Episode 2
|
December 13, 2021

God With Us | In the Wilderness


Along with mountaintops and valleys, we also have wilderness experiences in life. We may be feeling dry as we’re desperately waiting and seeking answers. Where’s God?

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okay today we're gonna get into our
content uh which is we're talking about
god with us and it it just comes from
this idea that god is with us everywhere
in matthew chapter one which is our
anchor passage for this
it says the the virgin will conceive
and give birth to a son and they will
call him
immanuel which means god
with us
and we're making the point that god
isn't just with you when things are good
he isn't just with you on the
mountaintops but he's also with you
in the valleys tony talked about that
last week today
we want to talk about
the wilderness
god is with
each of us in
the wilderness now the wilderness is
different from other times and seasons
in our life because it's just it's just
a unique time but i want to kind of
outline what the wilderness looks like
and we all
go through this the first thing about
the wilderness is
god seems distant
now
i know i connected with probably about
80 of the people in the room because
that's how you feel today that's how you
feel
wherever you're watching
you feel like god is distant and it's
like you're praying and you're praying
and you're seeking god and
it's kind of like you're texting god and
he's leaving you on red
and and sometimes it feels like the
thing that you're doing or the life that
you're living god actually set you out
on that path
like there was a time in your life where
you felt like god called you to to
foster a child
there was a time where you felt like no
this is where god wanted me to go he
wanted me to take that job he wanted me
me to make that move he wanted me in
that relationship
and then you you kind of took that step
of faith and you trusted god and then
you got out there in life a little bit
and now you're
kind of in your place you're like yeah
god this is cool but
i kind of thought you'd be here
more than you are i thought you'd be
showing up
and god feels
so far away
another thing about the wilderness is it
is a time where we are
we are tested
and tempted
the image of the wilderness comes from
the the old testament where the
israelites were had this literal
mountaintop experience god freed them
from slavery he brought them through the
red sea he took them to a literal
mountain where the presence of god came
down and rested on the mountain they
literally had the presence of god right
in front of them
then one thing led to another and god
took them out into the wilderness and
they wandered for 40 years
and during that 40-year wandering god
god tested them
there are times
in your life where god's just gonna kind
of
step back
he's not going to leave you
you just kind of kind of step back and
say are you going to follow me even if
i'm not showing up every single day
you're going to show are you going to
follow me if i'm not showing up and
working miracles every single day
are you going to follow me even if i
don't give you immediately what you
asked me for
it's kind of like this
when my
son who's now 22 years old was about 15
i was concerned that he might be using
his xbox to look up things inappropriate
right
so like don't judge me as a parent this
is parenting's tough okay
so this is what i did i uh i left him
alone in the house one day and i was
like hey son i'm leaving
nobody here nobody going to be here for
a long time
then i got in my car and i drove away i
went around the block and i parked down
the street
and then i walked up to the house and i
went to the window where he was on his
xbox and i just i was just seeing that's
just seeing what he was doing
and i looked in the window you know what
he was doing he's playing minecraft
that's what he's doing
and i watched him at least for five
solid minutes that's all he did was play
minecraft i think that's a picture of
sometimes what god does it's not like
he's gone it just seems like he's gone
and he's just standing back and he's
allowing us to go through temptation and
trial and he's just seeing
what we're gonna do
and then the third point of the
wilderness to help you know if you're in
one is it's it's a long period of time
this isn't like crisis mode it's not
like oh this is gonna be a bad couple of
months or even a year this is something
that just kind of goes
it just goes on
and on
in fact i would say that you in in your
life are going to spend more time in the
wilderness than you're going to spend on
the mountaintop you're going to spend
more time in the wilderness than you do
in the valley in fact i would say the
majority of your life is going to con be
consumed with being in
the wilderness i made a a fiction
pie chart this isn't real but like this
is
this is what i would say
i would say you're going to spend a
small amount of your time with these
mountaintop experiences where god just
feels so close and his calling is so
clear and
you're going to spend a good chunk of
your life in the valley
and then you're going to spend the
majority of your time in this wilderness
where god seems distant that just seems
distant
and and here's the thing
god doesn't allow us to go through these
