Tag Archives: wilderness

I Have Planned This

Life isn’t usually rainbows and butterflies. Often there are moments when we wonder what God is actually doing. What is the plan?!? We look at the storms around us, and because we do not think like He thinks, we cannot grasp what He is doing. This is where faith comes in play.

When the Israelites were actually sent away by Pharaoh to go and worship the Lord, it seemed as if finally, Pharaoh was releasing them. But God then tells Moses that Pharaoh will have a hardened heart yet again, and he will chase after the Israelites. God tells Moses this is something that He planned so as to display His glory.

Today, you might not understand what is happening in your life or in the lives around you. The plan you imagined is not the one that is unfolding. You may be unsure what is going to happen next. No worries—we aren’t made to know these things. We were made to glorify God. Trust in His plan. Press onward, clinging to your faithful Father. He will see you through. Continue to point to Him. To Him be all the honor, glory, and praise!

“Then the Lord gave these instructions to Moses: ‘Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!’ So the Israelites camped there as they were told.’” – Exodus 14:1-4 [NLT]

 

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Get Behind Me

Once as I was reading Matthew 16 aloud, my daughter advised me that verse 23 was her new favorite verse. In this verse, we read, “Get behind me, Satan,” which she thought would be a great thing to say to Satan to tell him to back off. There was a brief pause after she spoke, and then I advised her that Jesus was not even talking to Satan; he was talking to Peter. She was amazed. Why was Peter called Satan?

Yes, Jesus spoke like this to Satan as well. When we look at Matthew 4, we read of Jesus’ time in the Wilderness. After the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit led Him into the Wilderness. Satan tempted Him in three different ways, each way resulting in a response with God’s Word. Satan tempted Him with power, prestige, possessions, and pleasure – the same temptations we face. When He was tempted to bow down and worship Satan, He responded, “Be gone, Satan,” which sounds a lot like, “Get behind me, Satan.”

The reason Peter heard these harsh words, “get behind me, Satan,” was because he was speaking about going against God’s Divine plan. Jesus had just spoken about what was to come—His death—and Peter was against this plan. When Peter heard what Jesus said, his response was “far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (v. 22 ESV). He couldn’t understand what needed to be done, and when he rejected God’s plan, he became a stumbling block.

When I read today’s verse, I consider Jesus speaking this to you and I as we reject the plans of God. Are there moments when we become a stumbling block? Are there moments when Jesus is saying to us, “Get behind me, Satan,” because we are not walking the course set before us? Let us continue to dig deeper into His Word, to walk closely with Jesus, constant in prayer, so that we can keep our steps aligned on the path of God’s plan, and by doing so, may we never be a stumbling block to God’s plan.

“But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” – Matthew 16:23 [ESV]

“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.’”” – Matthew 4:10 [ESV]

More Than You Can Handle

Does God ever give you more than you can handle? That is something people debate often. Many times I hear that God will never give you more than you can handle. This is often said when we are going through something tough in life like a loss of loved one, a painful illness, or an employment layoff. As we suffer and look to friends with our tear-stained faces, we hear the somewhat comforting words, “God never gives us more than we can handle. You’ll get through this.”

When I hear these words, I consider 2 Corinthians 1:8, where it says that the people were “crushed and overwhelmed beyond… ability to endure.” They were suffering. They believed they would not live through it. I consider Job, who lost it all—family, financial resources, health. Could you handle this? Would this be more than you could handle? I know some were not able to make it through. I know some who could not take it anymore. Why do we think we should be able to face all of this, that we can handle anything thrown our way? It is not that easy. We shortchange ourselves believing it is that easy. Instead, cling to the Father.

The Bible does not say that God will not give you more than you can handle. The truth is this world is a dark place and you may find yourself drowning and unable to cope. What the Bible does says is that God “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” In 1 Corinthians, it says that God “will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This is talking about temptation, not about pain and suffering. This is saying that when we are tempted, there’s always a way to not succumb to the temptation. We saw this demonstrated. While Jesus was in the Wilderness, He responded with the Word of God when faced with each temptation.

Today, you may be facing something very difficult. You may not think you can make it through it. Whether it is too much to handle or just getting the best of you, know that you have a Heavenly Father Who is the Comforter. Cling to Him. Remind yourself of His promises. Surround yourself with those strong in the faith and be in continuous prayer. This great burden is temporary my friends.

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8 [NLT]

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 [ESV]

He Will Carry You

Eleven years is a long time. I remember that day like it was yesterday—the day when plans changed. I realized something I always knew, but came to know more deeply—that I was not in control—that there would be moments when it didn’t matter how hard I tried, I would fail. Things changed that day. Over the years, I have held to this truth—that God carries us through.

