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Finding God In Your Desert

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2021 1:00 am

Finding God In Your Desert

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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March 14, 2021 1:00 am

Life for many of us is hard. The pressures are numerous: physical, economic, relational, and spiritual, and sometimes we begin to doubt that God cares for us. But we are not promised an easy life. Jesus looked to His Father as He walked a road of suffering. We also must learn to rely on God for sustaining grace through times of trial and deprivation.

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As someone has said, life's not a bed of roses. Indeed, even beds of roses have their forms in life are all too many of us is hard. The pressures are numerous physical, economic, relational and even spiritual as we begin to doubt that God cares for us.

Were not promised and easy pathway, even as Jesus walked the road of suffering, we too are called to relying on God for sustaining grace through times of trial and deprivation from Chicago. This is The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Luzerne today, you'll hear the first of two messages on what happens when life is hard later in our program. Erwin Luzerne will turn to Exodus chapter 2 with the story of Moses in his desert and us and ours. Pastor Lutzer comes now to open today's service so let's take a moment to simply silence. Our hearts, let us give ourselves to the Lord.

Let's ask the Lord to open our hearts today. But as we sing together and pray together and listen together that this above all may be a time when God is glorified when his name is exalted, and when our lives are changed.

Having been in his presence.

Would you join me please. As we pray God of grace and God of glory on your people poor. Your power we desire that and we ask that you will make us clean vessel so that that power can indeed be poured upon us even as we sing this prayer we ask your blessing upon our time together in Jesus, blessed name we pray. Amen. I invite you to follow along with me in your bulletin as we read together selections from Psalm 90. Please read aloud with me on the bold print. This is God's holy word Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations before the mountains were brought or ever in the world from God. You return man to death and say return children of men for when it for we brought to an end by your anger. We are dismayed you have our iniquities before you in the light of your present for all our days pass away under your we bring our years to an end. The use of our life are 70 or even by reason of strength, yet their span is but toil and trouble. They are soon gone and we fly away so just to number our days, so that we may get a heart of wisdom.

In the morning with your that we may be showing all your work be shown to your servant and your glorious power to their children Lord our God be upon and upon.

Yet the mind so I am going to ask now that you as a congregation simply look at your bulletin and were going to pray together. The Lord's prayer is listed there.

You may do that as we think about how Jesus taught us to pray. Can we pray together. Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. You conclude this prayer by saying, Lord, I am yours here is father we pray in Jesus name.

It was Henry Thoreau who said that most people live lives of quiet desperation and die with the song still in them.

I suppose the song that they die with this one of hopelessness.

They had such high hopes for themselves for their marriage for their life and then is the bitter disappointments come because life is hard, they die as they lived with a song in their heart. Life is hard. I was going to use a number of different illustrations, but today I'll use only one that's a letter that we received about a week ago from a couple, whom I had the privilege of marrying many years ago. The wife has had breast cancer. So she had surgery is recovering from that. Then she was hospitalized a month ago for pneumonia. She also has a disk missing so she is in a great deal of pain.

That's the wife.

They have two children one of whom lost his job so's houses in foreclosure.

The other one is had several health issues having to go to the hospital for surgeries now in the midst of all this. They have mother-in-law living with them and she has dementia needs care 24 seven and then to top it off they discovered recently that there is a big crack in the foundation of their house that they have to look into and take care all all in the midst of financial issues and what have you. Life is hard. I could tell you the story of someone wrote a letter to me about a week ago, a woman, her husband dies, she is in financial need and then her son committed suicide and she has to go through all that. Now along life is hard before I began this series, I knew that James McDonald had a book entitled life is hard.

I didn't know that it was exactly the same title as this series of messages when life is hard.

I've not read James's book, but I understand it's very good and so I commend it to you next week on but I tell you about a book that I did read that will help me especially in the sermon next week.

In this two-part series. The idea of speaking on the topic when life is hard. I have to give credit to my wife Rebecca I was going to speak on something entirely different and she said no, people are going through so much heartache they are hurting so much of life is hard. I said yeah life is hard so that's going to be what I will speak on as we begin this short series because life is hard. Take your Bibles and turn today to Exodus chapter 1 Exodus chapter 1 and there we discover that for the Israelites life was very hard. Actually it's Exodus chapter 1, and I thought I had it here immediately. You'll notice that in Exodus chapter 1 I'm going to pick it up just in verse 12, but the more they were all press, the more they multiplied, and the more they spread abroad, it's talking about the Israelites and the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel so they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard work and mortar and brick and all kinds of work in the field and all their work.

