Sunday, January 29, 2012

Receive the Wilderness as a Sacrament

Every Christian goes through periods that can be aptly described as wilderness experiences. Regardless of who admits it or not it is a reality of all who journey the path of the cross. These are times where either God’s presence seems to virtually disappear, or where God’s direction does not seem available regardless of how earnestly we seek it. John the Baptist ministered in the wilderness. God brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness. And Jesus Himself battled the devil in the wilderness.
The wilderness can be a place of despair, but it can also be a sacred place of seeking a deeper and more committed relationship with the Father through the Lord Jesus and the power of the Spirit. In the wilderness the water is not so readily available. Spiritual food must be sought with diligence. And we cannot lean on the expected presence of God. And our emotions cannot be used inadvertently to augment the power that should define our spiritual walk. The wilderness is an opportunity for all who will see it as such.
It is in the wilderness where God reveals Himself as the I AM. It is in the wilderness where we see water come from a Rock, which is later revealed as Christ. It is in the wilderness that God gives the designs for the Tabernacle which is replete with shadows and images of the coming Messiah. It is in the wilderness that God’s people learn of blood sacrifice. It is in the wilderness that God grants a glorious peek into the Land of Canaan. And it is from this wilderness that the very first step into the Jordan River is taken. God uses the wilderness for His glory!
It is in the wilderness that the Lord Jesus quotes God’s Word to the enemy of our souls. It is in this wilderness that Jesus is tested and remains sinless and unmoved from His redemptive mission. It is in the wilderness that Christ repels Satan and orders Him to depart!
And those who wish to follow in the footsteps of Jesus should not be surprised when they lead through some kind of wilderness experience. And when we find ourselves in such a wilderness we cannot lose heart nor leave our passion to follow Him. Many false teachers suggest that every wilderness is of the devil and God desires to rescue you immediately. Of course they suggest money will motivate God to do this.
But they are liars and must be rejected out of hand. God can and does use the wilderness to mold His followers into the image of His Son. It is not a place of destruction but a place of instruction. Because of the compromise and even apostasy of the western church many believers have found themselves in a wilderness and looking for a divine direction. Have patience, and quoting from the Princess Bride, “You rush a Miracle Man and you get rotten miracles!” We need to learn patience and absorb the glory of the fellowship of His sufferings.
Deut.8:2-3 - 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.
he Lord our God will never leave us nor forsake us, but His ways are not our ways. But we must always remember that during times of testing, and even suffering, the Potter is molding His precious human clay into a vessel that shines forth His glory. Those who desire only times of earthly pleasure and prosperity are being molded into vessels that shine forth the fallen glory of this temporal existence. But those vessels who have gone through the fire with their eyes upon Him have the image of the Redeemer burned into their souls.
II Cor.4:6-7 - For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
Jam.1:2-4 - My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
I pet.1:6-9 - Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Receive the wilderness as a sacrament before the Lord your God.

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