Tuesday, March 31, 2015

KEEPING THE FAITH

The Lord desires a people who will keep faith even if they suffer the loss of all things.

“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions . . . and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Hebrews 10:32, 34). 


This is speaking of God’s people who had been greatly afflicted “after they were illuminated.” They had seen the light! Their goods were lost, but faith made them joyful because their eyes were on a more “enduring substance.”

If you lost all your earthly possessions, would you cast away your confidence?

Paul kept the faith in good times and bad times. In his final days he could boast, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). He could say, “Satan sent messengers to fight me in Jerusalem, Damascus, Asia, Ephesus, Antioch, and Corinth. But I kept the faith! Five times the Jews beat me with thirty-nine stripes. I’ve been cast into prison so many times, beaten with rods three times, stoned, robbed, even by my own countrymen—but I kept the faith!

“I’ve been so weary at times, full of pain, hungry, thirsty, cold and naked, loaded down with cares of all kinds, yet I kept the faith. I’ve been troubled, perplexed, distressed, persecuted, but never cast down, never destroyed, never shaken in my faith.”

These words will sustain us in the days ahead: “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7).

“The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore” (Psalm 121:7-8).

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5). “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

Monday, March 30, 2015

KNOWING THE REAL JESUS by Gary Wilkerson

I believe it has never been more important for the Church and the world to know the real Jesus than it is right now. By “the real Jesus” I mean the only source able to satisfy every human need and longing; every desire to be loved, known and accepted; every hope to have a life of value, worth and purpose.

These things aren’t found in the world. Our culture is fully focused on American Idol-type fame, telling us we’ll be satisfied by money or good looks or popularity. As lovers of God we know that our deepest desires can be satisfied only by Christ.

And yet knowing this, we in the Church often try to reduce Jesus to our own image. Many of us want a Jesus who suits us—a right-wing Republican Jesus or a liberal-leaning Democratic Jesus. There is a black Jesus, a brown Jesus, a white Jesus (whom I call the Holiday Inn Jesus—the one with blow-dried, blond hair who seems to float through the air).

When I speak of “the real Jesus,” I mean the One who satisfies every human hunger and thirst. He cannot be reduced to some limited conception because the Bible says Christ can be known only in His fullness. It takes the whole counsel of God—the full biblical picture—for us to receive, know and faithfully serve Jesus. “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16, ESV). In short, we are able to walk in Christ’s grace only as we know Him fully. Anything else is a diminished walk of faith.

John also says, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (1:11). This speaks of Christ’s rejection by the Jews, but how much of our Lord do we ignore today? Do we emphasize some of His teachings over others because some are uncomfortable? To what degree have we not accepted Jesus in His fullness?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

THE KING OF SODOM by Claude Houde

In the book of Genesis, we see Abraham, our model of faith, grow, flourish and increase in his fulfillment of what God had prepared for him. Through his life and example, the Bible proposes a life of growth and progress to every believer where he or she who wants to can walk “from faith to faith and strength to strength.” In the 14th chapter of Genesis, Abraham reveals to us one of the most important and yet widely unrecognized secrets of the walk of faith. It will take “increase our faith” deep into our everyday lives and will be of eternal consequence (see Genesis 14:17-24).

This passage shows Abraham returning from the battlefields with a victory. As he came back, Abraham met two kings: the king of Sodom and the king of Salem. The king of Sodom came from the place of fire, of flames. The name “Sodom” means “a scorched place.” Please read his words carefully, for the enemy of our souls still speaks the very same today, in your life and mine. “The king of the place of fire, the scorched place, says, ‘Take the goods, I want the souls.’” Did you get it? Do you hear these words? They make me shudder. There is a modern-day, selfish and egotistical church, ravenously materialistic and hideously self-centered. Her only goal and preoccupation is her wealth and the only message she tolerates is one of blessing, prosperity and material fulfillment. She has been blinded by the eternal nature of this diabolical temptation inspired by hell itself.

Dear reader, have we been influenced by this gospel, obsessed with its own blessing? Have we surrendered the “souls” to our eternal enemy? Jesus teaches that there is a thief that comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. Faith that will refuse and resist in the secret place says “no” to the damning offer from the king of Sodom to live for the “goods,” for this faith is passionate about what is eternal. This faith lives for “the souls.” Faith that resists in the secret place is made possible by the daily renewing of His Spirit burning His divine character in us—pressing us, mobilizing us, renewing in us a passion to serve, to pray, to love, to give, and to simply and daily do whatever is in our power to fulfill that which is our eternal call: to win souls. We resist and refuse to “keep the goods” and lose the souls.

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Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.