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Finding God In Your Desert Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2022 1:00 am

Finding God In Your Desert Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 28, 2022 1:00 am

It’s easy to trust God in success but difficult to trust Him in the desert. With all of Moses’ fears and insecurities, God met him at the burning bush. In this message, we follow three lessons that prepare our hearts for God’s plan. Could a desert be exactly where God wants us to be? 

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Moody Church Hour
Pastor Phillip Miller

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

If life were a bed of roses, we'd never appreciate how good roses smell. The desert gave Moses that appreciation. Many of us are now in the desert, learning lessons for a day yet to come when we'll understand why we needed to learn them. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, you're teaching us about finding God in your desert. A lot of us feel like Moses did. You know, Dave, and the older I get, the more people I see who are suffering terribly.

And perhaps I'm somewhat pessimistic, but I don't think that the new year is going to be filled with a lot of real good news. But what rejoices my heart is the application of scripture to those hard times, to those deserts. And even as I speak to many people today, thousands upon thousands, I want to thank you so much for helping us. I'm thinking of those of you who connect with us. Some of you give regularly to this ministry. Some of you have been blessed for years and have never connected with us.

Would you do that? As you anticipate the new year, may we all consider helping one another as we run the race of life. You know, it's easy to trust God when the bush is 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 then. But it's difficult to trust him in the desert when it's unending sand, monotony, boredom, 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 servanthood. He had to learn the lesson of trust and then obedience because in chapter three, the bush burns. God says, Moses, I'm calling you and going to Egypt and Moses standing there if you please on holy ground.

He had to take his shoes off. He's standing there on holy ground and he's arguing with God as to why he shouldn't 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 three, 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 who've abandoned their husbands and children just to find out who they are. Mothers 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 a very good author otherwise, but it was on self image and he was talking about this 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 men, don't we? 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 this. She's just barely pretty.

Okay. In fact, I remember she said one time that she was in a beauty salon for nine hours. Can 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 four, 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 bitter. He's angry. Forty years has not lessened the pain of having been rejected by his people.

He tried something and the people didn't help him and God didn't help him. And Moses is saying to himself, I'm not about to go back now. If you'd have called me back then, I was single and it was simple for me. I could have been the leader, but now I'm married.

I've 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 it and he doesn't want to be hurt again.

I've tried that. You know, it has said that if you have been burned on hot milk, you'll even 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, a staff, a rod, a rod that perhaps was five or six feet long, several inches in diameter, had been a branch of a tree that grew. And God says to Moses, Moses, what's in your hand? He said, a rod.

He said, throw the rod down. And then Moses was able to do miracles with this rod. And 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 and the waters parted. He's going to need water and he's going to strike the rock with his rod, 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 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 plans.

And 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. Let's translate this where you and I are at.

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.

Wow. God is with us in our promotions when everything is going well, when the sea is parting and the rivers are flowing. God is with us in our promotions. God is also with us in our demotions. 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 the man who had a dream about all these people were lined up and Jesus came along and said to this one, I bless you. I bless you. I bless you. And when Jesus got to this man, Jesus stepped back and said, you know, I'm not going to bless you because I know you're going to love me and follow me whether I do or not.

And then he went on to the next person. Do you feel that way that you've been left out? Your people seem to be prospering, but 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, then 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. You say, well, no, that's not true because where I am today is my fault. Well, Moses could have said the same thing. He could have said, you know, it's my fault that I acted the way I did in relationship to killing the Egyptian. I should have been wiser. I am being judged because I'm in the desert because I blew it.

All 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, if you take that point of view. Isn't it interesting that right there in the middle of where he shouldn't be, God has a wife prepared for him.

And he marries and has some children. And right there, 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. Now, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't improve your situation.

It doesn't mean that you shouldn't be job hunting if that's what you need or improving your lifestyle or your relationships. We understand that. But God today knows exactly where you are.