God carried the Israelites through the Red Sea and through the Wilderness. Though they were knee deep in disobedience, He provided. He did not abandon. He was the reason the Red Sea parted. He the One Who provided the manna, the water, the quail. He was the One Who illuminated the sky with a pillar of fire. In the same way, He carried Joseph. The Bible says He was with Joseph, even through the darkness of prison. He was with him. He is with us too.

God is the love of your life and mine, whether you realize this or not. He loves you more than anyone else can possibly love you. He created you. He formed you. He provides for you. He watches over you. He has a great plan for YOU. He is the love of your life. Today, boldly declare His Word. Walk with confidence. His Word tells us that through Him we have victory. Live victorious my friend. He will carry you through.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8 [NIV]

You Have Lacked Nothing

You Have Lacked Nothing

Today’s verse speaks of a time when God’s people were wandering around in the wilderness. Even when they were not always walking with their eyes fixed on God, even when their hearts were easily swayed, God provided for them. During a time when they grumbled and complained again and again, God still made sure they had everything they needed. He provided them manna. He provided them fresh water. This verse speaks truth – they “lacked nothing.”

For those reading this right now, it is quite possible that you can boldly claim these same words – that you have lacked nothing, that God has indeed provided for everything you need. Oftentimes as we fix our eyes elsewhere, we might become forgetful of this truth. But we have lacked nothing. We have been fed. We have been clothed. We so often show little gratitude for the many things God provides us for daily.

Today let us remind ourselves that we have lacked nothing over the years. God has provided for us and He has provided in abundance. Let us not overlook this great blessing. Instead, I pray we are able to live a life of gratitude, a life that appreciates all of the blessings that He pours out upon us. We are blessed so very much. Thank you Jesus! Let us be blessed to be a blessing!

“For the LORD your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the LORD your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.” – Deuteronomy 2:7 [NLT]

Responder

God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. God has done the work. We respond. It is very simple but we often trivialize it. If your relationship with God is based on works, then it is not the relationship God intended for His children.

As I said before, you cannot earn your way into heaven. Today’s passage speaks of getting in step with God. How do we do this? “By letting Him set the pace.” We cannot run the parade but so often we try. Notice the verse says “anxiously trying.” We only try and then fail because we never were in control and we will never be in control.

Letting Him set the pace is difficult. Being a responder is a challenge. It means we must humbly obey. It means we must wait patiently. It means we must walk in faith. Like Abraham who believed God, so must we. Like Moses who walked in the Wilderness for years, so must we follow the path set forth for us. I pray that if you haven’t already done so, that you get your life in step with God. Let Him set the pace for the parade.

“So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.” – Romans 3:27-28 [MSG]

The Good Things of Egypt

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, there came a time when they wanted some meat. The Bible says that the people who were with them traveling “began to crave the good things of Egypt” and they joined in with this desire. They were slaves in Egypt. They were treated harshly in Egypt. Yet they shifted their focus from what they now had to what they lacked.

When you focus on what you do not have, you will find that you act very differently than you would with your focus aligned on God and His blessings. These “good things of Egypt” included nice food, but it also came with poor treatment in slavery. It also included living in a sinful area surrounded by people who did not follow God. The Israelites focused on what they lost—the little good that they had in Egypt—instead of looking at what they now had thanks to God.

We do this as well. Next time you find yourself complaining—next time you are grumbling in the wilderness—shift your focus. Remember what you have thanks to God.

“Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed.” – Numbers 11:4 [NLT]

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Trusting the Power of God

This weekend I had the opportunity to teach two classes, one on trusting God and another on the power of God. These two topics are so vital to each of our lives, and yet we all have some difficulties in these areas.  Recently, the husband of a friend of mine was in dire need of a liver transplant. With a congenital liver disease weakening his body, many people would have considered that hope was lost. Family and friends joined together in prayer.  The Bible says that we must ask and believe, and then we will receive (Mark 11:24, James 1:6). The family organized a group, continued to stand firm in their faith, and clung to God during the storm. As family and friends trusted God, uniting together in prayer, they were able to see the power of God at work. He received a new liver and doctors were amazed at the miraculous transition they witnessed, something that couldn’t be explained except as the power of God.

These people trusted God to provide, but we all have moments when we have a problem with trusting God. To trust God, it means that we abide and rest in His goodness—that we trust that He protects, embraces, and surrounds us with His compassion and His favor. It is important to understand that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). It is important to remember the many promises of God—promises we can only know about if we read His Word. Psalm 34:10 says that those who seek God will “lack no good thing.” Yet, why are we so tempted to seek elsewhere, to try our own methods, to think that we could have something better doing things another way?

