‘…He…guided them in the wilderness like a flock.’ Psalm 78:52 NKJV
Charles E. Fuller, one of the first radio Bible teachers, started his daily broadcast with the song, ‘My Lord knows the way through the wilderness; all I have to do is follow.’ To get them from Egypt to Canaan, God took His people through the wilderness—and, spiritually speaking, you’ll have to go through it, too! You can have a wilderness experience anywhere. At a graveside, in a cancer ward, in a divorce court, in an unemployment queue, or when you lose your house. But the wilderness can also be a place of miracles. So for the next few days, let’s look at some things you need to survive in the wilderness. Direction! Without it you end up going round in circles. Notice how God led Israel. He ‘went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud…and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light…He took not away the pillar of the cloud…nor the pillar of fire…from before the people.’ (Exodus 13:21–22 NKJV) God basically told Moses: ‘Whenever the pillar moves, you move. And when the pillar stops, you stop.’ But what do you do at night when it’s pitch black? There are no candles or oil lamps, and you risk sharing your bed with a scorpion or stepping on a snake on your way to the bathroom. Don’t worry; God’s got you covered! The wilderness isn’t alien territory to Him. The Psalmist said, ‘Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’ (Psalm 119:105 NKJV) For every contingency, condition and circumstance you face, your Bible will guide you, protect you, and keep you safe. So stop worrying and start reading it every day.
‘…Pour out your heart before Him…’ Psalm 62:8 NAS
More than anything else in life, Hannah wanted a son. And as the years passed she wrestled with disappointment and despair. ‘…and [Hannah] was in distress of soul, praying to the Lord.’ (1 Samuel 1:10 AMP) However, she did two things that worked—and they’ll work for you, too! (1) Instead of turning away from God, she turned to Him. Instead of praying less, she prayed more. She knew that while her husband couldn’t give her a child, God could. She may not have been happy with God’s timing, but she never doubted His goodness. Unfortunately, one of the things we’re tempted to do when things fall apart is to avoid God’s presence. That’s a mistake, because He’s the one you need most! Yes, it’s hard to pray when your heart is breaking. But unless you’ve prayed with a broken heart and a deep sense of your need, you’ve never really poured out your heart before God, or learned what the Bible truly means by prayer. (2) She didn’t just think about what she wanted, she also thought about what God wanted. ‘…she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if You will…not forget Your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…”’ (1 Samuel 1:11 NIV) And shortly after that Samuel was conceived. When you’re willing to make a promise to God that He can hold you to (which is what a vow is), you’re getting serious about prayer. And that’s when God will get serious about your prayer as well! So, ‘pour out your heart before Him.’
‘…I am…wonderfully made…’ Psalm 139:14 NIV
Evolution says that, where there’s a want, nature will provide what’s needed. Really? In Natural Theology, Dr. William Paley writes: ‘To keep the eye moist and clean—which qualities are necessary to its brightness and its use—a wash is constantly supplied by a secretion for the purpose; and the superfluous brine is conveyed to the nose through a perforation in the bone as large as a goose quill. When the fluid has entered the nose, it spreads itself upon the inside of the nostril and is evaporated by the current of warm air which in the course of respiration is continually passing over it… It’s easily perceived that the eye must want moisture; but could the “want” of the eye generate the gland which produces the tear, or bore the hole by which it’s discharged—a hole through bone? Let the evolutionist tell us who bored the hole… and laid a water pipe through it for the dispersion of tears.’ When it encounters darkness, your eye’s ability to see increases one hundred thousand times. The finest camera ever made doesn’t even come close! And what’s more, your eye will find the object it wants to see, and focus on it automatically by elongating or compressing itself. Both eyes moving in tandem must adopt different angles in order to fix themselves on what’s to be seen. Evolution tells us when the eye got ready to create itself, it had forethought for its own protection and built a bony ridge of the brow, which provided a nose on which to position the glasses many of us need. Then it provided a shutter to protect itself from foreign objects. Perhaps it takes more faith to believe in evolution than creation! What do you think?
‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…’ Ephesians 5:25 ESV
After many years of marriage, John decided to divorce his wife. The reasons he gave his counsellor were: ‘She’s not attractive, she’s not interesting, she’s overweight, and she’s a poor housekeeper.’ So the counsellor gave him this suggestion: ‘Starting today, I want you to go home and treat your wife like a goddess. Start doing everything in your power to please her. Listen intently when she talks about her problems. Help around the house, and take her out to dinner at the weekend. I want you to literally pretend that she’s a goddess. Then after two months of this wonderful new behaviour, pack your bags and leave. That should get her attention!’ John agreed it was a great idea, and decided to implement it. He took his wife away on romantic weekends and read poetry to her every night. After two months the counsellor called and asked, ‘John, did you file for divorce? Are you looking forward to being a bachelor again?’ John replied, ‘Are you kidding? I’m married to a goddess. I’ve never been happier in my life. I’d never leave my wife in a million years. In fact, I’m discovering new, wonderful things about her every single day. Divorce? Not on your life!’ The Bible says, ‘…A man reaps what he sows.’ (Galatians 6:7 NIV) And when John changed his strategy and started sowing seeds of love, he reaped a marriage he never dreamed possible. Do you think this same strategy might possibly work for you? What’ve you got to lose? Give it a try and see what happens. Chances are you and your spouse will love the results.
‘…We ought to obey God rather than men.’ Acts 5:29 KJV
Too often our actions are dictated by a misguided need to please others. We care so much about what they think that with every step we take we look over our shoulder to see whether they’re smiling or frowning. Understand this: if you’re always looking for people’s approval, you’re not looking where you’re going and eventually you’ll hit a wall or trip over your own two feet. The Bible says, ‘…We ought to obey God rather than men.’ What do you think will happen if you open your mouth and stand up for yourself? The truth is that people who don’t respect your rights and honour your wishes are not worth your time or effort. Nor are they worthy of a long drawn–out discussion; just say goodbye! (We’re not talking about your marriage or children.) When the land became too small for the flocks of Abraham and Lot to graze together, strife broke out. Abraham loved his nephew Lot, but he realised he could no longer live in this situation. So he said, ‘…Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.’ (Genesis 13:9 NKJV) How does their story end? Lot chose the best grazing land close to Sodom, and, as a result, everything he worked for went up in smoke. But Abraham, who always sought to please God, ended up not only being blessed himself, but being a blessing to the nations of the world. So the word for you today is—God wants to set you free from people pleasing.
‘…To turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children…’ Luke 1:17 NAS
Research shows the results of the ‘dad deficit’. Too many children today are growing up without a father’s input. And as a result they end up making poor life, relationship and marriage choices. So how does a dad equip his kids for life in the real world? (1) Know what they’re up to. Get to know what makes them tick. Ask what subjects they enjoy in school, and which ones they’re struggling with. Learn who their friends are; who they spend time with at break and after school. Try to listen and learn. Take them out occasionally for breakfast or a ham-burger; they’ll feel like royalty spending one–to–one time with Dad! (2) Teach them to stand tall. A tragedy of their young world is the increasing suicide rate because of playground bullying. Teach your children to stand up for themselves. Teach them respect, and how to protect themselves by speaking up appropriately in class when they’re unclear about the lesson, or to courageously say what they believe. Teach them assertiveness in confronting unfair treatment. Kids who become ‘punch bags’ are set up to be victimised! (3) Give them an example. However accomplished your ‘preaching’ skills may be, you need to be ‘walking the walk’ in front of your children. You can tell them it’s important to be healthy and active, but if you’re a couch potato inhaling bags of chips and watching endless footy matches, they’re not convinced. Set an example by getting fit, pursuing a healthy lifestyle, activities and interests, and watch them think how ‘cool’ it is to be like Dad!
