One of the supreme marks of a mature believer is love for all of lost humankind. Such a Christian shows love equally for Jews and Palestinians, for Bosnians and Serbs, for everyone.
Only a full-grown, mature believer can accept these words of Jesus: “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Mathew 5:44). I ask you: Can you imagine spending a month in a Palestinian field hospital, nursing and feeding soldiers who want to destroy Israel? Can you keep your prejudices in check as you read inflammatory news reports in the coming days? Will you have the same spirit that was in Christ, who said as He was crucified, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”?
If you want to walk as Jesus walked, you can’t allow your human passions to be inflamed by headlines. Christ died for every lost soul on this earth, including abortion doctors, murderers, rapists, child molesters. Right now, our jails are filled with convicts who have become powerful witnesses of the saving love of Jesus, all because somebody loved them in spite of their sins.
You can know you’re growing in grace if you’re able to pray for those whom the world hates. As we hear of terrible things happening, we are to stand against every prejudice that rises up in us, and declare, “I take Christ’s authority over this. I will love humankind as my Lord did.”
Here is the great promise that puts to rest all our feelings of doubt and uncertainty: “Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth . . . giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. . . . They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
A sure sign of spiritual growth is that you take every problem and crisis immediately to Jesus. You have learned that you have a place to go.
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).
Some Christians are forever in a crisis. Every time you meet them, they tell you another awful complaint: “I’m facing one thing after another. I don’t know what to do.” They are willing to describe their problem to anyone in the vicinity but they never take it to Jesus, as if He has nothing to offer them.
Don’t misunderstand: I’m not referring to Christians who are going through real, legitimate problems. Every day our ministry receives dozens of letters from saints who are enduring severe suffering. Rather, I’m speaking of the “professional gripers” in the church. They are pros at complaining. As you listen to them, you want to ask, “Is your God dead? Why don’t you draw on the resources He’s provided you? Don’t you know He’s made you more than a conqueror?”
How pleasing it is to the Lord when you go to Him first with all your cares. You know you have someone who is faithful to see you through.
Here are several Scriptures for you to lay hold of:
“Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
When you find yourself in a crisis, quickly run to God for comfort, provision and direction!
Satan has tripped up many Christians by convincing them they’ve lost something in the Lord. The fact is, it’s a terrible sin to doubt God’s love for you and to misjudge your position in Christ by your feelings. Your day-to-day standing with Jesus has nothing to do with your zeal, tears or intensity. It rests on faith alone.
Imagine how lost you would be if your salvation actually rested on your feelings. Paul urges us, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13). You’re never to rely on past emotional experiences. What matters today is your trust. Do you trust His promises to you? Are you ready to partake of His divine nature in a truly biblical way—not by emotional trips or outward evidences, but by casting yourself on His glorious promises?
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). Peter makes it clear: We obtain Christ’s nature by appropriating God’s covenant promises, and not by any other means.
A minister once boasted to me, “I’ve finally gotten back to the faith of my youth. I’m praying more, and the Bible is my meat again. God is giving me red-hot messages for my congregation and once again I have a great love for the lost. I feel so renewed.” Just a few months later, however, this man was back down in the pits.
God does bring renewal and fresh anointing to our lives. But that’s not the food we are to live on. We are to live on a constant faith in His covenant promises. His word is unshakable, no matter how low we may feel. Our Lord will keep His promises to us: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).
Conversion experiences are often emotional, because they are new and so incredibly special. The change that occurs in our souls is so sudden, it can be overwhelming. It is marvelous to suddenly be turned from sin and bondage to a whole new life in Christ.
Our early spiritual growth is like a child learning to walk. It is wonderful and exciting when a baby takes his first steps. Dad and Mom smile, urging him, “Come to us—you can do it!” With wobbly legs, he takes two steps, three steps, and then down he goes. Immediately he’s picked up and praised. His siblings encourage him, “Good boy.” He’s the center of everyone’s attention and finally, when he makes it across the room, they all cheer. What an emotional experience it is for him.
But soon that baby is no longer the center of attention. Now whenever he falls, he picks himself up and walks all over the house, making messes. He pulls over plants, drags out pots and pans, rips clothes from dresser drawers. And he’s disciplined for it. Suddenly, things aren’t so exciting for him anymore. His first steps were charged with laughter and joy but now walking isn’t so spectacular or emotional.
Your spiritual growth is similar. When you were a babe in the Lord, you felt God giving you special attention. Every time you fell, He was there to pick you up. Yet, as Paul writes, you’re not to remain a child forever. Just as a toddler is taught not to go into the street, you’re taught not to walk into spiritual fires. Now, whenever you fall, you look around for someone to pick you up, but nobody is there. God is teaching you to stand on His Word and walk by faith, and not to crawl like a baby anymore.
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
There are many voices in our culture urging us to have the best life we possibly can. This concept has translated into the way many Christians approach church. They think God should bless them with everything they desire in life. But that’s not the way God blesses us. Yes, He seeks to serve us for our good—but the name to be lifted up as our central focus is His, not ours.
As Jesus overturned all those tables in the temple, He cried out, “Take these things away!” (John 2:16). Likewise today, our temples are to be cleansed of anything that takes the place of His rightful lordship. God sends Jesus to rid us of those things, to prepare room for the things He wants to fill us with. He wants our temple to be once again a house of prayer, faith and kingdom victory.
“His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’” (John 2:17). When Jesus drove out the moneychangers, His disciples got a picture of what passion for God really looked like. Jesus’ actions appeared harsh, but in reality they demonstrated God’s loving grace.
A lot of Christians today think of God’s grace as excusing passion rather than igniting it. But grace was never meant to leave us in a place of apathy. The opposite is true: When God’s grace is applied to our lives, it impassions us with zeal. It makes us more circumspect of heart, more desirous of a clean life, more zealous for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us.
In fact, grace evokes strong emotions. Scripture says that when Jesus’ disciples saw their Master in action, they “remembered.” These devout men had forgotten what zeal for God looked like. Now, as Jesus drove out the moneychangers, their hearts were stirred by the realization, “This is what it means to be consumed with love for God!”
Have you been robbed of your zeal? Has casual Christianity or consumerism overtaken your passion for Jesus? Invite Him today to overturn the tables in your heart. May His name rule supreme in your worship, evoking strong emotions. And may He bring to your remembrance the zeal that consumes your heart to serve your great and holy God. Amen!