LESSONS FOR THE WILDERNESS
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God”…
DON’T HIT EJECT!
Over the years I have seen many gifted people receive powerful prophetic promises, incredible God encounters and real deal anointings of the Spirit, only to later hit EJECT on the purposes of God in their lives. Usually they do not fall directly into overt rebellion, instead they simply settle into a much safer and lesser blessed ‘Christian’ path. They retreat from forcefully pursuing the kingdom and years later find themselves celebrating the status quo. How and why does this happen? Where does it begin?
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
In the midst of crisis and difficulty, if we are not rooted in the truth of God’s character and ways, we will always misinterpret our circumstances. To put it plainly, when we get chucked into a wilderness struggle and we dont truly believe that God always leads us in victory and triumph (2 Cor 2:14) and from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18), we become increasingly confused about what the heck is happening. Sadly for many it’s only a matter of time before they then falsely conclude that they must not be in the will of God. When this happens the next bad move (and the enemy’s goal) is to hit EJECT.
Whatever you do, don’t hit eject!
LEARNING FROM JESUS’ STRUGGLE
If we want the baptism that Jesus received we better prepare to also endure the struggle that inevitably follows. Below are a few brief insights to Jesus’ wilderness experience; points I trust can strengthen you as the Spirit takes the lead.
GET BEHIND ME…FEELINGS?!
So critical to western Christians is this glorious, yet simple truth. Unbridled prosperity, such as we have experienced in the United States, has not well-prepared us to rejoice in hardship and persevere in affliction, the divine keys to building godly character (Rom 5:3-5). We’ve been cultured to think that if something doesn’t feel good it must not be right…and our feelings are always right! In fact, favoring biblical truth over our domineering emotions feels like a betrayal on the deepest level. Yet, God is determined to have an army who will do what is right and not what’s easy (character). The only way into this is to build our lives on the truth of God’s timeless character and force our fickle emotions to take up the rear. I tell you, live this out for a few years so that when the heavens open and the Spirit leads you into a struggle, you have a history that you can draw from and can guide you through.
SO NOT EATING MAKES ME STRONGER?
When the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness He went on a 40 day fast (similar to Nacho Libre). Somewhere He learned that times of loneliness and spiritual dryness require extra measures of spiritual seeking. This also is anti-American. How quickly when dryness rises, we let off the throttle and hit cruise control into a social media binge, or any other number of dulling pleasures. Jesus however pressed in with spiritual violence. Fasting is spiritual violence against the flesh and it positions us to overcome when the hour of darkness rises. Certainly after 40 days Jesus was physically very weak; but spiritually He was living in the supply of the Spirit! When it comes to spiritual warfare we want to be weak in the flesh and strong in the spirit, not the other way around.
THE ENEMY ALWAYS RISES AGAINST REVELATION
“IF you are the Son of God” said the accuser. Satan came to specifically challenge the prophetic word released at Jesus’ baptism, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I’m well pleased.” He was targeting the seed of revelation. But He was too late. For 40 days Jesus had fasted and prayed and that seed had become an abiding word in Him. The enemy always rises against heavenly revelation. Be it a truth of identity, word of direction or of the future, he works tirelessly to steal, kill and destroy us. He does this by undermining the truth of what God has said. He knows that if He can undermine God’s truth in us he can undermine our destiny (just ask Adam & Eve). So then, when you hear his challenge in your thoughts or through other human voices, know that it’s a sure tell sign that the seed you’ve received is in fact from the Lord. Congratulations, you’ve become a threat to the enemy.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
“It is written,” Jesus replied, with holy jealousy for God’s truth. Each time Satan pitched Jesus, the Beloved Son responded with a spoken declaration of scripture. And do you know what book of the Bible Jesus quoted from each time? The book of Deuteronomy. That’s right, Jesus’ choice weapon against Satan was a book of the Bible most Christians just skim through today. What if the greatest heavenly weapons are the ones most neglected on Earth? What if the sword God has destined you to wield against the enemy in the hour of struggle is a scripture you have not yet taken in?!
God’s word is authoritative in us first to the degree that we have faith in the authority of His word and second, to the degree we have submitted to the authority of His word. Jesus had both received by faith His position as the Beloved Son of God and totally surrendered to the Lordship of the Spirit. This made Him totally unstoppable. He did not simply endure the struggle, He conquered it. And such is our inheritance!
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—uwho is at the right hand of God, vwho indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”