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.
“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, my italics).
The phrase I emphasize here is familiar to Christians all over the world. For centuries “living by faith” has motivated the daily decisions of believers in every generation.
“By faith” is the only way God’s people are ever able to face a calamity or affliction. It was the only way in Habakkuk’s day, it was the only way in every Old Testament generation, and it was the only way in New Testament times. Now, in our day, the same foundational truth stands: “The just shall live by his faith.”
Yet, what does this mean, to live by one’s faith? God’s Word shows us it means more than simply believing. To live by one’s faith is to see God’s hand and his holiness in all calamities:
“The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth” (Psalm 9:16).
“When thy hand is lifted up, [the wicked] will not see” (Isaiah 26:11).
YES, GOD’S HAND IS IN EVERYTHING
The world doesn’t see God lifting His hand to bring chastening. But those who live by faith readily acknowledge, “What we are seeing is God’s hand at work. This is His holiness being established. He is keeping His Word.”
If we are to live by faith, we must have a reverential fear of God’s power. And it is impossible not to see His awesome might at work in the world today.
Judgment — I am not accustomed to writing messages on this subject, and you may be surprised by this one. I prepared it with great reservations; in fact, it took me far beyond my comfort zone, even though I am dedicated to preaching the whole counsel of God.
Right now I am compelled to speak because of something I see happening in our culture. I have grown convinced that America now stands on the brink of one of the most extreme judgments it has ever faced. And in this bleak hour God has something to say to His Church that may begin to turn the tide.
When I grew up, it wasn’t unusual to hear this kind of difficult message in the denomination my family was part of. Occasionally I heard my father preach on the subject of judgment. What I’m talking about is a prophetic message (although my dad was adamant about not being called a prophet). He said he was a “watchman.”
LOVE TO HEAR HIS VOICE
These days I better appreciate the messages my dad preached and the anguish they caused him. I know he spent hours wrestling with God over the difficult sermons he delivered. As a pastor, I appreciate A. W. Tozer’s lesson that God loves to speak to the man or woman who loves to listen. Yet I fear the church has lost that practice. God wants to speak to us about our family, our marriage, our life’s direction, but our ear is inclined less and less to His voice and more to the world’s.
The Bible calls this condition a famine of the Word of God (see Amos 8:11) — a lack of knowledge of God and His ways. In times of chaos He will use the famine to get our attention and He has my full attention right now! And if He is speaking hard messages about society to grace-oriented pastors such as I am, it tells me He is up to something.
In the eighth chapter of Acts, an angel of the Lord told Philip to stop what he was doing and start out toward the road between Jerusalem and Gaza. At the time, Philip was busy preaching and healing in Samaria. The Lord gave Philip no explanation, and he had no idea why he was being sent. Yet he obeyed.
While traveling down this road, Philip was passed by a chariot and the Holy Spirit told him to stay near it. When he caught up to the chariot, he heard a man inside reading from Isaiah the prophet. The man, a eunuch from Ethiopia, was an important official of the queen. Immediately Philip understood why the Spirit had led him to this place in the middle of nowhere. He was able to witness to the eunuch and bring him to Christ (Acts 8:26-35).
Had Philip not been listening to the Spirit’s leading, or had he chosen not to heed His direction (or worse yet, failed to acknowledge that the Spirit actually speaks to us), he would have missed out on this divine appointment.
UNDERSTANDING GOD’S AUTHORITY
The truth is, had Philip stayed in Samaria preaching, he probably would have reached many more for Christ during this period of time. Instead, God diverted him for the sake of one soul. It would have been easy for Philip to question this mandate, to second-guess God’s wisdom in leading him away during a successful and busy time in his outreach, but he didn’t. Philip understood God’s authority and knew better than to question His ways.
THE VALUE OF LISTENING
What does it mean to trust God and walk in the Spirit? Jesus offers us a perfect description:
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with every one born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
When and where God leads may not always make sense to us. But a true disciple learns to listen and obey, regardless of his or her own opinions or agenda at the moment.