seasons because
he's cruel
that's not why it happens
he doesn't allow us to go through this
or even bring us to this place where
we're in that spot because
because he's god and he can do whatever
he wants
there's actually something really
important he's doing for us
because what happens is the things that
we
think that we need in this life
begin to we begin to realize in the
wilderness and the wandering that's not
actually what we need you might walk
into the wilderness thinking what you
really need
are hardwood floors throughout the house
not just in one section but the whole
house hardwood floors
you might think that you might you might
think that what you need
is a family
you might go into the wilderness with a
whole bunch of things that you think
that you need
but eventually over time and only time
can do this eventually you get to the
place where the thing that you need the
most
is god
i would say this the wilderness actually
becomes a very good thing when your
deepest need becomes a gift
when it drives you
to depend
on god that's what he wants
he wants you in a place where you can
depend on him fully today
we're going to learn about a wilderness
experience and kind of what god's doing
in the middle of these through the story
of elijah i love i love this story i
love the story of elijah so much that i
named my oldest son elijah
he's in a wilderness wondering elijah
was called to do what every prophet in
the old testament did he lived about 700
years before jesus
and he was called to bring god's people
back
to god that was what he was supposed to
do because at his time there was an evil
king and his crazy wife ahab and jezebel
and they had led god's people
away from god
and they led them to worship a god named
baal
now elijah had been called to like win
it back so he's out there prophesying
and he's doing everything god commands
him to do and as he's doing that
it's not really working
and have you ever you ever come home
from a day or a year or a season where
every effort that you had like didn't
work and you're like well then why did i
waste my time
that's what's happening like it's just
not working
and then finally one day in first kings
chapter 18 you should go home and read
this in first kings 18 there's a
breakthrough and god decides to show up
in a big way and he tells elijah here's
what i want you to do i want you to
gather all of the people that worship
baal and i want you to come before me i
want you to put an altar and whoever
whoever can call down fire from heaven
that's who the real god is
so he does just that the prophets of
baal you might know the story they go
around and they scream and they cry for
hours on end and they try to get the
fire to fall down from heaven and they
can't do it and then elijah gets up and
just says a simple prayer and literally
fire falls down from heaven and consumes
the altar
now this was a high for elijah because i
think elijah was stepping back from that
and he's going finally
now everybody obviously is going to
return home to the heart of god
but that's not what happens
in fact nobody returns even after
watching this obvious miracle nothing
changes and i think this was a dagger to
elijah's heart and he's going what
are you idiots like what
and in fact what happens is jezebel
becomes enraged
that he did this
and sends all of her troops
to kill
elijah to kill one man that's where we
pick up our story today first kings 19
says
elijah was afraid and ran for his life
when he came to beersheba in judah he
left his servant there while he himself
went a day's journey
into the wilderness so he is out in this
wilderness by
himself and a key moment in elijah's
life
happens here
in the next verse it says he came to a
broombush
sat down under it and prayed that he
might
die
i have had enough lord he said
take my life i am no better than my
ancestors then he lay down under the
bush and fell
asleep
that might be the place you're at today
you might be coming in here and it it
may not necessarily be a crisis that's
led you to this place it's just years
and years
or a long period of time
we're just going god i'm just
i'm just done
i can't i can't keep going
i i really wanted you to show up and you
just haven't so i don't know what to do
other than to say i'm just done
and don't miss this part because this is
really important
that's a place that god is actually
leading you to that's the whole point of
the wilderness
right it it will lead you to a place
where you're just going i'm i'm done i'm
out of gas i can't do it anymore
and that's exactly where god wants you
god needs to lead you to that place
where you've got nothing left there's
times where we have these moments of
surrender you know you might have stood
in a worship song you might be like oh
yeah god it's all about yours it's your
will your way is better
you know
you just yeah that's me singing
you're just like you're doing that and
and i got to tell you even though that
you might believe it here in a little
bit here
the wilderness is the only thing that
can really bring you to where you really
get that
that's the whole point
this past summer i was working on our
patio and we had some guys doing patio
and we were redoing the yard so i i
actually borrowed a skid steer
caterpillar so that i could like move
