with rest in our hearts. If we don’t have peace, we need to examine our hearts. If there is no peace and no rest, we are not going forward. Exodus 33:16 – “For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us?” That is how we know. “So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.” The presence of God gives us rest and separation from the world that would like to swallow us up. We have to live in this world, but we want to be separated from it. We don’t want to be going where the world is going and living the way the world is living. So, if we are not separated, what does that mean? God isn’t with us and we are not going forward. If we are walking with the world, we will talk and think and look like the world. But when we walk with the Lamb of God, we will talk and think and look like the Lamb, and that is going forward.

Deuteronomy 2:1 – “And we compassed Mount Seir many days.” They weren’t going anywhere, just going around in circles. Have you ever gone around in circles? Sometimes we meet mountains in our experiences: the mountain of self will, of self pity, of unforgiveness, of discouragement. All we are taken up with is the mountain and we go around and around the mountain. “And the Lord spake unto me, saying, 'Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.'” That is what the Lord wants to say to us. We don’t want to be taken up with those mountains, but we want to leave those mountains behind and go forward to know the blessing of God.

I Kings 19:3 – “And when he saw that, he arose and went for his life.” In the previous chapter, we find the great victory that Elijah had but here we read of him fleeing for his life, feeling very alone. He came to a mountain and while it should have been a mountain of help, it was just discouragement. Vs 9: “And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, 'What doest thou here, Elijah?'” I appreciate Elijah very much as a dear brother, and I can put myself in his shoes. There have been times when it was the same for me, when I was taken up with a mountain of no value that hindered my progress, and the Lord said, “What are you doing here?” Elijah had an answer. He was all alone, he was discouraged and all he could see was himself. Three storms came. There was the terrific wind that broke the rocks, then the earthquake, then the fire. But God wasn’t in any of those storms. I believe God wanted to give Elijah a little picture of where he was and these were like self inflicted storms. His own thoughts were like the wind, imagining how it was when it wasn’t that way at all. The earthquake was shaking his confidence and the fire was destroying his zeal for God, but God wasn’t in any of it. Afterwards, the still, small voice of God spoke a very loud message to Elijah. Vs 15: “Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus.” The Lord had work for him to do; there were two kings and the prophet Elisha to be anointed.

Matthew 5:23 – “Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew 18:15 – “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” This is a similar message but the opposite situation, but both times the message is, “You go.” It is your responsibility to go to your brother and make it right. Sometimes if it is the one that is offended, there can be a mountain of unforgiveness. There is nothing that hinders progress more than going around the mountain of unforgiveness. Go and make it right.

If a man offends another man, there is a wall between them and fellowship is hindered. One is praying about it in his home and the other is praying about it in his home and the message God gives is, “Go.” They get up and meet and it is all taken care of. What gift do we have to give to God? Just this little life of ours, but it won’t mean anything to God if we have anything against a brother. Make it right and come back and offer your gift again.

There were two brothers in Christ, good friends who had fellowship together, and the two families went on holidays together. But something came up between them and destroyed fellowship and hindered the unity of fellowship in the church. It was a very difficult situation and nothing was happening. Each of these men had a daughter and these girls were very good friends. They never let the problem between their fathers hinder their friendship and fellowship. The two girls were traveling together in a car and another driver ran into them and one of these girls was killed instantly. The evening before the funeral, I was with the family and there was the casket with that dear 16-year-old life, snuffed out. The other couple came with their daughter. When they came into the room there were some tense moments, but that couple and the living girl went up to the casket. The tears started to flow and that big man turned to the father of the girl who was gone and they hugged and wept on each other's shoulders. The problem was all gone, but what a price to pay.

We don’t need to wait for something like that to happen to bring us together. Jesus, our Lord and Master, gave His life. What did He say? John 12:32 – “And I, if I be lifted up from this earth, will draw all men to me.” If there is a problem like that, we want to meet the One who has given His life for us, at the foot of the cross. How could we hold any unforgiveness in our hearts there? Go, make it right and there will be progress. Matthew 28:19 – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” This was a message from the Lord to His apostle ministry. If the message comes to our hearts to go, we want to go.

John 12:20 – “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast . . saying, 'Sir, we would see Jesus.'” Andrew and Philip told Jesus and what did Jesus say? Did He say, “Wonderful, I would like to see them?” The first thing He said was, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” It seemed like such a strange answer, but I believe Jesus was saying, “I am going – you go.” How could they go? By dying as a grain of wheat. That is how we go forward in this ministry, by dying to the natural side and it is wonderful when there is fruit. I heard a wonderful story in New Zealand and it touched my heart deeply. A handsome young man came out from Ireland to the Taranaki district and fell in love with a beautiful lady. Then two sisters came with the Gospel and he was moved to go and take this message to others. Six weeks before their wedding, they broke off their engagement. The young lady’s father had financed them a farm but they put it all aside and that young man went into the ministry. The young lady also offered, but didn’t have the health to go. She remained single unto her dying day to encourage him to keep going. In 1921, Willie Fullerton left the beautiful country of New Zealand and went to the harsh winter climate of Canada and Stanley Watchorn followed in 1924. It was Stanley Watchorn and his companion who brought the Gospel to my parents. Some years later I had the privilege of sitting in Uncle Willie’s Gospel meeting and that was my opportunity. I thank God that they were willing to go forward and die like a corn of wheat, and that is why I have the privilege of being with you folks today. The message of God is to go forward and that is where the richer, deeper blessings lie.