From Rivers to Wilderness (L1)

Experiencing Lent  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:00
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(S1)The Judean Wilderness (erēmos)
Desolate, uninhabited, rough terrain; deserted, barren, dry parched land as far as the eye could see. Few would journey there, let alone live there! The Judean Wilderness, home for nomadic shepherds, bandits and fugitives! A place where most would choose not to go, especially alone. How would one feel there? Isolated, unsettled, lonely? Fearful of what may be lingering in the light of day or lurking in the dark of night?
12 “The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness,”
Certainly we must consider; how would a person survive in the wilderness? One day, three days, but FORTY—No food supply or fresh running water! Fear/isolation your only companions. Of courses this was Jesus, but still...“It was uncultivated land, beyond the bounds of civilization, inhabited by wild animals, and other creatures, including “demonic or wild ones.”
You wouldn’t bring them home as pets
“It was a forbidding place of barren hills, impassible rocky clefts, with bitter cold winters and fiercely hot summers.” (SSC on Syn. Gospels)— Get me a condo there—To wander in the wilderness, was not for the faint of heart; Yet this is where like Jesus, we are to begin our Lenten Journey.
Prayer—Lord, help us to stay FOCUSED on your word for us this week. Teach us O God, help us to learn with open bibles, open minds and open hearts, so that we may be carriers of the light of Christ to the world.
(S2) — SERIES—From Rivers to Wilderness
Forty days; that began with Ash Wed, and end with the most significant and powerful moment in Christian history; the resurrection of Jesus; who willingly journeyed into the wilderness of this world, to experience all of its troubles, sadness; to confront evil itself.
Is this a journey for us as well? A place we willingly would go? Lent is a time of spiritual self-examination, when we consider more deeply our faith, our baptism, and our willingness to follow Jesus into the wilderness of our own lives.
Wilderness? What images come to mind?
Some of us are wilderness people. We enjoy being surrounded by nothing but forest, mountains, streams and hiking trails. Living in the open air with the forest floor as our outhouse, surrounded by nature’s breath, and God’s creation.
(Daniel Boone, Davey Crocket and Gentle Ben)
Others prefer; blacktop, high rises, shop windows, city lights, the subway, and self-driving cars. Most are probably, a blend of the two. At times, we love the peaceful sound of solitude, other times the unique noises of the big city.
We begin our journey in the gospel of Mark—Jesus’ is baptized and then immediately sent by the Spirit into the wilderness. Surrounded by the ‘call of the wild,’ face to face with the worlds greatest adversary; S
Wilderness—a metaphor that “represents times in our lives when we come to face to face with our own mortality, our human weakness, and the testing of trials and temptations.
What have been your wilderness journeys; experiences in your life that have been difficult, a testing of your faith?
Marks gospel begins rapidly- no birth of Jesus—Only a short introduction
Mark 1:1 “This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
Then it moves right to John (the baptist), identified as a voice in the wilderness; an outdoors kind of guy; with an animal on his back, who ate bugs.
(S3) —
John was baptizing in the Jordan River, on the edge of the wilderness, many people who came to see and hear his message; of repentance....would we wonder what it was he was saying? Would we go there with he crowds?
Jesus shows up on the scene—John tries to talk him out of it(MT)—Jesus begins praying (L), the heavens are opened, down comes Gods spirit in the form of a dove, and the voice of God is heard (all three gospels).
Mark 1:11 “A voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.””
This being the most significant event of Trinitarian nature in all of History; God of heaven is heard—God the Sprit is seen—Jesus the Son is standing among them. Talk about a memorable day, when the heavenly realm collided with humanity, a day when the few who witnessed it would never forget.
For Jesus the waters of baptism were the doorway into a life of wilderness living; one he willingly entered. Yet this is where the glory moment ends, almost as abrupt as it began; As Jesus quickly goes from the river to the wilderness...
Talk about a bad day! Ever have one of those? When things go from good to worse?
From rivers of flowing water, to the dry harsh winds of the desert sun— From waters of abundant blessing, to desolation of wilderness living — From being identified by his heavenly father, to being testing by his earthly adversary
Consider for a moment our own wilderness times?
Unintended, imposed on us by outward circumstances beyond our control—Crime—Disasters—Illness—death
Self-inflicted—over worked—over indulging—strangled by debt—poor choices
The Israelites wilderness Journey
Upon their exodus from Egypt, they were thrust into dry deserted lands
They became hungry to the point of longing for the food they had in captivity in Egypt
Trip to Mt Sinai—Give rules to live by —They were never happy in the wilderness
How do you handle wilderness living?
For me: Lost—Lonely—Forgotten—Failure
The Israelites would rebel against God, under the weight of their own circumstances—A 30-day journey turns into a forty year lap- talk about a bad season!
 ‘Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.’” Numbers 14:“34
Yet God was with them...and provided for them...every step of the way—manna from heaven and water from the rock——This was their salvation, it just didn’t seem like it at the time.
Can’t life seem that way at times? Periods of rivers of the joys of life, and times when the journey is difficult? One moment we are up here the next…Though wilderness living may mean hard times or difficult choices, I believe that this is where we can learn the most. The times where God does his best work in us if we allow it.
“My husband and I were looking forward to 2020 more than any other year. The previous year had been filled with some of the hardest seasons we had ever walked through not only individually but also in our marriage. We faced chronic illness, depression, anxiety attacks, disappointment, and isolation. It felt like one trial after another, and we both started to feel like there was no hope and no joy left in our hearts. Have you ever felt like that? Even though we weren’t able to change our circumstances, we were able to change our perspective. Leanna Romoser (Life Church)
Jesus was alone, but never alone—He had a heavenly perspective—His outlook was on the grander plan of God who was with him
Mark 1:13 (NLT)
...where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

Jesus was willing to go, where we aren’t always wanting to go?

