Tag Archives: Wilderness

Numbers 31:48-33:56

Have you ever thought about those 40 years of the Jewish people wandering in the wilderness? I had this picture in my mind that families just woke up each day and followed the large group ahead of them, traveling first north and then south, now east, and then west. I thought they may have even found themselves back at a previous camping spot before the fire embers had died out in front of their relentless pulling up of stakes.

Yet, looking at a suggested map drawn from Moses’ written account (Numbers 33:1-49) of the starting points of their travels, I am impressed with a belief that in every step and every encampment, God was leading His chosen people to the Promised Land. And during this journey, the families were having babies, their children were growing, the warriors were fighting inhabitants of these foreign lands, the priests were serving God, and Moses was judging and instructing the people. Aaron and Miriam were buried along the way, and God raised up new leaders to take the place of Moses who died at the journey’s end. The Israelites may not have been able to see around the next huge rock formation, but they continued the journey, nevertheless.

Sometimes it is hard to see where God is leading me. I can look back at my own wanderings and wonder at the numerous places I’ve lived, the trials and tragedies, the miracles, and the remarkable blessings of God. Has my journey, thus far, just been meandering in the wilderness of sin (yes, I recognize the similarity to the Exodus), and so a purging and punishing walk? That is one perspective, and one that leaves me deflated with little joy in the Lord.

The bigger picture here, however, may be encapsulated in a short phrase found in Numbers 34:53. “…for I have given you the land to possess.” This is what God emphasized to Moses and how Moses was able to encourage the Israelites to keep moving. God gave them the Promised Land, and all the journeying and conquering along the way prepared His people to possess that land. Their faith refined; their obedience demonstrated; they learned reliance on Him.

What is the Promised Land to us today? Is it a place, a position, or an accumulation of material gain? Or is our journey leading us closer to “the letting go” of all that interferes with knowing Him? – With a real desire for intimacy with God, and reliance on Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit? Each starting point (His compassions fail not and are new every morning) can begin again the next step to being closer to His heart’s desire – that “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,” (Deuteronomy 6:5, NASB) I pray to continuously follow Him. What a picture – we, hand in hand, walking with our Lord!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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Deuteronomy 8; Psalm 91; Isaiah 36; Revelation 6

What did I learn in the wilderness? What did I learn in the wait?

Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, NLT)

Deuteronomy 8 is very special to my family. It is deeply meaningful, and I read these words in the space of “after.”

“So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. 10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:6-10, NLT)

Remember how the Lord led you through the wilderness? Remember how he humbled you and tested your character? He taught you. He taught you–we live. We live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. He is our provider. Remember and write it down–what you learned in the wilderness, what you learned in the wait. Do not forget it.

In Isaiah, representatives from Assyria come to Judah to intimidate and plant seeds of doubt.

These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. 17 Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.

18 “Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? 19 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? 20 What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?” (Isaiah 36:16b-20, NLT)

In a practical way, Judah is presented with an option to make peace and they can keep their lifestyle. Assyria appeals to comfort and safety–but what is the cost?

Lord, I sit with these words, a feast. You lead me deeper into relationship with you, and I pray fervently for focus. You capture my attention, and I linger here and wait.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 9-11; Matthew 4

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:12-15

I gave birth to my precious daughter Serah two mornings before. We were both doing well, but the crazy surge of post-partum hormones was making me an emotional basket case. I spent much of the night crying, uncomfortable and lonely, and feeling foolish for being so miserable.

It was the second time I had given birth while my husband was on the other side of the planet continuing ministry in India while I was on baby furlough (we are still praying for the finances that will enable us to apply for the visa he needs to visit the US again). My parents and my oldest daughter were in Maryland and wouldn’t be coming to the hospital until later in the day. And, the girlfriend who stayed with me overnight the first evening had to leave the afternoon before.

Though it was peaceful without the hustle and bustle of visitors and trips to the NICU that I experienced with my first child, that 24 hour period felt a little too isolated for my liking. I was feeling lonesome and deserted. I wanted someone I loved to be there, to sit with me, to care for me.

Aware of bitterness knocking at the door of my heart, I prayed. I laid my heart open for my Heavenly Father to see, unveiling the sadness, the loneliness. I cast my cares at His feet and asked for serenity I knew only He could give.

