“Before his translation [Enoch] had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:5-6). What was it about Enoch that pleased God so much? It was that his walk with God produced in him the kind of faith God loves.
Throughout the Bible and all of history, those who walked with God became men and women of faith. If the Church is daily walking arm-in-arm with God, continually communing with Him, the result will be a people full of faith.
Some conduct faith seminars, distribute faith tapes, quote faith scriptures — all trying to produce faith. And it is true, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Roman l0:17). But Jesus is the Word. “The letter killeth,” Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 3:6. Without intimacy with Jesus, the letter produces a dead, selfish, demanding emotion that is not faith at all — and God hates it. Faith comes by hearing His Word and walking close to Him. Not by talking without walking! This intimate walk with God is missing from the Church today. Faith is really knowing who God is, becoming familiar with His glory and majesty. Those who know Him best, trust Him most.
Show me a people walking closely with Him, hating sin, becoming detached from this world and getting to know His voice, and you will see a people who will not need much preaching and teaching about faith.
Enoch’s walk with God would not have been worthwhile unless it produced a corresponding faith that was constantly growing. “By faith Enoch was translated” (see Hebrews 11:5). What an incredible truth! All his faith was focused on one great desire of his heart: to be with the Lord!
Elijah and Enoch, the only two prophets to be translated, had something in common. They were both haters of sin and cried out against it. They both walked so closely with God that they couldn’t help sharing His hatred for ungodliness.
The undeniable effect on all who walk with God is a growing hatred for sin — and not only hatred, but separation from it. If you still love this world and are at home with the ungodly — if you are a friend to those who curse Him — you are not walking with the Lord but sitting on the fence, putting Him to open shame.
“Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). We know from Hebrews that this speaks of Enoch’s translation, the fact that he did not taste death. But it also means something deeper than that: “He was not” as defined in Genesis 5 also means, “He was not of this world.”
In his spirit, in his senses, Enoch was not a part of this wicked world. He was taken up in his spirit to a heavenly realm. Like Paul, he died daily to this world while he cared for his family, worked, ministered, occupied. But “he was not” — he was not earthbound! The Lord consumed Him. Every waking moment his mind came back to Him. His heart was attached to God with what seemed like a huge rubber band. And the more you stretch a rubber band, the quicker it springs back when you let it go. Enoch’s heart always “sprang back” to the Lord.
As mankind grew more ungodly all around him, as men changed into wild beasts full of lust, hardness and sensuality, Enoch became more and more like the One with whom he walked.
In this day, many Christians are running to hide from mounting calamities. So-called prophets are telling people to come to their safe havens. Christian Jews are being warned to get back to Israel to escape the financial collapse anticipated in America.
I know where I want to be when things fall apart. When the financial market crashes, I want to go back to Wall Street where I was during the crash on October 19, 1987. I want to be there like a modern Enoch, walking and talking with God, without fear — a peaceful, fearless witness, preaching Jesus to a people whose world has collapsed.
Jesus did not tell us to hide, He said, “Go ye!” I want to be where the Holy Ghost is — and you can be sure He will be on the frontlines of the battle, calling the troubled and fearful to Himself.
Enoch saw that his own society was wicked, and as he looked down to the very last days, all he could say was, “Ungodly!” Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied of these, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 14-15).
Are you walking with the Lord? Then you must see the world as Enoch saw it: ungodly and full of the spirit of Antichrist. How can you be a part of what is ungodly? How can you associate with those He is coming to judge? He is coming with ten thousands of His saints to judge a sinful, lost world. Which side are you on?
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:5-6).
“And Enoch walked with God.” The Hebrew meaning for walked implies that Enoch continually conversed with God. He lived three hundred sixty-five years — or a “year” of years! He introduces to us a new kind of believer, for he is a type of the dedicated believer in Christ.
Enoch learned to walk with God in the midst of a wicked society. He was no hermit hidden away in a wilderness cave. He was an ordinary family man with the same problems and burdens we carry — involved in everyday life with a wife, the obligations of children, household responsibilities.
Those who walk with God are translated out of Satan’s reach, out of his kingdom of darkness and into Christ’s kingdom of light. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossian 1:13). We are translated right now out of the devil’s snare and into the very heart of Jesus.
The Greek word for translate suggests that Christ personally came and carried us away from the devil’s power and set us in a heavenly place. But God only translates those who walk close to Him, as Enoch did. Those who are held captive at Satan’s will cannot be taken up and delivered from darkness. You are not truly saved until you firmly set your heart on walking with God.
