In America I see great churches full of godly, loving people. I rejoice that the Lord has blessed his people here incredibly. In many congregations, the presence of Jesus is awesome—the worship is glorious and the altars are regularly filled with hungry, repentant people. But American Christians have to come to grips with something. If we continue only to drink in blessings and neglect to give them out, we’ll face what happened to the church in Jerusalem.
How God Makes Us into Who He Sees Us to Be
What keeps us pure? That’s the question behind a key point of Christian theology called sanctification. I have read all kinds of books on sanctification. Yet in reading page after page, I have only grown more and more confused. It seems every church leader had his own idea on the subject. After much prayer, I believe God gave me a way to understand his work of purifying and sanctifying us. Here is a simple definition, as the Holy Ghost explained it to me.
God has promised his people a glorious, incomprehensible rest, a peace and security for the soul.
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm 89:34). The term “covenant” plays an integral part in the Christian faith. Yet in all my years I have never heard a preacher or teacher adequately describe the significance of “covenant” in a Christian’s life. The Bible itself is divided into two Covenants (or Testaments), Old and New. Throughout the Old Testament, God makes one covenant after another with humankind. What are all these covenants about? More importantly, what do they have to do with us today?
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul opened up his heart and soul to the church. Throughout Chapter 1 the apostle’s spirit overflows with joy and peace. He speaks of abundant rejoicing and urges his readers to bring their requests to God with joy, “in nothing terrified by your adversaries” (Philippians 1:28). Meanwhile, Paul himself rejoiced in “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (4:7). And he wrote to the church to do likewise: “My brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (3:1).
God tells us he has put everything created under the feet of man. Consider this passage from Hebrews:
“What are mere mortals that you should think about them, or a son of man that you should care for him? Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them authority over all things. Now when it says all things, it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority!” (Hebrews 2:6-8, NLT).
“As they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto (Jesus), Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
I have a question for you: What can God’s people do in times of impending judgment to move the heart of the Lord?
We’re seeing natural calamities on such a scale as never before: tidal waves, hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts. I think of the world-shaking devastation wrought by the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, earthquakes in India and Pakistan.
How quickly we forget God’s great deliverances in our lives. How easily we take for granted the miracles he performed in our past. Yet the Bible tells us over and over, “Remember your deliverances.”
We’re so like the disciples. They didn’t understand Christ’s miracles when he supernaturally fed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes. Jesus performed this miracle twice, feeding 5,000 people one time and a crowd of 4,000 the next. Yet, just a few days later, the disciples had dropped these events from memory.
"Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 26:27). This verse opens us to a profound, life-changing truth. It speaks of spoils that can only be won in battle. And once these spoils are won, they're dedicated to the building up of God's house.