Sunday's Sermon

When Life Overwhelms Us


A. Life is a journey that moves from one crisis to another. Poland has experienced four completely different governments, and each government radically altered the lives of its people. Two wars have been fought on European soil causing massive destruction. Two atomic weapons have exploded over major population areas in Japan. The Soviet Union no longer exists. India has been overpopulated for decades. Africa has gone from colonialism to chaotic nationalist that is often brutal and bloody. The greater majority of the worldís population lives under repressive governments. B. At least 75% of todayís population lives with three unthinkable realities everyday. 1. Everyday too little to eat. 2. Everyday no healthy water supply. 3. Everyday no access to adequate medical help. 4. For most of the worldís population, survival of the day is the rule of life. C. I am glad we donít live from crisis to crisis. All of us move from crisis to crisis. 1. Four things - 90% of us move from crisis in our marriage relationships; parent-child relationships, jobs/ occupations, and financial challenges. 2. Add health problems and 99% of us move from crisis to crisis. C.I. Our crisis is wilderness experiences and God promises to be with us and use our crisis to make us more like Him. I. Godís most useful servants had wilderness experiences. A. Joseph had a wilderness experience Genesis 37-40 1. He was the favorite son and arrogant teenager. 2. He had a horrible wilderness experience matured him fixed his focus on God, and created the faith of dependence. 3. Years later, he could see God working Gen.50:20 B. Moses had a wilderness experience Exodus 2-4 1. He planned to use his privileged position to help his people. 2. He rejected his first attempt to help them. 3. So Moses fled to the wilderness. 4. But God took Moses from the wilderness and used him to lead Israel to freedom. C. The Israelite David had a wilderness experience 1st Samuel 20-31. 1. Produced by the injustices of a jealous man who left God. Near death experiences, a harsh existence, and a miserable life often lived in enemy nations. 2. He wrote many of his greatest psalms, psalms that we read for inspiration, strength, and hope. It helped David become Israelís greatest king. D. The prophet Elijah had a wilderness experience 1st Kings 19. 1. Elijah lived as Godís spokesman among people who never worshipped God, but Baal. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal. He proved God was real and powerful. 2. Jezebel, the queen promised him that he would be dead within 24 hours. Elijah fled to the wilderness. 3. God refocused Elijah and sent him back to get on with Godís work. II. Even Jesus, Godís own Son, had a wilderness experience Matthew 4:1-11. A. Jesus went to the wilderness to focus on his ministry. He totally devoted himself fasting 40 days and nights Satan immediately tried to destroy Jesusí focus. B. Satan made three attempts to distract Jesus. 1. Satanís first attempt dealt with a real physical need and a practical solution. 2. Satanís second attempt to prove his faith by putting God on trial. 3. Satanís third attempt is the infamous short cut. C. Jesus resisted Satan. 1. When Satan asked him to make bread from stones, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 food does not give a person life. Godís teachings and instructions do. 2. When Satan asked him to jump, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16. Faith depends; faith does not test. Creating tests prove that you doubt, not that you trust. 3. When Satan asked Jesus to worship him, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13. Evil never achieves Godís purposes. III. Making a trip to the wilderness is never pleasant, but being in the wilderness can serve a powerful, godly purpose. A. No wilderness experience is ever fun or pleasant. 1. Joseph experienced injustice stacked on top of injustice. 2. Moses found no joy it was just a feeble attempt to escape. 3. David found nothing but suffering, isolation, and intense loneliness in the wilderness. 4. Elijah wanted to die. B. In each one of these menís lives, the wilderness was a powerful tool in the hand of God. 1. It brought each man to a higher level of spiritual maturity trust in God to grow reinforced the godly focus forced an essential decision make the choice to depend on God or choose to be angry at the world while you resent the injustice. 2. Because of the wilderness experience, their godliness grew. God could use them for greater purposes. IV. My personal world and your personal world are dominated by evil. A. Regardless of how godly we are or how deeply we trust God, each of us will visit the wilderness and more than once! 1. Every time we are overwhelmed, we are in the wilderness. a sense of helplessness a distress of failure uncontrollable circumstances injustice 2. When life seems out of control when life does not make sense. B. When we visit the wilderness, one of two things will inevitably happen. 1. We will grow closer to God. Trust God Focus on Godís will and purposes. 2. Or we will turn away from God and decide to live life on our own. Blame God Decide that God is weak and useless. Conclusion A. In the wilderness Satan harasses you; God prepares you. 1. If your wilderness experience causes you to be angry Satan wins. 2. You do not have enough faith for God to use you for greater purposes. B. But if your trust in God deepens, God wins. And God will use you and your life in ways that exceed your imagination. C. When you are in the wilderness, do you stand alone, or do you hold Godís hand?