Desert Living

What do you require of The Lord to grow, blossom and produce spiritual fruit? From what I can see, it seems that it’s natural for many in churches to beg God for the perfect environment first before they serve Him and bear fruit. The problem is, that’s not how God typically works.

I am teaching through Exodus in Bible Study and I was considering how The Lord brings Israel out of the idolatrous land of Egypt and into the pagan land of the Canaanites. Egypt and Canaan were less than ideal environments for growth or obedience and yet God expected His people to fruitfully serve Him in both locations. Leviticus 18:1-5 says

“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.”

In other words, who you belong to should define you, rather than your environment. God’s people are to have life and be productive wherever they are because that proves they are of Him. Jesus reiterates this truth in John 15, where He says

“I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” and also “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

This world is inhospitable to spiritual life. Think of this place as a parched and desolate wilderness where verdant life is rare. As a Christian, you are to be the life-giving oasis where others come to drink and sit in the cool shade.

A real-life oasis where physical life flourishes is shown in the photograph I’ve selected for this post. If you look closely to the left of the large boulder at the bottom of the image, you will see water flowing in the oasis En Gedi which is on the West coast of the Dead Sea. In 1 Samuel 23:29-24:2 David went here to hide from Saul because he knew God formed this place specifically to sustain life in a harsh land. David may have sought out En Gedi, but God can bring the oasis to you. In Isaiah 43:18-20 The Lord proclaims

“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.”

Real fruitfulness isn’t about how perfect circumstances are around you — it’s about choosing to overcome in the desert. I love Revelation 21:6-7 where Jesus says

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

Regardless of how difficult your life is, God wants you to live, grow and be fruitful. I know it’s difficult in the wilderness today, but God clothed and provided food and drink for the entire nation of Israel for 40 years...He absolutely has all the resources needed to nourish your life today. And I know that choosing life in a barren land is possible because I personally know believers that current exemplify life under terrible circumstances!

I encourage you to meditate on the following question today: Does Christ have the ability to affect your environment through you, or is your environment shaping you?

Additional Verses: Deuteronomy 18:9-14, Deuteronomy 32:9-14, Isaiah 35:1-10, Isaiah 41:17-20, Jeremiah 10:1-2, John 4:5-14, Romans 12:1-2, James 1:2-4 (I believe the “various trials” of here are external circumstances)