Monday’s Blog: Ignite The Fire In Your Spirit – The Wilderness

We continue our series on igniting the fire in our spirits. Follow this link if you missed any messages in this series.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

—John 10:10, AMP

Are you living life in abundance to the full, till it overflows to others? Or, are you stuck in the wilderness on a never-ending journey, going from one pit to the next?

In the first message of this series, someone commented, “I think people get stuck in the wilderness because they don’t recognize they are not living life to abundance, or just think that the abundant life is reserved for heaven. There are very few people who seem to be living the abundant life here on Earth, and most of those who do don’t broadcast the fact. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon on ‘What the Wilderness Looks Like.’ We don’t see the wilderness for the scrub-brush, so to speak. And once we recognize that we’re in the wilderness, we may or may not have a Moses or Joshua to lead us out (or, when we realize we have to fight our way out, we go back to what we are used to).”

For the next couple weeks, I want to focus on the wilderness. This week we’ll examine why it’s necessary for us. To answer this, we first need to know when God takes us through the wilderness.

Matthew 3:16-17 says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

After Jesus was baptized and received the Holy Spirit, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1, KJV).

When I first started following Christ, life was wonderful. God showed Himself to me in amazing ways. Prayers got answered. My life began changing. It was an exciting time.

Once I saw God was real I wanted to surrender my life to Him. So I followed Jesus’ example and got baptized, again (I was also baptized as a baby). Baptism was an outward expression to show the world I was going to serve the Lord with all my heart. It was a wonderful experience for me.

After making that commitment to follow Christ, no one informed me what God was going to do next. As God led me into the wilderness, things slowly began to change. I didn’t know it then, but God was taking me through the wilderness to test me, teach me, purify me, and prepare me for His calling on my life.

I don’t believe I would have resisted the Lord’s working so much and stayed in the wilderness as long as I did had I known that God was preparing me for something greater.

Deuteronomy 8:1-6 explains the purpose of the wilderness (desert):

“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him.”

Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days. He submitted Himself to God and stood firm against the devil. The devil fled, and then angels came and ministered to Jesus and He left the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Then, the Bible says, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’” (Matthew 4:17).

God uses the wilderness to prepare us for our higher calling. If we can’t stand against the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, we won’t be able to stand against the greater attacks and temptations he will throw at us in the Promised Land. The greater the calling on our lives, the greater the responsibility.

God appointed Jeremiah “over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). When Jeremiah complained and questioned God, God answered, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5)

The Bible says that no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 2:11). Whenever I start to get down from my trials, I am reminded that my life is not my own. God has a purpose and plan for all of us. We are His vessels carrying His glory to a world that desperately needs to see the light and know the Truth.

We are encouraged to endure hardship like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:3-5).

If the Israelites would have “competed according to the rules,” surrendering their will over to God, allowing Him to work in them and prepare them for the Promised Land, they wouldn’t have wandered aimlessly in the wilderness for forty years.

“The Israelites had moved about in the desert forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the LORD. For the LORD had sworn to them that they would not see the land that he had solemnly promised their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Joshua 5:6).

Next week, we’ll look at how the temptations Jesus experienced in the wilderness were the same the Israelites experienced, and why that generation was disqualified from entering the Promised Land.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

—1 Corinthians 9:24-27

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for always knowing what is best for us. Help us through the wilderness times. Help us not to fight against Your discipline. We open our hearts to You. Work in us and train us for our higher calling. Lead us into the Promised Land, where we are completely surrendered to Your will and purpose for our lives.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen! 

 

 Questions for my book:

I would love to hear your wilderness experiences.

When did God take you through it, and what did you learn through it?

 

*I appreciate your responses. I will not use any personal information in my book (name, email, website).

 

*If you have never accepted Christ as your Savior, please click on the “SALVATION” tab at the top of the website. Don’t wait another day!

*All Bible verses are taken from the NIV, unless otherwise noted.

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