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Wilderness Wisdom (1 of 4)

Mike Connell

Okay and here's the next one. The devil tried to define Him by popularity: Oh, I am what people say I am! I am what people think of me. That's not bad is it? So you end up living to please people. What do you think? There used to be that Yes Minister programme on TV, and his whole thing was defined by what are the people thinking. You can't worry about what people think. They're going to think what they think anyway. If they think you're a nerd, well they're going to think you're a nerd, you know, so what? They're allowed to think what they like. But you understand, if we define ourselves by what people think about us, it's a real problem, because you can't be true to yourself, and you can't be true to what God says. You can't be true to your destiny, and you can't be true to the things God's put in your heart; the desires, dreams, gifts, passions. The problem is when you become a Christian, suddenly there's almost all this pressure and expectation comes on. Now you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to be this, you have to - and it's like this huge pressure to conform. Where did it come from?

It didn't come from God. It's often a manifestation what's already in your heart, the need to feel accepted, or fit in in some kind of way, a need to please people. When we please people, we can't be the servant of God, and so the issue of identity is a crucial one. That's what the devil pushes on, and wilderness testings, test our attachment to things, what we own, to positions. They test our attachment to people. Basically they test where your identity is found, whether you are founded and grounded, that even if I have nothing, and have lost everything, am doing nothing, look like a failure, and people think I'm hopeless, nevertheless I am who God says I am. Moses didn't look too good in the wilderness after he had a warrant out for his murdering someone - but he was a man of God. David didn't look to good in a cave hiding out with all his desperate men who were failures and losers - nevertheless he was a king. Jesus didn't look too good hanging out on the cross - He was the king of kings. There are times you don't look so good, but listen, they're followed by times when God does something really great, if you can respond right in that time. You've got to respond right.

So notice that everyone had expectations on Jesus, just like they've got expectations on you. Now here's the thing: Jesus never lived out of expectations of people, or to please people; and so as a result, He upset everyone at some point. He upset His parents. He upset the people in His home town, they got offended with Him. He upset His disciples. Some didn't follow Him anymore, and all of them ran away, and one betrayed Him. He upset the religious leaders, when He didn't do what a rabbi's supposed to do. He upset the king. When the king wanted Him to do miracles, He wouldn't do a miracle for him. He upset the people, he upset everyone at some point, but you know what? He lived true to who He was, and this whole politically correct thing is all about trying to please, and look nice, and make people happy and feel good. It's got nothing to do with being a godly man or woman, and to do that, you have to face times when you may not look at all; or you may find you're going through a stripping and you're like a tree in the middle of winter. Nevertheless you have not changed. You are still who God says you are. You are still going where God says He's taking you, IF you keep hold of Him. It's a wonderful season, [applause] great season to be in. So how to flunk your wilderness test. [Laughs] How to flunk it in some - five easy lessons on how to flunk a test. Here it is, I'll give you them quickly because I want to get to how you succeed, but I thought flunking, you might recognise the flunkers - or you're perhaps sitting next to one you know, never know. [Laughter]

Anyway here we go, you'll know as soon as I read them out. Let's just go into Numbers, Chapter 6:14. Fortunately the Bible tells how to flunk the test, and the Bible's full of examples of people who flunked. I like that. I love that about the Bible. It doesn't worry about whether you look good, because almost all the great men of the Bible didn't look good at some time. At some point they look really, really bad - like Abraham, the great man of faith, the father of our faith. Someone says is that your wife? Aah no. [Laughter] It's my sister. [Laughter] Oh really? Well I might take her into my house then. Yeah, yeah, okay. [Laughter] It doesn't look good does it? It isn't good is it either - but he's still called a man of faith. See, so God never worries about the fact we've got weaknesses, lacks, flaws and difficulties and shortcomings. See, trying to be perfect, it doesn't work. Just God gives us grace, and He gives us two things; one, He gives us grace; grace to grow, change and be who we're called to be, but not grace to be what someone else wants you to be. If you try and be what someone else wants you to be, you'll be frustrated and burdened all your life. It's so crucial to discover who you are, and fulfil it, what you're called to do and your destiny, and that you don't run to someone else's whistle. We listen to the Holy Ghost, and live out our life as God calls us to, learning how to do that.