Wilderness Times

Like Humpty Dumpty – are you sitting on the wall? Have you fallen off the wall? Or have you gone into the promised land? “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on the one she loves?” (Song of Songs 8:5) The Bible describes us as the bride of Christ. Come out of the wilderness into the land of His promises by leaning on Him.

Are you listening to God? If so, are you doing what He is saying? The Bible says to give thanks in all things, even in the wilderness. Corrie Ten Boom’s sister admonished her to give thanks, even in the middle of WW2. At the time, she could not understand how she could do that. The officers would leave them alone, allowing them to have their Bible studies, because of the fleas.

The wilderness can be a place of great danger. It is respected and feared for its ability to destroy a person. It is also a place to meet with God. It is a place of both tragedy and greatness. In the Holy Land, the wilderness is strewn with rocks, lacks water, and harbors wild animals and thieves.

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness. David fled to the wilderness from Saul. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. King Nebucadnezzer was humbled in the wilderness. God will use the wildernesses in your life to shape you and draw you nearer to Him. Either your faith will grow, or you will become embittered.

The wilderness is a place to become humble and hear from God. “Complete your outdoor work, and prepare your field; afterward, build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27) Is your heart like a plowed field, ready to be planted by God? Or is the soil of your heart hardened, unable to be formed by Him? “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3). Wilderness times serve a purpose.

If you feel beaten down in the wilderness, know that the power of God is still at work in your life. He does know what He is doing. Thank Him, even if – especially if – you don’t understand why.

Thanksgiving

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

“Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

–William Bradford, Governor, 1623

Psalm 100 — A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that Yahweh is God. He made us, and we are His — His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

Ephesians 5

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—16 making the most of the time,  because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:

19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord,
20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

Make music in your heart to Him. Give thanks, always, for everything. Submit to one another instead of harboring criticism in your heart towards others. Thanking Jesus will make you less concerned with what other people think of you.

You might be in a situation that makes it difficult to give thanks. If so, remember the words of Jonah while he was still in the fish: “I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the Lord!” (Jonah 2)

Thanking the Lord before the problem is solved shows we trust Him. Thanking Him demonstrates our need for Him.

14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 5)

“12 Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible,[a] comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

16 Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5)

Being thankful protects your heart! It will bring you joy, and it will bring Him honor.

“When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10)

Daniel had already established an attitude of thanksgiving so that when trouble came to him, he was able to continue on in the same manner.

“Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied.” (Matthew 15: 36-37)

Jesus gave thanks for the food before He multiplied the food for the crowd of thousands.

A thankful heart becomes more humble… trusting… patient… forgiving… Thank Him in all things!

Hope

“Hope prolonged is making the heart sick, And a tree of life [is] the coming desire.” (Proverbs 13:12, YLT)

Prayer is like weight-lifting. You start out small, and grow to meet greater demands. In prayer, we grow in faith and hope. Hope is not simply wishing. It is expecting. Sitting and wishing will not get you anywhere.

What seems hopeless today? The economy… elections… severe weather… homelessness… disease…

In Joshua 2, Israel had waited in the wilderness long enough that the previous faithless generation had died off. Joshua and Caleb were preparing to lead the people into the promised land and had sent in spies to investigate one last time. Rahab was a harlot who helped the spies, and they wanted to save her from dying when they took over.

17 The men said to her, “We will be free from this oath you made us swear, 18 unless, when we enter the land, you tie this scarlet cord to the window through which you let us down. Bring your father, mother, brothers, and all your father’s family into your house.” The scarlet cord is a picture of hope – Rahab hoped that the cord would be seen and remembered. Her life depended on it!

24 Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8, HCSB)

How many times in a day do we say, “What if…?” How many times does the enemy try to steal our hope this way? When we pray, we need to hope expectantly. The answer may not look like what we desire, but it will be something greater.