Paul urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus even though it appeared Timothy didn’t want to (see 1 Timothy 1:3-4). We believe the reason may have been because of problems the Ephesian church was facing. It seems the church was living in self-righteousness, trying to look good. When you are self-righteous, you often are deceived and you become greedy and ambitious; you may even start to hoard things.
At this time there was a famine in Macedonia and also in Jerusalem, resulting in extreme poverty. While Macedonia and Jerusalem were struggling, the economy in Ephesus was good; they had a lot of resources but they were clinging to them for themselves.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18: “Charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”
Paul’s first word, charge, means to “command or give strict orders.” In some translations we read, “Command those who are rich in this present age to be generous.”
Why would Paul tell them to command people to be generous and to no longer cling to things for themselves? It sounds so legalistic and it is — it’s the Law. The Law shows us where we are off grace, where we are wrong. The command that Paul said Timothy should give to the Ephesians was not to get them to give an offering only, but to get them to see that something of grace was missing in their lives.
In the New Testament, Christ is the perfect Lamb of God who is offered for the sins of the world. His blood is shed on the cross and it is a supernatural Passover for each of us. We are saved from death and we find eternal protection and peace in Him. Whoever places himself, by faith, under the blood of Christ is spared from eternal death and finds salvation.
Fifty days later, it is Pentecost, the beginning of the Church where the promise of the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is powerful and personal. The laws, desires, purposes, plans and promises of God are not written on tables of stone any longer, but can be written by the Holy Spirit every day on the tablets of our hearts. It is one of the truest and most extraordinary manifestations of the Holy Spirit available to human beings.
Ezekiel, the man of God and biblical writer, received a prophetic picture. It is a promise for every believer who will pray, “Lord, increase our faith.” Ezekiel prophetically described what would supernaturally take place when someone sincerely asks God to be empowered to receive His resolution by Him and for Him.
“I will give you a new heart and I will put a new Spirit in you. I will take away the heart of stone (impenetrable) and I will give you a heart of flesh (upon which God can leave His imprint — a modern analogy would be like wet cement). I will put My Spirit in you and I will cause you to know and obey my ordinances. I will write my laws upon your hearts and you will walk in my commandments” (see Ezekiel 36:26-27).
What assurance, what confidence! God promises that by His Spirit new passion, values, changes, convictions and commitments are made possible.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. 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.
The Old Testament is filled with accounts of the wonderful blessings that came to those who walked in God’s presence.
God’s presence was so evident in Abraham’s life that even the heathen around him recognized the difference between their lives and his: “Abimelech . . . spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest” (Genesis 21:22). This heathen king was saying, “There’s something different about you, Abraham. God is with you wherever you go.”
God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when His presence was with him: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:5–6). When God’s Spirit is present with us, we can be strong and courageous because we trust His promises.
God told Isaiah of a special promise He makes to those He loves: “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God . . . and I have loved thee. . . . Fear not: for I am with thee” (Isaiah 43:1–5, my italics).
With God’s presence abiding in you, you can go through any fire, and you won’t just survive but will be kept and protected through it all.
These Old Testament accounts aren’t mere stories. They are meant to encourage us to trust God for His presence in our own lives.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
If Jesus Christ is your Lord, He has commanded the light of His loving-kindness to shine in your soul.
This glory of Christ — this tender loving-kindness that shines in our hearts as we pray and search His Word — changes us, “from glory to glory,” into the likeness of Christ. And the revelation of love, compassion and caring we receive from Him must shine out of us to others.
This revelation is increased daily within us “by the Spirit of the Lord.” Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the glory of Christ. The Spirit shines in us and changes us through every circumstance. Finally, He shows us how to shine His caring, loving-kindness to others who are in need.
I ask you: What are your present circumstances doing to you and in you? Is there a sweetness of Christ shining out of you? Do you ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see the pains and needs of others? That is the changing that Paul says takes place in us by the Spirit of God.
Only those who are at rest in the perfect will of God can trust that “all things are working together for good” in the worst of circumstances. So, dear saint, lift up your head and testify to yourself, to heaven and to your circumstances: “I am living in the perfect will of God, come what may.”
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).
Paul is telling us, “Get your eyes off your troubles. Don’t focus on the things that are coming upon the earth because they are all going to pass away. Your problems mean nothing in light of the eternal glory awaiting the people of God. After one moment in paradise with Him you won’t remember any of it!”
