Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10 – Richness in the desert

The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey.  (Exodus 3:7,8  NET)

Moses was in the desert when he saw the burning bush on Mount Sinai, far away from the noise and distractions of the big city. He had probably been raised in what is now Cairo, in Pharaoh’s palace, with the best teachers and the best food. He had the best of everything. But God did not appear to him there. God appeared to him when he was in the desert.

The same thing happened to Jesus. At 30 years of age, right after He was baptized by John, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the Judean wilderness for forty days and forty nights when He did not eat, and was far from the distractions of the world. There He was tempted by the devil, but He must also have experienced powerful moments of communion with the Father. Though He was in the desert, a harsh place lacking all the comforts of life, He felt the rich presence of God.

What God did for the Hebrews in Egypt, He wants to do for us today. He wants to free us from slavery and oppression, and lead us to physical and spiritual abundance, but He can only do that when we cut ourselves off from the worries and distractions of this world… when we’re in the desert and can hear His voice and understand His leading. If Moses had seen a burning bush in Cairo it wouldn’t have impressed him — there would have been too many other things going on. But in the desert it stuck out like a sore thumb and he realized it lead to something important… and the conversation he then had with God was life-changing. And so, if we want to see changes and to hear God’s voice, we need to enter a self-imposed desert… cutting ourselves off from the normal distractions of this world. We need to be still so that we can hear His voice.

One of the curses of modern life, and big cities in particular, is the distractions we face. We’re surrounded by man-made things (cars, parking decks, office buildings, air-conditioners), cellphones are ringing, radios blaring, TVs show images of the latest bad news of the day, billboards, the Internet… and on and on. Though technology has made our lives easier, it has also cursed us. If we want more of God, we need to have less of this world and its busyness.

We’re starting the 40-Day Fast of Jesus today, which means that we’re voluntarily cutting ourselves off from all secular entertainment and information, and focusing on God, His Word, silence, and meditation. Like Moses, Jesus, and many others, we believe this self imposed desert will prepare us for a new phase of our lives. 

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