Is it possible for righteous, godly, Spirit-filled Christians to become so low and downcast that they feel they can’t go on? To actually come to the brink of giving up? These are believers who are close to Jesus, who know his heart and mind, have done battle in prayer, and experienced his miracles.
How could it be possible that such Christians get pressed down and troubled, in despair and despondency? To some, it seems that once they gave their life to the Lord, all they got in return was suffering. No one, within the church or without, has ever understood how a loving God can allow those who have given their all to him to go through times of great trouble and despair.
Consider the man Job who famously suffered and came back to a victorious life. Or Jeremiah, the weeping prophet; also, another prophet, Elijah. They all suffered depression and feelings of defeat during their trials but God brought them back.
In the New Testament, we see Paul, the apostle. He truly was a godly, precious man who had given up the whole world that he might win Christ. He spent every breath in the cause of the Master. He had a revelation of Christ as did no other person on earth and, further, his epistles have instructed God’s people throughout the centuries.
Yet, Paul encountered turmoil and trials. When he went to Asia to preach the gospel, he received only trouble: “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).
How could this happen to a man so mightily used of God? Well, our Father allows his people to go through many difficulties so that their faith may be built from it. So how do you come to victory? The secret, plain and simple, is to trust in the Holy Spirit, who abides in you. And then you pray and read the Word of God faithfully. Lay hold of your special promises and you will find that even when you are ready to give up, he remains faithful to deliver you. Hallelujah!
Destiny, in simple terms, is God’s purpose for your life. It is your appointed or ordained future. We read of many godly men and women in Scripture whom God chose for a destined work or ministry but they ended up aborting his plan. They started out right, moving for a while in the power of their calling, but in the end, they died in shame and ruin, missing God’s destiny for their lives.
Saul was such a man. God himself chose Saul to lead Israel out of bondage to the Philistines. When the prophet Samuel first laid eyes on Saul, the Lord said, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people” (1 Samuel 9:17). The Lord was saying, “Take a good look, Samuel. This is my choice to lead Israel.”
Samuel did not choose Saul nor did Israel elect him; rather, God said, “I have appointed this man!” The Bible says of Saul, “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man” (10:6). Indeed, Saul was transformed by God’s touch on his life (see 10:9).
Here was a man appointed by God, moved upon by the Holy Spirit, gifted with a spirit of prophecy, destined by God to lead Israel — and God was with him. What more wonderful things could be said about him? For a while he lived his destiny, walking in the fear of God and winning great battles. But when he was appointed king over Israel, he began to fall apart. God fully intended for Saul to live out his days with the Lord’s blessing and be remembered as the man who delivered Israel from the bondage of the Philistines. But Saul missed his destiny as he began to cave in to his need for human applause and acceptance. He made compromises to attain these things and he missed the plan God had for him.
Beloved, if you are going to walk in your destiny, the only thing that will set you apart is your desire to surpass all others in the knowledge of Jesus. Spending time with him and eagerly accepting his marvelous adoption of you will make you great and enable you to continue to walk in your destiny!
“That I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:8-9). The only righteousness that God accepts is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ our Lord. And it is a righteousness that can be had only by faith.
The writer of Hebrews introduces us to the truth that this righteousness is the inheritance of all true believers. It is something Jesus has left for us, a legacy: “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah became an heir not by building an ark but by what he believed and preached. He grasped this knowledge of righteousness which God had revealed to him, a righteousness that is by faith, and he became an heir of a perfect righteousness!
Beloved, you and I were given a great inheritance when Christ departed the earth. He left us a title and deed to his very own perfect righteousness. Jesus lived in absolute poverty while on this earth. He owned nothing but he left us riches greater than the diamond mines of South Africa; the oil fields of the Middle East; the gold and silver buried under America’s mountains. Jesus gave us an inheritance that can make us far richer than any person on the face of the earth — an inheritance that allows us to stand before God uncondemned.
We could never possibly meet justice’s demands to fulfill God’s law, so Jesus came to earth and perfectly fulfilled the law of God. He never failed in one point of it and he did it all out of love’s pure motives. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
Is there anything good in you that would cause God to send his Son to die for you? No, it is an act of complete mercy and grace! By the power of the Holy Spirit, he turns you from all iniquity and empowers you to live out the righteousness he credits to you. Hallelujah!
“There was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God” (1 Samuel 4:13).
The word “tremble” as it is used here means to be in anguish, as travailing. At this time in his life, Eli was old and infirm, his eyes had grown dim, his spiritual leadership was diminishing, and his own sons were corrupt priests. Things all around him looked hopeless.
Eli was watching the Ark of the Covenant being taken away — God’s glory was leaving the camp — and he was largely responsible. As the high priest, he had overseen the offering of sacrifices, but it was all ritual with no real spiritual significance. The fear of the Lord was no longer in the hearts of the people and Eli knew that without the presence of God, all was lost. Recognizing what was happening caused his heart to tremble.
But there is another kind of trembling, that which emanates from joy. The Spirit of God shocked his church when he told them, “For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods” (Hosea 3:4, NIV). In other words, God was taking away all their large buildings of worship and stripping them of all that they depended on.
But then God promised, “Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days” (3:5, NIV).
Imagine if your church had no more eloquent preachers or even buildings to meet in. What would you do? Well, if God replaced all these things with a heart to seek him, it would be worth it all. If we don’t have Jesus, we have nothing! Ask God to give you a heart that trembles at his Word, to give you a longing for his presence.
“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them” (Luke 7:36-38, NIV).
In Jesus’ day, when you invited a dignitary to your house for dinner, members of the whole town could attend. While they did not have preferred seating, they could stand against a wall and observe without participating. Into such a setting came a woman who desperately wanted to see Jesus. This woman, a prostitute, was willing to endure the stares and mumblings of the other attendees in order to approach Jesus, this Man she had heard could give her a new life.
Let’s look at first century society for a moment. Three kinds of people were never to be touched: a leper; an immoral person; and a corpse. The leper had to shout out a word of warning to others, “I’m unclean” and everyone would back away. The immoral person would be put out of one’s sight. And it was felt that an infection, be it spiritual or physical, might come upon you if you came in contact with a corpse.
Jesus was not bound by the customs of his day and he defied all three of these social constraints:
When you and Jesus are in the same place, great things can happen! Only he can close the chapter on a tough past with immediate forgiveness — forgiveness that lasts for eternity. Today, our Lord is still available to heal, restore and give eternal life.
Pastor Tim pastored an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years before serving at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years. He and his wife Cindy presently pastor in Lafayette, Louisiana.