It is written of Christ, “For the joy that was set before him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus Himself said, “When you see these things coming, look up and rejoice! It all means your day of redemption is at hand” (see Luke 21:28).
According to Paul, when darkness and uncertainty are closing in, God commands a marvelous light to shine in our hearts.
Paul is speaking here of a glorious manifestation of the knowledge of the glory of Christ that comes to us in our trials:
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Paul is describing nothing less than a fresh revelation of the glory of God in the person of Christ.
When Paul received this revelation, he was in prison and penniless. Even though he subsisted on lowly prison food, he was made alive by the fresh revelation of the glory of Christ he received daily.
We Christians struggle so hard to find the will of God for our lives. And then once we believe we’ve found His will, we labor hard to see it fulfilled.
I am convinced this struggle to find God’s will — to live in it, walk in it and see its fulfillment — can become our greatest battle. And the battle intensifies whenever we find ourselves in dire circumstances.
Many Christians simply cannot accept where they are right now. Their lives are burdened down by serious problems. For some, the burden is a lingering sickness. For others it is an unsaved loved one. And now for increasing numbers, the battle is a financial crisis. Very few Christians accept that such burdens could possibly be a part of God’s perfect will for their lives.
As a preacher of the gospel, I know that all sustaining faith and hope must have a foundational truth upon which to grow. What is this foundational truth? Simply this: I must know and believe I am in God’s perfect will — right now, right where I am, in this present time and place.
Simply put, no matter the condition I find myself in — whether I’m rich or poor, sick or healthy, in prison or free — I am to believe I’m in the center of God’s perfect will for my life. I embrace that my steps have been ordered of the Lord.
I personally identify with Paul: “In whatever state I find myself, I am content” (see Philippians 4:11).
I thank God for the example of Paul. This faithful apostle knew how to abound in blessings and yet also rejoice in times of adversity. No matter his outward condition, no matter how pressing his circumstances, Paul always knew he was in the center of God’s perfect will.
There are times in life when things look very bleak but we can say to God, “I’m putting all my faith in You because while my situation looks hopeless, with You nothing is impossible” (see Luke 18:27).
In Mark 5 we read that Jesus was on His way to the home of a man named Jairus and a large crowd was following Him.
“A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe” (Mark 5:25-27, NLT).
The King James Version said she touched the hem of His garment. And even though her condition was getting worse, she thought to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed” (verse 28).
Her faith was saying, “I can do this” and then, “Jesus will do the other part.” She was looking at the impossible and affirming that Jesus could do it.
I love this woman’s faith. She had no reason to have faith because nothing she had done had worked. But she finally got hold of this one last hope, this one last desire. She said to herself, “I will touch just the hem of His garment. I will grab hold of Jesus!”
She maneuvered her way through the crowd and touched the hem of His garment — and “immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition” (Mark 5:29).
Once, when Jesus traveled from Judea to Galilee, the apostle John records that “he had to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). The fact is, Jesus didn’t have to go through Samaria to get to Galilee, geographically speaking. In fact, because Jews hated Samaritans, Jews regularly took the long way around in order to avoid that region. But Jesus felt compelled to go through Samaria because that’s where the Spirit now led Him—He had to go through Samaria not as a matter of geography, but as a matter of mission, out of obedience to the Spirit’s guidance.
When Jesus reached Samaria He sent His disciples on ahead of Him and He sat down beside Jacob’s well. There He waited for His divine encounter with the Samaritan woman, where He supernaturally discerned everything about her. Their conversation changed her life forever, and she became the world’s first evangelist, witnessing about Jesus to the people of her city. Jesus stayed with these Samaritans for two more days and was able to bring many others to salvation before moving on. This encounter would never have happened if Jesus hadn’t been following the Spirit’s leading.
Later, in Galilee, as the time for the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem drew near, the brothers of Jesus urged Him to travel there “so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world” (John 7:3-4).
But Jesus was on a different schedule. He answered them, “You go to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” (John 7:8).
Once again Jesus was waiting for clearance from the Holy Spirit to move. He was waiting for the right time to make an entrance at the feast and to reveal His wisdom and teaching to the people in Jerusalem. He knew, in fact, that He was the true feast — the Messiah they’d been waiting for. He Himself was the reason for their celebration, though they did not realize it.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
In recent weeks I’ve sought the Lord for a word that would give me peace amid all the unnerving bad news.
I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “David, behold the glory of Christ. That is what will keep you anchored in peace.”
