Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Finding God in the Desert, Part 5

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do you want to experience God's grace and glory and greatness in a more intimate way than you've ever experienced it before? These are aspects of the glory of God that appear in the desert.

Let me suggest another purpose of God in the desert. God uses the desert to prepare us for future service or ministry; to equip us, to fit us--for ways that He wants to use us down the road. We read in Luke, chapter 4, that after Jesus' wilderness or desert experience, He "returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised Him" (vv. 14-15). God wanted to use Jesus as His means of beginning to preach the Gospel here on this earth, and God prepared His Son, Jesus, for those years of earthly ministry by the forty days in the desert.

You don't know what God has ahead for you. You don't know ways that God may want to use you, to use your life, to use your "life message" to touch and impact other lives. God wants to use you as a container and a carrier, a vehicle of His grace in the lives of others. And your desert may not be just for you. It may be for others that God wants to touch through your life. So through the desert, God is preparing you, He's honing you, He's training you, He's equipping and fitting you for future service and usefulness.

God also uses the desert for another purpose, and that is to build endurance in the lives of His children--to condition us for future battles. The children of Israel were going to go into the Promised Land, but in that Promised Land there were giants. There were all kinds of enemy nations. They would have to go to war, to battle against these nations. They were not prepared to do battle. So God sent them into the wilderness for a national physical fitness program to build endurance so that they'd be prepared once they got into Canaan, not to be easily discouraged in the midst of the battle.

One writer has said it this way, " God wants us to be, not hot-house plants, but storm-beaten oaks, not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind, but granite rocks withstanding the fiercest storms." You'll find as you walk through the desert, and as you look to God for provision and grace in your desert, that God will strengthen your character. He'll strengthen your trust. He'll strengthen your confidence in him and your resolve to follow Him. He will build endurance. And you'll find as you go down the road and face bigger and tougher battles, that the ones you had earlier won't seem like they were so big after all, because God was building endurance, conditioning you for future battles.

There's another purpose of God in the desert. And that is that God wants to show us His glory and His grace. We read in the Book of Exodus, chapter 16, as the Israelites are in the desert, Moses and Aaron said to the children of Israel, " in the morning, you will see the glory of the Lord." The glory of the Lord--a picture of His character, of His manifest presence, who He is!

You want to get to know God in a real, personal, intimate way? Do you want to experience God's grace and glory and greatness in a more intimate way than you've ever experienced it before? These are aspects of the glory of God that appear in the desert. Scripture says, "While Aaron was speaking, they looked toward the desert (toward the desert) and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud"

(Ex 16:10). Expect to see God in the desert in a way that you might not see Him elsewhere.

The prophet Isaiah has this theme that runs through the book of Isaiah. And we read verses like these in chapter 40, " A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it'"(vv. 3,5). In the desert, you will see the glory and the grace of God.

Or we read this verse in Isaiah, chapter 35, " The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom" (v. 1). By the way, remember that when you're in your desert--that there will be an end--that there will be joy at the end of the journey, that there will be fruitfulness after the time of seeming uselessness. And then "they will see," Isaiah says, " the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God" (v. 2).

Let me say it once again. There are aspects of God's glory, His grace and His provision that you will never experience apart from the desert. So God uses the desert to show us His glory and His grace. And then I want to suggest a final purpose for the desert and that is, to get us to Jesus--to get us to Jesus!

You see, as Israel went through the desert in the Old Testament, they experienced times when they had no water, they had no food. They had many years to walk in that desert with no clothing or shoe stores where they could stop and replenish their supplies. In every one of those circumstances, God had a provision. It was a supernatural provision. God provided manna when they had no food, God provided water when they had nothing to drink. The water came out of a rock. God provided the cloud to cover them, to direct them, to manifest His presence to them. God clothed them in the wilderness all those years and all these provisions that God made for the children of Israel in the desert, are pictures, or types, of Christ.

They point us to Christ, and the New Testament makes this clear. We read about it in John, chapter 6, where John says, Jesus "is the bread of God come down from heaven" (v. 33). He is the manna. Jesus said to the woman at the well in John, chapter 4, " I am the living water, the one who quenches and satisfies your thirst."

Jesus is the one who clothes us in His righteousness. He is the rock of our salvation. He was the one who was smitten for us, and out of whom comes that life-giving flow. It's all, all, all, to get us to Jesus. It's all about Him! You want to know Him? If you're a child of God, deep in your heart, there is that longing to know Jesus, to be close to Him, to experience Him in ever-deepening ways in your life.

And as God takes you into the desert, He will not only provide what you need, He will Himself be your provision. Christ not only gives us living bread, He not only gives us living water, He is the living bread, He is the living water, He is the one who clothes us, He is the one who fits us for battle. He provides Himself as our protection against the enemy. He is the cloud, the presence of God who goes with us, and by His Holy Spirit lives inside of us.

And so God will use the desert to manifest Christ to you in His glory, His splendor and His all-sufficient provision. So God takes us into the desert to test us, to humble us, to teach us, to bring us to a place where we will no longer rely on ourselves or others, but where we will rely totally on Him. And then He uses the desert to prepare us for future times of usefulness and fruitfulness and service, and to condition us for future battles, to build endurance. And then God uses the desert to show us His glory and His grace, and ultimately to get us to Jesus.

Leslie Basham: We also encourage you to get a tape of today's program. She originally presented this material to a group of about thirty women. It was a special time for the women there, and we're making the entire teaching available to you. It's on a two-cassette tape series that you can order on our Web site, www.ReviveOurHearts.com, for a suggested donation of $8.

You'll also find information there about one of Nancy's favorite CD's, called " Breath of God." Listening to the Scripture readings on this CD will help you focus on God and inspire you to worship Him, even in difficult times. You can find information on Nancy's books and tapes on our Web site, www.ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also call us at 1-800-759-4569.  

How would you respond if someone dropped you in the desert to live for a while? Tomorrow, Nancy Leigh DeMoss will help us know how to respond when we find ourselves in an emotional desert. We hope you can be there. Now, with a final prayer, here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:   Thank you our Father, for Your purposes and as we see those purposes, as we meditate upon what You do for us in the desert, we're able to say again, "we trust You." And we even thank You for those seasons when You lead us into the desert to experience wonders, and beauty and purposes from Your heart, that we might not experience any other way. So we thank You in Jesus' Name, Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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