In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted three times. Each of these temptations represents temptations that we each face, temptations of: power, prestige, and possessions. Each time, He responded to the devil by saying, “It is written.” It is so clear to see the power of God’s Word at work.  In Ephesians 6, we are told to stand firm and put on our spiritual armor, which includes the “sword of the Spirit, which is word of God” (v. 17). Do you have your armor on? Are you daily arming yourself with this sword?  See each of us has the ability to tap into the power of God. We have His Word. We as believers have His Spirit. Yet it is apparent that so many people do not use what is right before them.

Is it a trust issue? Do we not trust the character and promises of God? Do we think we know better? Do we not have the time to read God’s Word? Do we believe we are fine as we are? There are so many possibilities, but each answer is simply an excuse—an excuse to not accept the love, grace, mercy, protection, favor, direction, comfort, and will of God.  As we make these excuses, complaints and grumbling follow. When will we get it? When will we reach forward to the hand that God extends to us?

I told my students this weekend that we must not simply remember “it is written,” but we must also remember another short and powerful statement made by our Lord and Savior. We must remember “it is finished.”  We have victory thru Christ, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). We need to live right now as if we have this victory. We need to stop allowing the world to get the best of us, and cling to this victory that we already have in Christ. We need to trust Him and trust in this victory. In doing so, we would live very differently. We need to learn not only to trust God’s character and the promises in His Word, but also to live by them each day of our lives. As Burl Ives sang, “O victory in Jesus, My Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.”  The song goes on to speak of singing a song of victory one day in heaven, but I think we should start singing this song today, as we trust God, as we cling to Him and His Word, as we hold tight to the power of God. Surely, we have victory. Let us trust in Him and open our eyes to His power which is at work even today.

Nothing Can Penetrate This Armor

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 [NIV]

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Temptation is something everyone has faced at one time or another. If anyone says they were never tempted by anything, I think it would be fair to be a bit distrustful of the individual. Even Jesus was tempted. I have lost track of the temptations I faced in the past few days. It seems when we are most vulnerable, Satan is always there lurking, waiting for us to break down. Jesus was fasting — He was hungry. I’ve gotten very little sleep this past week — I am tired. These types of scenarios are only a few of the ways Satan tries to sneak in the ideals that appear desirable.

It’s important to take a look at the cycle. The cycle begins with the temptation that Satan puts before us. If we are tempted and we falter, we have sinned. Sin leads to death per the Law; however, thanks to the grace of God, it does not end there. God gave us His only Son so that we are able to be redeemed. Only with God are we able to have redemption.

Some people have a problem with understanding temptation. I often hear people saying that they believed God was “testing” them. God does test us. He tests our faith in Him. However, temptations are different because they are evil. God has no part in evil. He may allow evil to persist for a period of time for a particular purpose (ex: transformation, glorification); however, He does not throw evil at us. He does put us through trials, not evil. Trials help to build up our faith. Temptations attempt to steer us away from following God’s Law.

It is important to know that as God allows us to be tempted by Satan, no one is being forced to sin. No one can say they had no other option. Jesus has proved that any temptation could be refused. Also important to note, is that Satan is very limited in what He is permitted to even use to tempt a person. Remember the story of Job. God did not bring evil upon Job, but He allowed Job to experience the evil that Satan brought. The entire time, God was in control. God knew what would happen. God did not allow Satan to snuff out Job. God never gives us more than we can handle. He knew what Job could handle.

God always provides a way out of every temptation. If we look at the temptations that Jesus faced in the desert, we discover that Satan used various human needs to tempt Jesus: the physical needs (hunger), the emotional needs (security), and the psychological needs (power). I think it’s important to remember that Jesus had supernatural powers, so when He was tempted, He had the option of making the choice to take things into His own hands. Even though He was fasting, and food would have been very tempting, He didn’t cave in to His desires. What was His secret?

If you read about the temptations Jesus faced in the desert (Matthew 4), you will find that with each temptation, He used Scripture to overcome a temptation. Scripture? Well we have that– so why are we not stopping at the temptation? We need to know Scripture. I am not saying we must necessarily memorize the Bible word-for-word; however, daily reading and Bible study allow for us to have God’s Word written on our hearts. We get to know His commands and the Holy Spirit does some miraculous things as well. I also think it’s important to mention prayer. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, more temptations came His way. His love of God’s Word and His continuous prayer kept Him strong to defend against any temptation that crossed His path.

Maybe temptations seem unable to be defeated. Perhaps our miscalculations of their strength allows us to falter. Lets not forget that Jesus never fell for a single temptation, and therefore was the only sinless human to walk the earth. We have a wonderful example, a great model for how to handle temptations in our own lives by looking at His life. Scripture and prayer are both important. I like to say I wear the “Armor of God.” If you have read Ephesians 6 before, you would know that the armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Don’t ever think something can get the best of you. You are always under God’s protection– put on your armor.