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Lowell Brueckner

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Desert Places


“My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.”        Psalm 63:1, 2

  There is little thirst for God these days, because there are too many substitute supplies and numerous diversions to keep men from arriving at their goal. It doesn’t require a profound search to find God in the sanctuary. Among the congregation with songs and instruments, the soul easily rises to ecstasy. To touch the depth of the soul, awaken the innermost longings and inspire a more perfect search, God takes His individual into desert areas. No one can know Him with a perfect heart, until he has been there. To the satisfaction of God’s heart, the wilderness experiences extract the spiritual potential that He has placed within. There are no distractions in the wilderness and no other resources. There is no water and so the soul thirsts for God.

  Any time that God ordains a fresh moving of His Spirit and a new chapter in the unfolding of His plan, He will take an individual into the desert. That person must come away from the popular trends, the prominent voices and the clamor of the majority. Abraham left the most civilized area of his day, not knowing where he was going, and wandered in a strange land. Jacob found a stairway to heaven and the house of God in the wilderness. Years later, he became Israel, when he wrestled alone with God by Jabbok. Moses spent forty years in the Sinai desert and then led two million people to wander for forty years more. Elijah was there and was fed by ravens. David spent much time there in his youth. When he fled from the palace of Saul, he lived in a cave. As king, he was driven from his throne to spend time in the wilderness.
Direct contact with God

  Desert training has always been God’s method, but never so much as in the gospel age, when the veil between God and man has been rent in two by nothing less than the sacrifice of His Son. Now the individual has direct access into the presence of a jealous God. The day of hierarchies should be over. Reformers died in order to put the Word of God into the hands of the man on the street, so that he could be taught directly by God. Jesus Himself cited Isaiah, “They will all be taught of God.” Hear the word of the Lord! “The time is coming, when I will make a new covenant … I will be their God and they will be my people … No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest.” (Jer. 31:31-34)

  John the Baptist lived in the desert.  The word of God came to him and he became the voice crying in the wilderness. The Holy Spirit drove Jesus there, before He began His public ministry. During the next 3½ years, “He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:15 NIV). He did nothing without His Father and He had to slip away to a place, where His voice could be clearly heard.

  Paul said that he was separated from his mother’s womb. God also separated him from the apostles in Jerusalem and he went to the Arabian deserts to receive the revelation of Christ and His church. He was not a man-called minister, nor did he preach a man-taught gospel. He was taught of God.

Dependence on men

  It is no wonder that Christians, leaders included, fall into error, who blindly follow men. They are man-taught, man-dependent and have never learned to know the voice of the Shepherd. They don’t know how to stand on their own spiritual feet. Men place everything that they need into their hands. No matter where they are, a cell phone puts them into immediate contact with a dozen consultants, anytime they have a question, doubt or danger. Policy is determined in business meetings, rather than by praying people, who have been alone with God. Ah, we live in an apostate age, with men learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. There has never been more Bible teaching and never less illumination from God. Did I say Bible teaching? More often, Christians sit in circles studying the latest popular book, written by a contemporary.

  Why does God always take people into the wilderness? Take a close look at Deuteronomy 8:2-5, as Moses reviews the desert experience: “He led you.” Where better can you learn divine guidance, than in a road-less wilderness without a map.  “He humbled you.”  Crowd mentality is defiant and arrogant. “We” is the plural of “I” and numbers only give power to the ego. It is much more authoritative, you see, to say “we’re right” than to say “I’m right”. However, the person who has been alone with God to contemplate His greatness, learns that he isn’t much, doesn’t know much and doesn’t have much to offer. “He tried you.” Only in the desert are you exposed to conditions that will teach you if the stuff that you have has come from God or not. “He disciplined you.” Men too often interfere with God’s discipline, stepping in to lighten the blows that God Himself is inflicting. God made His people hungry and thirsty, but then, “He fed you.” Only in the desert, which provides nothing for us, do we learn total dependence upon God. There are no substitutes. There alone do we learn that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Borrowed Christianity

  Many begin their prayer life, by repeating someone else’s words. They don’t know if they’re saved eternally, unless someone tells them so. Everything they have learned from the Bible, somebody else has taught them. Some even have been taught to speak in tongues. They don’t know to do right or wrong, except by following others. If their companions go to movies, then they will, too. If some drink socially, so will they. Men tell them where to go, what to do and how to do it.  Will that Christianity work in solitary confinement in a concentration camp? I need to ask you a personal, vital question. Are you living on borrowed Christianity or do you have a direct relationship with God?  


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