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July 7, 2022 12:00 am
Maybe you find yourself in a spiritual desert of guilt and unhappiness, failure and weakness, with seemingly no relief in sight. Have you ever considered that God might have brought you there for a reason? God took Moses into the wilderness for 40 years before using him to rescue the Jewish people from Egypt. How long are you willing to stay there?
Undoubtedly the man that God designed to be the deliverer of the Israelites he was prepared in the throne room of Pharaoh to understand law that would be so helpful when he would transcribe the oracles of God into the written law that we have today schooled in all of the learning and wisdom of Egypt and yet he was not schooled in the wisdom of God and he thought that the time was now and I will instigate my plan to deliver the Israelites and so he strikes down an Egyptian behind them in the same boat might set aside. Maybe you were involved in something that you considered, but found yourself on the sideline instead of being actively involved. Moses face the time of banishment in the desert, he killed an Egyptian and had to flee from Pharaoh in order to save his own life but God use that time in the desert to teach and shape Moses. Moses emerged many years later, ready and willing to serve God faithfully. God does the same thing with us. He takes us into desert -like experiences to shape and mold our character.
This is wisdom for the heart and here's our teacher, Stephen. The interesting thing about the Bible as we come to it will note that most of the truth is shrouded in personality is cloaked with the personalities of men and women in whatever God authored through his servants the lives of men and women. He seemed to leave out nothing, especially the failures we can find people in the Scriptures who are given such spotlights that he seems to hide from our view, those mistakes that they made the sense that they were involved in the deserts that they found themselves living in and I'm so glad because the Scriptures are given for our instruction, that we may be thoroughly equipped unto every good work and it seems that you and I need help, especially in terms of failure. Hopefully we will learn from the failures of these men and women and not repeat mistakes that there are several that I want to bring your attention as we continue our study the life of Moses. If you have notes. It would be helpful because were going to bounce back and forth but the first is a man called Mark or John Mark, an interesting individual who had every possible or potential of becoming a great success story, and yet something happened that God included in the record of Scripture for our instruction.
Look at acts chapter 12 acts chapter 12 where his story begins. Acts chapter 12 verse 11, Peter is been in prison there is a prayer meeting going on and this is what the Scripture writer records. Chapter 12 of acts, verse 11, when Peter came to himself. He said now I know for sure that the Lord is sent forth his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all the Jewish people were expecting, and when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, who was also called Mark where many were gathered together and were praying. It seems that the home of John Mark was a great hiding place a great retreat for those early disciples. It is believed by most expositors that it was in the home of John Mark that the Last Supper took place in the upper room that is there room above on the roof.
Perhaps it is also believed that this wealthy couple whose son we know was Mark was the owners of that garden where Christ prayed. We call it the garden of Gethsemane and so John Mark was reared in a home that was soon given to the cause of Jesus Christ. It was his mother and perhaps even his believing Roman father that open their doors for the disciples to come and to pray Mark. We know from studying was 20 years old when Jesus Christ was crucified.
It's believed that he was the young man that fled from the garden when the got when the guards grabbed him by the cloak. It's interesting to John Mark, a young man would be perhaps the one groomed to be the second-generation disciple get all of the potential. The background get something happened in his life, turn over, just a page or two to chapter 13 verse two and while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting. This is the church at any the Holy Spirit said, set apart for me Barnabas and Saul or Paul for the work to which I have called them. Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them. They sent them away.
No know who's in the company of Paul and Silas so being sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to Solutia and from there they sailed to Cyprus and when they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogue of the Jews and they also had John as their helper John Mark so it seems that this young man had great enthusiasm. He was willing to be involved in the cause of Christ. He can hobnob with the disciples he had spoken to Paul and Peter, imagining he had a problem as a teenager he could ask one of those individuals their advice is home was the haven for the disciples soon to be apostles here and he finds himself as the young helper on the first evangelistic crusade and now were not sure. But something occurred in that missionary trip that would change the record of his life God introduces a colossal failure of failure in his ministry.
Verse 13 now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to purdah in Pamphylia, but John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem turn over to chapter 15. And let's get a little more insight on what happened. Acts chapter 15 verse 36.
This lets us in on what happened and after some days Paul said the Barnabas.
Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaim the word of the Lord and see how they are and Barnabas was desirous of taking. John called Mark along with them.
Also but Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia.
The word desert is the Greek word from which we get our word apostasy. Evidently John Mark faced with perhaps the pressuring of the crowd were not exactly sure. Maybe he thought having hung around the disciples, knowing they had power to perform miracles and perhaps his ministry would be just as enlightened.
Perhaps he wasn't dead with the results that he wanted to see maybe the youth sneered at him and called him names work were not exactly sure of all of the clues, but we know that he a plasticized that is, he departed, he deserted them. He left them in the lurch. Paul said there is absolutely no way I'm taking that young men with me again. I imagine the trouble that perhaps was caused by John Marx leaving.
Perhaps people just come to Christ and now the news is out that John Mark is abandoned, is calling seems that he would go down and in record is a failure in ministry. I think of Psalm chapter 78 verse nine that reads the sons of Ephraim were equipped with bow and with arrows and yet in the day of battle, they turned back and I think of of perhaps us by way of application.
We have so much potential. We have training we have knowledge we know more of the word, perhaps, than than many of ever known.
We have so much in our disposal are our bows are ready and our arrows are our finally shaped our prayers are are ascending to heaven debtor. There were did so well. We put on great appearances and yet in the day of battle when the pressures on when the sneering begins at school or at the job for fear of ridicule in the day of battle do we turn back we can hardly talk about the church being persecuted as the Scriptures do because the church in America certainly is an persecuted, yet I think it would. Jesus Christ said to the church at Smyrna. He said to stand in the day of hope whenever that battle may be, and there are battles for us different. Perhaps then those believers in other countries I've mentioned in the past those believers in Russia. I heard a story just recently about a group of believers who met on the outskirts of town in Russia this past winter I was referring, relating that story to you, and I wanted to bring this out as well. They met in the building and abandoned building.
There were so many people that they were packed like sardines into this building to hear the gospel. A man had slipped in undercover from America. A Christian leader who would speak to them and teach them and they had come from all over in the dead of winter. No heat in the building every window and door was open to give circulation of air and and still though icy cold outside. The humidity dropped from the ceiling.
They have their battle we have ours different, perhaps for you it is a battle to go next door and witness for Christ to your neighbor who is never heard Jesus Christ come from your tongue. I heard a said story of a man who would carpool with another businessman for nearly 15 years. He was also a neighbor. He died with a heart attack and the by heart attack and this individual was sharing with a friend of mine how for 15 years. He now sadly recalls he never asked his neighbor. He never asked that man if he knew Jesus Christ and one of us. Do we desert. Are we prepared for battle. And yet in the first freight when we hear the clanking of the armor coming when we hear the rumbling of the wheels we see the Army approaching what we do equipment at all. We run, we look for the white flag or do we fight I know it's a lot more convenient perhaps to keep our mouths quiet but it's a lot less effective when you say will come back to Mark in just a moment because I want to give you a good ending to the story but I think of another failure not of failure in his ministry, not a coward, but David, who ended up in the desert of guilt and unhappiness. A man who was a failure in his morals, and I think of how different David is to to Mark there. There wasn't a streak of cowardice and this young man I had taken on wild animals with justice Lane he'd approached the armies of Israel, who had been at a standstill for months because the Philistines had a secret weapon known as Goliath and Goliath would come out every day and paraded before the armies of the Israelites and say will come against me. No one would dare step forward until this run of the letter. This teenage boy with swing dangling from his hip pocket comes to bring food to his brothers, and he hears that Philistine and he says well it's about time I took them on and to the amazement of everybody he walks out into the valley and he tells this towering giant of a man before this afternoon is over I'm going to take your head from your body and feed your flesh to the bird here was a man who, with the name of Jehovah would would fight an enemy like this. And yet he became a casualty because of moral failure. The man who was considered the apple of God's eye man after God's own heart. One who penned into existence. Such great experiences of worship found himself in a lonely place, a desert of guilt and unhappiness, which he turned to Psalm chapter 32… On the ties in with chapter 51 and read what David said and I want you to note the agony of one who was hiding his sin. One would not learned yet the wonderful privilege of repentance and freedom from guilt. He writes in Psalm 32 verse three when I kept silent about my sin when I had it when I tucked it away. My body wasted away through my groaning all day long for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained away as the feverish heat of summer man talk about a desert talk about unhappiness. Yet if you'll turn over to chapter 51 you will see what happens in this desert of guilt and unhappiness. He had learned and it been willing to repent, and be gracious to me. Oh God, according to thy lovingkindness. According to the greatness of my compassion blot out my transgressions, wash me thoroughly from iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin, for I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me against the. The only advice in verse 10 create in me a clean heart of God renew a steadfast spirit or right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from my presence, and do not take thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation.
