I have often heard people say, "God will never depart from America. There are too many praying Christians in this country. Our victory in the war with Iraq is proof God is still with us. We're a Christian nation, the apple of God's eye! World missions depend on us. We've always been a great nation, and the Lord will bless us as long as we exist."
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).
The New Testament church was born in a blaze of glory. The Holy Ghost came down upon it with fire, and the first Christians spoke with tongues and prophesied. They experienced smiting conviction, and multitudes were converted. They broke out on the right and on the left and were greatly enlarged. The fear of God fell upon them and upon all who saw them. There were signs, wonders, and miracles. The dead were raised. Fearless evangelists went everywhere preaching the Word. Jails could not hold them. Storms could not drown them.
We are living in a day in which the messages of the prophets must be understood and proclaimed. Jesus lived and preached, constantly under the knowledge that He was fulfilling the words of the prophets, "Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and ALL THINGS THAT ARE WRITTEN BY THE PROPHETS concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished" (Luke 18:31). [Capitals in Scripture quotes are ours.]
I want to speak with you about a unique experience that is shared primarily by those who yearn to go deeper in Christ. It has to do with a tremendous spiritual letdown that usually follows periods of fresh anointing and divine revelation. Only those men and women of God who have had a unique touch from Him can understand the deadlock and dark plunges that follow spiritual highs.
It is the testimony of spiritual giants in all ages, that the most severe temptations, the most oppressive battles — follow soon after the greatest spiritual experiences.
There is a "survival panic" gripping this nation. Some economic experts warn Americans to flee the cities, buy a home or acreage in the country, hoard a supply of dried foods and ammunition, lay away a stash of gold or diamonds, and get ready for a terrifying depression. At this very moment, economic gloom is covering the nation like a dark, foreboding cloud. Unemployment is spreading, and, in some parts of the country, it is nearly as bad as it was during the depression of the 1930's.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (Psalm 23:5). Of all the wonderful promises God gives us in the 23rd Psalm, this is one of the most glorious. He is pledging to set a table for us, spread wonderful food on it and serve us a feast. And he does it all in front of our enemies!
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.”
Trusting the Helper Jesus Sends Us
“I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away” (John 16:7, ESV).
Imagine what it was like for the disciples to hear this from Jesus. They were nearby when he performed miracles. They saw the wind and waves obey his commands. Nobody in history ever spoke with the authority that Jesus had. In his presence, the disciples felt special, valued and loved. They were encouraged and filled with hope that, no matter what obstacles were thrown at them, Jesus was there to deliver them.
This message is about spiritual prisons—those that Satan uses to cage us, and those we keep ourselves in. God’s Word shows us how to be freed from these prisons, with a powerful example from Peter’s life.