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.
Over the years we who have known the Lord intimately have experienced many miracles. We have been blessed by His deliverance from great trials and temptations.
Decade after decade we have proven God faithful in the midst of dire circumstances. We have known Him as our source of strength; we have been touched often by Christ’s healing hand; we have known the comfort and guidance of God’s Spirit at all turns. We have great knowledge of the Lord’s many precious promises because we have seen Him fulfill them to us faithfully over the years.
THE UNTOUCHED YOUTH
Yet, the fact is, our preaching and experiences have not touched the youthful generation behind us. These young ones haven’t been enamored by the beauty of God’s Word because they haven’t heard it preached in purity. Instead, they have mostly been enticed into church with the lure of flesh-centered activities and entertainment. Once inside, the only gospel they hear is one that is easy, noncommittal. And that easy message has totally failed them.
I know there are a few churches reaching young people in significant numbers. But by and large the upcoming generation has not known, seen or experienced God’s miracle-working power. Tell me, to whom can they turn? To me, their plight is captured in a recent newspaper headline THE WORLD HAS LOST ALL TRUST.
GOD HEARS OUR CRY
The prophet Isaiah spoke of a coming day when the world would be eating “the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction” (Isaiah 30:20). Isaiah predicted that out of this adversity and affliction a cry would arise. And when God hears that cry, “He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, He will answer thee” (Isaiah 30:19).
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2).
I have a question for you: What is your life saying to those around you? How does the book of your life read? What kind of teacher is your life?
So many testimonies pour into our office. We read stories about those who are filled with hope despite job loss; who have peace in spite of physical sickness; who walk with courage in the face of endless suffering. And they all have this in common: They pray.
PRAYER, THE COMMON DENOMINATOR
One such servant is a devoted woman of God undergoing a grinding trial. Daily she has the desperate task of caring for both a mentally challenged son and an elderly mother-in-law with dementia. This woman has to be on guard round the clock because one or the other of the two might run away or burn down the house. She tells of how weary she becomes at times, wondering if she can make it through another day.
What it all boils down to for her is simple: She prays. This woman knows firsthand how to go boldly to God’s throne of grace daily to find mercy in her time of need.
Such teachers are living epistles, God’s love letters to a hopeless world. And they have become so by being in constant communion with the Lord through every trial and struggle. They wholly trust Jesus to renew their strength to go on, and depend on the Holy Spirit for direction and grace in their time of need.
I ask you: Do you minister to others by your example? I urge you, go to the Lord daily for all the mercy and strength you need. He is calling you forth as one of His teachers!
In Deuteronomy 11 we find Israel at the Jordan River about to cross over into the Promised Land.
Before God’s people went into Canaan, Moses called them together for a special message from the Lord. Remember, this wasn’t the generation that was doomed to die in the wilderness for their acts of disobedience. Rather, this was the generation that followed those faithless ones. When their fathers crossed the Red Sea, these people were still young, ranging in age from infancy to twenty years old. Now many of them were over fifty, and their own children comprised the third generation.
LISTEN TO ME
Moses began his exhortation to this “middle generation” with the following words:
“Know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm” (Deuteronomy 11:2).
Moses made it clear: “The message I am about to speak to you is not directed to your children. It is not meant for those who haven’t seen the miracles you’ve seen. It is not for those who haven’t known the discipline of the Lord. And it is not for the untested, those who haven’t experienced God’s awesome might in the midst of their trials.”
A CLEAR MANDATE
God was telling this middle generation, in so many words: “Here is your full-time calling as My servants. You are to be steadfast always, never wavering in your trust in Me. In this way, your children will see My mighty hand at work in your life. They will be emboldened by the peace you have in the midst of your afflictions.”
