At times in our lives we all have wilderness experiences’times when we face despair and feel alone in the world. Elijah was a prophet in the Bible who had a literal wilderness experience. His time in the wilderness forced him to practice three spiritual disciplines that freed him from his dependence on the world and encouraged him instead to depend on God. We might learn from his example.
The first discipline Elijah practiced was solitude: and it served at least two purposes. It protected him from King Ahab who wanted to kill him. And it provided an opportunity for him to deepen his faith, to draw closer to God. Next, Elijah’s wilderness experience gave him a time to practice silence, which allowed him to listen for God’s voice. And finally, Elijah practiced a form of fasting. Strictly speaking he didn’t abstain from food, but his food was controlled by God’s special provision. Periodically, God would send ravens carrying food for Elijah to eat. In this way, Elijah learned to trust God to provide for his daily needs.
A wilderness experience can play an important role in our spiritual growth. Are you going through one now? Don’t miss what it might be offering you. Like Elijah, withdrawing from your normal routine will remove you from distraction and lead to an intimacy with God. Silence allows you to listen to God. And fasting teaches you to depend on God to provide for you.
Sometimes it’s good to just be quiet, and experience silence, and stillness. Not only in our relationship with God but also with others as well. If you’ll read and reflect on James chapter three, you’ll find that Scripture warns us about the use of our tongue. Just think about the damage caused by careless words, gossip, lies, sarcasm, hurtful comments, inappropriate humor and bitter arguments, and you’ll understand why James cautions us about the tongue.
You rememberthe old saying: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’. It’s really not true, is it? In fact, the opposite is more often the case. Broken bones heal much quicker and easier than wounded spirits.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul said, ‘Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them’.
In light of what James and Paul wrote, it should cause you to think about guarding your tongue carefully. From the silence of not answering back when baited into an argument, to not spreading gossip, to forgoing that sarcastic remark that would’ve gotten a laugh at someone else’s expense, verbal self-control is a powerful to bless and encourage others.
Men, we were created for worship. It enhances and expresses intimacy with the Lord, and brings both Him and us great pleasure. Yet many men tighten up just saying grace before dinner. Public worship’even if it’s only in front of your family may cause you to feel as nervous as a third baseman charging a short-hopper with the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth.
Most of us have been there. And most of us have also blamed it on our lack of experience praying in public. Yet for the vast majority of men, that’s not really the issue. The real issue is that you don’t have enough experience praying in private! Deepening your private life of worship will naturally embolden your public life of worship. And the first place it’ll bring benefit is in your ability to provide better spiritual leadership in your home.
Guys, no one in your home should be more comfortable with worship and prayer than you. Your family absolutely needs you to lead them. Feeling funny about it is no excuse.
Start small, but be courageous and committed to growth. You simply cannot and must not ‘chicken out’ when your family looks to you for spiritual leadership. The Holy Spirit is waiting for you to step up to the plate, and He’ll meet you there. That’s a promise from God.