They ruthlessly made them work as slaves. You think you've got employment problems you don't like your employer you are overworked and underpaid. Imagine these Israelites working from early in the morning till later, and in the next message. I'll show you how much they had to. And they work as slaves was God there today were going to look at a story in the midst of this pitiful situation and that is of Moses. Now Moses as you know, was educated in all the wisdom of the you know how he became next to Pharaoh and you know the story of how he grew up in. In fact, even studied hieroglyphics and whole lot of other subjects.

He was very well educated. Josephus said that when the Ethiopians came against Egypt. It was Moses who led the troops to a victory for Egypt. When he floated down the Nile.

It would have been to the strains of some beautiful music and now suddenly this child of luxury and fashion decides that he can't simply stay in the palace and watches people suffer so the Bible says in chapter 2 now verse 11. One day, when Moses had grown up. He went out to see his. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked that way and that and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid them in the sand when he went out the next day behold to Hebrews were struggling together and one said to the person in the wrong. He said why do you strike your companion the answer to made you a prince and a judge over us. You mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian and Moses was afraid and thought surely this thing is become known. When Pharaoh heard of any sought to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land media and sat down beside the well, and we could say yuck on ending gravel heat. Nowhere to go.

Think of what Moses lost. He lost his position in the palace with all of the perks he lost the power that he had he lost all the potential all that training for new nothing he sitting there in the desert with no where to go for him. Life was hard, but you know it's during the hard times that we really do learn the lessons that we really need to know.

In fact, success is a very poor teacher. Failure and suffering is actually the best teacher. So were going to look at some lessons that Moses learned in the desert and then what were going to do is to see why all of this should transform us beginning tomorrow, we should look at life differently. First of all, Moses had to learn the lesson of servant hood. The lesson of servant hood. It says in verse 16. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters and they came and drew water and filled the crops to water their father's flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them in water their flock when they came home to their father really said how is that you've come home so soon today sitting Egyptian deliberative side of and the shepherds. And then you know he says that I have been, and he came and Moses in verse 21 was content to live with him and even married one of rules daughters now in the midst of this, he had to learn the lesson of servant hood. Here he was, and that these young women are trying to water their flock and he helps them. They didn't know that they were in the presence of greatness. Moses is going to have to serve in obscurity and he will serve in obscurity for 40 long years, this man who was so well-educated, the most intelligent conversation, he will have for 40 years is that'll be a very is serving in obscurity, but also serving in humility.

We don't understand this text unless we realize that it says at the end of Genesis that the shepherds were an abomination unto DE were not talking about any job where talking about a job that Moses culture considered to be the most lowly, the most gruesome in many respects, and the one that was most despised and God said for 40 years that you're going to while serving in obscurity, serving in humility, Moses learned a couple of things that when you're going through a hard time. It is very important to be willing to do absolutely anything. Moses couldn't wait around for a job that was up to his potential.

There is no way that he could say to himself I am very much overqualified for this job and so it's not me know when you are desperate and when times are hard. You do anything that you can do that lies before you. Whether it is in keeping with your aptitude and gifting or not.

Imagine Moses all of his training all of his aptitude lies in one direction and all of his work has to be in another think he ever got used to it. I don't think so. He has a son many names and Gershom Gershom means I'm a foreigner in a strange land, but he's committed there for 40 years and doesn't think that anything will ever change. There's another lesson that he learned in terms of the servant hood when you're going through a hard time you need other people imagine Moses in the middle of a desert without a family to take a minute. What's he to do and during hard times when God teaches us is that we need one another. The woman who is going through a time of huge trial with the death of her husband in the suicide of her son needs the support and the prayer and the hope that is given to her by others within the church even financially here at Moody Church we try to do what we can to help one another. We can't do everything, and that's always a challenge, but when you're going through a hard time you need the community of God. There's a second lesson that Moses learned and that is the lesson of trust.