“Thank you, Lord,” I prayed. “But what really is the glory of Christ?”
To me, His glory comes down to something I need and understand: loving kindness. This is more than just Christ’s kindness. It is His loving kindness — then it is his tender loving kindness.
This may be but one facet of His glory. But it is how we need to see Christ — the exact likeness of the heavenly Father, who is caring, tender, loving and kind to His children.
Paul beheld Christ’s glory every morning. This much-afflicted servant of God woke up on many days deeply troubled. There were countless times when he was cast down and perplexed. But Paul stirred his soul to look up so he might behold the glory of Christ — meaning, the mercy and loving kindness of the person of Christ. As Paul did this, the Holy Spirit renewed him with strength to face each day.
Jeremiah wrote this prophecy: “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that He understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight” (Jeremiah 9:24).
Note the very first item in this list of things God delights in: loving kindness. His message to us is clear: We are called to glory in his loving kindness.
David testified in the Psalms, “All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life” (Psalm 42:7–8, my italics).
Paul writes, “We are troubled on every side . . . perplexed . . . persecuted . . . cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
“Trouble on every side” — Can you identify with this phrase? Perhaps you’re facing physical pain, marital distress, financial problems, concerns for your children. Life can be totally overwhelming at times.
The fact is, it is possible to be in God’s perfect will and still be cast down at times. We can walk in the very center of His will and still be perplexed, troubled and persecuted.
Some Christians have been troubled on every side for so long they think, “This cannot be of God. It’s all too much to endure. My suffering has gone on for too long and I feel utterly abandoned. The Lord must be chastening me for past sins. There’s no other explanation.”
Paul lays before us wonderful truth he clung to that kept him from despairing:
“Though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Hear the truth Paul is declaring to us:
“Yes, all these many troubles and trials have worn down my outward body. My flesh is indeed slowing down. But, at the same time, something wonderful is happening in my soul. All these things are working together for good in me, and I am growing in my knowledge of the Lord and His ways.”
Paul knew he was living in God’s perfect will. He realized all his trials weren’t happening because he was under wrath. On the contrary, Paul knew more deeply than ever that he was greatly loved by the Lord.
In short, Paul had embraced his condition and was learning patience: “You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).
Not long ago, a wonderful young Christian unburdened his great anxiety to me.
“I feel a calling from the Lord to work with youth and children, but all doors to ministry just keep shutting to me. I pray for other doors to open, but God doesn’t seem to hear my cry. I feel so useless.
“The only ministry I do now is helping with an outreach in one of our slum areas once a week. I serve as a big brother to a preacher’s son because his dad is very sick. But that’s all I’m doing. I have to believe God has more for me.”
When I heard this, I told the young man, “I want you to understand something. What you are doing right now is more precious to the Lord than if you were preaching to thousands in some stadium. Usefulness to Him has nothing to do with numbers.
“You are playing a part in saving that preacher’s son. Go and be a friend to those few slum kids God has given you. Be satisfied in this time and place. And know you are living in God’s perfect will because you’re being faithful in the little things.”
Tell me, Christian, have you made peace with your present situation? Can you trust that God is doing His perfect work in you through every circumstance? If you can’t, you will grow restless, hopeless and eventually mad at God. You’ll become bitter and hard.
Peter writes, “Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19). Likewise, Paul instructs, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Paul wrote many of his epistles to the churches while locked up in a cramped prison cell — bound, despised, cut off from believers and seemingly from all ministry. Talk about painful conditions. Yet Paul never spoke of being a prisoner of his circumstances; instead, he called himself “a prisoner of Christ” (see Ephesians 3:1).
In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul stated his desire for all saints who suffer: “That you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:9–11).
Amazingly, Paul’s words of hope and exhortation were a product of his longest imprisonment, probably in Caesarea. When Paul penned these words he had no hope of being released. As far as he knew, he would be there for years, possibly for the rest of his days. It is clear that he had made peace with his painful circumstances.
Nowhere in this letter do we find Paul questioning the Lord. The apostle had entered into a full spiritual understanding of God’s will and embraced his circumstances as the Lord’s will for his life at that moment. Therefore, Paul wrote triumphantly to the Colossians, “Oh, that you would come into this full spiritual understanding of God’s will for you.”
Can you imagine? Here was Paul in utter captivity, lacking freedom of any kind. Yet he spoke of “walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing to Him, being fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of the Lord.”
