Day 28: W is for Wilderness

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” Psalm 107:4-6

W is for wilderness. Wilderness means an area that is virtually uncultivated and uninhabited; an empty or pathless area. When I think of a wilderness, I think of a desert. But, that is not necessarily the case. How do I know? The dictionary, of course! Hehe

So, if a wilderness does not equal (is not synonymous with) a desert, then what is the difference? Yes, a desert can be a virtually uncultivated and uninhabited area … and it can be empty or pathless. But, desert actually means an excessively dry place. It also can be a very desolate (joyless) place.

Are you confused yet? Well, do not be too worried because even my analytical mind is all twisted up! But, for the sake of this devotion, let us picture in our mind a true wilderness … with all of its gigantic pine trees, with its rugged terrain, and with its majestic mountains.

Have you ever watched those “wilderness” survival shows? If you have, have you ever seen them in a desert (dry, barren place)? Nope? I have not either. They have always been in a wilderness-y type place, right? In the middle of a forest far away from habitation. Did you notice that there is always sustenance there … if you look in the right places?

God allows us to go into the wilderness … into the fires so to speak … not to destroy us, but to purify us. Alaska, my home town and home state, is going through a tremendous fire right now. It is seemingly destroying everything in its path for thousands and thousands of acres. When those fires are finally gone, what is left? Black, black, and more black. Am I right? To the human eye, that is what is seen. But, remember that the human eye is finite.

In our spiritual lives, we will also be led into the wilderness and be tempted and tested like never before. The fires will rage hot, hotter, and the hottest that we could ever imagine. When those fires finally pass … and they will pass … black will be left behind. But, do not despair, my friend. God makes beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). God is testing you to see what you are made of. He is purifying your life.

If you keep watching, you will see new life sprout up in the midst of all the charred remains. With that new life comes an even greater beauty … one that could not have transpired without the fires before it.

Even though time spent in the wilderness seems like a solitary time, it is not. God is there with you and it will not last forever. The wilderness is a place to place through … not to set up residence. Say, “Hallelujah!” right there!

Lesson Objective: To understand what wilderness means and the difference between it and the desert. To learn that even though we are greatly tested by fires in the wilderness, God is still there. He will not only get us through, but He will bring forth great beauty! 

Did you pass or did you fail?

Day 12: The Wrath

Cease from anger, and forsake WRATH …” Psalm 37:8

Yesterday we talked about anger and more specifically ceasing (stopping) anger in our lives. What are the next three words that David wrote here? “And forsake wrath.” I can just hear David now saying, “Cease from anger … oh! AND      forsake wrath!” Why do you think David added that part? Why did he not just stop with anger?

Remember our definition of anger was a strong feeling of displeasure or annoyance. Well, wrath means extreme anger. What is David subtly telling us? He is telling us that anger has degrees. Oftentimes anger is compared to heat or fire,    correct? Well, we find that fire has varying degrees. A small flame or fire will not be as hot as a huge, raging forest fire.

When I think of fire in the Bible, the first thing that pops into my mind is the tongue. In James 3:5, James tells us, “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” In other words, it does not take much for a fire to turn from a small thing to an uncontrollable thing. We must at all times be on watch with the words that we say, especially when anger is present.

When a person is angry, they do not always show it on the outside. It may just be simmering on the inside. I believe that David realized that quenching a small spark of anger was much easier than a full-fledged outward inferno. Ephesians 4:26 tells us to “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Anger is an emotion and anger in itself is not always a sin. Anger, if not controlled, can turn into sin. So, how do we control our anger and how can we overcome our anger once it has taken hold? Here are a few things to consider:

· Consider it’s origin. Often times anger has its roots in the heart. Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently … lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” To overcome, you must deal with the roots.

· It is a tool of the devil to destroy a Christian’s growth, life, and testimony. Anger very assuredly divides and destroys. This is especially seen when someone hurts you with their words or actions. If we are weak spiritually, we will tend to fight back with words or actions, do we not? Does that make us feel better? Does it resolve the issue? I believe not because we are fighting in the flesh and the Bible so clearly tells us that we are fighting a spiritual battle (warfare). Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

· As a Christian, our greatest desire should be to be Christ-like. If we are to be/act Christ-like, we must have the mind of Christ. Ephesians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

In closing, let me encourage you as David did, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath!” Do not let your anger linger any longer. Seek God’s help to find the roots, fight the devil and pattern your thoughts and your actions after the mind of Christ!