some dirt around in my backyard i was
looking forward to it because i like to
play around in machinery
and actually i borrowed it from a guy
who goes to our monroe campus frank and
he dropped it off the house and
basically i only had that night to use
it so i came home from work excited
because if i ever quit being a pastor
i'm going to drive caterpillars around
like that's going to be my thing
so like i i got in this thing and i'm
like kind of fun to play around the
backyard and i get in there and uh start
pushing the levers and it's diesel on
the glow plugs and there's levers and
buttons and everything and i
i can't get it to start
now this is a kind of a big deal for me
because i'm like i'm like a farm boy i
was literally born in a john deere
tractor and uh not really but like
like this is something i'm going to do
but i couldn't make the stupid thing
start
and i knew in the back of my head i
could call frank
i knew i could call him but i was like i
got this i can figure this out
literally start googling it like i'm
just like how do you make it
and i could and they shut i was doing
all of the things
and so finally i just the sun was going
down i didn't have much time left i'm
like fine i get out my phone
hey frank how do you make this stupid
thing come on
he's like oh there's a there's a lap bar
up above you
and i looked up and it's a safety thing
and you have to pull that down
i'm like great
thanks frank
pull it down
the whole thing starts up i start going
i really think that's that's a place we
all get in our life where we're just
we're just like man god i have
i have prayed about this
i've talked about it with my small group
i've talked about it with friends i'm
getting to a place where i know my
friends are hearing me talk about my
wilderness i'm getting tired of hearing
me talk about it
and it's just kind of
and i've i've googled it
i've read every scripture i can think of
i've pushed every button i've pulled
every lever and god i just
i'm just done and it's in that place
it's in that place that god can use us
the most
so elijah's at this place and then god
decides to do something incredible he
actually moves elijah's location and he
says i want you to go to the mountain i
want you to come to me i want to i want
to communicate with you the next verse
says
and the word of the lord came to him
what are you doing here elijah
just love god just what are you doing
and elijah spills out his heart he says
he replied i have been very zealous for
the lord god almighty
the israelites have rejected your
covenant
torn down your altars and put your
prophets to death with the sword i am
the only one left and now
they are trying
to kill me
god's response he's going to fix all his
problems
the lord said go out
and stand on the mountain in the
presence of the lord for the lord is
about to pass by
it's a simple thing but he's like elijah
i know you want me to solve your problem
i know what you want me to do is i want
you to fix everything i know you're out
of gas elijah but here's what you need
you need to stand
in my presence
that's what you really
need i need to give you my presence
and here's what happened very iconically
very uniquely
then a great and powerful wind tore the
mountains
apart
and shattered the rocks before the lord
man we've we saw some powerful wind
yesterday right anybody lose power
that's the strongest wind i've had in
michigan
but i want you to understand what
elijah's experiencing
splitting the mountains tearing apart
the rocks
god is essentially flexing in front of
elijah
shattered the rocks before the lord but
the lord was not
in the wind
after the wind there was an
earthquake
but the lord was not in
the earthquake
after the earthquake came a fire
but the lord was not in the fire
and after the fire
came a gentle
whisper
when elijah heard it he pulled his cloak
over his face and went out and stood in
the mouth
of the cave
i think there's something so important
happening here god is expressing who he
is to elijah and and i want you to know
this is the crescendo of the story after
this god tells him some things he sends
him back down the mountain and elijah
continues to be his prophet this is sort
of the the resolution he experienced
this this moment
and it kind of it kind of was everything
that god had to offer elijah
because he
he whispered
he showed up and he whispered and you
got to look at that story and he got to
be like well why does god do that
what is so important about that why does
god whisper i think there's one real
reason i'm gonna divide into two reasons
but the first one is this that
that god whispers
because he's close
he whispers because he's close
my wife and i have four kids and we
don't have that big a house and we like
to talk about our kids when they're not
around right
and so what we have to do sometimes is
we don't always go out to the garage or
go off into the corner of the room
because the kids would know something's
up we just wait till they walk into
another room and then we just lean over
and be like
you know like we just
we just start talking about them
and the reason we can do that is because
we're
we're close sometimes my daughter she's
13 now she's gotten to this kick where
she like says our names instead of mom
and dad she'll come down the stairs and
