Many people respond well to Christian counseling as a means of helping to heal marriages and homes. Indeed, counseling has become a major ministry in the church today. But more and more troubled Christians do not respond to the counseling they receive. Why? Because a spiritual veil has settled over their eyes — a blindness to their own guilt and need to change. And that veil must be removed before any change is possible in their lives.
“Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:16-17).
The Bible speaks clearly to all who would obey the Lord: “You cannot be changed if you remain willingly blind to God’s Word.” In verse 16, “turn” means “to reverse course.” In short, Paul is saying, “You must admit that the course you’re taking has brought you to emptiness, ruin, despair.”
Change is exclusively the work of the Holy Spirit: “How will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?” (2 Corinthians 3:8). We simply cannot change ourselves; only the Spirit of God can conform us to the glorious image of Christ. Paul experienced this kind of change when he was still known as Saul, traveling down the road to Damascus to persecute the Christians there. The Lord intercepted him and created a crisis in order to completely change the course of his life (see Acts 9).
In order to see change, several things must happen. First, you must grow in the knowledge of God’s mercy, which is followed by the assurance that you will not give up, no matter how bad things get. “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1). And then, you must totally forsake all hidden things in your life: “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (4:2).
God will change you when you submit to his Word and the transforming power of his Spirit. Resign yourself to his will today and allow him to make you an overcomer. Stay in his Word, call on his name diligently, and trust the Holy Spirit to change you.
Multitudes of Christians face indescribable problems every day — physical pain, emotional suffering, financial struggles. They worry, “This is all too much for me to handle. How will I ever make it?” The truth is, not one of these terrible things has surprised God. He has foreseen every awful thing that would ever happen to humankind, including every crisis and problem we face today. And the Bible tells us God wants to show us how to face them all.
God commands us not to fear any of our enemies. “You shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the Lord your God did” (Deuteronomy 7:18). God was referring to the strong, well-armed heathen nations Israel faced. For us today, this applies to every problem and overwhelming difficulty we face in life.
Our heavenly Father sees every step of our lives, and in spite of our crises, he commands us again and again in scripture, “Fear not!” We are not to believe that our problems will destroy us, because he is our strong shield.
“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:29). God is telling us, “It’s a lie that I have forsaken you. It’s a lie that I’m mad at you and have left you to fend for yourself against your enemies!”
If you have a struggle with a troubling, habitual sin remaining in your heart, God knows all about it. He knows how you hate it and he wants you to hear this word: “Fear not! I am your shield, your protector, your defense, your sword of holiness against all your enemies. I know the way out of temptation for you and I will teach you to do battle.” David knew this and that’s why he could say, “I will fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4).
Your heavenly Father sees every bit of your suffering and he makes many wonderful promises to you: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
No matter what comes your way, God has more than sufficient grace and comfort for you!
Think of how often our prayers focus on our own needs: our own spiritual growth and the needs of our family and friends. We may spend much of our prayer time seeking the Lord about our personal walk with him: to be made holy; to have dominion over sin; to receive guidance for life; to have his anointing. And we enjoy sweet communion with him, quietly worshiping and being refreshed in his presence.
But according to God’s Word, sweet communion is not enough. Yes, it is the secret to spiritual growth but if we go to God’s throne only for our personal edification and needs, we are being selfish. Paul gives us an example of this. “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8). Paul was telling these saints, “Our crisis was so serious, it almost crushed me beyond my endurance.”
He continued, “When we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest … Outside were conflicts, inside were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5). Although Paul was a mighty man of prayer and had great confidence in the Lord, he endured troubled times. He turned to the Lord and his promises but he also was supported in prayer by “helpers” — “[God] who delivered us … in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us” (2 Corinthians 1:11).
One of the greatest needs in the Body of Christ today is the ministry of being a prayer helper. Paul often asked, even begged, for prayer: “Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered” (Romans 15:30-31).”
You can begin the ministry of being a prayer helper today. Trust the Holy Spirit to sensitize you to the needs of others and start asking God to meet their needs.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20-21). The Bible is filled with the truth of God’s love but at times we may wonder how the Lord could ever love us.
Millions of believers who have tasted the love of God have never learned how to enter into the fullness of his love. They know the doctrine of his love — they have heard it preached often — yet they don’t know what it means to be kept in his love.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The revelation of God’s love comes in part through the power of the Holy Spirit when we are born again. It’s a wonderful moment when you grasp this truth and realize, “God loved me when I was lost, undone, a stranger, and he proved his love by sacrificing his own Son on my behalf.”
After this initial revelation, Christians must learn how to be kept in God’s love. The Father loves his people with the very same love he has for Jesus, who sits at his right hand. In his final prayer on earth, Jesus said, “You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). What an incredible thought! Christ was greatly loved by the Father before creation — before any planet was formed, before the sun, moon or stars came into being, before the creation of man.
Jesus then followed with this remarkable prayer: “That the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (17:26). He was saying, “Father, I know you’re going to love those I bring into my body just the way you’ve loved me.” You see, according to Jesus, in God’s eyes Christ and his Church are one.
Keep yourself in God’s great love for you and it will be your strength through all the things you experience in life.
Imagine a heavenly bank where the Holy Spirit sits ready to dispense any and every resource of heaven. Believers have the ability to step up to the teller’s window and withdraw endless reserves of God’s grace, power, faith and hope.
Many in the church make a lot of deposits but they don’t make nearly as many withdrawals. Instead, they step up to the window and ask for a mere pittance. “Lord, I don’t want to bother you, but I need just a little grace to get me through this present problem. If you can just get me going, I can handle the rest.” What? They don’t want to bother their heavenly Father? Well, God doesn’t want them to “handle the rest,” he wants to do it for them.
God wants us to deposit everything to him: our anxieties, struggles, sins and heartaches. And then he wants us to draw on his infinite resources, which are stored up for us in his vaults. He longs for us to say, “Lord, I’m finished asking for just a small amount of faith to get me through a problem. I need your grace in abundance! And I need more of your life, your breath, your movement within me.”
The prophet Zechariah was seeing down through history to our day when he wrote these words.
“On that day the Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the Lord who goes before them!” (Zechariah 12:8).
Because of Christ’s work for us, even the weakest Christian will be as strong as David, Israel’s greatest king. And the strongest believer will “be like God,” meaning, like Christ. It sounds outlandish, but in this prophecy God gives us an image of the resources he has made available to his church. The reserves of heaven’s bank are meant to pour out on us to his great glory, especially during our times of trial.
No matter how great your need, I urge you to go to the teller’s window and make a withdrawal. Ask God to supply you with his healing and restoring power — and then keep asking. He is pleased with your faith and he will be faithful to make his glory known in your situation, astounding the world around you.