Defined and Refined in the Wilderness
Today in Week Four of our My City Mixtape sermon series, four leaders from our church spoke to us on what the Bible says about trials in life.
Makenzie Logan, our Marketing Strategy Director, opened up with Luke 4:1-4 and Joshua 5:6.
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.'" Luke 4:1-4 (NIV)
Why did the Israelites wonder for forty years and not only forty days like Jesus? Was it because God did not love them? Of course not. God had just delivered them from Egypt! If you refer back up to Joshua 5:6, you’ll see it says “since they had not obeyed the Lord." It was their disobedience and unbelief that cost them their 40 years of wandering. They forgot who they were and who their God was.
Our response in the wilderness will determine whether we stay for 40 days or 40 years. Will you let this trial be a season or a cycle in your life?
How do you grow through the trials in life and leave empowered by the Holy Spirit?
1. Walk in Obedience
So many of us try to find our own way and complain when things aren’t going our way. But let me ask you this: What are you doing today to build your faith and to obey God? Are you living like the Israelites - full of doubt and fear? Or maybe you know what you should do, but you’re not doing it? Do you trust that God is good and working all things for your good?
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
2. Understand the Purpose
Our trials are temporary. Jesus had hope for the future because of what this testing would produce in Him and through Him. Our trials are not about us. They are about refining us so we can be more like Christ and fulfill the purposes of God on the earth.
3. Know God and Know His Word
Jesus knew the Word of God. His weapon against the enemy always started with, “It is written.” We need to know His Word. It is the only real weapon to fight against the enemy’s schemes. Jesus didn’t perish in the wilderness because He knew who He was and how much God loved Him. Do you believe that God is for you and not against you? Do you truly believe that you are who He says you are?
“BUT WHY, God?”
Lindsey Mulder, Student Leadership Coach, spoke out of Daniel 3 about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. An amazing example of bold faith in scripture, but we still might find ourselves asking, “But why did God let them be there in the first place?"
We have the choice to continue looking at the fire (our trial) or look to our God! We will feel the smoke, the heat, and the pressure of our trial, but none of this changes the character of God. The flames may get close, but we will not be harmed.
Your Response is Your Responsibility
Matt Reid, our Student Leadership Director, shared on James 1:2-3.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 (NIV)
You’ll notice it says “whenever you face trials" not “if you face trials”. We cannot avoid trials but what we can do is look to Jesus and know that He has us covered. His sacrifice on the cross, conquering death, hell, and the grave covered our future as believers. Every step is ordered, and our eternity is secure. With this, we can consider it joy when we face trials because we know it is producing endurance and refining us from the inside out.
We’ve Got the Upper Hand
Kelsey Lee, our My City U Executive Director, wrapped up by reminding us the strength we have in the Holy Spirit.
“So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”” Zechariah 4:6-7 (NIV)
Why do we try to manhandle our trial? Do we really want to do it on our own? Most likely not. We have the Holy Spirit to get us through our trials! It is not "our" trial to overcome. It's God's! We are only made overcomers by the power of His blood and the Word of our testimony!
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
May we seek His face through our trials— He is our only hope and strength!
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