The writer of Hebrews says to his readers, “By this time you ought to be teachers” (Hebrews 5:12, my paraphrase). These are strong, bold words. Who exactly is the writer addressing here? The book of Hebrews shows us he is speaking to believers who have been well schooled in biblical truth. In other words, those reading his letter had been sitting under powerful preaching by many anointed ministers.
Now, in chapter 5, the writer says to his readers:
“After all of this teaching, still you are dull of hearing. By this time, with all your Bible knowledge, you ought to be teachers. But it is clear you need someone to teach you the elementary principles of God all over again. You still need milk, when you ought to be feeding on meat” (see 5:11–12).
Think about what the writer is saying here. He’s telling his readers, in short, “By now you should be steadfast examples to your children. Your faith should be unwavering. You should no longer be murmuring or complaining in your afflictions, but instead be willing partakers of Christ’s sufferings. You ought not to be hot one moment and then suddenly cold when the enemy comes in like a flood.”
SERMON TASTERS ONLY
Does this word apply to you? How many sermons have we heard that challenge us to trust the Lord in all things? How many times have we heard God’s incredible promises preached to us? How many faith-stirring sermons have we taken in? How often have we been blessed by a message about God’s faithfulness? And yet how often are we quickly deflated when a trial comes?
Multitudes in the church today are well taught, full of biblical truth, experienced sermon tasters. Indeed, we are the ones the writer of Hebrews is addressing in this letter. And he is telling us, “By this time you ought to be teachers by your example. But, instead, your faith still wavers in times of battle.”
“When [Jesus] ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8, ESV).
Think of it! When we surrendered our lives to Jesus and to the work He did for us on the cross, He gave us gifts — every single one of us. So what is accessed at the cross is not just for our forgiveness or our righteousness or our acceptance into the family of God. These gifts from Jesus to His church are empowered gifts — amazing and powerful.
1 Corinthians 12:7 talks about the different manifestations of the Spirit:
“To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Isn’t this a good verse? It says, “To each one.” He has given you personally the power to function in the gifts.
GIFTS THAT PROFIT
There is going to be a greater manifestation of the Holy Spirit “for the common good.” This means that these empowered gifts were given so that everyone who comes in contact with you will profit from them in your life.
Ephesians 4:8 said, “He gave” when speaking of the gifts, so it is past tense. You are to employ the gift He has put within you. You may not know what it is, but He is going to unfold it to you. This power is going to come in a greater fashion in your life and He will develop it and cause it to increase in you.
After a recent Tuesday night prayer meeting at Brooklyn Tabernacle, I was introduced to a pastor who was visiting with a small group of leaders from his church. I welcomed him and asked where he was from.
“Kentucky” he answered.
“That’s quite far from New York City,” I replied. “How long will you be here?”
“We are heading back tonight. I left at dawn this morning just to be in the prayer meeting.”
I was shocked. “Really? All that way for just one service?”
“Brother, I’m thirsty for God.” he said with all seriousness. “I can’t go on anymore. I’m worn out and burned out. I’m desperate for something from God’s Spirit.”
DON’T GIVE UP
As the pastor spoke, I couldn’t help but think of David’s plea:
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)
Have you ever felt dried out and run down in your Christian life? When that happens a lot of us just keep plugging away until we reach the point of spiritual exhaustion. Some folks give up and play the hypocrite, pretending to be someone they aren’t.
THERE IS REFRESHING
There is an old saying that is absolutely true:
“If you run around, you run down, and then you want to run away.”
But there is a remedy to those dry periods when we have run around too much. It is found in what the apostle Peter called “times of refreshing” coming from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).
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.
Some months after 9/11, a New York City newspaper ran this headline: “CITY OF JITTERS.” The Department of Homeland Security had warned that a planned terrorist strike had been uncovered, and the terror alert had been raised to code orange.
That same day, a New York City police officer spoke to me about the uncertainty and alarm within the police force and fire departments. Their macho exteriors hid secret fears because most of them had lost friends during the 9/11 attacks.
Even now, years later, each time some New Yorkers travel through tunnels and over bridges they hold their breath and pray for protection. A stalled vehicle can cause panic. The greatest fear that haunts this city is a suitcase bomb, carrying nuclear or germ capabilities. Many people began carrying small gas masks. The citizenry seem to be resigned to the inevitable, believing an attack of major proportions will eventually strike. No one knows when, but the thought hangs heavily over the populace.
A SOURCE OF HELP
Yet there is not fear among true believers. Instead, we want to be available should an attack come, to help in the time of crisis. This is how our church has prepared our people. In the midst of theses apprehensive times, the Spirit of God is moving in a marvelous way. Many are coming to Christ throughout New York City, and there is an increasing hunger for God among young people.
May this be the heart attitude of all God’s servants in these days of apprehension and fear. The Lord has removed all fear from His people, that they may be a source of help to the world in a time of trouble.
I know the Bible says Satan has come down in these last days with great wrath (see Revelation 12:12). But I can’t conceive of God allowing Satan and his forces to freely assault the church without the Holy Spirit coming in greater power and manifestation.
The Bible says:
Evil men will grow more and more wicked There will be a great falling away The love of many will grow cold The faith of many will be shipwrecked False preachers will come to deceive many People will love pleasure more than God
But, beloved, none of these things can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing can silence the shout of victory He brings. Nothing can hold back the great, swelling tide of triumphant praise that is coming. Nothing can put out His fire or stop His rain from falling.
BE READY TO TESTIFY
I urge you: Be ready for those in your workplace to come asking, “I know you’re a Christian. I’m so troubled by what’s going on in the world. Please, tell me what you believe.” To every humble pastor of a small church, and to every leader of an unseen prayer group, the Holy Spirit wants to come into your midst, touch you and revive you. Will you believe it?
The only thing those hundred and twenty disciples in the Upper Room had to hold on to was a promise from Jesus that He would come. And He did come — with power unseen in all of history! Likewise, today all we have to hold on to is a promise from our Lord. He pledged to all who would follow Him, “I appoint unto you a kingdom” (Luke 22:29).
When the Holy Spirit comes as a torrent of rain, He will awaken the Bride of Christ with a cry. What will be the Spirit’s cry? “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6).
Tragically, the message of Christ’s Second Coming has nearly disappeared from pulpits today. Even on the Internet, where countless message boards are filled with talk about the church, there is not a sound about Christ’s coming. Yet John says the cry of the church in the last days will be:
“The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
Tell me, where are the voices crying, “Come, Lord Jesus”? Christ warned His church:
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).
Where is the church that is watching, waiting, yearning for Jesus?
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man cometh” (24:44).
THE PARTY IS OVER
Jesus had strong words for those who would scoff at His soon return:
“[The] evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin . . . to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of” (Matthew 24:48–50).
I ask you, has there ever been a time when humankind was so wrapped up in covetousness? The party is over — the economics of the entire world are shaking — yet multitudes, including many in the church, are in denial about it. Right now, the Holy Spirit is being poured out to wake a slumbering church to prepare for His coming: “This world is not your home. Now, stir yourself. Get ready to meet your Bridegroom!”
I am convinced the Lord is trying to break through to His people as never before.
“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” (Isaiah 64:4, my italics).
Who will receive this promised outpouring? “[Them] that waiteth for him.” The word for wait here means “bind together,” “gather together.” In this case, God’s people are gathered and bound together in one purpose, holding on to one promise: that He will come down with His presence and melt all hearts.
Already, there are evidences that God is rending the heavens and coming down by His Spirit:
A growing hunger for Him in Christ’s Body An outbreak of gladness even as things grow darker
One of the surest evidences the Holy Spirit has begun to move supernaturally is a spirit of joy breaking out over God’s people, causing them to praise Him triumphantly in the midst of dark times.
“Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness” (Isaiah 64:5).
