I was talking to a pastor from Ireland recently who told me about his fears for the upcoming year. While he sees some difficulties on the horizon, I love that he quoted Hebrews 11:1. Have you ever read that? It says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And then he said to me, “Gary, you know the fear is that the things you hope for won’t happen. Right? And that the things that are not seen will remain unseen. That’s what fear is. It’s a conviction inside of you. You think that what you hope for is never going to happen. That is fear and that’s a hindrance to what God wants to do in your life.”
I want to ask you today, before this day is over, to ask God to bring you into such a covenant with Him that His perfect love, His work of grace on your behalf, will cast out all fear. Some of you think that when you receive perfect love you won’t be afraid anymore. No! His perfect love—and His is the only perfect love there is—comes into your heart. You are loved, you are accepted, you don’t need any idols to make you feel good about yourself. Once that happens and you lay down your own agenda, all that’s left for you are the promises of God for your life. Hallelujah—that’s good news!
In Genesis 15:7 (ESV) we see that God brought Abram out from the Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the promise of “this land to possess.” Abram had a long journey ahead of him but he had the promise of God!
When you have a promise of God, it is worth the journey, my friends. When you have the promise of God, He is saying, “Come on, brother. Come on, sister. Come on, daughter. Come on, son. Believe Me! Have faith.”
If you’ve never had faith before, have faith in Him this year. If you’ve had faith, increase your faith this year. If you’ve believed God for great things, believe Him for greater things.
When I first made my commitment to God, I had nothing to give Him but my heart. I was a cocky and socially unskilled gangster. A kid from the streets.
I went to a Bible college in California to straighten out my life, to get away from New York and the gang life. Although I was in Bible college, I never had an interest in becoming a preacher or an evangelist. With my thick Latino accent, I couldn’t imagine God calling me to do such a thing. In fact, I couldn’t imagine Him using me for anything. What good was I? What good could I do for God? I was confused and lost.
One night I was in my room feeling more lost and alone than ever. Lying on the floor, flat on my back and staring up at the ceiling, I began to pray, “God, why do I have to suffer so much? What do You want me to do? I love You, God, but I don’t know what You want from me! Please give me a sense of direction and peace. Please show me what You want!”
For hours I lay on the floor pleading with God to break His silence. Suddenly I felt an amazing calm in my spirit. It came over me like a wave. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I could sense God’s presence and feel Him speaking into my heart. “Nicky,” He said to my spirit, “my son, don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten you. I brought you to this place for a purpose. I’ve separated you from your friends and your past, and now I’m giving you a new future. I have plans for you, Nicky. I need you to trust Me. I’m going to raise you up as an evangelist. I’m going to use you to touch the lives of young people. But you need to have faith. I’ll never leave you. I’ll always be right here by your side.”
I told God how much I loved Him and how much I wanted to serve Him. But the more I talked, the more I sensed Him saying, “Just trust Me, Nicky. Stay faithful and I’ll show you what I want you to do. You need to listen and follow when I lead.”
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
When you walk with the Lord you will be rewarded with light, direction, discernment, revelation—a certain knowing! As you die to this world day by day, the light will grow brighter. You are headed toward the sun. Zacharias prophesied that Christ came to give light to them that sit in darkness . . . to guide our feet (see Luke 1:79).
Are you under the spell of some kind of darkness or indecision? “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). “Whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46). “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).
You may claim to love Jesus but your life proves you are still walking in darkness—confused, befuddled and foggy! When you are truly in love with Jesus, conversing with Him, He turns up the light. There is no darkness at all in His presence.
The worst possible darkness to mankind is not in the hearts of God-hating Communist leaders or Christ-hating atheists. It is, rather, the horrible darkness that blinds so-called Christians who refuse to walk in the light.
Jesus warned: “Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness” (Luke 11:35). Jesus told the Pharisees that a judgment falls upon those who pervert or refuse the light: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees . . . said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them . . . But now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:39-41).
Like the Pharisees, some Christians think they “'know it,” that they are in the light. They say, “I see.” Or, “I see it as well or better than the pastors or anyone else!” They should look at their life and home, at all the trouble and confusion in their hearts, and admit, “Lord, I don’t see! Show me! Am I blind?”
If we will not open up to true, pure light, then our judgment can only be a false light. Get back to walking with Him, and He will expose all darkness and restore to you His pure light.
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.