God has called us to be different from the world — markedly different.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
That difference is exactly what the world needs. As Paul says, “If all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
Our first task is to stop the famine of God’s Word among us. An encounter with His Word will rid us of “business as usual” as Christians. It will confront us with our dryness, coldness and casualness toward Christ’s way. And it will send us to our knees in dependent prayer for God to bring change.
Prayer changes things! It changes our hearts, our families, our churches, and ultimately our world. I ask you to please join me in committing to do three things:
Pray for God’s Word to do a work in our hearts Stand with integrity as a voice for His Word Pray for Him to bring about changes only He can bring
I pray we’ll see God manifest Himself as He has done in so many revivals and movements that turned cultures around. He alone can stop the tide of evil being unleashed — and bring reverence again to a culture that has lost its way. He alone can revive the church, turn us toward repentance, and bring spiritual awakening to our society.
Let’s return to the Lord with all our hearts. Let’s seek His face and call on heaven to see a new and great work in our country.
It is possible to find a relatively new believer in the mountains of Peru who understands more about the Bible than a theologian with a PhD. In fact, that uneducated Peruvian may not just know more about the Bible, but he also may know the Lord in a way that the Greek or Hebrew scholar doesn’t. Remember, it was Jesus who rejoiced and said:
“I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (Luke 10:21, emphasis mine).
PRAY BEFORE READING THE WORD
It is easy for many of us to approach the Word of God daily with little dependence on the Holy Spirit. Often, we don’t pray before we read the Bible even though we need God’s help to understand His Word. The smarter and more educated we are, the harder it is for us to come as children, trusting the Spirit to make the Word real. We must have the Spirit’s help, and if we ask in faith, He will help us.
The psalmist prayed:
“Open my eyes, that I may see wonderful things in Your law” (Psalm 119:18).
Notice that the prayer doesn’t ask for open eyes to “read Your law” or even to “understand Your law.” No, the psalmist’s prayer asks God for something we rarely think about when we open the Word: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.” He wasn’t talking about his physical eyes, he was talking about the eyes of his heart.
We all have two sets of eyes. We have the eyes in our head, and we have the eyes of the heart, which the Bible refers to in many places (for example, Ephesians 1:18). The process of seeing spiritual things through the eyes of the heart, not merely the mind, is called “revelation.” This is not some wild and woolly, holy-roller craziness. It’s an everyday working of the Holy Spirit in all who desire it.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.
So much distress. So much affliction. So much sorrow caused by sickness, disease and disaster. So many hurting believers. So many people facing financial crises.
The Bible tells us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19). However, the second part of this verse changes the meaning entirely: “But the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”
David cried, “Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions” (Psalm 132:1). This godly man faced many troubles. His prayer was, “Lord, You have delivered others out of their afflictions. Don’t forget about me! Help me, deliver me.”
The apostle Paul also endured many afflictions. He wrote: “The Holy Ghost [testifies to me] in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions [await] me” (Acts 20:23). Paul added, “No man should be moved by these afflictions” (1 Thessalonians 3:3). He was saying, “Dear saints, don’t question why I have to face so many great afflictions. These things do not cause me to question God.”
“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses” (2 Corinthians 6:4). Note Paul’s emphasis here: “in much patience.” Have you been losing patience in your affliction? Have you become so discouraged you’ve come to the point of casting aside your faith?
Lay hold of the Scriptures and let faith arise in your heart. God has not forgotten you!
As you continually reflect on Scripture and commune with Him in prayer and worship, you will become more and more like Jesus. And as you see how loving and merciful He is to you, you will trust Him more and more to see you through all trials. His Word makes it clear: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Seek Him with all your heart and desire His presence in your daily life. Then you will know and experience His incredible glory.
I cannot imagine how unbelievers can know any peace whatsoever in these perilous times without the presence and assurance of Jesus. Fear and anguish now hang over humankind like a black cloud.
At a recent gathering of some of the richest men on earth, one speaker said in an agonized tone, “We are all in the worst possible mess. We brought it on ourselves, and we do not know how to get out of it.”
I thank God for the nearness and closeness of Jesus in this awful hour. I am taking all my anxious fears and cares to a quiet place of prayer, where I simply love Jesus. I quietly worship Him there, thanking Him and committing all my pains, stresses and family cares to Him. I daily sing that old gospel song:
Shut in with God in a secret place, There in His presence beholding His face, Gaining new power to run in the race, I long to be shut in with God.
Beloved, Jesus is going to walk with you through your troubles. He rejoices over you. You are going to make it, dear overcomer.