This joy is going to be the source of our strength in the days to come. Our ministry receives reports from all over the world describing how the church is experiencing supernatural joy in the worst of conditions. And it is also happening among ordinary Christians who have prayed for the Lord to stir them. Their mountains of fear are melting like wax, and they are now shouting with gladness.
God’s glory has been revealed fully in Jesus; we don’t have to hide in a crevice as Moses did. We don’t have to wait for water to be poured from a rock; rivers of living water flow to us continually from His indwelling Spirit. God’s ultimate favor isn’t in things, it is in His presence, and He doesn’t withhold it from us.
“We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
THE HINDRANCE OF BITTERNESS
The Israelites could have experienced God’s glory just as Moses did. The Lord wanted to accompany them into the Promised Land, but their bitterness prevented it. It had happened before. When they were without water in the wilderness, the people put God on trial. The original Hebrew language suggests a “hammer” or “gavel,” meaning they judged the Lord and convicted Him.
What a horrible act, especially for a people so blessed by God. At a time when they could have trusted Him in faith, they complained — but still God’s mercy remained. Despite their sin, God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff — and water came flowing out. That rock represents Jesus, taking on the wrath of judgment for our sins. Then God offered them living water:
“For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).
What does your heart long for? Is your main dream a financial goal, a material desire? Or is it the hope of God’s glory, which transforms all of life? He has blessed you abundantly with His unlimited favor. Yet there’s more to know of our great God than earthly blessings. He wants you to know His glorious presence in every realm of life.
When King Jehoshaphat found himself surrounded by enemies, Scripture tells us, “[He] cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved [his enemies] to depart from him” (2 Chronicles 18:31).
There was a cry in Jehoshaphat’s heart: “Oh, God, I have been listening to voices I should not have been listening to, and hanging around people who sapped my spiritual strength. God, one more time, would You allow me to live? Would You fight against my enemies and take me into a place of victory? Give me a voice to be able to lead your people again into righteousness!”
And God caused Jehoshaphat’s enemies to depart from him.
GO BACK TO THE PLACE OF STRENGTH
I foresee very difficult days ahead of us. But in the midst of that difficulty, I see multitudes —“Jehoshaphats” — from all over this country who have been sitting in the wrong place, finally getting up and saying, “I am going back to that place of strength and victory that was won for me on Calvary. I am going to bend my knee to the Lord, even if it means dropping my own plans and ambitions to find the will of the One who died for me.”
MORE THAN CONQUERORS
Come what may, remember that we as the people of God are not destined for defeat. We are not destined to be overthrown like the smooth-talking prophets who do not know the heart of God.
We are destined to live in victory
We are destined to be more than conquerors through Christ
And so it is time to lay down our plans and cry out to God again for our homes, our families, this generation, the future of our cities. It will not be a popular time to stand for God, but there will be a glorious touch of the Holy Spirit on those who have the sense to call out to God.
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.
Our Lord has a holy remnant in every nation. And right now He is preparing a people who have stirred themselves to lay hold of Him. In small churches and gatherings all over the globe — in China, India, Europe, Africa, North and South America — a cry is rising, and it’s getting more intense:
“Oh, God, come down! Send your Holy Ghost fire! Melt away all flesh and manifest Your presence.”
They know that Jesus’ words to His disciples apply to them as well: “My Spirit will change everything, in a moment’s time. All mountains of hardness and unbelief will melt away, and everyone who has stood against you will now come flocking.” When this happens, there will be no advertising of the event — no television cameras, no featured evangelist, no organizers staging a “revival.” Instead, there will be only a desperate, hungry people waiting on the Lord to reveal Himself in His glory and saving power.
WORLD SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL
God’s people know He is the only sustaining source in these troubling times, and soon the world is going to know it. As the economy sinks deeper worldwide — as Iran and Russia become more threatening, and global calamities occur — people won’t tolerate a message of self-fulfillment. They will demand to know the reality of God in a world spinning out of control.
The promise that God gave to Isaiah applies today:
“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” (Isaiah 64:4, my italics).
