Read His Words Before Ours!
Wilderness experiences often leave us feeling far from God.
Yet God is with us and at work in our midst.
He faithfully provides, leads, and humbles us as He reveals our hearts, all while moving us forward toward the fulfillment of His promise to finish His work. (Deuteronomy 8:2-10)
Wilderness waiting doesn’t mean inactivity or wasted time. As we see in the lives of Jesus’ disciples as they awaited the indwelling Holy Spirit, the wilderness teaches us faith, endurance, and dependence on God.
In the forty days after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, proving He was truly alive. (Acts 1:3) He told them about the Kingdom of God and instructed them on how to live after He ascended to His heavenly throne.
Jesus’ final words to them centered on the promised Holy Spirit:
“[F]or John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days [. . .] you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses [. . .] to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:5, 8)
Jesus returns to heaven. (Acts 1:9-11)
And the disciples enter the wilderness of waiting.
Wow! Can you imagine the conversation between the disciples on the road home?
Is He coming back?
What should we do now?
They were very dependent on Jesus during His earthly ministry, yet now Jesus expected them to take the Gospel to the entire world without Him! For the disciples, this was a major hurdle for persevering faith, a wilderness moment.
Consider our own circumstances, when ministry doesn’t fit with our expectations of how God would further His kingdom. We, too, can find ourselves staring at the sky, wondering what’s next.
Despite moments of confusion and anxiety, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, as Jesus had commanded. There, they “were continually united in prayer, along with the women[.]” (Acts 1:14)
Imagine the disciples remembering the lessons Jesus had taught them on prayer and worship, humility, faith, and community.
Jesus also described true worship, in a shocking conversation with a derided Samaritan woman. (John 4:21-24) The physical location of worship would no longer be important, He explained, putting to rest a generations-old conflict between ethnic groups. Rather, all believers would “worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23)
Another fundamental lesson Jesus taught was the greatness of those who humbly serve. (Luke 22:24-27) In answering a dispute over which disciple would be most glorified in Heaven, Jesus challenged their thinking.
“On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)
Jesus continually demonstrated servant leadership and humility. The disciples would need these skills to take the Gospel to the world.
Along with reflecting on Jesus’ teachings, the disciples could use their wilderness time to consider the importance of faith.
The disciples had witnessed Jesus restore abundance of life in miracle after miracle.
A centurion’s servant, healed with a word. (Matthew 8:5-13)
A leper, and the disciple Peter’s mother-in-law, healed with a touch. (Matthew 8:1-4, Matthew 8:14-16)
Spiritual and physical healing, again and again, living fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah’s words, before their eyes, “He himself took our weaknesses and carried our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17, Isaiah 53:4)
Yet, in none of these restorations had the disciples’ own lives been at risk.
Until the night a terrible storm arose as Jesus and His disciples were traveling on the sea.
As their boat nearly capsized in the waves, the disciples woke a sleeping Jesus, begging Him for rescue. (Matthew 8:23-27) Jesus calmed the storm, then challenged them to assess their faith.
You see, it’s easy to proclaim faith that God is working in a stranger’s hardship.
The smallness of our faith may not become apparent until the waves surge before our eyes, threatening to sweep the air from our lungs and crush our bones beneath the weight of the sea.
Yet, Jesus calmly reminds, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) Faith enables us to rely on God’s strength to overcome any storm or wilderness moments that tear into our lives.
Such faith would be critical for the disciples to carry out Jesus’ final commission. Now in the upper room, before the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter led them in faith as they waited and prayed.
When the Holy Spirit arrived, Peter, who denied Christ three times only weeks earlier, spoke powerfully about the life and resurrection of Jesus to the masses of Jews who filled Jerusalem. As a result, three thousand people came to faith. (Acts 2)
In the wilderness, we, like the disciples, can learn to prioritize prayer, engage in true worship, humbly serve, and move in the rhythms of faith.
God is faithful, and we can depend on Him, even in the wilderness.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!