Those who neglect the Lord soon spin out of control as the devil moves in and takes over. Such a person has a devastated self-image. His or her feelings and thoughts cannot be curbed, and their tongue wags and moves under the power of bitterness and anger.
If only we would fall in love with Jesus—walk and talk with Him—He would soon reveal to us that Satan has no dominion over us. We would quickly allow Him to control us. Then we’d be chasing demons, making the devil flee, putting thousands to flight, standing up by faith against every fear, every lie, everything that comes at us from hell. “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall no hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18).
Paul gives a warning to “silly women” who won’t lay down lust: “They which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (2 Timothy 3:6). Women who won’t pay the price and walk with Jesus, who won’t take godly reproof, admit their sins and repent, will go after a teacher who will pray over them—then prey upon them! And believe me, these “house-creepers” are ever with us. They have eyes that hunger for women and make promises to them, saying, “Come to our meetings—you’ll get freedom!" No, you will not! You will end up a captive, twice bound, and those men will go right to your wallet!
But you can get control. You can get back to a diligent, loving, close walk with Jesus. Instead of seeking only your own comfort, try comforting Jesus: “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 69:20).
God reached down and translated Enoch in answer to his faith. Enoch could no longer bear to stand behind the veil—he just had to see the Lord! He prayed, believing that God would answer his cry to be in His actual presence. He was so “out of it” here on earth that he said to God, “Come! There’s nothing left for me here.”
Think of how Christians are squandering what they call “faith.” Theirs is all centered on self—their needs, their wants, their plans. And they often get what they want, but it only makes them more miserable. Where are the Enochs who spend their faith believing to be translated out of the devil’s darkness and into the hands of God’s dear Son?
Enoch had no Bible, no songbook, no teachers, no indwelling Holy Spirit, no rent veil with access to the Holy of Holies. But He knew God! Without the reproof or prodding of a prophet, without the example of others, Enoch set his heart to follow the Lord. Why is it so hard today with all the helps, the convictions, the prophetic warnings, the pleadings of the Holy Ghost? Is it not a rebuke to us that Enoch rose above his wicked day and walked with God despite so little help? Today there are multitudes who can’t walk with Him in victory despite all the help God has given them!
Enoch believed God was a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him! “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). How do we know Enoch believed God was a rewarder? Because that is the only faith that pleases God—and we know that Enoch pleased Him!
God is a recompenser, a God who pays well for faithfulness. How does the Lord reward His diligent ones? It has been my experience that when I walk arm in arm with Jesus, so in love with Him, rewards break out on all sides. Everything I do or have is blessed: my wife, children, friends, ministry. There comes a life of Christ within that flows like a mighty river. Yes, we’ll have trials and tribulations. But through it all He rewards us with manifestations of His presence.
One of the great tragedies of this generation—and one of God’s greatest griefs—is that so many Christians are not truly happy! The lack of victory in Christ is appalling! So many are hot, then suddenly cold. One week they are high, the next week low. 'They can’t cope with fear. Depression runs over them like a steamroller.
Some marriages run hot and cold. One day all is well with husband and wife and then the next day they are miserable. Some days they can’t even talk to one another. They think, “Well, that’s the way marriage is supposed to be. You can’t expect to be happy and loving all the time!”
Paul warns of Christians who need to “recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:26). This describes many Christians perfectly. Satan moves in and out of their lives at his own will! They have no power or authority to stop him at their heart’s door.
Some of you reading this may be caught in a devilish snare. Paul said it is because you are opposing yourself (see 2 Timothy 2:25). To “oppose yourself” means that you have set yourself up to be trapped. You refuse God’s way of deliverance and victory. You have opposed His way—and set up your own way. That’s why you’re ensnared!
So many have not known victory in Christ. Yet is this what Christ died for? To raise up children who are under the power of the devil’s will? “Give your heart to Jesus, but your will to the devil.” Is this the Christian testimony to the world? Never!
You can blame your unhappiness on poor health, being misunderstood, or having an uncaring mate, boss or friend. In fact, you can blame it on anything you choose. But the truth is that there is no excuse for a Christian to live as a slave to the devil. If the devil plays on your emotions and you are getting worse, not better; if your problems are getting bigger; if fear is rising and joy is dissipating; sadness is setting in—it means you are a captive to the enemy of your soul and are being manipulated by him!
You must recognize the trap you’re in and seek to be released. If you have been serving the Lord for more than a few months, you should be growing daily in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Your spiritual victories should be sweet. You should be assured of His constant presence.
“Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there” (Genesis 11:31, ESV).
I don’t know what kind of man Terah was since very little has been written about him. We do know that Ur of Chaldeans was kind of an up-and-coming land. It was a place where prosperity had just begun to sweep through the land.
Abram was born in this land that was becoming wealthy. It was a land with a great future and great promise that it would be a good place to live. But for some reason Abram’s father decided he needed to leave. We don’t know if it was because of an ambition to go somewhere new or to build something new.
Genesis 11:31 says, “Terah took” and “took” in the Hebrew means “to grasp.” It was kind of a gritting of the teeth and a clenching of the fist and saying, “I will take hold of my future. I will make my future what I want it to be.” And there is something very dangerous in that. There was no indication that God had given him a promise about the land of Canaan but instead he had this self-ambition.
The outcome of this grasping kind of lifestyle is always the second word we will look at in this passage “they settled there.” For some reason when Terah got to Haran he just paused—he settled.
Have you ever done that? “The journey is too much for me. The pressure, the intensity, always having to try to push this stone up a hill.”
Whenever you start something in the flesh, you end up doing what Terah did. He settled in Haran. There is no worse way to spend your life than settling for mediocrity. Nothing is further from God’s agenda for your life than for you to start on a journey and all of a sudden just give up.
Whenever we start grasping for ourselves, taking for ourselves, trying to become rich, trying to become famous, trying to become successful in our own energy—we will always end up “settling.” Why? Because you’re only halfway to where you set out to go.
“But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
It takes more than academic rigor to win the world for Christ. Correct doctrine alone isn’t enough. Proclamation and teaching aren’t enough. God must be invited to “confirm the word with signs following” (see Hebrews 2:4). In other words, the gospel must be preached with the involvement of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.
The apostles prayed for God to do supernatural things. They wanted people to know their belief was more than positional or theoretical. There was power in this faith. “O God, stretch out your hand—work with us in this.” They wanted a faith that was obviously alive, a faith based not just on the cross but also on the empty tomb. The cross, as poignant as it is, is understandable from a human perspective: an innocent man was murdered by crooked politicians and religious leaders. But the empty tomb—what can you say? Only a supernatural God could accomplish that.
In too many churches today, people don’t see manifestations of God’s power in answer to fervent praying. Instead, they hear arguments about theological issues that few people care about. On Christian radio and television we are often merely talking to ourselves.
What we are dealing with today is an Old Testament “vow religion” comprised of endless repetitions and commands to do the right things. Modern preachers, like Moses, come down from the mount calling for commitment. Everyone says yes but then promptly breaks the vow within two days. There is little dependence on God’s power to make an ongoing difference. There is little calling upon God to revolutionize us in a supernatural way.
Jesus is saying today, as He said to the church at Sardis, “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. . . . But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief. . . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:1-3, 6).
I am not advocating melodrama or theatrics that work up emotion. But I am in favor, as were the apostles, of asking God to stretch out His hand and manifest Himself.
Jim Cymbala began Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn and longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson, Cymbala is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world.