Now your Bibles are open. You'll notice it says in verse 23. During those many days, years ago.

I think I multiplied 36540. Thank God for pocket calculators and I've always said as long as I'm right 90% of the time. Who cares about the other 5%. So here we do the math and we discover it's about 4600 days.

40 years by any stretch is a long time but was God doing anything in those period of time was God working or did he simply abdicate responsibility know and if you're in the habit of underlining your Bible, you might want to underline in verse 24 and 25. Underline the verbs member but a verb is in the Lord heard their groaning, he wasn't death after all. And the Lord remembered his covenant. Sometimes we keep reminding God of things as if she might forget them. But God doesn't forget. And he doesn't know yesterday a lot better than he does. 20 years ago or 100 years ago. I'm sure that it has dawned on you that nothing has ever dawned on God and so God here is remembering he's hearing and he is seeing the people of Israel. He was seeing those slaves and next week I'm in a talk about how those slaves had to see even that calling as attic from God but God. God is doing something you know what does God do when you're in the desert.

I think everybody has a desert experience of some kind. Israel was in the desert. Moses is in the desert. Jesus is in the desert. I've been in the desert you know what the desert is the desert is a time of monotony.

When nothing seems to be happening and the other characteristic of the desert is hopelessness because every day is just like the one before it and nothing ever changes. That's the desert. When times are hard. What is God doing in the desert. Does he abandon us in the desert you know it says in the book of Deuteronomy very interesting passage about Israel being in the desert. It says he found them in a desert land in the howling ways to the wilderness.

He encircled him, he cared for him. He kept them is the apple of his God was watching like an eagle that stirs up its nest that flutters over its young spreading out its wings catching them bearing them on its opinions. God says it was with you there in the desert. I was walking with you during the times when you didn't have water and when you needed food. I did not forget you during your hard time know the imagery of an eagle. I understand that when eagles build a nest of course they use sharp branches and sharp rocks and they have this there and then they fill it with feathers and they make it very comfy and the Little League let's when they're born they want to go anywhere they love it there in their home and dad then the Eagle sometimes pushes them out and sometimes what the mother eagle will do is she'll do something pretty mean shall begin to pull out all the feathers and soon all the feathers are out of the Little League. Let's they are on their on such sharp rocks and such branches. They say what is this and the wind is blowing through our home and we were so comfortable and now and now her nest is so stirred up. Things are so bad we might as well fly out here and die while that's one way to get them to fly. And then of course as you know, the Eagle goes underneath them, picks them up and takes them back until they've learned to fly God's that's what I was doing with you during those hard times in the desert. I was with you I was hearing you I was seeing you. You know it's easy to trust God when the bushes burning when the water is parting when the mountain is shaking when the money is flowing and your employer is glowing.

It's easy to trust God.

But it's difficult to trust and then the desert when it's on endings sand monotony board and nothing is happening and you look around and you think to yourself, I have no reason to believe that God is here, but he is he is with us. So what I'd like us to do is to understand that he had to learn the lesson of servant hood.

He had to learn the lesson of trust and then will be because in chapter 3, the Bush Burns God says Moses I'm calling you and going to Egypt and Moses standing there, if you please on holy ground yet to take his shoes off, he's standing there on holy ground and he's arguing with God as to why you should go God says go and Moses says no God says I'm adequate for you. Moses says I don't care. I'm just not going. Fear of failure, fear of transition. You know it's interesting that Moses says to God, I'm now in chapter 3 verse 11 but Moses said to God, who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Who am I isn't that the question of the century, I've known wives have abandoned their husbands and children just to find out who they are. Husbands have left their wives to find out who they are, where I grew up everybody sort of knew who they were, but we live in a different age and we have this whole business of self image. Who am I you know I read a book one time by very good author otherwise but was on self image and he was talking about his beautiful Swiss girl and she wouldn't look in a mirror because she thought she was ugly and so he he helped her hold her chin up and open your eyes and see how beautiful you are and I thought to myself, you know, we need a theory of self image that not only works for beautiful young women but also for ugly old man don't blame. We need a theory of self image that actually works for Phyllis Diller.

Some of you don't know it but Phyllis Diller achieved fame because when God created her.