As the hundred and twenty disciples gathered faithfully in the Upper Room, they weren’t just waiting for a date on the calendar. The Bible says, “They were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). This means they had come together as one body for one purpose: the hope of seeing Jesus’ promise fulfilled. Their cry was the same as in Isaiah’s day: “Lord, rip open the heavens and come down. Let all mountains of opposition, human and demonic, melt at Your presence, so the lost may be saved” (see Isaiah 64:1).
VISIBLE FIRE FELL
We know what happened: The Holy Ghost fell, with visible fire appearing on the disciples’ heads. This holy outpouring took them to the streets of Jerusalem, where thousands of lifeless religious people saw and heard what was happening. Immediately the Spirit fell on that crowd, melting every mountain of opposition. Peter stood up to preach, and suddenly those who had rejected Jesus — masses who had hardened their hearts — melted at the mention of Christ’s name. And three thousand people cried out to be saved.
Consider what God was doing. All around the world at that time, there were wars, uprisings, great darkness, empires invading nations. Multiple millions were busy with commerce, as cargo ships and trade caravans traversed the globe. Yet, God’s interest and focus was on a hundred and twenty humble, praying saints gathered in a small, rented room. What does this tell us? Simply put, when God strikes a match, there must be kindling for it to catch fire. As His Spirit blew on those saints at Pentecost, a flickering flame became a fire that soon would cover the whole earth.
Once again, the same cry is rising all over the world today.
Isaiah’s prophetic messages were heard throughout the nation. During this time there were great religious gatherings, complete with choirs and orchestras and people filling the synagogues. The people were well versed in the Scriptures and kept all the ordinances. Yet, in spite of all this activity — all the teaching, pageantry and good works — the atmosphere in the synagogues was dead. Doing God’s work had become drudgery, for one reason only: There was nothing of His presence in their rituals.
The prophet Micah spoke for God:
“O my people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me” (Micah 6:3).
REND THE HEAVENS, LORD
The Lord was prodding His people, “Tell me, what have I done to burden you? I challenge you to testify of what I did to cause your lethargy.”
As Isaiah looked around, he was moved to say:
“There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee. . . . Thy holy cities are a wilderness” (Isaiah 64:7, 10).
Essentially, Isaiah was saying, “Lord, You’ve blessed us with good teachers, music and programs. But we don’t have Your presence, Your fire, Your Holy Ghost power. I see no one calling out to You. Lord, rend the heavens! Come down and give us your touch.”
DEATH AMIDST PLENTY
Beloved, I suggest to you: What a picture of Christ’s church today. We have been blessed with more tools for evangelism than any other generation. We have more media outlets for the gospel — more books, websites, television and radio shows — than ever before.
Yet, it is still rare to come out of a church service today saying, “I was revived, made alive again, by being in God’s house.” Simply put, there is very little Holy Spirit power operating in much of the church. In my opinion, we are missing Isaiah’s cry: “Lord, reveal Yourself. Touch Your people once more.”
I am convinced the Lord is trying to break through to His people as never before.
As Scripture predicts, the devil has come down with great wrath, knowing his time is short (see Revelation 12:12). And right now God’s people need a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a supernatural touch even greater than the one at Pentecost.
Think of it: Jesus’ followers at Pentecost didn’t have to fear nuclear weapons. They didn’t face gay marriages in mainstream society. They didn’t tremble as the entire world economy teetered on the brink of collapse. It is clear we need Holy Ghost power to face these last days — it’s that simple.
CRY OF OUR HEART
Indeed, the cry that’s called for today was heard in Isaiah’s day:
“O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence . . . to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! . . . For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” (Isaiah 64:1, 2–4).
Where did this cry come from? It was uttered by a prophet grieving over the lethargy of God’s people, a man who clearly knew what was needed: a supernatural visitation from the Lord. Isaiah was saying, “Lord, we can’t go on as we have, with the same dead religious routine. We need a touch from You such as we have never known.”