Finding God in your Spiritual Desert, Pt. 1
What does one do when they find themselves in a “Spiritual Desert”?
In this devotional-type podcast, you can download the pdf-version, or scroll down to read along.
FINDING GOD IN YOUR SPIRITUAL DESERT
The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” – Numbers 21:5
Josiah Meyer, 2018
How to get out of your spiritual desert?
This study is not as easy as memorizing facts: I hope you will highlight the sections that apply to you, take it home, slip it into your Bible for a few weeks and meditate on it.
There are many very different deserts, and there are many reasons to be there
There is not one answer for this question, but several answers that will apply to different people, in different deserts:
Sometimes we have to adjust our expectations
– Sometimes we are like the Pharisees, “Master, we would like to see you make a miraculous sign. (Mat 12: 38-39)
* Why do you think it was a mistake for the Pharisees to ask for a sign?
– Sometimes, we ask for the wrong reasons (James 4,1-3)
* Can we have bad motives when we ask more of God?
2. Sometimes we are too isolated
– Jesus said he sees us when we pray in secret. But he does not promise to meet us there.
* Where does Jesus explicitly promise, “I will be there? (Matthew 18:20, 25:40)
3. Sometimes we are too inactive
– God bless you so that you may be a blessing (Gen. 12: 2, Zechariah 8:13)
* Is your faith similar to the Nile or the Dead Sea? By giving life to others, you receive it too. (Prov 11:24)
4. Sometimes we are caught in our sins
– “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. (John 8:34) “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23)
– If we hesitate between God and sins (James 1: 6), we should not expect God to hear our prayers. It is the pure-hearted who will see God (Matt 5: 8), but
– A lukewarm faith makes Jesus want to vomit (Revelation 3: 15-16)
* Why do you think Jesus rather than hating him than loving him only halfway?
5. Sometimes we are in a spiritual battle
– As soon as he began to pray, Daniel’s words were heard: but the spiritual battle left him in silence for weeks (Dan 10: 12-13)
– Jesus received a call, and a blessing … then he was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness, where he was tempted and he suffered from hunger. (Mat 4: 1)
* Why do you think it was necessary for Jesus to be tempted and to suffer human trials? (Heb 4:15, 5: 8-9)
* Are these same principles applicable to us as future leaders and servants of God?
6. Sometimes, God is discipling and training us
– Moses spent 40 years in Midian (Exodus 2), Paul spent seven years in Arabia (Gal 1:17), and David spent a year and a half in Philistia (1 Sam., 30-31, Ps. 18, 58, 61)
– Often God’s men and women spent time “in the desert” just before their great work
* Do you think this was “wasted time” for these saints? If not, what do you think they gained through it?
* What do you think God wants to teach us in similar times?
7. Sometimes we are too timid (where are we just disobedient?)
Why did the Israelites get tired of eating mannah? After all the Bible says it was sweet, and tasted quite good.
It is because they were only supposed to eat it for forty days, not forty years! They were there because they doubted the power of God and rejected his will for their lives.
* Is your life a quiet rebellion against the call of God? What are you afraid of?
8. Sometimes our desert is physical and not spiritual
– After fasting for forty days, Jesus was hungry! (Luke 4: 2)
In the desert, God met the Israelites (Deut 8: 3) Elijah (1 Kings 19: 5), and Jesus with food (Mark 1:13).
Why do you think God has made us dependent on food, water and air to survive? Would not it be more effective if we did not need these things? (Deut 8: 3)
The rest is important enough for God to set aside one out of ten, and one out of seven to dedicate it to rest.
What are the consequences of not getting enough rest? (Exodus 18:14, 17-18, 2 Chronicles 36:21)
Our bodies and our souls are linked together: in many psalms, as in Job, we see that when the body is sick, so is the mind. And vice versa.
Do you think it is important to know if your illness is physical or spiritual? What would be the consequence of trying to treat a physical illness with a spiritual remedy?
(Does God always want to heal us, or does He sometimes allow us to become sick, as in Question 4? 2 Cor 12: 7-9)
Sometimes we are in a desert because someone has harmed us, and we have not forgiven them
The essence of forgiveness is demonstrated on the Cross, where Jesus DID NOT make them pay, but rather paid for their sins through His sacrifice
Are you willing to pay the emotional price for those who have sinned against you?
Sometimes, the only way out of the desert is back past the one who has harmed you, and the words (spoken in private, not necessarily to the person) “I forgive”
Sometimes it seems like we are doing everything for God, but God is not living up to our reach
After all he did on Carmel Mountain, Elijah had to flee for his life. The Israelites were not converted. He asked God to take his life! (1 Kings 19)
After all that he did, Jonah was bitterly disappointed because people repented, and God did not destroy them! (Jonah 4)
After leaving Isreal, and lost all her family, Naomi (sweet) changed her name to Mara (bitter), saying, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, because the Almighty has filled me bitterness. (Ruth 1:20)
How did God fail you? Do you need to repent of your unrealistic expectations?
Do you need to forgive him the pain he has caused you? Do you need to submit again to the sovereign will of God? (Job 1:21, 2 Sam. 12: 19-21, Luke 22:42)
11. Sometimes God wants to know who our true love is
Jesus said that the crowd followed him not for spiritual reasons, but to have something to eat (John 6: 26-27)
Do we love God for who he is or what he does? (to meditate)
In fact, the whole Christian life is a pilgrimage through a desert. The promised land is not here, but it is coming (Heb 11: 13-16)
In fact, our whole life is meant to make us choose: are we going to serve God or not? (Joshua 24:15)