‘…if…you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.’ (James 1:5 GNT)
If you are, here are some suggestions to help you. (1) Don’t ask God to bless YOUR plans, instead ask for HIS wisdom and direction! And remember, God will never tell you to do anything that doesn’t line up with what He’s already told you in His Word (Isaiah 8:20). (2) Make sure your goal is to glorify God. Sometimes that’s hard to know, for the worst pride often masquerades behind feigned humility. The human body is amazing—just pat a man on the back and so often his head begins to swell. But God opposes pride. (James 4:6) (3) Use your brain. God’s guidance transcends human reasoning, but it doesn’t exclude it. When God saves you, He doesn’t remove your mind, He renews it. (Romans 12:2) So pray, then put it to work. (4) Seasons aren’t meant to be ignored. If it isn’t God’s timing, wait! In the right season, the plan will be clear, the people you need will show up and the funds will be provided (Ecclesiastes 3:1). God has promised it, so trust Him! (5) Seek trustworthy counsel. Beware of those who patronise you for selfish reasons. Listen to those who value what you value and have been where you want to go (Proverbs 27:17). (6) Never act without the facts, but never limit God to them. When knowledge won’t take you another step, faith will carry you through, for that’s what connects you to the power of God. Now listen again ‘…if…you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.’ (James 1:5 GNT)
‘A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions…’ Proverbs 27:12 NLT
Half Dome is a granite peak that towers above the valley floor in Yosemite National Park. Your final climb is between steel cables bolted to the rock; they were designed as handholds to safeguard and help you reach the top. Columnist Mary Hunt writes: ‘The final ascent up the sheer granite surface…is by far the most challenging. Once you see the cables you experience terror like you’ve never known… and you’ve no choice but to finish the trip. At that moment you’re thankful for cables that become the guardrails you need to pull yourself to the top. The secret to [continuing] when you feel like quitting is to erect ‘cables’ in your life before you need them so that when you face difficult situations, the help you need to make it will be there to protect you from your own fears and self–defeating attitudes.’ Solomon says, ‘A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.’ Sooner or later you’ll face a mountain you can’t conquer alone. And if the ‘cables’ you need are in place, you’ll conquer it. What are they? (1) God’s Word. Jeremiah said, ‘Your words…sustain me…’ (Jeremiah 15:16 TLB) Get into God’s Word, and get God’s Word into you. That way, when trouble comes you’ll be able to handle it. It’ll ‘…guide you when you walk…guard you when you sleep…speak to you when you are awake.’ (Proverbs 6:22 NCV) (2) A strong prayer life. ‘…The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]…’ (James 5:16 AMP) Time spent with God changes you; it makes you more like Jesus and strengthens you for what lies ahead.
‘…God will generously provide all you need…’ 2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT
‘…God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.’ (Philippians 4:19 NKJV) Whose riches? God’s! And His ability to bless you is not limited by the job market, the stock market or the housing market. For forty years He fed His people in the wilderness with manna from Heaven. He sent ravens to deliver meat to Elijah during a famine. He fed over five thousand people with a boy’s lunch. Paul writes, ‘God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others…Yes, you will be enriched in every way…’ (2 Corinthians 9:8, 11 NLT) The scarcity attitude is rooted in fear and shows distrust of the awesome power of God to supply all our needs according to His unlimited resources. It’s based upon the faulty assumption that if someone else has something, you can’t have it because there’s only one pie, and every slice that someone else gets means less is available for you. It makes you believe that the blessings of others come at your expense. It says, ‘You win, I lose.’ That’s no way to live the abundant life! Start today to reprogramme your thinking. Remind yourself that you’re not in competition with anybody, for anything, in any area of your life. Cling to the words of Jesus: ‘…I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly.’ (John 10:10 NKJV) Pray: ‘Father, help me to reject all thoughts of scarcity. Show me how to help others achieve their goals by sharing my time, talents, treasure. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.’
‘…God so loved the world…’ John 3:16 NKJV
David said, ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.’ (Psalm 32:1 NKJV) No matter how hard we worked, we could never pay off our sin debt. And thank God we don’t have to, because ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but has everlasting life.’ Years ago a congregation decided to honour one of its retired pastors. He was ninety–two, and some people wondered why the church even asked the elderly man to speak. After a warm welcome and introduction, he rose from his chair and walked with great dignity and effort to the pulpit. Leaning on the podium to steady himself, without notes of any kind, he began to speak: ‘When your pastor invited me here, he asked me to talk about the greatest lesson I’ve learned in fifty–plus years of preaching. I’ve thought about it for a few days, and boiled it down to the one thing that has made the most difference in my life and sustained me through all my trials. The one thing I can rely on when tears, heartbreak, pain, fear and sorrow paralyse me… the one thing that always comforts me: Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.’ You could hear a pin drop as the old man shuffled back to his seat. It’s something the congregation never forgot. And it’s something you should never forget either—Jesus loves you unconditionally. That’s so today, tomorrow, and forever!