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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is God Leading You to the Wilderness?

Exodus 13:17-18 (ESV)
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 

I have been working on rebuilding the closet in our master bedroom. I bought a whole bunch of lumber, rods to hang clothes, stuff to make shelves and drawers and put all of it in my living room. Of course, it can't set there forever. Either I begin the project or my wife makes me sleep outside, so I go to the present closet, take all the clothes, blankets, shoes, and just junk and tear out the built-in shelves and rods. 

There is no going back now. I putting it all back and taking all the stuff back is just too hard. Redoing the closet is the only thing I can do.

God knew the Israelites would face war. He knew that an easy trip to the Promised Land would make for an easy trip back to Egypt. He wanted to make a people for Himself. He chose these people. He knew He had a lot of work on His hands. He knew what they would do when they faced difficulty. He knew that He needed to make it too hard to go back.

Have you ever thought that God could be leading you in the same way? Could it be that God is leading you into the wilderness because He knows that the difficulties that you will face? Could it be that He is making you into the image of His Son and that means that you will face some hard times? 

I think you already know the answers to these questions. God leads us into the wilderness instead of the easy road to make us into a people who resemble His Son. He takes us along a path that makes it difficult to go back to when we were under bondage. 

I am not saying that every bad thing that happens comes by the hand of God. I am saying that the path that God takes you to will cause you to cling to the promises that He has for you. You won't want to go back so the only answer is to go forward.

Things always look impossible right after we agree to walk in God's will. They did for the Israelites. They needed to wilderness to prove that God would sustain them. They needed the wilderness to be made stronger. They needed the impossible situations so that could see that nothing is impossible with God.

I always love what the wilderness has done for me as soon as I am no longer in it. Yet, I know that it is necessary and when I enter it again, I call out to God to help me go through it. I just don't want to go back. 

Some of you reading this are going through the wilderness right now. You really can't go back. So, call on Him and keep His promises right in front of you.


Anthony Chia said...

Our Peculiar Passage

Whether we like it or NOT, we are in a sort of “adulthood passage”. No father would want to see his child stops, abandons or fails eventually, in the passage. All such passages have some “rules”; otherwise, we may as well NOT have them. As much as the father would like to help his child, even if the father is the village chief (for example), he cannot break this rule or that rule to ensure his child make it through. Now, the reasons for such passages are that it is good for the child, and it is good for the community. Although such passages are sometimes handled like an initiation, it is rather, the passage starts with an initiation.

People do NOT undertake the passage without the initiation, and those who undergo the initiation, undergo it with the intent to complete the passage. In other words, it is similar to what Jesus said concerning we have to “count the cost” before we begin:

Luke 14:27-33 –
27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Saying the Sinner’s Prayer or the act of coming into salvation is equivalent to initiation. As in the adulthood passages, no one goes into the initiation, and stops there or regards that (initiation), as all there is to it, to the adulthood passage; there is necessarily the passage or journey, unless the person somehow, drops dead, immediately after initiation.

So, we can metaphorically regard the salvation as a passage. It begins with “Entering into Salvation” (acceptance of Jesus Christ as is commonly said), and continues on with “In Savation”; we, believers, are in salvation, and the Apostle Paul said of the “In Salvation” this way (Phil 2:12): We are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”.

But unlike men’s adulthood passage, our salvation passage has its peculiarity. If we “play by the rules”, we have unlimited access to a leader, the Leader, who leads us IN the passage. The Leader is our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Spirit (same as the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God). The role of the Lord is to lead us through the passage, NOT He has to undergo the passage. Unlike men’s adulthood passage, the “obstacle course” is dynamic and can be different, for different individuals. The Leader wants to help you and can help you, but core rules, He does NOT break.

For example, if you engage in evil, stubbornly, he is NOT with you. He may be there (present), but He is NOT with you (He does NOT go along with you; agree with you and work with you {in your evil}). When we say, you have to “play by the rules”, this is what we mean. Another example of breaking the ground rules, which we must avoid, is this: You don’t hold Him as your Leader, but hold another; that can be idolatry; rebellion; even apostasy. Sorry, there is no such thing as salvation without embracing Lordship; that is apostasy.

The Leader (the Lord, Jesus Christ) wants you to make it, but you cannot insist He do what He would NOT do! You still have your free-will and you have to exercise it rightly, but the Leader does NOT conform to your volition; He goes by His will; He teaches us; we don’t teach Him; He does NOT learn; He is arrived; we are NOT. It is NOT He, undergoing the passage, we are.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

As He assesses your progress, he wants to help you, encourage you, comfort you, and will lead you, if you allow Him to. He knows how to lead you if you allow Him to. He wants to lead in such a way that you should NOT stop, abandon, or fail eventually, the passage; but it is NOT His job to do the passage for you; as in a men’s adulthood passage, the father or the village chief cannot do the passage for the children.

There is work to be done by us; the passage does NOT end with Initiation. First of all, we need to trust the Leader. We need to believe if we follow His leading, we will pass the passage; it is like He has every conceivable blueprint there is, of the obstacle courses in the passage. It is NOT “a piece of cake”, maybe you will hit a wall, but He knows where to punch a hole in the wall, and you can move on. When the time runs out, you are to pass, and that means you reaching the “land of adulthood”, Heaven; and so, you have to keep moving forward.

Second, we need to know the Leader and His ways, because we cannot bend Him to conform to our volition; instead, it is best for us, when we work with Him. If we want to work with Him, we need to know Him and His ways. Among His ways are (1) there is no wickedness in Himself whatsoever; and so, you got to conform to that; He is holy; (2) He has His commission, to lead as many of us, through the passage as possible; and so, if you want to work with Him, be part of this Great Commission; and (3) He moves in love, and His love is of this kind, in keeping with His holiness and righteousness, love unto righteousness (a specific `ahab love); and so, we have to move in that way, too.

Thirdly, we have to return to the Leader, when we have gone off-course (strayed and sinned); this is what we say, “You got to get back right with the Lord”; otherwise, how is He to lead you again. We got to repent; be humble, and confess we have done wrong (sinned), and ask Him to forgive us, and give us the “right hand of fellowship” again, and lead us. That we have a leader to lead us in this passage is peculiar, but if you ignore this peculiarity or don’t want this peculiarity, chance is that you will NOT make it. This is a peculiar passage, to make us a peculiar people, for the one and only God worthy of our devotion.

In my view, those who teach along the line of “God got your butt onto the course, He got to get your ass to Heaven, regardless, on the ground that you merited it NOT your entry into salvation, they are seriously missing what God is trying to do.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions