Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Finding God in the Desert, Part 7

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As I'm reading through the Scriptures these days, I've been tracing through the Bible the times when God said to different ones of His servants who were in difficult or impossible situations, "I will be with you." God said it to Abraham, He said it to Jacob, He said it to Joseph, He said it to Paul, over and over again.

When they found themselves with their backs against the wall, no human hope or solution, God said simply, "I am your all-sufficient one, I will be with you." And so we read going back to the children of Israel in Exodus, chapter 13, "By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud, to guide them on their way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, left it's place in front of the people." (Exo. 13:21,22). For 40 years, every day, every night, never a moment's exception, God revealed to His children that He was with them. Now they had a cloud, and a pillar of fire, it was very visible, and you may think, If I could just have such a visible reminder of God's presence, maybe I would not be afraid in my desert.

But you see we have something that the children of Israel didn't have. If you're a child of God, you have the Spirit of God living inside of you, to remind you that God is with you, not only is God with you, God is in you. Christ in us is our hope of glory(Col 1:27).

So in the midst of the desert, when you're afraid, when you're troubled, when it seems that God may be a million miles off, remember that He is there and He has promised, "I will never leave you." (Heb. 13:15). In the most troubled season of your life, God will be with you. Remember the presence of God.

And then, number two, if you want to get through the desert and come out on the other side, review the purposes of God. We've seen that God uses the desert seasons of our lives to test us, to humble us, to teach us to rely on Him, rather than ourselves or others. He uses the desert to prepare us for future service or ministry, and to build endurance, to condition us for future battles. In the desert God shows us His glory and His grace, and He points us to Jesus, who is our Provision, our Water, our Bread, our Rock, all that we need.

So when you find yourself in the middle of the desert, and you're perplexed or frustrated, go back and review the purposes of God. That will help you to trust God's heart when you cannot see His hand.

And then, number three, rehearse the promises of God. Thousands and thousands of promises God has given to us in this Book, and every one is true. In my journal, I've begun to write out word for word, some of the promises of God that are encouraging and strengthening my heart in this particular season of my life.

And when I find myself fearful, worried or anxious, I pick up this book and I go back and I read, sometimes aloud, just to counsel my own heart according to the promises of God. I rehearse those promises, let me read a few of them to you. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord and he shall sustain thee." (Psalm 55:22). "My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:26). And I love this one from Psalm 93, it begins with a note of panic, or desperation, "The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves." (Psalm 93:3). Ever been there? Here's the promise, "The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea." (Psalm 93:4). All of a sudden the storm doesn't seem so large. The waves don't seem so threatening when you know that God is mightier than the noise of all those waves. Another promise from Psalm 91 that has been so precious to me, just in recent weeks, "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust." (Psalm 91:2). "He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shall thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler." (Psalm 91:4).

Rehearse the promises of God when you find yourself in the midst of the desert. Just say them aloud, carry them around on little cards if you need to, put them on your bathroom mirror, on your bedside table, in your car, so that wherever you are, you can attach yourself to those promises and claim them to be true.

And then, number four, in the midst of your desert, receive the provision of God. Whatever your need, God has a provision. The children of Israel experienced that in their desert years, when they needed water, God provided water. When they needed food, God provided bread and meat. When they needed protection, God was their protector and when they needed direction, God sent that cloud and that fire to lead them.

We read in Deuteronomy, chapter 29, and this is just a miracle, but God specializes in miracles, it says, "During the forty years I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet." (Deut. 29:5) Don't we have a practical God? He cares about the details of our lives. Jesus experienced God's provision in another supernatural way in the midst of His wilderness experience. The Gospel of Mark gives us one verse that we don't find in any of the parallel accounts. It says, Jesus, in the desert, was with the wild animals and angels attended Him. (Mark 1:13). Angels came to His rescue.

Now I don't know exactly what the angels did, the Scripture doesn't tell us, we can only speculate. I don't know if the angels shut the mouths of those wild animals, if the angels gave Him courage or strength. I don't know how the angels ministered to Him, but I know that they did.

You think, Well, wouldn't it be wonderful if God would send angels to minister to me! That was Jesus, but there aren't any angels involved in my life.That's what you think! Hebrews, chapter 1, verse 14, tells us that all angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. You know who that is? That's us. If you're a child of God, God sends His angels to minister to you. The very same word that in Mark's gospel says, "angels attended Him," that's the same word in the original language that says in Hebrews 1:14, God sends angels to serve those who will inherit salvation. I don't know how those angels minister to us, but I know that they do. God sends his provision. "All I have needed, thy hand hath provided, great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me." (Hymn: "Great is Thy Faithfulness")

Finally, number five, rejoice in the plan of God. Remember that the desert is not forever. It may seem that it goes on and on and on, and it may in fact go on for years. In fact, it's conceivable that you might have to live all of your life in some fashion, in a desert experience. You say, "That's forever." Oh no it's not.

When we are in eternity, a moment or two from now, and we look back on this life, it will all seem like just a blip on the radar screen. The desert will not go on forever. It's not the end of the journey; God has a destination in mind, and He is leading you there. And we have His promise that one day He will transform the desert into a garden.

There are some cities in Southern California that did not exist years ago, because they're out in the middle of the desert, where nothing could grow. It was barren and dry land. But some of you may remember that the California aqueduct was built into the desert and the city planners began to water the desert, and now where things formerly would not grow, now we have a lush, beautiful region. The desert has been turned into a well-watered garden.

And what a picture of what God will do in our lives if we'll exercise faith and allow Him to do that. As we think about the plan of God, it's cause for great joy and rejoicing. The prophet Isaiah said in chapter 41, "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none, their tongues are parched with thirst, but I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys: I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. So that people may see and know, may consider, and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it." (Isaiah 41:17-20).

When you find yourself in the midst of your desert, remember the presence of God, review the purposes of God, rehearse the promises of God, receive the provision of God and rejoice in the plan of God.

Leslie Basham: You can also call or write to us any time, our number is 1-800-759-4569. What are some of the differences between a wise and foolish woman? That's Nancy's topic next week on Revive Our Hearts. I hope you can join us. Now here's Nancy to close our time in prayer.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, thank You so much for Your incredible plan, and for Your incredible goodness to us in the midst of our deserts. Thank You that You are leading, that You will never forsake us, You will never abandon us; though everyone else may leave us, You are always there. Your plan, Your purposes, Your provision, Your promises, Your presence, they're more than we could ask, and they're more than enough and we give You thanks, in Jesus' name, amen. 

Leslie Basham: You know, we all need that kind of perspective when we go through tough situations. It's the kind of perspective Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering us all week in a series called, "Finding God in the Desert." She originally presented this material to a group of about 30 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, 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 and music of this CD will help you focus on God and inspire you to worship Him even in difficult times. We've learned over these past several sessions that God leads His children into deserts. Sometimes by His discipline and sometimes by His design, but always with purposes that are for our good and for His glory. And I want to close this series by talking about some insights in how to survive the desert. And not only how to survive, but how to come out on the other side with a richer, fuller experience with God than you had when you went in. Number one, as you find yourself in the desert, remember the presence of God. We think of the desert as a dry, lifeless place. But God has created some things to not only survive, but to thrive in the desert. I'm glad you could join us today for Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. As Nancy Leigh DeMoss has reminded us all week, God often leads His children into the desert, but His loving purpose is always behind the trials that come our way.

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