Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wilderness – Way to Spiritual Growth

The key verse to this message from God is Luke 1:80 (Amp) “And the little boy grew and became strong in spirit; and he was in the deserts (WILDERNESS) until the day of his appearing to Israel [the commencement of his public ministry].”
What is Wilderness?
Wilderness, in the literal meaning, is a wild and uncultivated region, as of forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals; a tract of wasteland. Wilderness in the spiritual sense is a state of being in loneliness, deprivation of companionship, dreariness, barrenness, depopulation, lack of abundance, uncomfortable situations, lack of safety and security, and in OBSCURITY (the condition of being unknown/ not popular/inconspicuous).

Why Wilderness Experience?
Thou shalt remember all the way in which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to afflict thee, to tempt thee, to know what was in thy heart. He fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, to afflict thee, and to tempt thee, to do thee good in thy future time (Deut. 8:2, 6).

1. In wilderness, the Lord tries us to know what is in our heart. (Deut 8:2)
2. In wilderness, our Spirit becomes STRONG. (Luke 1:80)
3. In wilderness/ in times of trials, we are formed and molded for the DIVINE PURPOSE.
4. In wilderness, we get qualified to receive blessing (goodness) from the Lord after being tested and tried (Deut 8: 2, 6).

Who were some of the people who went through such wilderness experience in the Bible?

Abraham and Sarah – Abraham was righteous, god-fearing, was having an intimate relationship with God Jehovah. Nevertheless, Abraham and Sarah were barren until the age of 100 and 90 respectively. The promise of God for Isaac came at the age of 75 to Abraham and He waited for 25 years for the accomplishment of the promise.

Zechariah and Elizabeth - “In the days when Herod was king of Judea there was a certain priest whose name was Zachariah, of the daily service (the division) of Abia; and his wife was also a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they both were righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren; and both were far advanced in years.
The couple was praying for a child for a long time and they became very old, yet the prayer was not answered until the Angel of the Lord visited Zechariah and says that their prayer was answered. Luke 1: 13 “But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

Hannah: She was the wife of a man named Elkanah. Elkanah had 2 wives one was Hannah and another was Penninah. Penninah had children and Hannah had none. Hannah was going a through a wilderness of barrenness and reproach. “and the LORD had closed her womb. Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year.” I Samuel 1:6,7

Joseph: Joseph is a well-known bible character who went through wilderness experience in his life. He was hated by his brothers because of their envy, was separated from his father, sold as slaves to strangers, spent his precious time of his youth as a slave doing all kinds of chores. He exhibited loyalty, sincerity in his work, did good but got back bad, was falsely accused of committing adultery, was put in prison. He did good things to his fellow prisoners but was forgotten. He was going through wilderness experience for 13 long years.

Moses: He was brought up as a prince and was educated in the palace, yet he had run to out of his country in order to save his life and had to take up a profession which was totally not related to his upbringing and education. His wilderness was taking care of his father-in-laws sheep and cattle for 40 long years.

What is the outcome of the wilderness experience in these people lives?

Abraham and Sarah: Got Isaac the promised son, who is the Old Testament shadow of Christ. Abraham is blessed by God as Friend of God, Father of Faith, and Father of Many Nations. Sarah is blessed by God to be the mother of a nation through whom the world is blessed.

Zechariah and Elizabeth: Became the parents of John the Baptist, the fore-runner of Christ, the messiah, and the greatest among all who were born of women. Matthew 11:11 “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.”

Hannah: Became the mother of the greatest Prophet of Israel Samuel. She also became the mother of Samuel’s siblings. God blessed her with multiple children with the first one being the one of the greatest in the History of Israel.

Joseph: He became the second-in-command to the King of Egypt, The Pharaoh. He also became the savior of his community and fulfilled the God’s Purpose of saving the Israelites and sustaining them in a foreign land.

Moses: He became the leader, law-giver, prophet of Israel. He led the Israelites out of the land of bondage to the Land of Milk and Honey.

In summary, the duration/severity of the wilderness is directly proportionate to the outcome that is purposed in our lives. The greater is the outcome lengthier/tougher is the wilderness. The above-said people got an extraordinary outcome of their wilderness in their lives. There are no short-cuts for spiritual growth and maturity. We can find a way to escape the wilderness and be smart to learn from other’s experiences, and we will surely get points for preaching and praying, but character formation and molding of our personality to fulfill the god-ordained purposes will be lacking. We have to yield ourselves to go through experiences of wilderness for our growth and for fulfillment of our God-Ordained Purposes.

In conclusion, WILDERNESS is the WAY TO OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH and there are no other short-cuts to grow and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13), James 1:2-4

But the GOOD NEWS is that “THE LORD IS WITH US” as we go through the god-ordained wilderness experiences. He fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, to afflict thee, and to tempt thee, to do thee good in thy future time (Deut. 8:2, 6). HE SUSTAINS US IN THE WILDERNESS AND TAKES US INTO THE PROMISED LAND. WE HAVE TO LEAN ON TO THE BELOVED WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE WILDERNESS as mentioned in Song of Solomon 8:5 “who is this coming up from wilderness leaning on her lover?”

Dearly beloved, it is our part to prove faithful and obedient to Him through the testing times. May the Lord strengthen us to successfully pass through the wilderness, maturing unto the fullness of Christ.

Be Blessed!!

Written By: Shanta Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

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