Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Lord of the Desert
"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1). There is a feeling (almost a doctrine) among conservative evangelicals that goes like this, "If you do right and act right, you will be blessed with a nearly trouble free life." Such teaching is flat out heresy. Should you, for some reason believe this, I would advise you to check in with the Apostle Peter. Reading several chapters from one of his two books will set anyone straight on the matter of troubles, trails and suffering. We know Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the desert, but why? To be "Tempted by the devil" is the answer. Why would God lead his Son, or you or me into the desert? Answer, there is a whole lot of learning that takes place in the desert. "Though He were Son, He learned obedience by the things He suffered." "Desert Theological Seminary" is where we learn about ourselves. Hey, I can handle life when everything is going my way. Desert living is the place where we choose to commit to living by every Word of God, and not by bread alone. Its where we learn to respond to every temptation by citing what the Word of God says about the temptation. Its where we learn to separate the wheat from the chaff of life. The desert is a place of forging convictions and shaping character. As Christians we have a great need, the Scriptures must be written on our hearts, that we might know how to respond to any given situation. Its typically our reactions, not our actions that kill us. The Word says, "The truth shall set you free." Knowing and doing the will of God allows us to live free even when we are tempted by that which is evil. have you noticed that deserts are very quiet. There is little to no activity in the desert. However it is often the place where the devil speaks the loudest, because the desert is our place of weakness. When I am in the desert I don't have the comforts of the "Normal" to cling to. In the desert I'm not in control, if I was in control I wouldn't choose to be in the desert. I have also noticed when I am in the desert the heavens often seem to be made out of brass. God is frequently silent in the desert, however it can also be a place where God (when He chooses) speaks the loudest. The word desert comes from the Hebrew word "Dahbaar" which means "To speak." He usually speaks to me when I finally shut up and am ready to listen. I have spend a lot of time in the desert, desert living isn't so bad, (in time it kind of grows on you), its a great place to meditate on the Word. Its God's classroom to teach us how to withstand the unique temptations that come to us in the desert place. Desert is where we learn the importance of spiritual warfare. Its a great place to draw on the grace of God, which is operative even when He is silent. And its the place to take our stand with God. He and He alone is Lord of the desert. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.