Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:1-6
St. Giles says, “No man can attain to the knowledge of God but by humility. The way to mount high is to descend. ” St. Rose of Viterbo writes, “Prayer reveals to soul the vanity of earthly goods and pleasures. It fills them with light, strength and consolations and gives them a foretaste of the calm bliss of our heavenly home. ” To so many, the mental picture of the desert (wilderness) is an abode of suffering. It is a place full of misery and anybody found there could be ready food for wild animals. To them the desert is a land of ‘no return’. Desert is usually a very vast area of land, where sand domes are common feature, water is very scarce, trees are stunted in growth, there is intense heat of the sun and normal life may be very difficult. Our scripture reading says, “At that time John the Baptist came to the desert of Judea and started preaching, “Turn away from your sins”, because the kingdom of heaven is near! His food was locust and wild honey”. Note that his food was only locust and wild honey in the desert. In Mark 1:9- 13, the scripture records that immediately after Jesus’ baptism, and his confirmation by his Father, “You are my own son. I am pleased with you”, at once the Spirit led him into the desert where he stayed for forty days, being tempted by Satan. Beloved, is it a coincidence that John the Baptist and our Lord and Master Jesus Christ choose to start their ministries from desert? Why did they have to go to the desert, an abode of torment, dryness and misery? It is my opinion that going to the desert by both of them was not coincidence but firstly, because of the nature and seriousness of their missions on earth. Secondly, to be able to meet up with God’s standard in their ministry; the ultimate purpose of which was for the salvation of mankind. To realize this purpose Jesus Christ the Son of God decided to make the desert or wilderness an acceptable temple for prayer.
Dear Friend, going into the desert does not necessarily mean moving into a forest, rather it also means setting yourself apart, from time to time in a place where material, social, sexual or economic comfort are not available or none-existent. In such a place, the soul is freer to explore the environment of God, communicate with the Spirit, and easily deny the flesh of its cravings. St. Peter Damian says, “Let us detach ourselves in spirit from all that we see and cling to that which we believe. This is the cross which we must imprint on our daily actions and behaviour. ” Beloved in Christ, today the average child of God is full of spiritual deficiencies arising from the inability to detach oneselves, to seek the face of God, in all sincerity and seriousness. The cravings of the flesh and the great desire to satisfy same has become great obstacle to the renewing of the mind which we need so badly if we are to please God. St. Paul writing to the Romans says, “Do not conform yourselves with the standard of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you w ill be able to know’ the w ill of God – what is good and pleasing to him and is perfect.” St. Paul implies here that there is real pressure to conform to the patterns of this present world system and to be squeezed into its mould at different levels. This pressure must be firmly resisted by true believers; with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Decide today to, from time to time go for personal retreats, away from your comfort zone and experience the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through your mind to all parts of you.
- Take a worship song
- What is your spiritual state like now? Talk to God concerning it
- Repent of all forms of careless talk, hateful feelings and unforgiveness against your neigbours
- Talk to God concerning your proud attitude – for it is offensive to God
- Talk to God concerning that girl that you broke her heart after using her to satisfy your sexual desires
- Talk to God concerning your negative attitude towards your husband or wife
- Talk to God concerning your oppressive attitude towards your subordinates in the office, family or neigbourhood
- Where have you placed your allegiance outside of God. Repent of it seriously
- Lord, God of power, grant me the needed grace to detach myself for you from now on in Jesus name.
Exercise: Decide on when to go for personal retreat.
Memory Verse: Rom. 12:1-2