be like well you talking about grant and
bethany like what's going on down here
and uh we're like nothing you can't hear
because you're not close
i think in this moment that's what's
happening with elijah he's like elijah i
know you want me to show up in some big
and powerful ways and you want me to
come down and fix this but elijah i'm
i'm right here
i'm close
your perception is that i'm far away but
i am right here i don't even need to
yell
in the psalm it says this about the
nature of god it says the lord is close
to the brokenhearted and saves those who
are crushed in spirit today i need you
to know if your perception that god is
far is far away that's just a perception
god is so
close he's so close he doesn't even need
to shout
and along with that he's he's close but
i think the other reason that god
whispers in this moment this is a big
deal
is because god whispers because he
doesn't compete
he doesn't compete
in elijah's time it's no really
different than our time
in our time there are a lot of voices
shouting at us i think i can see this
most evidently when i when i like watch
a commercial or i see an ads show up on
social media i'm into marketing and
stuff at the church so i'm always
interested in what they're going to do
and every time i see an ad or a
commercial i always think all right
let's see how stupid you think i am
and the answer to that question is they
think i'm very stupid
and they think we're all dumb because we
actually are
and they literally will try to hook us
and we're like you want to be rich
you want to be sexy
i'm like yeah
i want to be rich
sexier i guess i mean the world can only
handle somebody now i'm like yeah
yeah i do want to be rich and sexy
then you should try our new spicy
chicken deluxe sandwich
like and literally that's that's who the
world we live in where there's so much
shouting at us and our heart is chasing
after it that's the same thing it was
for for uh back then with the israelites
they were seduced by by jezebel and ahab
saying hey baal's the real god and
bale's campaign is basically the same
thing as pedro's from uh napoleon
dynamite he's like if you worship me i'm
like are you why'd this dreams come true
you know that's
that was the promise there
and so of course people ran after it in
droves
and and
and people went after that because they
they love things that are strong and
powerful and i think
i think elijah's showing
god's showing up to elijah and saying
elijah
i just want to remind you what i'm
capable of
you you want strong you want powerful i
can i can split the rocks with wind
you want strong and powerful i can shake
the ground that you're standing on i i
can become an all-consuming fire if i
wanted jezebel gone i would thanos snap
her and she would be gone
but elijah
that's not who i
am
he's like i'm not gonna compete i'm not
gonna compete with jezebel i'm not gonna
compete with baal
i want you to follow me because you hear
my voice
i want to be honest with you i am just
super transparent i am in currently in
my life a wilderness
i've told people before i think i'm on
the verge of a midlife crisis
i uh i just in a place where life just
isn't
got as much flavor as it once has
you know as a younger man i used to have
my whole life ahead of me i had things
that i wanted to achieve i had i had
little kids man when i had little kids i
came home and i was celebrated you know
i would come home from work and the kids
would be like daddy's home and they
would run up and they would grab my legs
and then i would spend the next 30
minutes just wrestling with them on the
floor this was this was 30 minutes of my
day every day
oh and the hair
and
and this was just my life i came home
and i was celebrated as a king right
and now
now when i come home like i come home
i'm like hey
nothing whole house full of people
nothing
sometimes my 16 year old will come
upstairs and he'll be like
all right
i'm like hey he's like what are we going
to eat
i don't know son good talk good talking
so
that's kind of moved on and then on top
of that there's like a lot of things
that were ahead of me like man if i
could achieve that if i could do that
and i've kind of done most of those and
i actually heard a quote this past week
i just love they're just like man
real depression can't really set in
until you've achieved your dreams and
realized how hollow and empty they are
and i was like yeah i know what that
feels like
and
and the world is just different and then
on top of that i learned recently that
there's a part of your brain
that is concerned about things it makes
you concerned about life that part of
the brain is called the the give a crap
and uh my give-a-crap's broken
and so i'm just in this place where
where life used to feel like man it was
a big bowl of like rocky road ice cream
with chocolate syrup on it you know and
now now it kind of feels like a bowl of
just plain white mayonnaise
and i turned to my wife the other day
and i said hey um i want to know if you
feel this way about you
but i feel this way about me i feel like
some of the most selfish
self-consumed egotistical
stupid thoughts that i've ever had
have come in my 40s
and she said yeah no i feel exactly the
same way
and here's what i've decided to do to
kind of fix all of this
i'm going to buy a truck with a lift kit
