Christian Wilderness Survival

God's provision for Christians means packing light.Scripture tells us in Acts 17:31 that history will reach a crescendo on that great day set by God when His appointed one, the Lord Jesus Christ, will judge the world. Scripture also tells us that there are conditions to be met before we can be judged worthy to receive the promised reward of eternal life in His presence (Titus 1:2). Failure will result in being rejected by God and thrown like rubbish into the eternal fire (Revelation 20:15). Contrary to some church teaching we don’t know when that time will be – we are just encouraged to be ready (Matthew 24:44.)

So this great day is coming and heaven and earth are busy preparing for it. Jesus told His disciples that He is going to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). The angels are helping in the preparation too. They are helping Christians meet the requirements for entry into heaven (Hebrews 1:14). Remember all of this when life seems confusing: our preparation down here on earth is only a reflection of what is going on in the heavenly realm. Then it should make perfect sense. One day it will be complete when heaven and earth’s preparations reach fulfilment.

Our preparations have been set by God and they begin with repentance, salvation, baptism and then a wilderness experience. All followers of the Lord share common experiences and Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist and even Jesus went into the wilderness. We must see this and embrace it! The wilderness is where we find out who we are and learn to trust God so that we can come out of the wilderness in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Learning to Trust

God often uses crises to lead people into the wilderness and because of this they panic and fail the 101 “wilderness survival” lesson. Look at Jacob. His crisis caused him to flee from his murderous brother and run into the wilderness. There he met God and learned to trust Him. Before his wilderness experience he called God the God of Abraham or the God of my Fathers. Afterwards, he called God my God and returned in spiritual strength. Likewise, Elijah was running from Jezebel who wanted to kill him. He was so afraid that He wanted to die. There he learned the provision of the Lord for His people and came out with added spiritual strength trusting the Lord.

Moses too fled into the Wilderness to escape Pharaoh’s wrath. He didn’t seem to be spiritually strong until God led him into the backside of the desert and He learned to listen to the voice of God. The wilderness is a place where God becomes real to you and you learn about life, about yourself and about God. It is imperative.

Choosing to Trust

Jacob, Elijah and Moses went deep into the wilderness because they were running away and it was scarier outside of the wilderness than in. However, Jesus and John the Baptist were filled with the Holy Spirit and were led by Him into the wilderness. Our wilderness experience is after repentance, salvation and baptism when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. So we, like John and Jesus, must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us there and embrace the experience. However most of us try to wriggle out of the experience as it takes us out of our comfort zone.

Look at this verse from Isaiah 41:14 where God called the men of Israel worms. Worms are small, weak, insignificant things. This also tells us that God’s people are in the condition of a worm. However, they should not be fearful as God will help them. The Lord who is the Highest will seek out the lowest. Most people that come in here appear to be some way into recognising their “wormhood,” but there’s a lot of fear attached to it as they haven’t learned the Lord’s provision.

Seeing Ourselves

The wilderness is a good place to have a good look at yourself and recognise that you are a worm. It’s also the ideal place to call on God for help as God does not want to kill the worm but have him glow. Look at what happened to Jacob – He fathered the 12 tribes of Israel. In the wilderness after Moses met with God his face glowed  (Exodus 34:5). So, yes, we are worms who are meant to be glow worms. Paul explains to the Philippians that if they stopped complaining and arguing they could shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15). You see, when people are out of their comfort zone they complain.

Did you know that glow worms are really insects that glow through bioluminescence? One classification is called Lampyridae which comes from the Greek, meaning “shining ones.” Wordsworth in his poems called them “earth bound stars.” Only the adult females glow to attract a mate but the numbers are depleting as our cities grow bigger and encroach on the wilderness that is their habitat. The male adult glow worm who is attracted to the light is confusing car lights, street lights and other lights for the female glow worm and they are being wiped out. The answer would be for the glow worms to go deeper into the wilderness. Glow worms cannot understand this but Christian glow worms can learn a valuable lesson from them.

Lights in the World

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). Christians are meant to shine as lights in the world as Jesus shines through us. The world lies in spiritual darkness with artificial lights that attract. Christians shining with the light of Christ are their only hope. So many Christians appear to be so close to the world that they do not stand out as different from the world. Christians are not meant to blend in, and that is why the true church is being depleted.

