Wilderness Training

For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. – Deuteronomy 2:7

Many adventurous people are signing up for wilderness training, seeking to learn the survival skills that will keep them safe in rough terrain and remote regions. The dictionary defines “wilderness” as a wild and uncultivated region, one that is either uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals. 

The word “wilderness” shows up quite a bit in Scripture. The Bible has a lot to say about believers trudging through wilderness areas—the Israelites, who traveled to Canaan; David, who hid from King Saul; Jesus, who was tempted by Satan in the wilderness of Judea. 

That word seems to describe the rough patches of life, and we all need wilderness training and survival skills in a spiritual sense.

The most important aspect of wilderness training is having the right Guide. The wilderness doesn’t threaten the Lord Jesus. He created the wastelands of earth, and He formed the vast wastelands of the universe. He inhabits it all, and He knows every step of the way.

Don’t worry today. With God leading us, we can make it through the wilderness.

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. Sidney E. Cox


Deuteronomy 2-3 – Skip Heitzig

Trust the Light

Believe in the light . . . so that you may become children of light. John 12:36

The weather forecast said bomb cyclone. That’s what happens when a winter storm rapidly intensifies as the atmospheric pressure drops. By the time night fell, the blizzard conditions made the highway to the Denver airport almost impossible to see. Almost. But when it’s your daughter who’s flying home to visit, you do what you have to do. You pack extra clothes and water (just in case you get stranded on the highway), drive very slowly, pray without ceasing, and last but not least, trust your headlights. And sometimes you can achieve the almost impossible.

Jesus foretold of a storm on the horizon, one that would involve His death (John 12:31–33), and one that would challenge His followers to stay faithful and serve (v. 26). It was going to get dark and be almost impossible to see. Almost. So what did Jesus tell them to do? Believe, or trust, the Light (v. 36). That was the only way they could keep going forward and stay faithful.

Jesus would only be with them a little while longer. But believers have His Spirit as our constant guide to light the way. We too will face dark times when it’s almost impossible to see the way ahead. Almost. But by believing, or trusting in the Light, we can press on. 

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What dark season have you been through lately? How did Jesus, the Light, help you keep going?

Jesus, thank You for being the light in my darkness. Help me to trust and keep going.

Sharing Burdens in the Church

Romans 12:9-13

Although pastors are called to care for the needs of people in the church, this duty is not theirs alone. And it has nothing to do with the size of the pastoral staff—the entire congregation is to be involved in caring for each other.

Every Christian is equipped to serve other believers. First, God has distributed spiritual gifts that enable His followers to minister in the particular ways He’s determined for each one. And second, you may have experienced challenges similar to those facing another believer, which specially qualifies you to empathize, encourage, and strengthen that person. As you pray for your pastor and congregation, ask the Lord how He would have you share the load and help meet people’s needs.

The church is a network of shoulders supporting the collective weight of everyone’s troubles. When you dive in and help hold a sister’s burden, a brother takes on a bit of yours. Although your contribution might feel small and go unnoticed by all but the individual who is helped, your heavenly Father sees and will reward you for following His command.

The next time you go to church, ask God to direct you to those who could use your help. When you extend the hands of Jesus, people find rest for their weary heart.

Selah

“Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” (Psalm 3:2)

The word Selah occurs 74 times in the Bible (three of which are in the prophetic psalm of Habakkuk, with the other 71 in the book of Psalms). The first of these occurrences is here in Psalm 3:2, and it also occurs at the end of verses 4 and 8, thus in effect dividing Psalm 3 into three “stanzas.”

However, its exact meaning is uncertain. Most authorities think it is some kind of musical notation, to be applied when the psalm was being sung with accompanying musical instrumentation. It suggests a pause of some kind, perhaps to allow the instruments to play a few notes while the singers were silent before proceeding with the next portion, possibly changing to a different key.

When the psalm is merely being read, however, as must often be the case, this explanation would be pointless. Thus, some think it indicates a brief pause for reflection on the truth just revealed before proceeding to the next point. Selah might, therefore, mean something like “Think of that!”

In Psalm 3, as the first instance, verse 2 notes that many (perhaps originally those involved in Absalom’s rebellion against King David) are saying: “Not even God can help him now!” But then the psalmist remembers God’s promises and he prays, and God answers, so now he can say: “Well, what do you think about that?” Both exclamations are implied by his Selah.

