Walks in the Wilderness

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For several years after I was saved, I failed to get baptized, because I had been baptized pre-salvation. But I had a praying friend, Doyle Ballengee, who the Spirit revealed to him the necessity of that event in my life. And so I stood before the congregation of Victory Baptist Church and told them of my “assumption of salvation, realization of being lost, struggle to believe I was saved when I actually got saved, and the wisdom that I needed to be baptized to make it clear in my own head once and for all, I am a child of God and this is how I will identify with Him, both publicly and personally. And from that decision point, I’ve never turned back. My salvation is stead fast in Christ and my service is bold! But it’s not been without many, many wilderness experiences along the way.

I’ve heard a few sermons lately, and the mention of the text on several occasions about the transfiguration of Christ. And any time I hear a specific word of God on multiple occasions I can assume that God is getting my attention and saying “Shari… park here for a while.” And so this morning I’m parked. In between jumping up and down in a giddy, childish excitement kind of way. It’s like I got the prize out of the box of cereal before my siblings! Now it’s not just mine… and I didn’t actually think it up. It started with my co-teacher Doug Rowe a few weeks ago who taught on the transfiguration. Then I’ve heard it in sermons and comments a few more times, and then this morning I listened to Jace Robertson on “Unashamed” the podcast and I couldn’t stop thinking about the significance of this word in my life.

Wandering

Both Elijah and Moses did some serious wandering in the wilderness. It wasn’t Moses’ fault that he was leading a rebellious nation of people. (Exodus)  Elijah, in a moment of weakness, wanders into the wilderness believing himself to be alone and the last of the mighty men of God willing to take a stand, and in 1 Kings 19:8 it reads

And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights into Horeb the mount of God. 

40… seems of great importance.

Although my salvation at 34 begin a whirlwind of faith, the dates and times of significant events seem to escape me. However, I was nearing, if not 40 years of age when I got baptized. And that was the for certain the start of my ministry. Where I actually considered myself in the work of the Lord. But even knowing that, I still did my share of wandering! It wasn’t until 2010 at the age of 48 when I settled into the “Jesus Chick” role, that I stopped wandering on a large scale and began wandering within the bounds of wordpress, trying to figure out how to market and use this platform for the Glory of God. So here I am… still wandering in that zone, but ever so happy to be. But it’s been a struggle. My decision to step out in faith immediately put me on Satan’s radar, and I’ve been there ever since. He has a lot to work with in me. As someone so cleverly once said, “serving God is being on a battleship, not a love boat.” It’s war!

Jace tuned me in on a verse this morning in Hebrews that really ties some strings together when it comes to my own walk with the Lord, and what I see happening in the lives of others. Please understand, I AM NOT saying I have all of life figured out in the realm of faith… but… I have a little snippet that has brought me along thus far, and Hebrews 4:1-2 explains it!

Hebrews 4:1-2

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Warfare

War’s scary! But a life without rest, the constant fear of the enemy would be far worse. Because of Christ we can enter into the rest and security of the believer, but not without the Word of God being a large portion of our life. It’s why so many people are living defeated lives as Christians. You cannot possibly live in peace if you stay in the battle zone all the time. Moses and Elijah, the two on the mountain of Transfiguration stand before us as an example that we all, even the most faithful, struggle. But neither of those men stopped serving, or listening for God.

I have good friends, who just don’t get the importance of church and personal bible study. They “fit” church in when they can. Scripture is a “go to” in times of trouble, and prayer is an occasional “formality.” Or something they ask for because they don’t know how to have a conversation with God themselves. It makes me nauseous! Because I can fall into that trap just as easy as anyone else. The writer of Hebrews summed it up! The word does not profit those who aren’t mixed with faith. If you’re not active in your relationship with God, you’re gonna find yourself in a cave thinking you’re the only one left! (1 Kings 19).

Wantoness 

Nothing Satan had to offer Christ was of interest to Him. But He still used the Word of God to put Satan in His place. There was little mention of Christ’s life prior to that day in the water, but suddenly Jesus was on the scene and Satan wasn’t happy about it. He placed the very things that were of interest to himself before Jesus figuring that would catch Jesus’ eye. What Satan wanted more than anything was worship. And he knew that mankind (for which Jesus was now a part of) loved stuff! Oh… I just stepped on my own toes to the point I may have severed a couple. My eyes can so easily be captured by shiny, blingy things. Be it music, apparel, jewelry, etc. I just love STUFF! So Satan knows if he wants to capture my attention just put those things in front of me.

The children of Israel exited Egypt with more “stuff” than any had ever owned. Egypt was throwing things their way to get their plague brining bodies out of their town. But even with all that stuff, they still wanted more. It’s the nature of man. Nothing’s ever seems “enough.” Until you’re at the end of life and then you truly realize there is nothing that will bring “rest” to the body and mind except the Lord Jesus Himself. He was on the mountain with Moses and He was on the mountain with Elijah in that still small voice! And He has been on every mountain top experience I’ve had and He lead me out of every valley!

In all honesty. I have needed nothing that God didn’t provide. But that did not stop my wantoness.

Washing 

Elijah’s wilderness experience came after the drought of water in 1 Kings 17.

Moses’ wilderness experience came after the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 15.

Jesus’ wilderness experience came after His baptism in Matthew 4:1.

Following the water… wilderness. Water us significant. The Bible is called the “washing of water by the word.” It is through the word of God that we find healing, cleansing, leading… everything we stand of need of. It’s in there! And once that’s discovered by a child of God, Satan ain’t happy!

James 4:7

Submit yourselves there to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Submission gets a bad wrap in society today. Nobody wants to submit. Israel didn’t… and the Gentiles don’t. We’re just another nation of people that wants to give God a headache. Praise His Holy Name! He is so patient with us.

When Jesus took James, Peter and John upon the mountain to pray, and there introduced him to Elijah and Moses, woah… what an amazing time that must have been! Until the next “40”

Acts 1:3 – To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

Isn’t the word of God amazing! Can you understand why I was so captivated by this word this morning and how all those “parts and pieces” from the Old Testament and the New Testament fit together like some amazing spiritual jigsaw puzzle? Just like you and I.

There will come a day when we get to glory, face to face with the One Who saved us and He lets us in on all the mysteries of the Bible and how we too played a role. Oh…. goodness… gracious!!!!  Thanks for letting me share that with you. I hope it made sense. It does in my head, but that’s a dangerous ground to walk.

God bless ya!!! And if you find some nuggets of truth, share them with me. And let me join in your journey!

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Shari Johnson. (aka The Jesus Chick) has been encouraging women of faith and youth for a closer walk with Christ for over ten years. Having a burden for the leadership in American Churches, much of her writing is meant to spear on the servant of God to do more for the cause of Christ in these uncertain times. With humor, transparency and solid bible teaching Shari outlines messages that are easily understood, life applicable, and often with easily remembered points to ponder in hopes that they’ll be reflected on throughout the day and serve as encouragement on the go. Her servant’s heart is grounded in her own local church believing that it is there that the greatest impact can be made and unfortunately suffers the greatest neglect across America. Shari speaks at women’s gatherings in hopes of leaving a giggle in their soul and a burning desire to serve in their own local body of believers having it said of her “I laughed, I cried, and I was drawn to the foot of the cross…” Which is what it’s all about. For information on scheduling Shari, call her direct at (304)377-6036, message her via email at talk2shari@gmail.com or find her on Facebook!

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