The fruits of the flesh are sexual immorality, greed, lust, debauchery – all of the 18 that Paul lists in Galatians 5:19-21. Are you prepared to stop doing the above and move into God’s light? If so, look at the list. Note any that you know you should move away from and pray the following prayer:

Father I come to you in Jesus name. The bible says that if I confess my sin then you are faithful and just to forgive me my sin and wash me from all unrighteousness. I confess to taking the light of this world (whatever is on your list) into my life which will deplete your light. Please forgive me – I do not give permission for (whatever you noted from the Galatians list) to be in my life and I turn away from it. Cleanse me of this unrighteousness and let me be different from the world and shine with your light. This is what I desire Lord. Please deliver me from (whatever you noted from the Galatians list). Amen.

What’s in Your Wilderness Pack?

Jesus promises us that His burden will be light (Matthew 11:30) but so many lovely Christians come in here burdened down with heavy loads. At salvation they understood that they were worms but they are not acting like worms. A worm is almost completely defenceless but can burrow and hide. Christians are to hide under the shelter of the most High who has promised them assistance.

Paul knew this and tells it to the Philippians (2 Timothy 4:18). Christians must know this. God will not go forward with anyone who goes in their own strength. Remember, our preparation must line up with the heavenly preparation and provision comes from God. But so many Christians are going into the wilderness with other provisions than God alone.

Jesus sent His disciples out and told them not to take anything with them (Luke 9:3) to prove to them God’s provision. In the upper room He reminds them of the results that they learned in the wilderness (Luke 22:35). We must learn this too. Before we become Christians our survival backpack looks like a huge heavy burden. The Ephesians were taught to put off and put on (Ephesians 4:22-23). Christians need to empty out these backpacks of self-reliance and learn to rely on the provision from God.

Trusting God’s Provision

Before you were a Christian when a problem came your way you set about solving it in the strength of worldly wisdom as you did not trust in Jesus. All Christians need to see that the greatest sin is to believe that we can handle our life without God. When we are sick we need to stop opening our worldly backpack and reaching for pills and putting our trust in the power of the tablet. Christians are rushing to the Doctors without a sideways glance at Jehovah-Rapha – God our healer (Exodus 15:26). Do not get me wrong about my stance on Doctors and the medical world. Luke was a physician not an ex-physician. Thank God for Christian doctors. But surely Christians should be seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) before rushing to the Doctors or taking pills. The whole world is self-medicating and putting their faith in vitamin this, that or the other – just in case. And the drug companies grow rich from our lack of faith in the Adonay God who will sustain us (Psalm 54:4).

There is fanaticism in the world about health, looks, exercise and finances as people do not trust in Jehovah-Jireh the Lord their provider (Genesis 22:14) and so are providing for themselves. This is one of the biggest problems that we see in here – self-reliance! In the wilderness there are no chemist shops, gyms or beauty creams. Come on Christians, lighten your backpacks and get rid of your self-medications, self-provisions and self-care. Jesus should be our first resort and not after we’ve exhausted everything else.

We must remember the benefits of being a Christian (Psalm 103:2-4). When we self-medicate we are saying that God is our healer but just in case He does not provide for us we’d better take extra zinc or some other vitamin. That is not faith in God and we have failed our wilderness unit.

If you are worried about your health, take your worries to God and ask Him to provide. If you want to put off your self-reliance you could pray the following prayer:

Heavenly Father I come to you in Jesus name. Your word says that I should trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding;
in all my ways acknowledge you, and you will make my paths straight. These are two different paths Lord – one where I rely on you and one where I rely on my own wisdom or that of the world. I have lost the core value and practice of reliance on you rather than reliance on myself, Father. I am so sorry. I repent of taking (whatever it is) and doing (whatever practice it is) and turn away from that path and ask that you will renew my mind and empty my back pack of self-reliance. I will trust you Father. Amen!

This message is from a sermon given by Andrea Lock on 19 June, 2016. If you would like more information about Perth Healing Ministries, please get in touch using the contact form below.