God Shapes Our Hearts in the Desert

Today at long last this fall I returned to my Tuesday morning men’s group. We watched another Ray Van der Laan video about the Israelites when God led them to the desert of the Sinai from the fertile fields od Egypt. He tested them asking, “How far will you go to obey me?” I can really relate to this from a financial standpoint at this point in my life. It is very challenging to have full faith in God at any time. That faith is tested most clearly, and perhaps defined most strongly, in times of testing. Ray cited these verses from the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 8:1-5 NLT
“”Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord . For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.”

See it at YouVersion.com:


Test in the East is experiential knowing. God wanted to experience what was in the hearts of His people. Ray also cited this passage from the Exodus:

Exodus 15:22-27 NLT
“Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”). Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water.”

See it at YouVersion.com:


God said through this experience, “I am going to show you in my actions what is in my heart.”

We are all “sticks” in some way, ordinary and wonderful creations of God. In God’s hands, following God’s will, any of us (sticks) can be empowered to do remarkable things through God’s power.

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