Are you in a time of transition right now–maybe with a job, church, ministry, or even personal issues with family, finances, or your health? Maybe God has led you out of an area of sin, but you are still struggling with the temptation to go back. Our words are so important. We can speak blessings or curses over our lives.
Don’t Let Your Words Prolong Your Wilderness
When the Israelites left Egypt, God had delivered them from slavery and promised them a great future in the land He swore to give to Abraham and all his descendants. I found it interesting that God was specific about what their words should be during this time.
He told them to commemorate the day He led them out of Egypt with a festival.
“‘On that day tell your son, “I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand'” (Exodus 13:8-9, NIV 84, italics mine).
First, the Israelites were commanded to celebrate what God had done with a festival of remembrance.
Praise Is Powerful
Praise is powerful. When we praise God, we are taking the focus off ourselves and putting it on God and all that He has done. If God has saved, healed, delivered, forgiven, provided, protected, comforted, or strengthened us, we have a reason to celebrate. Otherwise, we will get caught up in our circumstances like the Israelites did and begin to complain about what we think we don’t have.
When we praise, we draw attention to our God so that we can tell others what He has done for us. Remember when Paul and Silas were in prison for casting an evil spirit out of a girl? They were following God and seeking after Him, and then they ended up in a wilderness place.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
Paul and Silas had every reason not to celebrate, but they were praising God for Who He is in the midst of their desert, and the prison doors opened and “everybody’s chains came loose” (16:26)! Hallelujah! When we choose to celebrate what God has done, even when we are struggling in the wilderness, God will use our testimony of praise to free others from their bondage.
Second, the Israelites were commanded to keep the Word on their lips (Exodus 13:9).
Words Are Powerful
They didn’t do such a good job, did they? First, they complained that Moses led them out so they could be killed by the Egyptians who followed them. Then they had to face the Red Sea. Next, they traveled three days without finding water. On the fifteenth day, they got hungry. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling their pain. I get hangry after a couple hours without food.
What about my wilderness wanderings? Do I start to complain as soon as things don’t go my way? Three days out of bondage am I already grumbling about what I don’t have, instead of being thankful for my blessings?
You know what the Lord showed me this morning? I curse myself with my own words. That’s right. How many times do I pray for God to show up and work things out in my family, my church, or my job, but as soon as someone asks me how things are going, I start complaining about my circumstances?
That’s exactly what the Israelites did, and their forty day journey turned into a forty year trip. I’m not saying we have to lie when someone inquires. But we can choose to speak God’s blessings over our situation instead of complaining about it.
“How’s the new ministry coming along?”
“Well, I’m not there yet, but I’m seeking after God, and I know He has great plans for my future.”
We have to guard our lips and speak God’s truth over our lives, no matter what it looks like in the natural.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 28:21).
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
“Do not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8).
“The Lord said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled” (Jeremiah 1:12).
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
If we can learn how to navigate our wilderness with praise and truth coming out of our mouths, I believe God will take us through more quickly. There is always a purpose in the process. He doesn’t bring us through struggles to leave us there, but to grow us and make us more like Him.
So what about you and me? Will we trudge through the wilderness like the Israelites–ungrateful, stubborn, and complaining? Or will we agree with God and let our lips reveal our longing for Him and His will in our lives? I didn’t say it was easy. It will go against our flesh to deny our natural tendency to complain.
But let’s not prolong our wilderness. Let’s get in agreement with God and His Word, praise Him even in the dark places, and watch those chains fall. God is on the move. Let’s not get left behind in the wilderness.