The Spirit CompelsNew Every Morning | February 27, 2019
JESUS DOES NOT CHOOSE to go to the wilderness; the Spirit compels him to go.
Throughout scripture, the wilderness represents more than a lonely, barren place on the map. It’s the place where God’s people confront the ruthless power of temptation; where they wrestle with questions about who they are, where they are going, and how they are going to get there. It’s where Jesus faces the temptations to deny his identity as the Son of God, to use divine power to satisfy his human desires, to find a less costly way of doing the expensive work of salvation.
For all disciples, the wilderness is the barren space between where we’ve been and where we’re going. It’s the empty place between a familiar, comfortable past and an unfamiliar, often risky, future. It’s the soul-searching place where we face the temptations to settle for things that are less than God’s best for us, to take a shortcut to get to Easter without going through Lent, to experience new life without going to the cross.
—James A. Harnish
Easter Earthquake: How Resurrection Shakes Our World
From pages 28-29 of Easter Earthquake: How Resurrection Shakes Our World by James A. Harnish. Copyright © 2017 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.
What is the “wilderness” in your life? Share your thoughts.
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
—Mark 1:12, NRSV
Prayer for the Week
My Saviour God; How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
—from “How Great Thou Art,” words and music by Stuart K. Hine, 1949
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My wilderness is often isolation, which I have to admit is sometimes self-imposed, at least in large part. My temptation is to “go it alone” spiritually. I know I’m never really alone, and often my relationship with God grows by leaps and bounds when I am in a period of isolation, but then God nudges me to get out of my comfort zone and back with people. I’ve been in one such period for around six months due to a condition I’m living through having to do with dizziness and balance. It means I have to curtail my driving. I am able to go to work, but not able to get to church, for example. This has meant that I’ve had almost no casual interaction with parishioners for months – but on the upside I’ve had some very deep interactions with my Bible study guys who meet within walking distance of my house and with my dearest church friend, our associate parish priest and a wonderful sister in Christ, who has come to me in order to stay connected.
In this wilderness, I have grown – but I sense God has a change coming for me. Much greater growth yet to come and all to the good, both in terms of health and spirit. Praise you and thank you, Lord, for your orthogonal solutions. May I never settle for things that are less than your best for me.
Blessings to all.
The wilderness for me is food addiction. Daily need for surrender, the Power to overcome the tempter, and all defeat taken to the foot of the Cross, where Jesus of Nazareth urges me into a new day.
Lord, grant me strength to resist temptation this day and to turn to you for my refuge and my strength. Amen
Sorry to hear of your health issues, Rusty.
Our family and friends have experienced major health issues, and I have lost many to cancer this past year. That has brought me to a wilderness of sorts, questioning God’s plan. I attended a graveside service last week of a dear friend from college days. It was a Jewish service, and much of it was in Hebrew. The words and song contained praise for the suffering that all had endured and comfort from God above. Very moving. Be with us through tour suffering, Lord, and the desert times. Amen
Thank you, Betsy. May you be comforted in your difficult times. I’m pleased for you having been able to participate in that moving service.
My wilderness is the same as Rusty’s. However, I have not stayed connected with anyone from the church. I now will have to find a new denomination. I cannot remain a Methodist afterr yesterday’s vote. My news had a minister whosewords echoed my own. Jesus associated with everyone, accepted everyone and challenged His followers to do the same. If He eshewed anyone it was the religious leaders who set themselves above others. I feel that the Methodist church no longer follows Jesus’ teachings.
Prayers for Rusty and his healing soon.
Prayers for Besty who has had much sorrow this year but also great joy.
Prayers for Connie who is in a wilderness of sorrow, may she have joy soon.
Prayers for Mary and how she alleviates other’s wilderness of pain.
Prayers for robert and his upcoming move.
Prayers for Lou and her children, may Lou be through the wilderness of her lonliness.
Prayers for Edy and Bill, may Bill’s wilderness of illness soon end.
Prayers for Andrea and Lowell, may their wilderness of illness soon end.
Prayers for Jill and her family who are in a wilderness of pain and sorrow with an indeterminate length.
Prayers for Marcy and her seemingly never ending wilderness of pain, may she soon emerge energized and healthy.
Thank you for your prayers dear UR family
Prayers and blessings and warm hugs dear UR family
Thank you, Julie. May you find peace and God’s encouragement as you ponder what is next for you.
My wilderness is watching movies. Since I turned 55 recently, I am able to watch movies at senior’s rate. So I told myself, I will watch one movie a week. Of course, sometimes, I watch at home. I started a movie journal cause I realized that there are many lessons to learn from movies.
May we all grow and make changes to be better people.
This reflection presents wilderness in ways that are new to me. My wilderness is having scattered attention as I get older, and getting less accomplished because of it. My foot and back, though still sore, are getting better. Lowell’s ankle is still quite painful. Thank you for your prayers.
“And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own….”
Prayers for UR friends, visitors, and those for whom you pray.
Yesterday’s decision at the UMC Special Session has made a wilderness for me. I add it to the upcoming move to try and help my son find his way n life and the ordeal Anneliese faces with her spinal problems. Wildernesses come in all shapes and sizes. A much smaller one is resolving the computer keyboard problem.
Thankful that there is a computer than Erich and I can share and use. It helps us make our way in many areas. Hopeful that tomorrow we get to have a day where he skis while I snowshoe.
Julie, I think I am close to your opinion about being a United Methodist member. I sure wonder what John Wesley would say. His sermon on Catholic Spirit tells me that this issue has nothing to do with the core of Christian beliefs. I would have chosen the Simple plan and been ok with the One Church plan. Have to think, ponder, pray, and see what happens before I make a decision. The pastor at the UMC congregation I attend wen through all 6 of the passages that deal in some way with homosexuality and I think there has been some long standing misunderstanding. I saw no evidence that these were examined before the session began.
Thank you for your very focused prayers. Prayers for the the UR family and the many newcomers are such a welcome sight. Thank You, Lord.
I also am disappointed in the UMC’s decision yesterday. In my opinion, it is not what Jesus would have done.
My wilderness is Alzhiemers diagnosis for my Dear husband and the changes in our lives. It has been 5 years since adiagnosis. And 5 years before. I may be entering a new wilderness when he is moved to Memory Care on Monday. I thank God for my support group and my Faith Community who have walked me through .
The space between retirement and figuring out what do next. My office closed 1/21/2019. We have been on a cruise. Silver Sneakers is available every morning. Right now we have unusually warm weather for GA in February. Hope to volunteer at a local ministry and go to Redbird in April. Think there’s something else but not sure what.
May God lead and guide you, Gail!