Verse 14 deliver me from blood guilt meso God thou God of my salvation. Then my tongue will joyfully sing of my righteousness, old Lord, open my lips that my mouth may declare thy praise. There is something that ladies and gentlemen we all have in common with Mark and with David because of failure because of sin. We also find ourselves in a desert place. Maybe this morning you are experiencing a desert of guilt or unhappiness. Failure of some sort, disappointment or weakness God has brought you to that place not to abandon you there, but to teach you there because that is the place where he can gain our undivided attention, see David for a year had hidden the sin.
He tucked it away.
He thought no one knew and yet he reveals to us. My soul, my body, my mind was wasting away.
I want to take you back to one more man and this is the individual we been studying for some time. I want you to notice the desert place, he finds himself in the desert of obscurity and silence. Exodus chapter 2, he was undoubtedly the man that God is designed to be the deliverer of the Israelites he was prepared in the throne room of Pharaoh to understand law that would be so helpful when he would transcribe the oracles of God into the written law that we have today. He was the prince of the court schooled in all of the learning and wisdom of Egypt and yet he was not schooled in the wisdom of God and he thought that the time was now it was right and I will instigate my plan to deliver the Israelites and so he strikes down an Egyptian and he hides them in the sand.
Because of that Pharaoh learns of that murder and Moses has to flee, but take it up there. Verse 15 but Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down or he pitched camp by well now the priest of Midian had seven daughters and they came to draw water and they filled the troughs to water their father's flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and help them in water their flock.
Perhaps he intimidated them by his Egyptian dress. This also gives us an indication that the priest and Midian had very little respect from the people who lived in that area that they would drive away his daughters and did take the water that they had drawn for their sheep and give it to the wrong.
So when they came to Reuel who will be known from this point on as just throw their father, he said, why have you come back so soon today. He knew that it took them longer and they set an Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock. His responses interesting. He says to his daughters. Three quick questions. Where is he then why is it you left the man behind invite them to have something to eat. This is this is the kind of man we want around here, and this might be a future son-in-law. He's thinking well they invite Moses in and sure enough, he is pleased to dwell with the man. Verse 21 and he gave his daughter Sapporo, which means little bird to Moses and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, the meaning of the name is I have been a stranger in a foreign land that don't miss for a moment the agony of the soul. Here is the prince of the court. Here is the deliverer here is the one who believed as his mother had planted the seed in his heart that he would lead the Israelites out of Egypt and now he is a disaster of failure, thinking perhaps he is an eternal washout pitching camp in the dusty sandy region of Midian.
I read an unbelievable account and I know you probably wouldn't believe me. So I brought the book along.
This a woman who is very wealthy who had a lot of prominence decided that she would have a book written about her ancestors. She was very proud and so at great expense. She hired a well-known author to write that book but it didn't take long before this man discovered that one of her grandfather's unknown to anyone, was a murderer and although it'd been covered up.
He had been electrocuted in the electric chair in Sing Sing. She was mortified and she said believed that out of the book that will do much for my reputation and the author with credibility said no II must put that in there and so she said well I tell you I'll double your fee. If, when you write that account you worded in such a way that no one will really know and I want to read you what he wrote, quote one of her grandfather's occupied the chair of applied electricity and one of America's best-known institutions. He was very much attached to his position and literally died in the harness that what I cover up and then that's typical we we don't want anyone to know of something like that in our past, or our personal history that's covered up in God's is now expired as it because I want believers in the 20th century to learn from it and I want to give you three things that we learn from their failure from Moses is failure. I believe we can learn the importance of dependence. A man who was so qualified and so equipped. He was ready to take on Egypt and lead Israel out in his own right. He had yet to learn that he would have to go in the strength of God and dependence on him. He names his first son. You can almost hear him we I am Italian. Here I'm stranger to this place and yet something happened because his next son that's given in a later text, he names Eliezer which means God is my God is my he learned in the desert that dependency is much more important than self-sufficient and he would refocus his attention there in that tribulation and focus it on God, who is his help from the life of David.