You may wonder why Moses so earnestly sought a vision of God’s glory and I believe we find the reason in the following verse:
“There I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory” (Exodus 29:43, my italics).
The word sanctified means “made clean.” God was saying, “As you worship Me, I will meet with you and give you My presence. And when you are in My presence I will reveal My glory to you. It will lift you above all your circumstances.”
So, where can we find this revelation of Christ? We find it only as we come to prayer trusting in God’s Word. Paul says as we allow Scripture to reflect to us an ever-increasing revelation of Jesus, we will be changed from glory to glory:
“We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
This revelation of Christ’s glory will provide a keeping power for our lives: “Upon all the glory shall be a defense” (Isaiah 4:5, my italics). In other words, His glory will keep us heavenly minded in our worst hour.
What God is telling us here is to take time to get to know His Son. We are to search the Word and turn daily to prayer. Then, as we abide in His presence, our eyes will begin to open to His glory. It is all revealed in Christ. Jesus is the full revelation of His love, grace, mercy and tender kindness.
Some may ask, “What about the disciples’ incredible experience on the Mount of Transfiguration? Wasn’t that a manifestation of God’s glory? There was an overpowering light and the miraculous appearance of Moses and Elijah.”
In that incredible moment, God’s glory wasn’t in Moses or Elijah or even in the spectacular light. Rather, His radiant glory was in Jesus:
“His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. . . . Behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:2, 5, my italics).
Here is God’s glory personified in Christ. Jesus is the revelation of all that God said He was to Moses: gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving sins. At the Mount of Transfiguration God revealed a living picture of His own glory. “It is all now embodied in My Son.”
Beloved, God wants to open our eyes to “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). This means, simply, that all the glory revealed to Moses is embodied in God’s Son. And now Christ has been given to us as our inheritance.
“In [Christ Jesus, our Lord] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, my paraphrase).
“Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Timothy 3:1).
Paul does not say this to scare us. He attributes it all to the sin of the human heart:
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
That’s quite a list of sins. Yet Paul is talking not only to the world but also to us Christians: “Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”
When he says people will be lovers of themselves, he quite accurately describes the situation in many churches today. While evil increases, these churches increase their pursuit of self-promotion, gain and comfort. God never tells us to avoid the unsaved; they are our primary mission. So when Paul tells us to “avoid such people,” he is referring to fellow Christians who deny God’s authority in their lives. In fact, he affirms this, saying, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you’” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). As God’s people, what clearer call to repentance could we hear?
Satan will continue to spew forth death. And only one thing can resist his hell on earth: a church that is able to stand up and speak God’s Word boldly with integrity. Without a holy presence in this darkening world, the world will never know an alternative.
Today I implore you—as a pastor, as a father, as a brother—to get right with God. At times I feel like Noah, standing outside a place of complete safety as people casually pass by. In Noah’s day, many who heard him might even have agreed with him, yet they still refused to turn from their own ways and follow God. However, you and I must realize that we will not be able to stand in the coming days if we do not fully commit ourselves to obey the Lord. As the Scripture says:
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
In other words, the Lord commands us to have a change of heart; to agree with Him and turn from what is wrong.
LISTEN FOR GOD’S VOICE
Lately, I have been praying, “Lord Jesus, help me see if there is anything in my life that might lead me astray and, if so, give me the grace to put it away.” Over the course of my life, God has had His finger on attitudes I had embraced that I thought were acceptable but in reality had fallen short of God’s standard. Some practices were obvious, others were not. But I believe the one thing that has kept me up until this point in my life is that my heart has been open for the Lord to speak and reprove if needed.
And so I ask you again; Can God speak to you? Can God go after that issue of the heart; that practice in your life; that sense of self-righteousness? Or will you reject His counsel and end up locked out of His power?
CHOOSE TO HUMBLE YOURSELF
If you continually choose to come to Him in humility of heart and with a willingness to agree with His Word, God will bring down the mountains and raise the valleys. He will create a clear pathway between you and Himself, and you will find that He promises not only to keep you but to give you power, joy and victory in the coming days!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
It is a wonderful thing to have quality time with the Lord. He promises that as you seek more intimacy with Him, His presence will break forth in your life, working His divine order all around you. Yet something even greater than this will happen: The continual pursuit of God’s presence will lead you into a revelation of Christ’s glory.
Moses sought God for a manifestation of the Lord’s presence “that I may know thee” (Exodus 33:13). Here is how God answered His servant: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (33:14).
