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Isaiah 43:18-21 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (desert). 20 …I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (desert), to give drink to MY PEOPLE, MY CHOSEN, 21the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

Anybody feel like you are in the wilderness or wasteland?  Like you are walking in a desert?  We can go through seasons of life that can drain us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I’m coming out of what I would call Covid-fatigue. For me, it feels like I have been walking through mud, like I have been living life in slow motion and have been fighting to move in a forward direction.  I’m someone who likes to see progress, and life has been a lot harder in recent months which has made progress more difficult to quantify and experience. Covid came with restrictions that tied my hands in some ways. 

We have had more church members pass away during this past 18 months than at any other time in my ministry with you. Saying “goodbye” to many prayer warriors, workers, encouragers, worshipers, has been really hard.  Those losses have added to this wilderness and wasteland time for me.  Many of you have lost loved ones, lost time with loved ones, lost your office and now work from home, lost your job, lost in-person learning, lost confidence in being out and about and doing life with people, lost out on vacations and travel, lost the stability of predictability and a routine, and perhaps you have even just felt lost spiritually or emotionally.  I believe God says, “It’s time to move on.”   

You know what has gotten me through this season?  You know what has given me comfort and a forward look?  Two things:  Number one, God says I belong to Him.  He calls us “My People, My Chosen.”  He says earlier in Isaiah 43:1, But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

If you are in Christ, you are God’s treasured possession.  You belong to Him. You matter to Him.  God isn’t going to let you die in the desert because you are HIS!  In fact, not only is God not going to lie you die in the desert, but second, He’s going to do a new thing while you are there.  

God doesn’t have to wait until we are out of the desert in order to do something new.  His power isn’t restricted to optimal circumstances.  He can work anywhere, at any time.  This desert experience with God is the stuff of miracles.  To receive provision in the wilderness and wasteland, to have streams appear where everything is dead and dry?  This is what God can do.  God is with you, and that He is the One who can create something new and wonderful, something beautiful, even in a situation that seems hopeless or barren. 

There are times when something new seems risky or unwanted because you are comfortable with the way things are, but when you find yourself in the wilderness or wasteland as many of us have during the Pandemic, you are eager for something new. This is know: Life with Jesus is never static.  He is always on the move, and He is always up to something new.  That’s where I want to be.  I want to live on the edge with Jesus.  Do you think that God might take us into the desert once in a while, so that we become ready to and open for the new thing He has in store for us?  Could the desert be preparation for something wonderful!?  It was for Jesus, wasn’t it?  We read in Matthew 4:1 that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness.  This was an intentional move.  Jesus was being prepared for the ministry He would take on, for the tenacity He would need to have, for the connection with the Father that He would share and demonstrate, for the power He would exert over and over and over again.  The effective ministry of Jesus was prepared for in those desert moments.

The desert may be unwanted, but it isn’t wasted.  It takes faith to leave something you love to embrace the new thing God is calling you to do.  Look to see what God is up to!

If you are going to be one who gets ready for the new thing God wants to do in your life, you have to change your focus.

Too many believers are letting their circumstances control their feelings and their faith.  You need to separate your feelings and your faith.  They are not one in the same.  It is OK to feel what is part of the human experience, whether discouragement or sadness, but know this:  It is how you view God in the midst of the desert and not your feelings that will determine how you come out on the other side.  Get a revelation of Jesus. Be reminded that He went through a desert experience to prepare Him for the greatest ministry the world has ever seen.  Isaiah says, “Don’t dwell on the former things.  Don’t dwell on the past.”  Don’t dwell on what Covid has done, don’t dwell on your pain, dwell on what God can do.

Not only do we need to quit letting our circumstances control our feelings and our faith, but We need to exercise fresh faith in the ability of God to do something new.  Step out of the boat today.  Step beyond what you can see in the natural.  Reach for something new.  Ask God to show you something new.  Faith cannot be exercised by just believing something; but it is exercised as you step out to do something.  Isaiah said, “I am doing a new thing, do you not perceive it?”  God wants you to picture the possibilities for your personal life today.  He wants you to have a better quality of relationships.  He wants a better marriage for you.  He wants healing for you.  He wants stability for you.  He wants joy for you.  He wants you to know Him better.  He wants peace for you.  He wants you to be free of anxiety and fear so you can enjoy life.  He wants you to lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  He wants your kids to be saved.  He wants you to have what you need.  You need to perceive it.  You need to believe it.  You need to walk towards it.  You need to start picturing the possibilities instead of all of the problems.  What is burdensome to you now, what is bothering you now, what you wish would end now may be the exact preparation you need for the new thing God wants to ready you for.  You can resist it, or you can trust God in it and keep walking by faith.

Too many believers have quit walking by faith and have given up on God just because they walk through a desert time.  Too many believers have quit believing the report of the Lord and have believed the report of their feelings. Luke 10:17-19 tells me that Jesus has given me authority over every power of the enemy, and nothing shall in any way harm me.  Romans 8:28 tells me that even the desert will serve the purposes of God and will be for my good. 

God speaks confidently about His involvement in our lives in Isaiah 43:19: I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (desert).  He didn’t say, “I’ll try.”  He didn’t say, “I hope I can make something good happen.”  He said, “I am!”  Be encouraged.

What you believe will determine what you receive.  Only those who choose to see what God is up to will go where God is leading.  Trust God to prepare you, preserve you and to bring you out in power and for a great purpose!

Matthew 25:1-13 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet
Luke 6:27-31-27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those
John 6:53-56 53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink