How many churches do you know that are flooded with the awesome presence of Jesus Christ? Where believers are so awed and reverent, they gather in holy silence. Where no one dares be flippant or silly. Where the singing is so filled with Christ's presence, sinners weep. Where the backslider and the wicked sinner become so miserable they either run to the altar, or out the door. Where the preacher is so anointed his face seems to shine with supernatural glory, and his words have convicting power.
"That I might know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings; being made conformable to his death" (Philippians 3:10).
Fellowship is the union of friends sharing similar interests or problems. To suffer is to feel pain or distress.
Paul yearned to share the pain and distress that Christ experienced. Did he not have enough suffering in his own life? Did he not have the hurts and cares of all the churches heavy upon his heart? Yet still he prays — "Oh, that I might know how to share Christ's pain and hurt."
"There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon..." (Psalm 72:16).
The 72nd Psalm is a prophetic vision of the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the corn, in the earth, upon the hill. Except the corn fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit (John 12:24).
A beautiful young couple, both spiritual children of mine, recently fell into sin and were forced to resign their ministry. For nearly a week they hid away in a secluded motel room, weeping, anguished and despairing of life. They felt abandoned by God, betrayed by friends, and useless to themselves and the kingdom of God.
"And there shall be famines, and troubles, and these are the beginning of sorrows…" (Mark 13:8).
There is a terrible famine raging in the land today. It's not a food famine. In fact, the United States has been producing such an overabundance of food the government is currently devising a number of incentives for farmers to take some of their land out of production.
You have heard of the hound of heaven. This is the Spirit of God who tracks a man down and never quits on him. He never gives up until He finds him. What I want to talk about now is the hunter of hell, who hunts down the most precious children of God to seek and destroy them. That is the Devil himself.
At one time his name was Lucifer, and he was a chosen, powerful ruler with God. This Morning Star, as Isaiah called him, was a bright star in God's firmament, a mighty angel, highly arrayed and chosen. But he became lifted up with pride.
The Holy Spirit yearns to bring God's people back to serving the Lord with joy and gladness. How grieved heaven must be to witness the wet blanket of despair and sadness that has fallen upon multitudes of believers. The Word of God commands:
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands…serve the Lord with gladness…" (Psalm 100:1–2).
"The hope of the righteous shall be gladness…" (Proverbs 10:28)
"Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yea, let them exceedingly rejoice…"(Psalm 68:3).
Unbelief grieves the heart of God more than any other sin committed on earth. He considers it a crime to doubt His word or to question His faithfulness. We Christians cry out against the sins of the flesh - homosexuality, alcoholism, drug abuse, adultery. We call them vile abominations, and they are! But God is mostly concerned about the sins of the heart. The real issues of life and death have to do with how a person thinks - with what goes on in his mind.
Jabbok! It may not have meant anything to you before now — but after you hear this message it should become one of the most important words in your spiritual vocabulary.
Jabbok is the place where Jacob wrestled with the Lord. It is where he made his total surrender to God. It is where he got his new character, and new name — Israel. It was the place where he cast down his last idol, and won his greatest victory.
"And he rose up that night…and passed over the ford Jabbok…" (Gen. 32:22).
God met Moses at the burning bush and gave him a mandate to lead Israel out of bondage. He told His servant, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people in Egypt... I am come down to deliver them... I am sending you to Pharaoh... you will bring my people out of Egypt..." (Ex 3:7-10).