Where God Develops a Different Spirit – Luke 3

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Where God Develops a Different Spirit

“3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation
.’” Luke 3:1-2 NIV

Luke 3 begins in an interesting way. Some of the “important” political people of the day are named along with their titles. The important people of the day had lots of things going on in their lives. While the people of influence were busy being the governors, tetrarchs, high priests, and leaders of their communities, the Word of God comes to John in an obscure place. The Word of God comes to John in the wilderness.

We can learn from John that God uses the wilderness to develop a different spirit in His people. God used the wilderness as a place of refining for His people throughout the scripture. It was in the wilderness where Jacob wrestled with God. It was in the wilderness that a burning bush spoke to Moses and called him to deliver Israel from slavery. It was in the wilderness that God made Israel wander for 40 years to transform them from grumblers into warriors. It was in the wilderness that a young David fled from King Saul and gathered his mighty men. It was in the wilderness that the Word of God comes to John the Baptist. It was in the wilderness that the two on the road to Emmaus encountered the Jesus after His crucifixion and resurrection.

When thinking of how God uses the wilderness, I am reminded of the familiar passage in Psalms 23. In this Psalm the shepherd David says something very important about journeying through the wilderness with his sheep. He says, “even though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Have you ever thought about why the scripture says that? We often refer to this verse at funerals, but what does it really mean?

In the Bible times, shepherds would lead their flocks to greener pastures to feed in. As they traveled to the greener pastures, they would have to walk their flocks through dark and treacherous valleys. Valleys were especially dangerous because predators had places to hide, wait, and prey on the sheep. Shepherds needed to lead their flocks through the danger of the valleys because when it rained, the water fell on the mountaintops and trickled down into the valleys. They needed to journey through the valleys because that was where the life giving waters were to be found.

Have you ever wondered why we need to endure times in the valleys and wilderness of life? Psalms 23 teaches us that while the wilderness and valleys are dangerous and treacherous, it is at the bottom of these valleys that we find the life giving waters and blessings from God Himself. This teaches us that God is less concerned about what we are going through, and is far more concerned about who we are becoming.

When God wants to equip His people to do something new and greater than we ever thought we could, He takes us through the wilderness to create a different spirit in us. That is why the scripture points out that the Word of God came to John in the wilderness.

Unfortunately we often try to bail out and run from the wilderness before we reach the greener pastures. We sever relationships, hold onto grudges at home, move from relationship to relationship, or go from church to church, and try to escape the wilderness when so often, what God is asking us to do, is BREAK THROUGH! We choose to run and flee from the valleys because we long for the greener pasture too soon. We have a strong desire to run from the very places where God has deposited gems and life giving waters because we fear being at the bottom of the valleys.

We learned the last time that John the Baptist probably knew who he was supposed to be because his dad spoke life and encouragement to him. Today we learn that for John to really develop a different spirit and to begin walking in his calling, he needed to receive the Word of God in the wilderness.

God used the wilderness to solidify and refine the calling of John the Baptist to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah.

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation
.’” Luke 3:4-6 NIV

Because John was faithful in the wilderness, God could use him to “prepare a way for the Lord,” and to, “make straight the paths for him.” If you are going through a wilderness time in your life today, look for the gems and life giving water that God has placed there for you today.

Holy Spirit, the wilderness times I endure does not have to be wasted time. I lean hard into You as my great Shepherd and I choose to fear no evil for You are with me. In the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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