PDF of Study Guide available HERE.

When we learn to rest in the midst of difficulty and discomfort, we find great power. Rest is how we build our reserves for great resilience and victory. But, rest and escape are different things. Learning the difference leads to victory.

The Wrong Wall. To summarize Steven Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, too many people reach the top of the ladder that they have been climbing their entire careers and lives, only to find that it has been leaning against the wrong wall.  If your life continues exactly as it is, where will it take you?

Mark 1:9-13 (NLT) One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” 12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

Jesus Baptism. When Jesus was baptized, heaven was torn open. In that moment, God’s Spirit visibly fell upon Jesus. Then, a voice from an open heaven said, “This is my Son, and he fills me with joy. I’m so proud of Him!” No big deal right? Happens all the time. This is an incredible start to Jesus’ Ministry. He has dedicated his path to the Father’s plan. Then we learn, “The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness.” Jesus begins in the wilderness. He doesn’t preach his first sermon at the riverside. He doesn’t heal anyone. He doesn’t make any claims or accomplish anything. Instead, the Spirit compels Him to “Come away with me.”

Why Did Jesus Go Into The Wilderness?

What is the Wilderness about? We find out the Devil is there. Is this some kind of cage match? Was that the Spirit’s plan? Sink or swim, Jesus. Win or die. It’s like the anti-Eden. There are no fruit trees or streams. Just dirt, rocks, shrubs, and, of course, your worst enemy.

What Did Jesus Learn There? It’s not about the worst. It’s about something else. How do I know? If I get into trouble or if I have a battle of sorts, I don’t go back. I don’t want to do that again. Jesus resisted the Devil in anti-Eden. Done. Check. I’m out. Right? NOT RIGHT…

Mark 1:35 (NLT) Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.

Jesus could get enough of the wilderness. He was going back all the time. You see. The devil made a mistake that we miss. Proud people make mistakes and nothing has more pride than Satan. We think that wilderness, that anti-Eden was Satan’s home field. But that is an error. The wilderness was Jesus’ home field. That wilderness was Jesus’ house. How did Jesus come to OWN the wilderness?

John 4:34 (NLT) Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.

Victory from Rest. Consider Satan’s temptations and Jesus’ responses. Satan: “You’re hungry, turn these rocks into bread.” Jesus: “Man lives by every word of God. I need God more than bread.”  It was like Jesus said, “I didn’t come here to pine for what isn’t here. I came out here to find the God who is everywhere. But, out here, all else is absent, and only God remains.”

Satan: “Throw yourself down, God said He would save you.” Jesus: “We don’t test God. God doesn’t have to be tested. God is  Faithful.” Jesus discovered that God could be trusted. He discovered it not by testing, but by and through relationship. Since I know you, Father. I know I can trust you.

And lastly, Satan: “Worship me, and I’ll give you the whole world.” Jesus: “I Worship God. Only God satisfies. Only God can be trusted. Who else is there to worship? Why worship a cheap copy when you have the real thing?”

The wilderness empowered Jesus to overcome everything he had yet to do. The wilderness wasn’t torture. The wilderness was tactics.

Hebrews 4:9-10 (NLT) So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.

Your Path To The Wilderness.

My Beloved Son. “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy. Mk 1:11” Your path to victory starts with acceptance. You are the Father’s beloved child. You bring joy to God. This is what SALVATION is all about. Moving from the Wrath of God to the Joy of God, not his tolerance. Jesus is our example, not the exception. Everything He did was to make a way for us. Does your salvation include this? Can you hear, feel, or sense God’s acceptance and joy of you?

A Journey With Holy Spirit. “The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness. Mk 1:12”  The wilderness is an invitation into communion with Father. It is an audience and space for God. The Spirit of God longs for this. The wilderness as a son is very different than as an orphan. An orphan is someone who doesn’t believe God loves and has joy in them. You see, this wilderness isn’t to harm you, destroy, or even, primarily, to test you. This wilderness is Father time. It is less distraction and more focus upon the Father who adores you.

Time… With Father. “where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. Mk 1:13” Time with Father creates space for thought, self-reflection, self-awareness, and being. We can’t hear Father’s love and joy for us presently because there is no space for it. If we find ourselves in a wilderness as orphans rather than as children, we’ll think it’s all about us. We’ll think, “The world hates me. God hates me, too.” Children know they are loved. They know the wilderness is space for Father, not to assault them personally, but to prepare them for victory.

Trust. “He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. Mk 1:13” The wilderness teaches us that we’ll be fine. In this wilderness and those to come, there will be battles. There will be losses, but I will win. I am focused on the victory that is coming. I am not going to maximize the suffering it will take to get there. The suffering isn’t about me. God isn’t mad or punishing me. It’s for victory. This Is my home field. This is my house because it’s my Father’s house!

You’re In Good Company.

Moses spent 40 years out there. It took him 40 years to meet God there. David spent his youth out there. He owned his wilderness. The Psalms are proof. And, don’t forget John Baptist. He made his home out there. Even people who hated him went to hear him. 

You can’t have a quiet soul without a quiet time. If you can receive your Father, you can beat your demons. 

  • Have you had a time in your life when you chased after the wrong things? Have you ever had any beliefs about God that you later found were unfounded?
  • Discuss Mark 1:9-13. What do you think of Jesus’ Baptism? Why do you think the Spirit compelled Jesus into the wilderness?
  • What valuable lessons have you learned in your “wilderness” times? Are you glad that you learned those lessons?
  • Is it difficult for you to believe that God loves you and takes great joy in you? Why or Why not?
  • How could we improve our outlook during “wilderness” times?
  • How could your small group pray for each other during their current challenges?