The trials and testing of the believer in Christ are ever ongoing and can be quite daunting, but never “grievous” or “troublesome” (1Jo 5:3; Jn 14:1, 27). They may at time seem so but they’re really not, because it’s only God’s way of maturing us in our faith when we exercise it in the Word against all difficulties. It helps a lot to realize that this life is now a wilderness to the believer; and it’s the wilderness that forms and shapes our faith in the Lord Jesus, with every little-to-big trial which is brought about by the Father’s hand for one purpose—to be like Christ (Eph 4:15).

Maturity in Christ will bring with it the knowledge of being, not on the earth but in heaven, with Jesus—not praying from earth to heaven—but praying from heaven to earth (Eph 2:6)!

Heavenly Wilderness

The longer you are in the wilderness as a Caleb, with an actual acquaintance with Hebron, the better you know the marvelous unchanging nature of His care and ways with you; your garments wax not old, neither does your foot swell, and yet your heart is made more ready for dwelling in heaven. The wilderness is more to you, and heaven is nearer to you. The wilderness was immensely different to Caleb from what it was to the rest of Israel. At Eshcol you can fully say, “All my springs are in Thee” (Psa 87:7), and there everything cooperates to give full effect.

In the wilderness it is the same springs, but then everything hinders by temptation and distractions (hindering growth, not salvation—NC). If you know, and as you know, the joys of the Father, where everything divine contributes, so you seek those joys where Satan in every way obstructs and hinders. The wilderness is having all our springs in the Father while we are on earth. If I love the things that are in the world, I turn away from the wilderness.

I might retire from the world politically or positionally, and yet enjoy the things that are in it (e.g. enjoying things the wrong way - 1Ti 6:17—NC); and, inasmuch as I do so, I am not enjoying my Father’s provision for me in the wilderness—garments fresh and foot unwary (Deu 29:5), or in other words, comfort and strength—one unfailing, the other unchanging. Whenever I seek outside of Him, I do not receive from Him.

The more you taste what heaven is, the more you accept the wilderness in its true sense, namely, everything from the Father. “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God” (Psa 92:13). You are blessed with “the upper springs and the nether springs” (Jos 15:19), and they increase simultaneously, because they come from the one source. But we must enjoy them in Canaan if we would trust our Father for them in the wilderness. We must come from heaven to earth; and as the springs which delighted us in the former, satisfy us in the latter, we learn the Father’s provision for us in the wilderness.

What a fine moral aspect to be in the world as a wilderness, and on our spirits vigorous, fresh and unweary. May you be so more and more! But as our joys are not simply in and from the Father unless we accept the wilderness, neither can we discern what is of the Father around us, except as we are sustained by the Father in it, before we can see what is for Him, and what is not. If we do not accept the wilderness, we have not the joys of the Father; and if we are not out of the world (e.g. not God dependent—NC) we cannot know what suits Him or discern things that differ (adiaphora – not moral nor immoral—NC).

As every animal recognizes its own species, so does the spiritual recognize the spiritual. If I know the joys of my Father in heaven, I seek them in the wilderness. It is the same One for both (earth and heaven—NC). The corn of the land makes me eager for the manna; it is the same. Life in different places. The more vividly heaven is enjoyed, the more do I appropriate the Father’s provision for me in the wilderness; and the more I am able to discern what is really of the Lord Jesus in this evil world, and to be proof against all that opposes it.

—J B Stoney

MJS daily devotional excerpt for Oct 6

“We are more disposed to be occupied in telling the Father what we are in ourselves, than to allow Him to tell us what we are in the Lord Jesus Christ. So often the believer is more taken up with his own self-consciousness than with the Father’s scriptural revelation of Himself. His revelation is one thing; my self-consciousness is quite another “

“It gladdens the heart to hear the new convert speak of the blessings he has received, and of his new-found joy in those blessings; but we can often see very distinctly that he is wrapping all these benefits of grace round himself, and we feel pretty sure that he will have to learn some lessons presently that will take the shine out of him. He will have to learn what a poor wretched thing he is, as in the flesh, that his heart may be transferred to a new center altogether. —C A Coats (1862-1945)

Last edited by NetChaplain; Thu Oct 06, 2022 3:48 PM.

The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.’” -MJS