Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Grace In The Wilderness by Pastor, Richard Leaphart

There is a verse of Scripture that God has awakened in my spirit, found in Jeremiah 31:2. It's a simple passage, but it comes with profound insight. It reads,” Thus says the Lord: ‘The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness - Israel, when I went to give him rest.'”

I would like to share with you three insights God gave me after meditating on this verse. I believe these points will help you understand why we often experience trying times. More importantly, if you find yourself incredibly challenged today, I'm confident this message will clarify your understanding so you can come through your experience triumphantly.

Israel encountered opposition repeatedly from the beginning of their national existence. Jeremiah 31:2 was written during their exile in Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar had laid siege to Jerusalem, pillaging the city and temple, and he deported nearly ten thousand Israelites to the capital of his empire. The Israelites had once again lost their homeland and their way of life. But as this passage points out, they survived the sword.

Surviving. That you're alive today, breathing and moving, declares you're a survivor. Challenges have come, but to the glory of God, you've survived every attack of the enemy sent to destroy you!
To “survive” means, “to remain or continue after or in spite of some life-threatening occurrence, event or situation; to endure.” No one has lived an attack-free life. The enemy is after our destruction from our moment of birth. But there's a difference between just barely surviving and surviving and thriving. You can choose to just get by or be an overcomer. You can actually thrive through everything Satan sends your way! It also means, “to persist and succeed.” Defeat is not an option for the child of God. Don't let anyone cheat you out of success in life. If your Lord is Christ, your name is Champion.

Can you imagine surviving the sword only to find yourself in a barren place? I can hear the Israelites now, “If it isn't one thing, it's another!” It's like when the Apostle Paul survived the storm and shipwreck only to be bitten by a snake on the island he sought refuge on.
The wilderness is the last place you want to end up after the battle. You want comfort and rest, routine and familiarity, but here you're offered the exact opposite. It's unsure. It's uncultivated, sparsely populated, and scary.

Yet, if it's a place of deprivation, danger, attack and punishment, it's also a place of deliverance and provision. It's where God reveals Himself to you. If you never had a problem, how would you know God could solve them? If you never faced sickness, how would you know He is a healer? If you've never been in trouble, how would you know He's an advocate?

Sometimes, the wilderness experience is a result of sin. Have an affair? Expect to deal with the consequences. Drink and drive? Expect to deal with the consequences. Drugs? Consequences. Overeat? Consequences. The good news is that if you're in the wilderness because of sin, you can confess, repent, and allow God to bring you out and move you on.

If you've found yourself in trying times and your life is pure, recognize that your wilderness experience could be your location of preparation, provision, revelation or mortification. “Mortification?” you say. Some things need to die. Some activities need to stop. You might be in this place to get them out of your life, and the sooner you recognize what they are, the sooner you'll be delivered.

Discovering. Please note that our verse tells us those who escaped the sword found something in the midst of this unlikely location: something called grace. Grace is God's unmerited, undeserved favor. You didn't work for it. You couldn't earn it if you wanted to. Frankly, friend, none of us are good enough. I think an acronym of the word GRACE says it best: God's Riches At Christ's Expense.

With favor, you don't have to use trickery, sorcery or flattery. It can go further than money. In fact, it can go where money can't go. It can get you a home when other people are getting denied mortgages. It can even get you a home without a mortgage!

God's favor empowers us to excel in what He's called us to do. But it isn't just something; it's Someone. Favor is God Himself. Grace is the gift of Himself to His people. He's your portion. Other people are clamoring for titles and positions, but when you have God Himself, you've got everything you need!

The Bible says they found grace in the wilderness. They found it. It was a discovery for them. The reason some people aren't finding anything is because they're not on a quest. If you search for it, you'll run right into it. You are a magnet for God's grace!

If you're not living in the overflow of God's blessing, then, beloved, do what the Word says: hearken to the voice of the Lord and get ready. His overflow will come to your life with a quickness (Deuteronomy 28:2). It will happen because you have the mark of God upon you. When you walk into a situation, favor will sense you. It will overtake you and wrestle you down. I'm excited about this today! Praise the Lord for the discovery of grace in your wilderness!

Realizing. Not only did the Israelites discover grace, but they also realized God had provided for them before they even entered this inhospitable region. Before you have a need, the provision has already been made. You see, the word “find” actually means, “to be equipped, outfitted and furnished, provided without charge.” There's no invoice. It's the favor of God for you. Imagine millions of people in the wilderness with no grocery store, but God fed them bread from heaven. They didn't know what it was. They'd never seen anything like it before. That's what God wants to show you in your circumstance: things you haven't seen before, experiences you've never encountered before. He wants to give you something fresh.

In this season, look for God to do something new. Today and tomorrow and the days to come, God is going to show you bread from heaven and water in a thirsty land. God's already taken care of it. You'll find it in your wilderness. If you aren't familiar with Deuteronomy 28, you need to be. Therein lies the most concise list of the promises of blessing God has given you. You need to stop cheating yourself out of His blessings. Isn't it time for you to have favor on your job, at home, in ministry, with God and with men? There is nothing too hard for God. You'll find Him in the wilderness, and when you find Him, you find everything you need.

The devil will say you've only had victory on the mountaintops and that God's not in the valley, but the devil is a liar. He's God everywhere - on the mountaintops and in the valley, in peace and in chaos. Don't give up, beloved! Don't seek after other gods. Christ is the Way of life, liberty, truth and breakthrough. He is the remedy for every ill of humanity. You may be diseased and suffering, sick and tired, but listen here: today is the day of great revelation. The Lord sits on heaven's throne. He is God and He is in control, therefore, bless Him for your wilderness experience. Bless Him for bringing you to it. Bless Him for keeping you in it. And bless Him for bringing you through it!

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