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Meeting God in the Wilderness

BeamI don’t mind saying that with all the snow and cold that we’ve been getting in my part of the country, I’m ready for spring!  Then I can start one of my favorite pastimes again.  I’m talking about spending time in the woods hiking, praying, and meditating on the Word.

It’s always a lift to my spiritual life.  I believe that every Christian who’s physically able should try it.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Matthew 4:1-2

Since I’ve started hiking I have a new respect for the Lord’s physical condition.  Being able to survive in the wilderness for forty days, living on only water is quite a physical challenge.

At one point I tried a two-day fast while hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail.  I remember barely making it. The hunger was intense.  I felt weak.  It got to the point where it hurt just to put one leg in front of the other.

I promised myself I would never do that again.  I can only imagine what Jesus felt like after 40 days.

There is a hunger, however, that I want to hike with.  That’s a hunger of the spirit.  If we can go into the wilderness with a hunger for the presence of the Lord, then we’ll come back from our journeys a changed person.

If we can see the outdoors as a meeting-place between God and us, we’ll take our wilderness activities to a whole new level.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:3-4

Once you decide to use the wilderness to achieve spiritual goals, it will transform your whole experience.  The outdoors will become a place where you must sometimes face your own personal demons.  In Jesus’ case it was from the outside.  In our case it’s usually from within.

The wilderness gives God a chance to confront us on His terms.  There’s nothing to fall back on; no distractions to hide our thoughts.  God can throw a light on all the issues we’ve been sweeping under the rug for so long.

What I’ve found is that there’s no place to hide.  I can’t “remember” that phone call I need to place.  There is no TV program that I have to watch right now.  God can have my undivided attention.

It’s an awesome thing to go into the wilderness to hear from God.

Be prepared.  It’s not always what we expect.  He’ll set the agenda, and there’s no way out.  Change will happen in our lives, if we give the Lord an opportunity.

Think about spending some time in a wilderness setting with the Lord.  I guarantee that it will be life-changing.

Questions: Have you ever spend time praying in the woods?  What did you take away from that time?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Prayer, Times in the Wilderness

 

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Praising God in the Storm #praiseHiminthestorm

StormThen the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm…
Job 40:6

From time to time I try to get away to the wilderness and get alone with God.  A couple of weeks ago I felt a prompting of the Spirit, so I spent three days hiking on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire.  I’m glad that I did.

The presence of the Lord was very real during that trip.  I had some great prayer times with Him.  But there is one thing that happened that I want to share in this post.

My plan was to start out early and park my car at the ending point of the hike.  I had made arrangements with a taxi company to meet me there and take me to where I was to start.  As I sat in my car, waiting for the cab to arrive, it started to lightly drizzle.

According to the weather, it was only a 20% chance of rain first thing in the morning, then clear skies later.  Since there was no cell phone reception to call off the taxi, and I figured it would clear up soon, I decided to go forward with my hiking plans.

I put on my rain gear and took the taxi to the start of my hike.  It started off fine.  Under the cover of the forest, the slight rain didn’t even make it down to where I was walking.

However, the further I hiked up the mountain, the less cover there was.  Then it happened – the sky opened up and I found myself in a torrential downpour.  I had to scramble across slippery rocks, on the edge of a cliff, in the rain.

At one point the trees cleared for a bit giving me an incredible view.  (That’s the picture I took at the top of this post.)  It was at that moment that the Spirit of the Lord became wonderfully real to me.  I had no choice but to stop, right where I was and worship God.

As I looked around, standing on the rocks on the side of a mountain, dripping wet in a rainstorm, I had the funniest thought.  I told the Lord, “God, You even make rainstorms magnificent!”

It was an experience to remember.  The sound of the rain and wind in the mountains.  The sight of the clouds racing past me as I stood level with them.  The expanse of the mountains and trees around me.

It all combined to inspire awe toward my Creator.  I realized in that moment that I was experiencing something that few people ever will.  Actually, few people would ever choose to be there!

In our Christian walk, if you desire to do great things for God then you will go through a spiritual storm.  But in the middle of that challenge, know that the Holy Spirit is with you.  If you turn the downpour into a chance to praise God, you’ll know the wonder of His presence with you.

Questions: Are you going through a spiritual battle at this time?  Will you choose to give God praise during the tough times?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 

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Jesus Walked Above the Promises #promisesofGod

MountainI’m posting about how Christ walked in the power of God.  In my last one I started talking about His time in the wilderness as He faced the devil.

It’s now the end of the Lord’s forty day fast.  I can only imagine how the Lord was feeling at the end of this time.  But at this point it’s over; He could eat now, according to the rules of fasting.

It’s interesting to see how the devil attacks Jesus.  This is how most of our temptations are based.  It will give us insight into how the enemy works against us as well.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Luke 4:3

Think about Jesus’ teaching.  Specifically how He taught on prayer.  In what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer,” He prayed, “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

This prayer is a son praying to the Father.  If you look closely at this line, it’s not a request.  Jesus is assuming that daily bread is the right of a son.  He doesn’t say that God promised it to Him.  He simply lays claim to what He wants, knowing God’s provision for His sons.

I believe that Satan based his attack upon this prayer.  However, the enemy worded it in the form of a promise.  He said, “If you are The Son of God…”  He challenged Jesus to prove it by claiming the promise for daily provision.  The sad thing is that we would have taken the bait, and we do regularly. Then we say that the Holy Spirit told us to do it.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Jesus’ response is clear.  The fast was over.  It was perfectly in order for Him to eat.  But that wasn’t the issue.  Jesus wasn’t there in the wilderness for the purpose of eating.  He was there to hear from the Father.  In this verse, “word” is “rhema” in the Greek.  It means the revealed Word of God.

