Some things in life are completely out of our control. For instance, you cannot bring back a prodigal child and force him to return to his relationship with Christ. No matter how much you fast and cry out his name to God, the decision is his. Numerous other things in life present similar challenges but if you know the One who can move mountains, there is always hope.
The wonderful thing about life in Christ is that we get to engage in amazing things we couldn’t do on our own. In fact, Jesus calls us to participate with him in accomplishing what we cannot do ourselves: see lost loved ones come to faith; see broken marriages restored and healed; see unsaved people in our community rescued from a hopeless eternity. Through our faith in Jesus, we get to see — and even take part in — things achieved by his power, majesty and authority.
In Hebrews 11, there is a list of biblical figures who pleased God: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, David, Samuel, and a host of others. They are commended not for their talents or achievements but for trusting God to do what was beyond their abilities. Together they comprise “a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith” (see Hebrews 12:1).
To attain that life of faith, we are urged to lay aside every weight that prevents us from trusting (12:1). Many Christians are weighed down by unbelief because they look to their circumstances more than to the God who controls all circumstances. Be assured that what God has promised can never be thwarted.
When God promised Abraham that he would be the father of all nations, Abraham knew he and his wife Sarah were too old to have children. Yet, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief” (Romans 4:20). In fact, according to the Word of God, his faith grew even stronger. The more Abraham figured, “I can’t do this,” the stronger his faith in God’s ability grew. And through the death of his flesh came a power that was not of himself — the power of the Holy Spirit.
We all are called to do what we can for Christ’s kingdom — and more. In order to see God’s purposes accomplished in your life, he asks only that you trust him by living a life of faith.
You may be in a storm right now but on the other side of that tumultuous sea is a bank of God’s blessing and a deeper miracle. We see the secret of this in the book of Acts when we look at the life of the apostle Paul.
Paul had done no wrong — King Agrippa said, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains” (Acts 26:31) — yet, he was taken prisoner. “They delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius” (27:1) and in spite of Paul’s advice to delay their departure, they sailed toward Rome where Paul was to go on trial before Caesar. Along the way, they encountered numerous storms that caused them much hardship. During this time, Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship” (26:21-22). An angel had appeared to Paul and assured him that they would all be safe.
Even though they crashed on the island of Malta, demolishing their ship, not one life was lost, just as Paul had declared. It was cold and rainy, and they were in chains in a strange culture with a strange language. But they were met with unusual kindness and were made to feel welcome (see Acts 28:1-2).
A shipwreck is never a pleasant experience, but God used this event to demonstrate his goodness and bring the good news of Jesus to this island. “In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously” (28:7). The father of this local dignitary was ill and God used Paul to bring healing to him (28:8). This demonstration of God’s love and power opened up the avenue for a revival on the island.
All the pain and pressures Paul endured on his trip were preparing him for Malta and the miracles that occurred there. He was shipwrecked under God’s sovereignty! But on the other side of that shipwreck was the miraculous.
Surrender your Malta to Jesus today — God has a purpose for you there! As you hold on to his promises, he will use you, prepare you, mold you, and change you for his glory.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
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.