Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lessons in the Desert

After his traditional welcome, Pastor Brad told us about an incident with his Farmall tractor which some men from the church helped him get started yesterday. To make a long story short, he managed to get the tractor stuck in the muck at the edge of the lake, requiring a but of expense to get it pulled out. He said his new name was Quicksand Shannon.

The story got laughs, as did the typo in the bulletin regarding the title of the sermon. Although there are probably a some worthy life lessons from a message on Lessons in the Dessert, today's message would be about Israel's departure from Egypt and the lessons they learned in the desert.

A time of worship, the offering and prayer time flew past. The reading of the NT passage today was from Ephesians 4:25-5:2. Then Brad took his place at the front to deliver a message both sobering and sensitive.

Lessons In The Desert

What should have taken two and a half weeks took forty years. This must have been frustrating for the Israelites. Certainly we get frustrated because it seems like God never seems to be in a hurry. Israel was on a journey from the place of slavery to the land of milk and honey. But for the moment they were stuck in a desert, a dry and arid place.
"Many of you have been in desert places," Brad said, "or will be. Some of you are there right now."

When you're in the desert there may be many causes. Symptoms vary, but often you are fatigued and even sleep does not renew you. But in whatever your circumstances, your situation, God never leaves you when you are in these places.

Israel, despite their forty year trek, were made consciously aware of this fact as the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud led them. God provided a daily ration of manna as well. Even though it had but a one day shelf life, it was always abundantly supplied the following morning and kept them nourished all the way through while simultaneously reminding them of God's provision and care.

Brad identified many places where life can be a desert. He mentioned marriages that are difficult. "Will you say 'Yes' to God in that desert?" he asked. Whatever the circumstances, we must resolve in our minds that we will not go back to Egypt.

The first lesson, then, is patience. We must trust God and be patient. He will see us through.

The second lesson in the wilderness is this: God is giving us strength. It's interesting that it took God about one year to get Israel out of Egypt and forty years to get Egypt out of Israel.

Brad pointed us to the stories of Joseph, David and Daniel who each travelled a circuitous, indirect route to positions of influence and leadership. Joseph spent years in prison. David was homeless and lived at one time in caves. Daniel ended up in a lion's den. But God used these experiences to strengthen them.

The third lesson of the wilderness is this. It is in the wilderness where God confronts us with our own sin. It is in the wilderness where everything is stripped away and we see ourselves for who we are.

Brad told the tragic story of a man named Max who lived in denial about a horrible thing he had done while on a binge. Coming to grips with the truth about yourself can be painful. But we have to deal with the truth about ourselves.

Brad shared that the desert is also a place where you find out if you love God for God.

It's easy to have faith when things are going well. When everything has been stripped away, it's a must that you say, "I will not go back to Egypt."

Will you say "Yes" to God in the desert?

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