Jesus was telling Satan, “I didn’t come here for bread; I came to hear a Word from the Father.”  If the Lord wanted to eat, He could have brought food.

This is a classic strategy that Satan uses over and over again.  Sadly, we continue to fall victim to it.  We can be tempted to “over-claim” the promises.

In America we already have too much stuff and we believe God for more.  It seems that Christians are always “trusting God” for bigger houses, better cars, and more toys.  Then, we get discouraged when our “faith” doesn’t pay off.

I believe that it’s time for God’s people to grow up and act like mature sons and daughters of God – like Jesus.

Question: What should we be trusting God for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Faith, Power of God

 

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You Can Camp With God

In Scripture we read about how different men and women encountered God in the wilderness.  Did you know that this is still something we can experience today?  In this post I want to describe it to you.

The Bible is full of accounts of the people who met with God in the outdoors.  Here is one such encounter.

Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him.  When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!”  So he named that place Mahanaim.
Genesis 32:1-2

The name Mahanaim means double camp.  Jacob acknowledged that there were two camps where he was staying.  There was his camp and the camp of God.  This is important because now that Christ has risen, we are in a “double kingdom.”  We live in the world, yet at the same time we are in the kingdom of God.

Wherever we go, whatever we do, we take this heavenly kingdom with us.  Whether we realize it or not, we have access to God’s kingdom at all times.  Our problem is usually the distractions that keep us from seeking the spiritual.

I just returned from a camping trip.  I spent a night, alone, in a nearby state park.  I set up my tent at a secluded site and settled in.

The purpose was to get alone with God for a while.  You might think that this sounds a little extreme.  Maybe it is, but I’ve found that I can hear from God better without all of the distractions in my familiar settings.

When God gets me by myself like this, He can (and does) get my undivided attention.  There are times He deals with me about things I may have been neglecting.  Sometimes it’s about God teaching me something new, or giving me insight into the Word.

This trip I can truly say that God showed up in the camp.  There were some things that He worked through with me and I received an “extreme makeover.”  Looking back, I wouldn’t have missed that time with the Lord for anything else.

If you read through the Gospels you’ll find that praying in the wilderness was a major part of the life of Christ.  I believe that this is one of the secrets of His intimacy with the Father.  I want to follow His example.

The good news is that this type of encounter with God is available to every one of us.  If you are able, I encourage you to give it a try.  Go out with a tent and other supplies. Bring your Bible and a notebook.  Then expect to meet with God.

I believe that He honors our desire to seek Him intimately.  The Lord loves the quality time we spend together.  Then He can deal with things that take time to work through.

I can truly say that spending alone time with God in the outdoors is an incredible blessing.

Question: Have you encountered God in the outdoors?  Could you share about it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Prayer, Times in the Wilderness

 

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Water in the Wilderness

Exodus 15:22-25
Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur.  For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water.  When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.)  So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood.  He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them.

When walking through the desert, water is a great necessity.  The effects of dehydration can be severe.  In the above verse, Israel found themselves having to trust God for their most basic needs.

Sometimes in life we go through wilderness experiences.  In the natural we can plan ahead to have the necessary food and water.  But in our life-journey we occasionally run into unexpected droughts.  These are the times we must trust God to feed our souls.

Grumbling and complaining about the situation that we find ourselves in is not the way out.  The solution is to walk in faith.  We know God will not fail us – He will see us through.  Why then would we want to wallow in self pity, when in reality, that only makes matters worse?

You must seek the Lord, especially if you are going through a hard time right now.  Spend some time in His presence, and obtain spiritual refreshment.  Let Him strengthen your inner man.  Renew yourself before His throne.  In that way you will always have an abundant supply, no matter how bad the situation.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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The Cycle of Life

Job 39:1-4
“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?  Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?  Do you count the months till they bear?  Do you know the time they give birth?  They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended.  Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return.”

It is amazing to think about it.  When we are in the woods or at a zoo we may see a deer, a moose, or a bear.  But how often do we think about how they live in the wild?  They grow up, they find mates, and then bear their young – repeating the cycle again and again.

With no help from man, they understand instinctively what they were born to do.  They know how and where to forage for food.  They build their dens and protect themselves and their families from the elements.  God has placed in the very core of their being the ability to live and thrive in a wilderness setting.

We could learn a great lesson from them if we would only listen.  They teach us to find our place in God’s kingdom, then live out our lives in devotion to that call, whatever it may be.  We need to find and accomplish the Lord’s will for us as individuals – this is where our fulfillment is found.  We need to be who we were created to be.

Take the time today to praise God for such a diverse and wonderful animal kingdom.  It is truly a precious gift that God has made mankind the caretakers over.  Give God glory for His awesome kindness towards us.  Seek to hear from God concerning your purpose.  Strive to know and accomplish God’s plan for your life.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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A Wilderness Spring

Isaiah 44:3-4
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.  They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.

When I go hiking, I always prepare by reading what the trail guide says about the area.  Many times I find these words concerning a campsite.  “The spring may not be reliable in dry seasons.”  Practically speaking then, what good is it?  At the very time you’d need it the most – it’s gone.

Some of our friends are like that.  Just when you need them the most they’re not around.  Or, along the same lines, they promise to be somewhere to help you and then never show up.

This is not so with the Lord.  He is the friend that “sticks closer than a brother.”  He is always right there when you need Him.  As a matter of fact, the Word says that He even knows what you need before you ask Him.

He is that spring in the wilderness that is always flowing, always reliable.  Even in the driest point in your life, you can draw cool, refreshing water from that living well.  He promised “never to leave us nor forsake us” and “He is not a man that He should lie.”

Draw life-giving water from that well today.  Spend some quality time in His presence being renewed, refreshed and refilled.  Avail yourself to the resources only the Lord can provide.  You will find your walk with Him to be much more enjoyable.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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