With all the talk in the church about spiritual warfare, too many Christians have not learned how to resist the enemy. In fact, few believers know how to stand up and fight, and they become real pushovers for the devil.
The book of Judges tells us, “The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years” (Judges 6:1-2). Every year at harvest time, the Midianites moved over Israel’s land with thousands of camels, sheep and cattle that ate everything in sight, leaving Israel completely impoverished. They were driven to living in dark caves and damp dens, starving, scared and helpless. Then something happened! After seven years of this, the Israelites cried out to the Lord (6:6-7).
A man named Gideon had grown weary and exasperated at the situation. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12). Gideon questioned this Angel: “Well, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? How long should we just put up with it? We’ve been told we have a God who moved for our fathers, but look at us — helpless, living in constant fear.” The Angel said, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the [enemy]” (6:16).
Gideon gathered his army but then God made a strange request: “Send home every soldier who is afraid” (7:3). In other words, God said to Gideon, “I must have men of faith and courage! All others must pray until they develop a backbone.” That thinned out the army considerably. Still, before it was all over, Gideon had an army of strong, focused, determined fighters.
Scripture commands us to stand up, be strong, and do battle: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, NAS). Jesus has promised us, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). God is looking for believers today who will fight their own battles with faith and courage. He says to you, “Why do you fear? You can trust me to bring victory to your life. You are stronger than you think and, remember, I’m always with you.”
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them’” (Numbers13:1-2).
Moses chose twelve men to explore the Promised Land, one from each tribe of Israel. Each of these men was an outstanding leader with exceptional skills, power and authority. All of them are listed by name in Numbers 13 and yet only two are known by us today: Joshua and Caleb. There is a definite reason for this.
After the spies fulfilled their reconnaissance mission, they brought back a bounty of luscious fruit and described a land that “flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit” (13:27). However, in reporting their findings to Moses and Aaron, ten of them said, “The people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. … We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are” (13:28, 31). Full of doubt and misgivings, they were overwhelmed with a fear of being slain by the powerful enemies in Canaan.
A majority of the Israelites were ready to go along with the advice of these men, but Joshua and Caleb strongly disagreed with their assessment. They urged Israel to move on in faith, knowing God would prepare the way. These two faithful men stood apart within their faith community and the difference in them was clear in God’s eyes. He voiced it in these words to Moses, “My servant Caleb … has a different spirit and has followed Me fully” (14:24).
Both Joshua and Caleb had a right attitude exemplified by faith and courage. Because of their trust in the promises of God, they led the Israelites into the Promised Land, obtaining a rich reward. However, the unbelief of the other ten spies led them back into the wilderness, where they faded into oblivion.
Choose to believe the Word of the Lord and his promises today. Put your trust in him and he will lead you into your own promised land.
Bearing fruit is the underlying purpose behind the gift of God’s Son. Christ suffered, died, and rose again so that we would die to the law and “belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God” (Romans 7:4).
A new believer in Christ will always exhibit a change in behavior as proof that the fruit-bearing process has begun. Paul told the Colossians, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6).
A growing number of churches, afraid of “scaring” people away, have become more intent on being seeker-sensitive than on trusting God to transform lives, as he has been doing for over two thousand years. We need not worry about the power of the gospel, for it still is the power of God for salvation. We just need to be bold enough to communicate it in simplicity and love.
Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them … every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:16-17). Although Jesus offered this teaching in the context of a warning about false prophets, its application is universal. The only indisputable proof that God’s grace is at work in us is the spiritual fruit we produce. This is neither legalism nor mysticism, but a fact of life in the kingdom of God.
Remember, Israel was rejected by its own Messiah because it did not bear fruit: “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit” (Matthew 21:43).
The Holy Spirit was sent to tenderly draw people to Christ. As you respond to his voice and humble yourself in the presence of God, ask him for a personal revival that will bear fruit to the praise of the glory of his grace.
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.
There is much talk of revival these days, with varying opinions of what it should look like. The first evidence of true revival is a great desire to hear and obey the Word of God. In Nehemiah’s day, the people expressed to Ezra, a priest and scribe, their desire to have the book of the law of Moses read to them. “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people … and when he opened it, all the people stood up” (Nehemiah 8:5).
The cry of their hearts was, “Bring us the true Word of the Lord!” Ezra stood on a raised, wooden pulpit and read God’s Word for six hours while the multitude stood at attention and listened. Today many Christians get bored in church and want to hear short sermons. On the other hand, there are those who are famished for the Word and long to hear sermons inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Another evidence of revival is true repentance. The people in Nehemiah’s day first rejoiced and praised the Lord at the reading of the Word. Then they bowed low and worshiped: “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (8:6). The people, trembling at God’s Word, took it to heart and repented.
When revival comes, there is an incredible spirit of joy and celebration. “And all the people went their way to eat and drink … and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them” (8:12). Wherever the love of God’s Word has been restored and repentance has resulted, there will always come forth a wave of true joy and celebration.
The final evidence of revival is absolute separation from the world. “And those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners” (9:2). Wherever there is biblical restoration, there will be an ever-growing awareness of the Lord’s call to separate from all that is worldly and sensuous.
God is raising up a remnant made up of those who want revival that conforms believers to the image of Jesus Christ. What an exciting time to be alive in the Body of Christ!
Are you tired of living in need when everything you will ever require has been provided? Perhaps your focus is wrong. You tend to dwell on your weaknesses, temptations and past failures — and when you look inside your own heart, what you see discourages you.
God’s love insists that we stop focusing on our failures and sins and, instead, focus on the riches offered to us in Christ. You are to be looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith (see Hebrews 12:2). When Satan comes and points out weakness in your heart, you have every right to answer, “My God already knows it all and he still loves me! He has given me everything I need to get victory and keep it. As far as he is concerned, it is finished!”
God is urging you, “Come boldly to the throne of grace, that [you] may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Remind God that it was his idea for you to come to him. Take God at his Word and say in faith, “Lord Jesus, flood me with your peace because you have said it is mine. I claim rest for my soul.”
You can’t work this up in you. You can’t sing or praise it down on you. No, it comes from being rooted and grounded in a revelation of God’s love for you. This does not come in a feeling but rather in the Word that he himself has spoken: “In my house is bread and enough to spare” (Luke 15:17).
If you ask the Holy Spirit right now to help you seize this truth — to get rooted and grounded in it — the coming days will be the greatest you have ever had. You can go to your loving Father and claim all that is yours!