Summary: Part 1 of 4 in our Lenten teaching series, "Survivorman." For more info, please visit www.newsongs.org
“Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.”
:: Teaching Series
This morning we begin a new teaching series, “Survivorman.” This series sets the tone for the upcoming weeks as we observe the season of Lent and prepare for Holy Week.
:: First Sunday of Lent
This morning we observe the first Sunday in the season of Lent.
• During this time we recall the journey of Jesus, beginning with his experience in the wilderness for forty days.
• We take time to absorb its meaning; we use the season as a time of reflection, self-examination and preparation for the encounters that are to come.
• We take time to evaluate our lives as disciples of Jesus, examining our attitudes and actions and the areas of our lives that need transformation.
• Today we are invited into the wilderness with Jesus, to walk with him and learn from him so that we can grow spiritually and deepen our relationship with God.
:: Keep the Moment
“ Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River.”
• Jesus had been in Jordan to be baptized by John
• It was during his baptism that the Holy Spirit came to him and God the Father spoke to Him:
“When all the people had been baptized, Jesus, too, was baptized. While he was praying, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you!”
• The writer John tells us that John the Baptizer also witnessed this event and shared the news with his followers.
• Wouldn’t we want to stop the story at this point?
• We could live knowing that we were at the top of our spiritual game, with everyone loving and respecting us, leaders are encouraging us, others are following us, our ministry is effective and powerful.
• But God never intends us to “keep the moment” and try to stay where we are
• He will often allow us to go through periods of spiritual testing in order to grow and develop us
• He will often lead us into the wilderness, through circumstances that either have the potential to induce spiritual barrenness or to inspire spiritual growth
:: Welcome to the Wilderness
“He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness…”
• The Journey to the Wilderness (physically & spiritually)
o Physically: the wilderness is an arid environment; wasteland; desert
o It is devoid of life; scorching heat in the day, frigid cold at night
o Spiritually: The wilderness is a place of spiritual testing and challenge.
o Either way, it seems like the last place a person would go to willingly
o So why would Jesus be brought to such a place?
o Because, though the wilderness represents a place of great challenge, it is also a place where we can experience God powerfully and be transformed spiritually.
• The Effect of the Wilderness
o But we often misunderstand the point of the wilderness
o We don’t see God’s power at work and we feel lost and forgotten
o In those times, the wilderness seems to be a place of abandonment and desperation; a place of suffering and death
o When we fail to recognize the reason for wilderness it produces negative effects in us:
o Exodus 16 - God’s people living in the wilderness, sustained by God’s supernatural provision, led by His Spirit, completely fail to recognize Him at work – they became discouraged.
o Many Christians abandon the fellowship of God and his people
o They feel embarrassed and ashamed that they are found in such a place
o Or maybe they feel angry that God would allow such an experience
o Finally, the wilderness can lead us to question whether we were ever really following God at all.
o Or we are being punished by being in the wilderness; that God has left us and we are on our own to make it out alive.
• The Value of the Wilderness
o Don’t avoid the wilderness, the times when we feel empty and dry
o Instead, learn to survive it, learn to overcome it
o Remember that God is at work in you, even in the wilderness
o Using those moments to shape and bring change in our lives
o The place of frustration is often the place of preparation
:: Surviving the Wilderness
There are a few keys to surviving the wilderness, regardless of how we arrive there.