Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Crisis Creates Clarity

Mark 1:9-15

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Have you ever watched the TV show “Man vs. Wild?”
I stumbled onto that show a couple of years ago and I’ve been hooked every since.
The premise of the show is that a special operations trained member of the British military and survivalist name Bear Grylls is dropped by helicopter into a remote place where a hiker or adventurer might become stranded—places like glaciers, deserts, mountains, wildernesses—and with no food or supplies or tools, he has to survive for several days until he can find his way back to civilization or be rescued.
In the process Bear Grylls has to fend off wild animals, make impromptu shelters, and eat all sorts of disgusting things. It’s a great show!
What amazes me about “Man vs. Wild” is that Bear Grylls seems to know how to create shelter out of two sticks and some moss, and find nourishment from all sorts of bugs and worms. On one episode he ate a skunk! And the things he drinks for water…I’d better not even mention that! You’ll just have to see it for yourself.
When Bear Grylls goes out into the wilderness, he is not there to try to figure out how to survive, he is there to demonstrate how to survive. The wilderness is not a place for him to learn survival skills, but a place for him to test out his survival skills.
When I read about the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, I think of “Man vs. Wild.” The Bible says Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness where He was tempted by Satan and lived among the wild animals” (Mark 1:13).
To understand the purpose behind Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, think “Man vs. Wild.” Jesus is sent by the Spirit of God into the wilderness, not to learn new skills, but to demonstrate who He is, and what He is made of.
When people in the Bible thought about going into the wilderness, they didn’t think camping trip! To them, the wilderness was a place of danger and difficulty. Evil existed in the wilderness. The wilderness was the home of wild animals, not human beings.
You weren’t in the wilderness for a vacation; you were in the wilderness to survive.
Jesus finds Himself sent by the Spirit to be tempted—or more precisely, “tested”—for 40 days.
For those 40 days, Jesus endured a hostile environment, difficult surroundings, relentless attacks, and lonely isolation, to test who He was, and what He had to offer. What Jesus was to accomplish in His life and ministry would only come through struggle.
Isn’t that the way it works for all of us?
Did you ever achieve anything in your life that did not come as a result of hard work, challenge, and effort?
The wilderness seems to be the way God works out God’s purposes in God’s people.
As we observe Jesus undergoing a time of testing in the wilderness, we discover an important life principle. It is number 1 on your outline:

1) Crisis creates clarity (Mark 1:12-13).
It is in the wilderness that Jesus takes stock of His life, His calling, and His direction. When He comes out of the wilderness at the end of these 40 days, Jesus has a clarity about His ministry and His message, that will keep Him focused for the rest of His days on earth.
John Maxwell wrote, “You can have anything you want, but you cannot have everything you want. You have to choose. Excellence comes from doing the right things right. You’ve got to let go of the rest. If you’ve not sure what the right things are, pretend you have only six months to live. The things you would do in that short time are the right things.”
Jesus comes out of the wilderness and is clear about where He is headed and what He is to do. The 40 day time of challenge helped Jesus determine what is most important to His life. He gains clarity about His life’s priorities from His time in the wilderness.
If you find yourself in a wilderness season in your own life, what are you learning? What things are you seeing more clearly? What are you discovering about your priorities?
Jesus was not the only person who went through a wilderness season.
In fact, the wilderness has an important role to play in human development.
The Bible tells us that Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai in the presence of God (Exodus 34:28). When he came down off that mountain he brought with him the Ten Commandments. Crisis creates clarity.
The prophet Elijah traveled 40 days through the wilderness until he encountered God ina cave. After that experience, Elijah came away with a new purpose and plan from God for his life (1 Kings 19:7-16). Crisis creates clarity.
God has a way of using 40 days to strip away the superfluous and the extraneous, until only the significant remains!
So Jesus is sent into the wilderness for 40 days of testing. God will use this time to clarify the mission, ministry and message of Jesus. When Jesus emerges from the wilderness He will spend the rest of His life on earth focused on preaching a specific message and heading toward a specific purpose.
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses reminded the Israelites of God’s purpose for us in the wilderness:
2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. {Deuteronomy 8:2).
The wilderness is God’s classroom, to test us to see what is in our hearts, and to see if we will keep His commands.
When the time of testing is complete we know much more clearly what is really important in our lives. All the extra baggage gets stripped away, until only the necessary remains.

2) Crisis clarifies our priorities (Mark 1:15a).
When Jesus came out of the wilderness He was clear about His priorities. He said, “The time has come.” The days of Jesus on earth were a time of action, motion, and achievement. The time of waiting had ended, and the time to act had arrived.
What is it “time” for you to do in your life?
If you were to hear the voice of Jesus speak in your life today and say, “Now is the time to do it;” what would “it” be?

Wilderness times clarify our priorities. They help us see what is important to do now! Crisis times clarify that God is at work now in our lives and now is the time for us to join Him.

3) Crisis clarifies our direction (Mark 1:15b.
Jesus emerges from the wilderness with a clear sense of direction: “The Kingdom of God is near.” (1:15b)
Make no mistake, the wilderness had shown Jesus many different directions and options exist and not all of them lead to God. In the wilderness Jesus looked over all the choices and realized God was at work. God’s rule and reign was near. Now was the time God had a new direction for humanity. God was breaking in and beginning a new thing.
The wilderness season you are in may be God’s way of clarifying God’s direction for your life!

4) Crisis clarifies our actions (Mark 1:15c).
Wilderness times help us clarify our actions. Jesus emerged from the wilderness with a simple strategy for life: “repent.” Jesus had experienced a crisis season during His 40 days in the wilderness and He realized humanity was headed in the wrong direction. The only way for people to take advantage of the time and to become part of God’s rule was to act and act now—to turn around and head in the opposite direction.
The wilderness shows us with clarity if we are headed in the wrong direction. Times of crisis reveal wrong attitudes, wrong decisions, wrong directions, and wrong behaviors.
Sometimes a wilderness season will clearly point out that now is the time for some serious, life-altering life change.
If God is now at work, and the rule of God is near, and we are going in the opposite direction, it is time for a turn around! Repent!
Repent is not a word that means “I’m sorry. I apologize.” It is a word that means, “What am I doing here? This isn’t where I’m supposed to be! I’m going the wrong way! The Kingdom of God is near and I’m going in the opposite direction! My life needs a U-turn and a new direction.”

5) Crisis clarifies our attitudes (Mark 1:15d).
When Jesus emerged from the wilderness He came with clarity about healthy attitudes.
He said, “Believe in the Good News.” Wilderness times show us clearly how important it is to trust God. We are to trust God’s message, God’s timing, and God’s Kingdom.
In a crisis we find out what we really believe in. We discover where our trust really lies.
Have you ever noticed in a wilderness season you find out quickly what you really believe?”

Years ago I saw this written:

I asked God for strength that I might achieve
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy
I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of [other people]
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for – but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all [people], most richly blessed.

You can only know that, after you have been in the wilderness.


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