Summary: We learn from the Children of Israel that it’s in times when we are in our most despair that God wants to teach us something.

It was a great day for the Children of Israel! They affirmed a new covenant with God, recognizing they were embarking on a new life. They were no longer slaves in Egypt. They could be their own nation again.

But it would mean some changes. It would mean switching some thinking. It would mean new priorities.

And God used the experiences they had gone through and were going to go through to mold them into the people He wanted them to be.

God does the same thing with us. Through the good times, bad times, hardships, and times of celebration, God wants us to learn things about both Him and us.

Let’s look at what God was trying to teach the Children Of Israel in their lessons from the wilderness.

First of all, they learned to magnify the plagues.

What? That doesn’t make sense. Why would you magnify the hardships?

Here’s what happened in Egypt. God wanted to change the system. No longer did the Children of Israel need to be in slavery. But Pharaoh wouldn’t budge. So God allowed Moses to keep calling down plagues until he finally got Pharaoh’s attention.

Does God do that now? You better believe it and it may not always be in the forms of flies and pestilence. How many times do we find ourselves saying "Everytime I pull away from church, everytime I get away from doing my Quiet Time, everytime I ..... (you add your own issue here), things don’t seem to go so well, something seems empty."

You know why? Because God’s trying to get your attention. God’s trying to tell you something. He’s saying "hey, buddy... your way ain’t’s time to make a change."

Lesson 2: Mark the ending.

The Red Sea marked the ending of a horrible period of time for the Children of Israel. They would remember that the only way they could have ever arrived at freedom was through God and that there was no turning back.

Henry Blackaby says we all have mile markers in our lives. Times we look back and can remember a specific turning point where God had a victory in our life... .where we turned away from something or made a new commitment.

For me, I have several. Most of us do. One of mine is a tiny little pew in a tiny little church. It was in that pew (fourth row from the back) at Forsan Baptist Church that God and I did business. So many times I had wanted to step forward and give my life to ministry. But I was urged not to do so just yet by well meaning loved ones. "You’re too young... if you make a commitment too soon, you may find out you want to do something else and you’ll feel guilty the rest of your life."

But a series of events and some serious conversations with God had caused me to realize otherwise. Right there in that pew, I told God "Okay you win, tell me where to go, and what to do, and I’ll follow you." And that began the beginning of what thus far has been an incredible journey. And to this day, I can return to that little country church and tell you where it all started.

What are your mile markers? Maybe one of them will be where you’re sitting right now as you and God are doing business and you’re coming to a decision that will affect the rest of your life.

A third lesson that Moses gained from the wilderness is that he learned how to deal with murmuring.

You know what murmuring is, don’t you? That’s gossip, complaining, using the tongue to maliciously tear down instead of build up.

That’s when we say things like "I’ll be this is what’s going on with that person" when we really have no idea! That’s when we put down our leadership instead of building it up and praying for it. That’s when we badmouth a Sunday School teacher instead of supporting them.

Moses had to deal with that. You know what he learned to do ? He learned to find ways to confront those people and yet still show he loved them.

Have you been the victim of murmuring? Have you been one that has had malicious things said about you? What do you do? You find a way to deal with it and love those people anyway. It’s not easy, believe me. Sometimes it’s downright hard. But you do it just the same. Why? Because as Jesus hung on the Cross and had insults hurled at Him and murmuring against Him, He said "Father forgive them".

And who are we supposed to be like?

Moses also learned that you can’t serve God alone.

What do I mean by that?

In Exodus 18, Moses was confronted by his father in law. Jethro told him in essence that he was taking too much on himself and to let others help and lead. When Moses did that, he found nothing but blessing.

We have too many "Lone-Ranger servants" out there today. You remember the Lone Ranger, don’t you? He didn’t need anyone else (really not even Tonto). Well, there’s no room for that in God’s church today. We need each other. That’s why I don’t let conflicts fester (whether between me and someone else or when I’m called on to intervene in the conflicts of others). Because we have to serve TOGETHER. None of us can take on the ministry that God has called us to by ourselves.

Then God showed the Children of Israel that opportunities can be made out of any situation. Know what the biggest thing was that came out of their experience in that wilderness? The Ten Commandments. There they were in sometimes intolerable situations with uncertain futures and God gives them His laws, laws that would impact them as well as every nation from that point on.

You see, it’s often when we are in the wilderness, when times are uncertain, when we’re not actually sure if God is even there, or if things will ever get better that God does some momentous things in our lives.

For me, it was at a time when I felt like I was going to lose my marriage and literally life as I knew it. I ended up on my knees in tears doing some serious soul searching and finally learning some valuable lessons that God used to reshape my life, my ministry, and my entire way of thinking.

But He had to take me through the wilderness first.... and sometimes He’ll have to do the same with you.

Finally, they learned to resist the urge to rush ahead. The Children of Israel wanted to be in the Promised Land yesterday! But one thing the wilderness experience taught them was to deal with TODAY. God would only let them gather up enough manna and quail for one day! He did not want them to rush ahead. He wanted them to walk with Him.

That’s what happened with Moses. God said "Wait until I tell you what to do." But Moses thought otherwise. He went ahead and struck a rock before God had given Him a command. God said "Because you rushed ahead of me, you will not see the Promised Land".

The issue was not that God did not want to bless the people... He did that anyway. The issue was that Moses did not do it in God’s timing. God has plans for you...but you must follow His timing and not rush ahead.

What kind of wilderness is God taking you through? Remember He never does things just to be cruel. He has a lesson or maybe several lessons He wants you to learn. Instead of lamenting and putting on a "poor me" attitude, maybe it’s time to hit your knees and say "Okay, God .. teach me."