Exodus 19, The LORD Visits Sinai - 18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, or else the LORD will break out against them.” 23 Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 Then the LORD said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, or He will break forth upon them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Matthew 26 - The Garden of Gethsemane - 36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
Luke 4, The Temptation of Jesus - 1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.’” 5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” 9 And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’ 11 and, ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” 13 When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.
Imperishable moments occurred in the wilderness, on Mt. Sinai and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Many people have first believed from an awe-inspiring view in the country or along a path in the wilderness - imperishable moments. Around the world baptisms still occur in the river - imperishable moments. The Spirit stirs in church buildings, in homeless shelters and in our homes, but also under the shade of a tree or under the stars. God's light shines everywhere, but often we pass up the awe-inspiring views and ordinary trees for a seat at Starbucks or alone time in-front of a computer. Where would you rather do your devotion and prayer? Why not shake it up a bit in 2018?
This time of year my husband and I set goals and share them for the next year. I have long desired (but failed to implement) outdoor devotional time with God. 2018 is the year of implementing this goal, and from garden to park to my more noble quests into the wilderness, I plan to meet God at least 12 times in prayer and devotional reading outdoors. When we read the themes above, of Jesus in grievous prayer, Jesus tempted by the devil and the Lord making appearances at Mt. Sinai before Moses and the Israelites, something is revealed. Sometimes we fall asleep rather than climb the hill to pray, sometimes we cave in to temptation when we should remain strong, and sometimes we forget just how powerful the Lord God Almighty really is. In setting goals for 2018, remember to climb hills, resist temptation, remain strong and praise God. For me setting a goal to spend time in devotion to God outside in nature is just as important as any other spiritual or religious goal.
Some of the most important things occur through nature. Our forever reminder of flooding rain - the rainbow, our ancient time-tellers and navigators - the stars, the long historical relationship of fire and man, the indisputable sunrise and sunset, the relationship of seasons to agriculture, and water - an amazing source of biological life. God is the creator; we are the creation, and we are living in His creation - this is the awe-inspiring notion that brings many to have faith in a Creator. Some kind of order from the disordered life arises from time spent in nature. I remember many moments in my past having that place outside I go, and it's time to find that place again. I am going outside to meet God, out into His creation away from man-made things. I encourage you to consider the same. Maybe something imperishable will happen for us both.
Dear God, I've been re-aquainted with nature over the past year, but am still out-of-touch with Your Creation. The world of man-made things surrounds me; I used to feel so uncomfortable in it that I used to reach out and enjoy nature more often. It has been awhile since You and I have met on a hill or under a tree. And now I am even fearful of the dark, which must be undone - I do not want to live a fearful life. I pray over my goals for 2018, including this one to meet You 12 times in devotion and prayer somewhere in nature. I have held that goal so long, but not followed through with it, and I can see I have been tempted away or entirely weak in my follow-thru. I ask for Your forgiveness and also confidence going forward. I pray my fears also subside as I get out into nature more this upcoming year. May I get out of myself and onto something imperishable - such as Your glory and Your love as the Maker. To the Almighty! Amen.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.