He well let me say that she's just barely pretty okay. In fact, I remember she said one time that she was in a beauty salon for nine hours, you believe that nine hours in a beauty salon and she said that was just for an estimate. We need a theory of self image that is much stronger than that and you know what it's right here in the text, Moses says who am I that I should lead the children of Israel into Egypt and he said I will be with you. And that's the answer to who you are.

If God is with you. You know who you are, well, Moses continues to argue with God. You'll notice in chapter 4 it says, behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice you know what's going on here in the text. Moses is still better.

He's angry 40 years has not lessened the pain of having been rejected by his people. He tried something and the people didn't help, and then God didn't help, and then Moses is saying to himself. I'm not about to go back now. If you do call me back then I was single and it was simple for me.

I could've been the leader, but now I'm married. I got a couple of kids.

I'm living here in the desert and now you want me to leave everything and go and so Moses is arguing with God over and he doesn't want to be heard again.

I've tried that you know it is said that if you have been burned on hot milk.

You leave and blow on yogurt so Moses here is saying I don't want to try this again. God says Moses what's in your hand.

He says staff a rod rod that perhaps was five or 6 feet long. Several inches in diameter had been a branch of a tree that grew in God says to Moses. Moses is in your hand.

He said a rod to throw the rod down and then Moses was able to do miracles. With this rod and down afterwards when Moses does eventually go notice this please that the rod goes wherever Moses goes, he's going to try to cross the Red Sea and lo and behold the Bible says that he took his rod and put it across the top of the sea in the waters part. He's going to need water and he is going to strike the rock with his rod to because the rod of Moses now becomes the rod of God, and God says Moses, that which you picked up in the desert is going to be the means by which I will reorient you and retread you in in an entirely different direction, and you'll always remember that it was in the desert where I taught you lessons that success in the palace could never teach you and so what we really have here is the fact that he had to learn the lesson of obedience when life is hard and you are in a desert you don't know it, but that God might have for you brand-new plan when he calls, no matter how inconvenient, no matter how much you've been in your routine. You're going to have to go the lesson of obedience translate this were you in Iraq. First of all let me say regarding the lessons that we need to remember is that God is with us in hard times, God is with us. He is there he is seeing he is hearing he is answering God is with us in hard times. I love that story in Genesis chapter 39 Genesis 39 regarding Joseph.

It says and the Lord was with Joseph and gave him favor in Potiphar's house, then you know the story of how Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into a dungeon and you know what it says same chapter it says and the Lord was with Joseph in prison and showed him, steadfast love and gave him favor in the eyes of the jailer while God is with us in our Pro motions when everything is going well.

When the sea is parting and of the rivers are flowing. God is with us in our Pro motions. God is also with us in our demotion's when we are unjustly let go when accusations against us are false that we cannot correct it is then that God is also with us.

God is with us in hard times. Remember that story about Amanda had a dream about all these people were lined up and Jesus came along and said to this when I bless you. I bless you.

I bless you, and when Jesus got to this man Jesus stepped back and said down.

I'm not going to bless you because I know you're gonna love me and follow me. Whether I do or not, many went on to the next person. You feel that way that you been left out other people seem to be prospering life for you is hard, and it's one tragedy after another. Have you ever noticed that they often come in pairs, one thing happens than another thing God is with us in hard times. Secondly, very important that in a hard time God has you exactly where he wants you exactly where he wants you.

You are today where God wants you is you will know that's not true because where I am today is my fault. While Moses could've said the same thing he could've said you know it's my fault that I acted the way I did in relationship to killing the Egyptian I should've been wiser. I am being judged because I'm in the desert because I blew it right. Fair enough. But isn't it interesting that it's there in the desert that God has a way prepared for him.

It is there in the desert. As a matter of fact, if you think that somehow Moses was quote out of God's will you take that point of view. Isn't it interesting that right there in the middle of where he shouldn't be God. His wife prepared for any marries and has some children and right to their God has a new path because the will of God has enough fluidity to take you where you are at and use your present circumstance for your good and for his glory, you are today where God wants you to be and that doesn't mean that you shouldn't improve your situation. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't be jobhunting if that's what you need or improving your your lifestyle or your relationships.

We understand that but God today knows exactly where you are. He knows the longitude and latitude of where you are sailing on the boat of life and when a hard time comes, God is there look at the slaves that all comment on in the next message. Here they are with no ability to make their life better and yet they call on God and what is God doing God is hearing God is answering God does this.

