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April 26, 2024


 

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2: 1-5)

 

You know a better way. That is essentially Paul’s message to the Ephesian Christians in chapter two of his letter to them.

 

In our weekend worship services at White Oak, we have been talking about the wilderness seasons in our lives. It’s those times where we feel aimless, hurt, isolated, confused, or challenged. We’ve said that the wilderness is a challenging season in life that God wants to use to form and deepen our dependence upon him. Though there are many reasons and ways we enter into wilderness seasons in life, one of those reasons is because of our sinful nature.

 

The Bible consistently talks about sin as not just something we do. Sin is something that we are. We have a sinful nature. Sin doesn’t just cause us to do wrong things. Sometimes we want to do wrong things. We’ll do them and then we’ll do them again! We are sinful to our core. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is something very broken with the human condition. This condition and the choices that it leads us to make will often guide us into a wilderness season in our lives.

  • This may come in the form of consequences for our relationships and in the places where we live and work.

  • It can cause guilt and shame.

  • Sin causes inner turmoil in our hearts.

  • Sin actions and attitudes have a way of isolating, embittering, and confusing us.

 

All these things put us in the wilderness. A season of wandering, of crisis, and pain. Paul reminds the Ephesians Christians of this in no uncertain terms. Before we met Jesus, all of us were wandering in the wilderness of our own sin. But we know a better way, now.

 

If you are a follower of Jesus, I want you to think back on your life as to when grace first crashed down on you. How old were you? Where were you? When God’s grace crashed into your life, what did you experience that you had not experienced before? How has that grace been transforming your mind, your heart, your attitude, and your obedience since? Grace first crashed into my heart when I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college. I feel like I heard for the first time that grace saved through faith in Jesus, ALONE, and not by my works. If you’re anything like me, I’ve had tremendous mountain top experiences in my walk with Jesus since that point. I have also had valleys of sin that I thought I would never step into. Those valleys have certainly been wilderness experiences. The thing that leads me through those desert season is having consistent time with my Heavenly Father daily and having friends speaking truth into my life. Even when I didn’t want to do those things (and I was doing them in the middle of my sin)!

 

God has a way of transforming us with his grace over and over again. Stick close to him. Stick close to the habits and practices that he uses to form you. He’s seeking your heart. He’s eager to heal. He won’t stop pursuing. He’s actively calling to you and me. Step toward him and to the places where you see him at work. Trust his ancient and beautiful grace to continue its work in you.

 

I love the way that the prophet Joel says it in chapter two. God has been telling Israel that he is a God who demands obedience and justice. He tells them of the terrible things their sin has reaped in their lives. He also reminds them of his love for his people as they put their trust in him.

 

24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;    the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— (Joel 22:24-25a)

 

God can and will take anything from our wilderness past or present and he will restore our lost days. He will work backward and heal our hearts. Ask him to do it this week.

 

Being formed in the wilderness,

 

 


Nathan Hinkle

Lead Pastor

White Oak Christian Church





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