He knows the longitude and the latitude of where you are sailing on the boat of life. And when a hard time comes, God is there. Look at these slaves that I'll 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 you miss everything I've said today, would you remember this? Don't ever interpret the silence of God as 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 as 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't 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. Let me ask you a question. What have you picked up in the desert? What has 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 were in the desert and now you are more generous and more giving and you've opened 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 said to himself regarding Moses and his desire to lead the children of Israel out and his willingness to identify with the people of God and the Bible gives him credit for doing that, especially in the book of Hebrews.

I think that God probably said to himself the time isn't right and furthermore, Moses isn't ready to be the leader. He has to be taught servanthood, humility. He has to be taught trust. He has to learn to obey even when it's inconvenient.

The palace could never teach him 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 he's teaching us is that he is there with us. I think probably the best example actually is Jesus himself. In 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. If you're here today and life is hard, let me ask you the 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 and heaven is coming.

If you're here today as an unbeliever and life is hard, this is the best it'll ever get. All of eternity is going to be far worse than 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 as 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, do you know him personally having received him as your savior, not your wife's 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 forever. 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 their rent is coming from, for those, Father, who are in relational tug-of-wars in their marriages and in their families. Father, 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, it may be with a sure knowledge that because of Jesus, we are forgiven and life will get better. In Jesus' name, amen, amen. Well my friend, what you have just heard is the kind of message that we hope to give to even more people as we anticipate the new year. We want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win. You've heard me say it before, but we're in 20 different countries in four different languages.

More than that, because of the internet, we actually go around the world. And our desire is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you are blessed as a result of this ministry, it's because others have invested in this ministry and we thank them so much.

When people contribute to the ministry of Running to Win, I like to think of them as part of the Running to Win family. And as we anticipate the new year and we think of God's generosity toward us, let us be generous as we continue to serve and bless others. Here's what you can do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now if you're like me, sometimes you hear information. You don't have a pen or pencil handy, so I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. But thanks in advance.

We believe that as the new year approaches, Running to Win is going to continue to increase around the world. Go to It's or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. It's getting tougher to be a parent every day as the younger generation demands ever more freedom from their elders.

Gary listens to Running to Win and has this concern, Pastor Lutzer. Our 29-year-old daughter is caught in a trap of sinful life patterns. She seems helpless, yet she says we have no right to speak to her or her friends about her self-destructive conduct. Ask her father, do I have the right to speak to her about this? Well, first of all, I want to say that you may have the right to speak to her about this, but it seems clear she isn't listening, so your words are probably spoken into the wind, so to speak.

Fact is, she's 29 years old. One of the things about the father of the prodigal is he didn't go looking for the boy. He trusted that when the boy came to the end of himself in the far country, that the boy would come home, and the father thought the boy would come home, because clearly the father was looking for him.

So all that I can do is make this suggestion to you. Have one last talk with your daughter and give her one more warning and tell her that it is the last, that you will never go down this path with her again, unless of course she wants to, that this is your parting shot in terms of warning. But secondly, at the same time, remind her that you love her, that you'll always be there for her, and she can always return home and be a loving father to her. Obviously she's very much deceived, but trust the far country to do its work, just as the prodigal son's father trusted the far country to do its work. And then of course continue to pray for her.

Pray that God will also bring other people into her lives who will speak truth to her, and that she'll wake up to her senses and say, you know, I need to return to my earthly father and my heavenly father, too. Some very wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. These days, most of the economic news is bad. Some try to put that news in a good light, but bad is still bad. Even so, today's hard times are nothing like those Israel faced under the heel of the Pharaoh of Egypt.

The people were brutally oppressed as slaves. The lessons they learned might help us face the stresses of a modern era when hope again is fading. Next time on Running to Win, we'll learn all about finding God in a tight place. Running to Win is here to help you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Thanks for listening today. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 03:04:13 / 2022-12-28 03:12:37 / 8

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