At that moment, I looked out of the window of my room. Hovering over the bridge rainbow-juliet2912leading to City Island in the midst of the Susquehanna River was a double rainbow. I had just enough time to grab my phone and snap two pictures before everything disappeared. The second, faint arc vanished even before the camera app opened.

In those same flashes, I heard God’s voice whisper promises into my ear. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. You are never alone.” He used this double blessing as a reminder to me of His covenant, a bond sealed with the blood sacrifice of His Son. It ministered to my need.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11

When I think about Jesus being alone in the wilderness for 40 days, I can only imagine how He felt. I would have been shattered, my heart susceptible to temptations, my mind willing to believe the lies that the enemy hissed. I was on my own for a day and I was a wreck, even with my newborn in the room and the hospital staff in and out every few hours.

Jesus stood strong, and even though His body was weakened, He KNEW that He was not alone. He held on to the Truth. The Word of God fortified Him. Those Words gave Him the strength to withstand His test and the might to send the enemy away. And when the enemy left, the angels tended to Him and gave Him what He needed, just like God did for me when He painted His rainbow in the sky.

Yesappa, Thank You for always being there for me; and for reminding me of Your presence and Your promises in the midst of my struggles. Thank You for ministering to my heart and giving me peace. Help me remember to stand strong in You when the enemy comes against me. Bring Your Words to my mind and help me use the Sword of the Spirit to prevail. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)


Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Deuteronomy 5, 6, 7; Luke 3

the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. Luke 3:2b NKJV

I am in a wilderness, feeling isolated from people I know and care about, surrounded by people who don’t speak my language, who live in a different cultural paradigm. I chose this wilderness and entered it willingly in response to the call to ‘go’. But more than that, right now, I am in a wilderness, spiritually, a place we as believers never really desire to be.

As a mother to a one year old and pregnant with baby number two, I have found myself in a place where ‘quiet times’ don’t exist. Reading the Bible has taken new meaning as I can get about one verse completely read before my daughter’s giggle, cry, or stinky diaper interrupts. And at this point, forget about getting up early because sleep is still not even in my nightly vocabulary. I have found that the only place I can be alone is in the bathroom, and that is only if I remember to lock the door and put earplugs in. My prayers happen on the fly and usually are one liners that often contain the phrase: “Help me Holy Ghost!”

When I read these words: the word of God came…in the wilderness, I experience a renewed sense of hope and encouragement. Though it has been a while since I have heard God’s voice loud and clear, and had time to bask in His presence like I have in the past, I do hear that still, soft whisper periodically and I am reminded that I am not alone, not even in my feelings of wilderness.

One of my first encounters with wilderness was as a new believer. The time was so dry. I felt like God was so far away…I couldn’t hear Him, feel Him, sense Him. I trusted that He was there, ever present, because He promised that He would never leave me nor forsake me. And it was pure, new believer faith that caused me to press in even more instead of run away.

Then, my brother died, suddenly, unexpectedly, heartbreakingly.

As I moved through the various stages of grief, the Lord began reminding me of that wilderness time. In the midst, even though my experience of God was different than what I had known before, I began to see that He had still been ministering to me and even preparing me for a tragedy that He already knew was going to happen. My preparation, my wilderness, had given me a strength I never had before and it taught me to lean not on my own understanding, but to fully trust in Him.

The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. Deuteronomy 5:4 NKJV

Even in the midst of the Israelites’ wilderness, God was there, as a cloud, as fire, as a rumble in the mountains. He provided, nurtured, protected, and made covenant with His chosen. He talked with His people face to face, loved them, and called them a special treasure. And, after a season, He brought them out of the wilderness, into their promised land, just like He will for me.

I am looking forward to my promised land, and in the midst of the wilderness, I will not quit pressing into Him, even if we have to meet in the bathroom.

Yesappa, though the wilderness is never a fun place, it is a place I will choose to be glad to be. Help me to trust you more, to seek you more, even in the midst of the busyness of life and motherhood. Thank you for the grace you give me during wilderness times to survive, learn, and eventually thrive. Thank you for talking with me face to face, for loving me, and calling me your special daughter. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India

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