Four lessons I’ve learned going through wilderness times, and how this passage spoke to me— When we walk with Jesus, our wilderness journey is...

I. A Time for Spiritual GROWTH

At his baptism, Jesus had been filled with the Holy Spirit…yet that wasn’t it. It was the begining of Jesus’ difficult three year journey in this wilderness of our world. God didn’t say, “that's all you need my son now go. God equipped him for success, a way to grow spiritually through His spirit.
Baptism—Our begining
“God loves just the way we are, but loves us too much to see us stay that way..”
Seedling pushing through the soil

Jesus was willing to you can GROW

This is why we need times of discernment in WORSHIP—PRAYER—STUDY—GROUPS
Luke 17—The disciples ask Jesus, “Lord INCREASE our faith...”
Luke 17:6 “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!”
(S8) — For a mustard seed to produce…what must it do? GROW
2 Corinthians 10:15 “Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended.”
Jesus, as a human being, was growing himself—Showing his disciples that the wilderness was a time for spiritual growth
2 Thessalonians 1:3 “3 Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.”
When we walk with Jesus, our wilderness journey is a time to spiritually grow—What are your plans to grow in the Lord this lent?
(S9)—When we walk with Jesus, our wilderness journey...

II. Teaches us to TRUST Him more

Wilderness times can be great times of learning...
Jesus left all the best behind. he had to fully trust that his father in heaven would be there for him in the wilderness of his earthly life
Matthew 6:8 “...for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”
How do we trust more? “It means accepting the truth that God knows what's best for you.” That God’s got you!
Catching Someone
How do we know God’s got us? If you have been a christian for any length of time—look back...
“Because God has been faithful in our past, we can trust Him with our future. “ craiggroeschel
Walking with Jesus in the wilderness teaches us to TRUST Him more
(S10)—When we walk with Jesus, our wilderness journey...

III. Builds ENDURANCE for the long haul

It takes endurance to be a true follower of Jesus—A participate—Staying the course when its hard
Its easy for the non-committed Christian—Show up when its covenant—Get involved…who me?
Matthew 10:22 “And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who ENDURES to the end will be saved.”
JESUS endured his wilderness , coming to this world and becoming like us, even while he was the Son of God. From beginning to end—birth to death—living water to barren wasteland—from being with God to feeling forgotten—Jesus endured for our sakes
(S11)—How do we endure?
Hebrews 12:2 “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he ENDURED the cross, disregarding its shame.”
How has endurance given you the strength for the long-haul of wilderness living?
When we walk with Jesus, our wilderness journey…Builds ENDURANCE...
(S12)—When we walk with Jesus, our wilderness journey...

IV. There are always places of ABUNDANCE

Jesus found places of refreshment in the wilderness—His HOLY place was often the mountainside—he took his disciples there, crowds followed him there, and he went there by himself.
These HIGH or HOLY places played a major role in Israelite worship. Abraham built an altar near Mt Moriah and was willing to sacrifice his son there. This site believed to be the same high place where the temple of Jerusalem was built.
Jacob set up a stone pillar to the Lord at Bethel (Genesis 28:18–19), and Moses met God on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:1–3). Joshua set up stone pillars after crossing the Jordan (Joshua 4:20) and considered this a high place of worship because the Israelites “came up from” the Jordan onto higher ground.
We have the choice in our wilderness circumstance, to live a life of SCARCITY or a life of ABUNDANCE. We can focus on what we lack or on what have?
the first people of God…found these places of refreshment—When they drew closer to God—Holy places
Where is Your Holy place?
After Jesus’ Resurrection, these HOLY sites would no longer be a location on a map, but an IMPRINT of God in the heart of the believer.
Jeremiah 24:7 “7 I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.”
Water was scares in the wilderness—Jesus went into the barren land with no provision. All he needed came from above—His father in heaven.
Today we can find places of abundance, not in high places, but in Jesus who is all we need—living water.
John 7:38-39 “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
The wilderness is not easy…it wasn’t for Jesus—TROUBLE IN THE WILDERNESS
1. Are you willing to GO into this wilderness time to GROW Spiritually? If so what does that look like?
2. How can you build greater TRUST that Jesus is with you in the wilderness?
3. What do you need to give-up or sacrifice to build ENDURANCE for the long haul?
4. Where do you see places of ABUNDANCE or blessing in the wilderness?
The wilderness is a journey we to must travel, and because Jesus was willing, we can and will get through our wilderness times.
Will you walk into the wilderness with your eyes wide fixed on Jesus? Grow—Trust—Endure—Abundance
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