that's
seems to be the three i like i've done a
little bit of research anyway i think
that's what's going to fix it but no
that's
that's what happens we're just in this
place where we just are kind of blah and
we're like the eff the world is shouting
and and and everything in us our drive
for everything is shouting and the the
quiet voice of god just seems so
quiet
it almost seems like i can't hear it
sometimes
and in these moments god's like
are you going to follow me
you're gonna follow my voice
even though it's quiet i think in the
world we live in today that the idea of
following jesus
it just is so outdated and it it just
doesn't fit and there's droves of people
running after all kinds of things but
the
but not this whole jesus thing
and i don't mean like that jesus loves
you like everybody loves that or god
loves you like that's that's a thing
everybody loves that but i mean the
actual message of jesus that the world
actually revolves around this idea that
that god saw that his creation his most
precious creation human beings were were
broken and lost because of our sin and
he wanted to come and restore the
relationship between god
and man and so he sent his only son
jesus christ to die on a cross
for our sins that we if we believe in
him if we put our faith in him if we
just give him that same want to back
that he would wash our sins away he'd
make us new he'd fill us for the holy
spirit he'd make us new creations and
he'd give us eternity with him forever
and ever that's what we call the gospel
and that gospel message is
is awesome but in the world we live in
it just seems like
just
a whisper
that nobody's paying attention to
the apostle paul wrote this
he says for the message of the cross is
foolishness
he doesn't mean it's foolishness he
means the the world that he lives in
is foolishness to those who are
perishing
but to us who are being saved is the
power
of god i think sometimes
we're so
concerned that we're going to sound our
outdated or archaic that we don't want
to point and talk about things like sin
and jesus and and that that's what the
world revolves around and it can just
seem so subtle and quiet
it seems like foolishness
and that makes it hard to hear sometimes
for you maybe maybe you work in
corporate america and you're climbing
that ladder and people
people are celebrating you because you
work hard you come in early you stay
late you're smart and you just you just
deserve everything that you've got
coming to you and in a world like that
it is incredibly hard to hear the
whisper
of jesus
saying pick up your cross
and follow me
if you're in high school
you go to high school man there's a lot
shouting at you
i got a teacher in my small group she
teaches in high school and she pulled
her whole class and she asked them
basically this what what is the american
dream like what does that mean to you if
you get everything you want in life like
what would that mean as the american
dream and every single one of them came
back and said
it means to do whatever i want and be
whatever i want
and if you're walking into a high school
and there is that kind of self-centered
egotistical thought happening all around
you and everybody's trying to be their
own thing do their own thing get
whatever they want and be whatever they
want it's incredibly hard to hear
the whisper of jesus
saying repent
and follow me
and it gets drowned out
or if you're scrolling through instagram
and you see
you see the vacations people are going
on and the houses they live in and the
clothes they wear and the life they have
there's something very real deep inside
of you going and that's what i want
that's what i want that's what i need if
i just had more of that then my life
would be more full and more rich and i'm
going to start chasing that it's hard in
those moments to hear
the whisper of jesus
what prophet a man if he gained the
whole world
who forfeits his soul
today
for you this might be review it might
just be a reminder maybe you're in a
wilderness and you've been there for a
long time and and i just want you to
know you can't get out of it you can't
work your way out of it you can't be
smart enough to fix this this isn't your
problem this wilderness will be over
when god says it's over
and in the meantime all he wants you to
do all he wants you to do in the world
is just follow his
voice
maybe for some of you
the world's been shouting so loud and
you've heard the whisper of god but
you've never
given your life to him
i just want you to know he's calling
today and i
i just wanna say is i don't know if his
voice is ever gonna be any louder than
it is right now
he's not going to compete he's not going
to look
better or more sexy than the world out
there
he's just going to keep
calling
and he wants you to follow his voice
today let me pray for you
father god
we know that you're close
we know that you're
we know that you're here
thank god we get
we get distracted
we buy in
we chase after
and god i just pray that we would
we would stop that we would pause
and that we would come back and begin to
follow your voice
and no matter how loud the things of
this world shout
that we would be listening for you
and i pray that in christ's name amen



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