This spring, I was in a hotel in Amman, Jordan, when I had an experience that changed me profoundly. I’ve written hints about this experience previously, but I haven’t shared it in full. I do so now because it has everything to do with our vision at World Challenge and our partnership with you in serving Jesus.
“Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him” (Luke 7:11). When Jesus approached the city of Nain, there was a huge procession behind him. He’d been ministering in the hills and meadows, healing the sick, feeding hungry crowds and preaching the arrival of God’s kingdom. Now many of the people he’d healed and fed joined his growing number of disciples. Try to picture this dancing, joyful throng as they approached the city: They must have looked like a massive caravan of joy.
In the Old Testament, Habakkuk gives us an amazing prophecy about the end times. This praying prophet’s name means “embraced by God.” Scripture indicates Habakkuk was a man who wrestled with the Lord faithfully in prayer. And his prophecy came during a time of gross immorality.
I travel around the world for ministry, and when I’m in a Buddhist nation I pray for the people there to know Jesus. When I’m in the Muslim world, I pray for the people there to have a revelation of Christ. And when I’m in Israel, I pray for every Israelite to know Jesus. I want all the peoples of the world to know the reality of Jesus. Then when I return home, I pray every Christian would know Jesus too!
If you need the power of God in your life, Jesus has special words for you. Just before he ascended to heaven, Christ knew his disciples needed power to do the works of his kingdom on earth. So he instructed them, “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49-50).
The instruction was simple: “Stay in the city.” But note this qualifier: “…until…” Jesus was saying, “Your lives will remain the same until the Holy Spirit comes upon you with power.”
Let me tell you about two men I knew. Both are converted drug addicts and alcoholics, and at one time they led horrible lives. Both are married with children – and while they were addicted, they had problems with lust, pornography and adultery. They were con artists, trying to fool their wives and families about everything, hustling and conning their way through life.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, my emphasis). Jesus prayed this for his disciples, and that includes us. He asked the Father that we may see his glory, meaning to know him.
“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
I believe God carefully chose the word “secret” to use in this passage. Its Hebrew root means “to be alert, to be on the lookout, to watch, to be a confidant.” The concept expressed here is powerful: God has a secret he will share only with believers who are willing to pursue it with passion. This company of seekers will become his confidants only by having a deep hunger to know his heart.
There’s a popular phrase used by pastors today. On any given Sunday in churches across the U.S., a preacher says, “I invite you to engage in community.” There are books on the subject of connecting with community. There are podcasts and sermons. And it all sounds good because they sound like they’re talking about fellowship, the deepening of bonds between Christ-followers.