Then in the third stanza, he stresses his security in his Lord. He can sleep and “not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about…Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people” (Psalm 3:6, 8). “So, what can you say about that, you enemies of God and His Word?” (Selah.) HMM

Some Other Time

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works man these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. —John 14:12

“Ye shall receive power” (Acts 1:8). “But covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31). Anything that God has ever done for a soul He will do for anyone else, if the conditions are met….

Unbelief says: Some other time, but not now; some other place, but not here; some other people, but not us. Faith says: Anything He did anywhere else He will do here; anything He did any other time He is willing to do now; anything He ever did for other people He is willing to do for us! With our feet on the ground, and our head cool, but with our heart ablaze with the love of God, we walk out in this fullness of the Spirit, if we will yield and obey. God wants to work through you!

The Counselor has come, and He doesn’t care about the limits of locality, geography, time or nationality. The Body of Christ is bigger than all of these. The question is: Will you open your heart?   COU121

This thought is very convicting, Lord. I know I’ve been guilty of praising You for Your power and goodness, while secretly doubting that You were really going to work in my present situation. Forgive me that duplicity, Lord, and give me faith to believe You for now, for here, for me. Amen.

On His Terms

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. —John 1:12

I…believe…that if someone should come along who could make himself heard to thousands instead of to a few hundred, someone with as much oil as intellect and as much power as penetration, we could yet save evangelical Christianity from the dead-end street where it finds itself. I warn you: do not for one second let the crowds, the bustle of religious activity, the surge of religious thinking fool you into supposing that there is a vast amount of spirituality. It is not so.

That is why the meaning of the word received is so important here. “As many as received him”—actively and aggressively took Him. This means a determined exercise of the will. It means to not deny any condition that the Lord lays down. That is something quite different from what we are hearing. They did not come to the Lord and try to make terms, but they came to the Lord and actively took Him on His terms. FBR012-013

A sanctified life is a life conformed to the Scriptures in every particular. It commences with our hearts; it next reaches to our ears, and then it is accomplished in our feet. CTBC, Vol. 2/025

The Carpenter

Mark 6:3

The New Testament word for carpenter, tekton, denotes an artisan, a craftsman, one who is a builder.

The Scriptures reveal Christ as Carpenter of the universe: “Through Him all things were made” (John 1:3). The hands that held the hammer and worked the saw here on earth were hands that carpentered the fathomless galaxies and the infinite depths of creation. Those hands that shaved and smoothed the wood at the carpenter’s bench in Nazareth also created the stars and the planets with their perfect design and precision.

The Cosmic Carpenter by the miracle of the Incarnation became the Carpenter of Nazareth. The question of our text asked by the disaffected Nazarenes is the only window in the Scriptures through which we may look on the years of His young manhood. These few words speak volumes to us about the silent years. This portrait of our Lord as a Carpenter suggests many things that would characterize His daily round of toil.

The absence of Joseph from the later gospel narratives suggest that the wise and humble father of that family had been laid to rest, and Jesus, as the elder brother, took over the support of the family by the trade He had mastered in His father’s shop. Then finally, when the other brothers and sisters were old enough, He made His last yoke. After shaking the wood shavings from His tunic for the last time, He went out to build the eternal kingdom of God in the hearts of men.

This portrait of Christ as a Carpenter identifies Him with mankind. How reassuring it is to know that He who now holds a scepter in His hand once held a hammer and a saw. Often His hands were bruised and torn by the grain. As He worked day after day, making the wood obedient to His skill, His hands became as strong as a vise. They became roughened and calloused, the kind of hands strong fishermen would look at and know that they could follow Him with confidence. He knew the meaning of toil. He understands our burdens, our weariness, our tasks.

As the Carpenter, Christ forever sanctified human toil. Our tasks are given dignity by the One who worked amid the wood shavings at the carpenter’s bench for the greater part of His life.

Today, the Carpenter of Nazareth who once smoothed yokes in His skillful hands, would take a life that is yielded to Him, smooth the coarseness of its grain, work out its flaws and imperfections, and fashion it into a beautiful and useful instrument of God’s eternal kingdom.

Henry Gariepy, Portraits of Christ