Moses’ request here would be enough for most Christians. Who among us does not want God’s promised peace and rest? What more could anyone desire? Yet, having the assurance of God’s presence wasn’t enough for Moses. He knew there was more, and he cried, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory” (Exodus 33:18).
And God did show Moses His glory!
The Lord’s glory didn’t appear in some luminous cloud or in an earthshaking demonstration of power. Instead, God expressed His glory in a simple revelation of His nature: “The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6–7). Do you see? God’s glory was a revelation of His goodness, mercy, love and compassion.
When God’s presence is missing, everything is out of kilter, with no guidance or righteous teaching. Everyone becomes a law unto himself, doing his own thing. This is a picture of many Christian homes today: everything out of order, with no peace or rest, everyone doing what he or she pleases. The Lord in His mercy grieves over such disorder.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. God’s promises are unchangeable, and His Word pledges, “For the rest of your life, if you will continue to seek Me I will be with you. When you cry out I will be found of you” (see Jeremiah 29:13).
This isn’t some complicated theology. Anyone can have the abiding presence of God if he or she will simply call out in faith. We are promised, “The Lord . . . will be found of you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). The Hebrew word for found here means, “His presence coming forth to enable, to bless.” In other words, “Reach out to the Lord with your whole heart, and He will manifest His presence. It will be an almighty power enabling you to be steadfast and fearless.” Only when God’s presence is upon us can we behold and comprehend His glory.
When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God manifested His presence to them through a cloud. This cloud was a physical manifestation of God’s pledge to be with His people. It covered the tabernacle night and day, and it acted as a guide for every undertaking. When the cloud moved, they moved, and when it stayed, they stayed. The people never had to try to figure out their direction or future. They put all their confidence in that visible cloud of the Lord’s presence.
King Asa led God’s people to a miraculous victory over Ethiopia’s million-man army. Afterward he testified that God’s presence had scattered the enemy.
“Asa cried . . . Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us . . . for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. . . . So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa” (2 Chronicles 14:11–12).
As Asa led his triumphant army back to Jerusalem, the prophet Azariah met him at the city gate with this message: “Hear ye me, Asa . . . the Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God. . . . But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them” (2 Chronicles 15:2–4).
Here is the secret of getting and maintaining the presence of God in your life. The Lord reminded Asa in no uncertain terms: “Asa, don’t ever forget how you got this victory. When you were in trouble, you sought Me with all your heart. Remember, it was My presence that brought you victory.”
Today, the cloud of God’s presence hovers over your secret closet of prayer. It will lead you, empower you and keep you in God’s rest, giving you guidance for your home, work and relationships. You can commune with the Lord anywhere, whether during your commute to your job or on your way to school. You can shut out everything else and say, “Lord, I’ve got half an hour right now and I want to talk with You.” This is your “closet time” with Him.
Moses was convinced that without God’s presence in his life it was useless for him to attempt anything. When he spoke face to face with the Lord, he stated boldly, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15). He was saying, “Lord, if You are not with us, we’re not going to make it. We won’t take a single step unless we are assured of Your presence.”
Moses knew it was God’s presence among them that set them apart from all other nations, and the same is true of God’s people today. God’s presence “with us” leads, guides, and works His will in and through us. His presence also drives out fear and confusion.
Moses’ attitude was, “We operate on one principle alone: The only way for us to be guided or governed, to do battle and survive in these times, is to have God’s presence with us. When His presence is in our midst, no one can destroy us. But without Him we are helpless, reduced to nothing. Let all the nations of the world trust in their mighty armies, iron chariots and skilled soldiers. We will trust in the manifest presence of the Lord.”
God answered Moses’ bold statement: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14). The Hebrew word for rest here means “a comfortable, peaceful confidence.” God was saying, “No matter what battles or trials you face, you will always be able to find a quiet rest and confidence in Me.”
Just a few decades ago, if a national leader was caught in any kind of scandal he resigned immediately. But today there is little shame attached to these acts. I think of the Lord’s words to Jeremiah: “Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 8:12, ESV).
As Christians we know our hope doesn’t rest in this world. Whenever we have put our hopes in a leader or institution, we have been disappointed. Yet, the open sin that has built up over the last twenty years has become an outrage. And as God told Jeremiah, He will not remain silent.