If if you miss everything I said today would you remember this, don't ever interpret the silence of God is the indifference of God. Just because God is silent sometimes when we're in the desert. We cry up to him and we see no answers. Don't ever interpret the silence of God is the indifference of God, God is there carrying orchestrating working and who knows the Bush may burn tomorrow. He has these surprises in store that we can see Moses thought that the 40 years he had just lived was predictive of the next 40 years with the same monotony the same boredom may ask you a question. What have you picked up in the desert but as God taught you in the desert did he teach you faith did he teach you patience with people did he teach you how you needed others when you are in the desert and now you are more generous and more giving and develop in your life up to other people because it's God's intention that the desert touch our lives. In fact, that's the last lesson the desert has a way I think of giving us a new touch with God. I think that God done said to himself. Regarding Moses and his desire to lead the children of Israel out in his willingness to identify with the people of God and the Bible gives him read it for doing that. Especially the book of Hebrews. I think that God probably said to himself.

The time isn't right. And furthermore Moses is in ready to be the leader has to be taught servant hood humility has to be taught. Trust he has to learn to obey, even when it's inconvenient the palace could never teach them that only hard life in the desert could do it. The desert is not really a penalty box. If I can put it that way. The desert is God getting you ready to get into a new game and preparing your heart for it. You'd never be where you are at today in your hard place. If God did not intend to use it for his glory and for our good. It's hard for me to say because when life is hard. It's hard to see his purposes. But that's exactly what is teaching us is that he is there with us. I think probably the best example actually is Jesus himself.

Terms of life being hard.

Jesus was evil spoken against Jesus was forsaken by his friends. False accusations six false trials, mock trials, and then Jesus in the human side of it was forsaken by God. So there he was having a very, very hard, hard experience and we see that in Gethsemane, and yet the Bible says that for the joy that was set before him.

He endured the cross, and he despised the shame and on the other side of the crucifixion there was the resurrection you're here today and life is hard. Let me ask you a question. If you are here today as a believer what you are experiencing in this life is the worst you will ever experience because eternity in heaven is coming. If you're here today is an unbeliever in life is hard. This is the best it'll ever get all of eternity is going to be far worse than your what you're experiencing today. So for the Christian. There are no permanent tragedies. Your worst tragedy is temporal and it's the worst it will ever get.

If you're here is a non-Christian. This is the best it'll ever be with all of its tragedies. It'll only get worse after you die, far worse, and the real issue is our relationship to Jesus Christ, who, when he went through what I just described dying on the cross for our sins, shedding his blood for us. It is because of that that we can come to the father to be forgiven, to be received, to be welcomed by God and belong to him forever your eternal destiny depends on your relationship with Christ. So my question is to you to know him personally, having received them as your Savior not your wife Savior or somebody else's Savior, but yours would you join me as we pray our father, we thank you today that Jesus was willing to go through his desert. That time was hard. We thank you and that having gone through what he went through that we as sinners can be reconciled to you belonging to you for ever.

We pray father for all who have heard this message for those who are sick and in pain for those Lord who are struggling with financial needs who don't know where the rent is coming from. For those fathers who are in relational tug-of-war in their marriages and in their families father we we throw ourselves at your feet and we seek your help and believe that you are trying to teach us lessons that somehow smoothness cannot teach us Lord, we pray that even as we remember your death today. Maybe with the sure knowledge that because of Jesus we are forgiven and life will get better in Jesus name, amen stand as we sing together. You are my all and all on today's Moody Church.

Our Dr. Erwin lutes or spoke about the experience of Moses, in part one of his series when life is hard as time goes on. Life remains hard does this as will see next week.

Join us then as we turn again to the book of Exodus and learn about finding God in a tight place. The church is under attack like never before. Rights we once assumed we had our being torn away. Erwin lutes has written an explosive new book.

We will not be silenced to help us respond courageously to our culture's assault on Christianity. This book will be sent with our thanks for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church.

Our just call us at 1-800-215-5001. Ask about.

We will not be silenced when you call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to moody that's moody Join us next week for another Moody Church. Our with Dr. Erwin lutes or the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church

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