I believe we learned the importance of repentance man who'd hidden his sin was living with the awful guilt of violating God's counsel there in chapter 51 he finally bears his soul and he says oh God, give my lips a song give me joy against the in thing only have I sinned, restoring to me the joy of my salvation, my friend. If you're in the desert like Moses or David. Perhaps God is trying to teach you dependence or lead you to repent from the life of Mark. I think he learned the importance of endurance. He would fail than a service for Jesus Christ would one day write the second gospel of your New Testament and emphasize one thing about Jesus Christ. He is the servant of God, something had happened in his life and I want to tell you what I believe it was, we have the first clue in Colossians you turn there, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Colossians chapter 4 verse 10 for 18 years, Mark has seemingly vanished.
We haven't heard from him. We haven't seen him. No one refers to him and now 18 years later something is happened.
Colossians chapter 4 verse 10, Paul is writing Aristarchus my fellow prisoner he sends you his greetings and also Barnabas's cousin Mark about whom you received instructions. If he comes to you welcome him.
I love that Paul and one time didn't want anything to do with him and now he's telling this body of believers of Mark comes along that welcome him what happened during the second Timothy chapter 4 verse 11.
Boy love this brings tears to my eyes to think of what happened. Paul is writing from a prison cell and he says, verse nine make every effort Timothy to come to me soon for Dimas, having loved this present world is deserted me.
Interesting. He talks about Dimas now pasta sizing is going to Thessalonica creations is going to Galatia, Titus is going to Dalmatia only Luke is with me. Picked up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me in the service.
I think the thing that pulls it all together forces found in first Peter chapter 5 Peter is writing this time and I want to take just a moment to stop.
If you have notes there is one point one final application that I think we can learn from all three quote unquote failures and that is the value of listening. It's interesting that the word desert in the Hebrew is the same word translated God speaks as it is fascinating to think by way of an application to us today that in the desert when I am guilty of sin when I have perhaps left the counsel of God. When I am covered with unhappiness. There is solitude and seeming silence that desert times, God will speak in all three of these men's lives. God spoke through another Christian I believe the Christian in Mark's life is Peter. Look at chapter 5, verse 13 she who is in Babylon chosen together with you sends you greetings as so does my son Mark. We now know that Peter evidently had taken Mark under his wing and a disciple him Peter, the one who would also deny Jesus Christ. Peter, the one who would also fled when the battle began. Now is is helping Mark along and son is a term of discipleship.
He says I refer to Mark my son somewhere in the desert experience God allowed Mark to rub shoulders with Peter.
Perhaps a potential disaster. Perhaps someone who never wanted anything else to do with ministry unfinished. I'm quitting. I failed I blood no more. Peter comes along and puts his arm around Mark and he says listen I failed to let me show you how to focus on it during for the name of Jesus Christ. What happened in Moses life.
I believe in the desert of Midian is that his father-in-law Jethro turned out to be a rather godly priest, we would learn later in the story. The Jethro will give Moses great advice on how to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. There, God had sent Moses in a desert where it seemed that God's silence was was too loud to hear and yet there in the middle of the desert experience. There was a godly priest that was respected by no one in that village yet a priest who would refocus Moses's attention so that when his second son is born he says, oh, now I know now I understand God is my friend. As God brought somebody into your life and are you listening. Perhaps it's a relative like Moses absent a Christian friend a preacher or prophet someone declares to you counsel of God are you doing this will all spend time in the desert. The important thing is what we learned there because these men were able to listen from the pen of Moses become the first five books of the Old Testament from the pen of David would come more glorious Psalms about worshiping God forgave him and if Mark would come the second gospel of the New Testament failure desert experience does not mean the if we are able and capable by God's grace to listen to change to repent. The learn desert can be the beginning of endurance can be the beginning of depend this is wisdom from Steve and Dave.
Today's lesson is called desert lab 101 and it comes from the series out of Egypt. You can learn more about us.
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