In just a few years’ time homosexuality has become normalized when the Bible clearly teaches against it. As Christians we love homosexuals and anyone else dealing with a sexual sin. Yet, no matter how you look at it, same-gender sexual practice can’t be reconciled with Scripture. (Some churches say it can be, but by trying to make it happen they profoundly compromise God’s authority.)
As we follow Jesus’ example to sacrificially love all people, including homosexuals, we’re labeled haters and bigots. But there is no hate speech in the Bible — only uncomfortable speech about sin. Right now society is basically commanding us to extract the passages that speak of homosexuality as sinful. My heart breaks over this, because homosexuals are being sold a lie. It doesn’t matter who we are; if we do not turn from sin, our relationship with God derails horribly.
“The people stayed in the tent of meeting. They murmured against Moses and Aaron and they were even blaming each other, saying, ‘It’s your fault.’ The plague had begun and multitudes were dying. Aaron took the flame from God’s altar and ran into the midst of the people. As he stood there, between the living and the dead, on behalf of the people, the plague stopped” (see Numbers 16:41-48).
We see in this passage a powerful and important image of so much of the modern-day Church—of ourselves—perpetually looking to stay inside, in “the tent of meeting,” locked in a mentality of “our needs are so great and the people outside, the heathen, the ‘unsaved’ are so evil.”
The egocentric congregation stays inside, with no time, energy or passion to take outside because of the battles waging within the four walls of the church. Religious ritual has a foot on the throat of any redemptive initiative and the church is dying. Platitudes have replaced passion. Rationalism has choked revelation. There is a religious hierarchy but no real heroes.
The disciples were on the Mount of Transfiguration standing in the presence of Jesus. The glory of God surrounded them amidst breathtaking prophetic revelation. Peter announced triumphantly what sadly became the rally cry, the anthem, for hundreds of thousands of modern believers, “It is good for us to be here. Let us build three tabernacles to dwell in and stay here.”
BE A HERO FOR GOD
The people wanted to stay in “the place of meeting” and Peter wanted to dwell on the Mount of Transfiguration. However at the foot of the mountain, there is a tormented, captive man, hopeless and abandoned by all, who needs a hero to come down from the mountain to bring him deliverance.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. 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.
We know that through the centuries those who have trusted in Jesus have suffered much. Since the time of the cross they have been martyred, some viciously. Some New Testament believers lost their houses and lands and lived in caves.
Beloved, no true preacher of God’s Word will ever promise that you won’t suffer, that you won’t lose property, that your lifestyle will be protected. But there is a “great cloud of witnesses” in heaven who would say to all of us who love Jesus:
“It is true that in Christ we were safe — eternally safe. His grace was sufficient for every crisis. Yes, there were seasons of pain, suffering and hard times. But no trial can ever take you out of Christ, the Ark of safety.”
I want you to hold on to this wonderful promise from 1 Peter 1:3–9:
“According to his abundant mercy [He] hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
If I am to live by my faith, I must do as Noah did and build an ark to ride out the storm.
“By faith Noah . . . moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7).
The ark that Noah built represents Jesus Christ — and there is no other safe place on earth.
When Isaiah prophesied of a king coming to reign in righteousness, he was clearly describing Christ:
“A man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isaiah 32:2).
All over the world people are desperately searching for a safe place to hide their money. Multitudes are buying guns to protect their families during what they believe will be a dark time of “every man for himself.” These include Bible-believing Christians.
Yet there is no place of guaranteed safety on earth, except to abide in Jesus. I don’t state this as some empty theology that Christians often say thoughtlessly. For over two thousand years, those who have trusted in Jesus for safety have proven God’s Word faithful.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run into it, and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust” (Psalm 18:2).
Right now, I believe the Church needs a refresher course on God’s majesty and power, much like Job was given. The Lord said to Job, in essence:
“What is all this dark, hopeless talk I hear from you? Stand up and listen to Me. I laid the foundation of the earth; I made the light and the darkness; I created the rain, snow, ice and wind; I gave wings to birds and I feed the beasts of the field. I control all of nature.
“Tell me, Job, who can thunder with a voice like Mine? Who can look into every man’s heart and see its condition? Who is able to identify the arrogant, locate them, and then bring them low?” (see Job 38).
Beloved, the same God who knows the name and address of every proud person also knows your name, your address, your condition. And He will keep you in His heart all of your days, through every calamity. To accept this is to live by faith.
If I live by faith, I will not fear for the future of God’s people or the Church in calamitous times.
“Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
This pledge from Jesus has emboldened the faith of generations. And it is meant to sustain us now in our present global calamity.