Jesus sees and knows what could destroy us. He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last page of our existence. He is never stunned by our mistakes, our secrets, and our failures. He never “finds out” anything about us — he has all knowledge and all love and he never gives up on us and our future.
This is beautifully illustrated in the relationship between Jesus and the brash Peter. Peter had boldly proclaimed his undying loyalty when he proclaimed that he would never forsake Jesus: “Even if all others forsake You, I will stay with You, even to my death!” (see Luke 22:33).
Later, of course, Peter denied knowing the Lord, going so far as to blaspheme his name to prove he did not walk with him. When he heard the awful sound of the rooster crowing, it felt like a dagger in Peter’s soul and he wept bitterly as he realized the satanic trap he had fallen into. He staggered away, planning to abandon everything to go back to his fishing vessel — returning to the nets of his past, in a state of profound resignation, captivity and despair.
Those who knew Peter could have told you that he was a “big talker” who failed miserably when push came to shove — just another story of wasted potential. But Jesus burned with the vision that Peter would become a man of God, a man of courage and eternal influence. And now Jesus saw the somber threat, demonic, dark, menacing, and destructive, hovering over Peter.
Jesus is not naïve, like a sweet momma who is sometimes blinded by unrealistic love that causes her to lose all objectivity about “her baby.” No, to the contrary, Jesus clearly supernaturally foresaw, by the Holy Spirit, that Peter would be transformed for triumph: from weeping to worship; denying to deliverance; feebleness to faith; blasphemy to blessing; ruin to revival; from nearly dead to authority and destiny!
And this is how Jesus sees you! He never only sees what you have been or what you are presently, he sees what you can become by faith in him. “For God does not look as men look, for man looks at the outward, at what meets the eye, but God looks at what is invisible. He looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
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.
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil … let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-20, 22).
There are two sides to Christ’s work at Calvary. One side benefits the sinner, while the other benefits the Father. We are well acquainted with the benefit on the human side. The cross of Christ has provided us with forgiveness of our sins; the power of victory over all bondages and dominion over sin; and a supply of mercy and grace And, of course we are given the promise of eternal life.
Yet there is another benefit of the cross, one that we know little about. And this one is to the benefit of the Father. We understand very little about the delight of the Father that was made possible by the cross.
If all we focus on about the cross is forgiveness, then we miss an important truth that God has meant for us about the cross. There is a fuller understanding to be had here and it has to do with his delight. This truth provides God’s people with much more than just relief. It brings liberty, rest, peace, and joy.
God’s delight comes in his enjoyment of our company. Indeed, the most glorious moment in history was when the temple veil was rent in two, on the day that Christ died. At that moment, the earth trembled, the rocks rent, and the graves were opened. In the instant that the temple veil was torn asunder — separating man from God’s holy presence — something incredible happened. From that point on, not only was man able to enter into the Lord’s presence, but God could come out to man!
Before the cross, there was no access to God for the general public; only the high priest could enter the holy of holies. Now the Father declares, “This is my beloved Son in whom I delight. You are his body and he is your headship, so I delight in you also. All that I have given my Son, I give to you. His fullness is yours.”
“Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked … my heart is severely pained within me … fearfulness and trembling have come upon me …So I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest’” (Psalm 55:3-6). David speaks here of a satanic attack so severe that it drained his strength and patience and caused him to want to run. He moaned, “There is pain in my soul, a pressure that never lets up. It’s a battle that never ends and it terrifies me. Lord, don’t hide from me anymore, Please, listen to my complaint and make a way of escape for me.”
What was the cause of David’s awful battle? It was a voice: “Because of the voice of the enemy” (55:3). In Hebrew, the meaning here is “the voice of a man.” It was Satan speaking, along with his demonic oppressors.
What did David do about this? He cried out to the Lord for help, asking him to silence the enemy’s accusations: “Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues” (55:9). “All day they twist my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil … They hide … they lie in wait for my life” (56:5-6).
David’s testimony makes it clear for all of us: this is war. We are facing evil powers in a fight for our faith against the father of lies. And the only way we can do battle is to cry out to the Lord for help.
Like other holy servants of God, David came through his battle and was used mightily as never before. Beloved, the same joy awaits us just beyond our eclipse of faith. Yet it is when we are at our lowest — at the deepest point of our unbelief — that God is doing his deepest work in us, preparing us to glorify him.
Have you been sifted recently, your faith seeming to fail in a dark hour? I urge you to do three things: (1) Rest in God’s love for you. (2) Know that no matter how deep your unbelieving thoughts, the Lord sees what you are going through and his love for you never wavers. (3) And do as David did and cry to the Lord night and day: “Lord God of my salvation, in the morning my prayer comes to you. Incline your ear to my cry.”
Today we are living in fearful times such as few of us have ever known. The truth is, only a personal word from the Lord can lead us through such times with the enduring hope we need. And God has always been faithful to provide a word to his people throughout history.
In the Old Testament we read this phrase again and again: “The word of the Lord came …” Scripture says of Abraham: “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram” (Genesis 15:1). We read of Joshua: “According unto the word of the Lord which He [gave] Joshua” (Joshua 8:27). And so it was with David and the prophets also.
You cannot fight the battle of faith without hearing the assuring voice of the Lord to you. When David and his warriors returned from battle and found their village raided and their families kidnapped, they cried out in agony, “How could this happen? Why would God allow it?” Then they “lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep” (1 Samuel 30:4).
This scene from David’s life shows us there is most certainly a time to weep when calamity strikes. But then he encouraged himself. “David encouraged himself in the Lord” (30:6). Instead of giving in to fear, David decided to fight his fears. I believe he did this by remembering all of God’s past deliverances in his life. Every victory had been brought about because of his unwavering faith.
“Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you’” (Isaiah 35:4).
While the world is under vengeance — when all things seem to be spinning completely out of control — God is in the process of saving us. He is using even the chaos of world events to bring about his salvation. He is faithful to save and to keep his people, through every calamity.
As for God’s people, we have the abiding Holy Spirit to speak a word from heaven to us. I believe the challenge for every believer today is to stay in the Scriptures until the Holy Spirit makes God’s promises seem to jump off the pages to them personally. We can know when that happens because we will hear the still, small voice of the Spirit whispering: “This promise is yours. It is God’s Word given just to you, to see you through these hard times.”
What is it about faith that keeps demanding of us greater testings? Why do our afflictions grow more intense, more severe, the closer we get to Christ? Just when we come through one trial that proves us faithful, here comes another test, increased in its intensity. Many godly saints must ask, “Lord, what is this awful trial about? You know my heart and you and I both know that I will trust you no matter what.”
Think about it: the very day you committed your life to trust God, no matter the cost, he knew your present trial would come. He knew then — and you know now — that you would love him through everything that comes at you. By grace, you are determined to be an overcomer.
The reason for such continual testings is well known to most Christians. That is, the life of faith continually demonstrates humankind’s need for the Lord in all things. We never reach a point of not needing God. As Jesus tells us, our purpose is not to seek having our needs met, but to feed on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
An additional reason behind our ever-increasing afflictions — our trials that demand ever greater faith — go far beyond anything having to do with this world. God’s elect are being prepared for eternal service in heaven.
Ever-increasing afflictions, demanding ever more steadfast faith, become a stumbling block to many believers. Paul was accused by fellow Christians of being chastened by God. They said his sufferings were the result of lack of faith, or because of some secret sin he was hiding. And humanly, we can’t comprehend why he had to endure some of the hardships he went through. And by Paul’s own testimony, we know that none of these things moved him — and his life proved it.
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Beloved, you are being weaned from everything that is of this world. God is present with you to take you through to your eternal reward.