“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7, ESV).
No one wants to just go through the motions. Don’t you want to be a man or woman who clearly has the touch of God on your life? Wouldn’t you want people to look at you and think, “What is it about that person? There’s a holy anointing on them. There’s a touch of God on their life.”
I believe God wants to raise up people and say, “Ah, there’s a vessel right there that I can work through. There’s a heart, there’s a mouth, there’s a voice that I can speak through in these dark days.” He wants people through whom he can stretch out his hand to heal and give signs and wonders. As the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord sets up a counterpoint. That’s what he wants to do in your life.
If you’re living in a generation that is raging against the Holy One, then you’re going to need a pleading in your heart saying, “Come, Lord Jesus, come! Come, Holy Spirit in your fullness and your power, come to your church and revive us. Awaken us.”
We need the Holy Spirit to shake this place once again and put us through the refiner’s fire, burning off the dross so that we might come out as pure gold. We want to come out of hard times and oppression on fire for God.
I pray that once again the Holy Spirit would capture our hearts. Lord, stretch out your hand on our lives. Lord, put the touch on our country. Oh God, that’s our cry. I ask that our prayer lives would once more be on fire and that we would become almost obsessed with seeking the Lord’s face. We need to ask our Lord to rid us of backsliding and a coldness of heart, an unwillingness to be corrected. He must heal us so that we can come into the fullness of the anointing he has for us.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:11,16, ESV).
Paul is giving this teaching about the battle that we’re in and what we need to be victorious in it, what we need to pick up or put on. Notice, you can’t just acknowledge that there’s armor. Scripture doesn’t say “study the armor of God.” It says, “Put on the armor of God!”
This is one of the problems for many Christians today. We’re into a type of mental positivism and false triumphalism where it’s hard for us to talk about what really goes on in life. We’re all involved in warfare. Paul was involved in this struggle, and he’s one of the greatest Christians we’ve ever heard of. So if one of the greatest Christians talks about our struggle against the demonic forces that are arrayed under Satan, we should pay attention.
Our minds are where the warfare is, temptations to sin, to quit, whispers of despair, taking our eyes off of Christ.
If you hear anyone talking spiritual smack — “I’ve got to a place where I’m not even tempted by the enemy. I just have victory every place where I put my foot down.” — don’t ever believe them. We’re all in a battle. We’re all tempted. We all fight off discouragement. We all have to ask God for grace every single day. We need mercy because we all mess up.
Don’t tell me that’s not real because the battlefield is littered with people who were once preaching the gospel! Forget simply being a Christian. These were preachers and church leaders, and now they’re in rehab somewhere or have created great scandals and a mess in their church and city.
Some people lose out in this battle. They don’t put on the full armor. Somewhere the enemy got entrance. The arrow sticks. We must not lose sight of the battle we’re in right now, each day. We must encourage each other with these passages and help one another fight effectively as war rages on around us.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.
I am writing to you today about God opening shut doors. Someone reading this message will relate immediately to this, because you face one or more closed doors. There it is, right in your face, a door that seems to be continually locked. It could be a serious financial situation, and you’ve prayed for the door of some opportunity to open. Yet everything you try seems to fail; the doors simply don’t open.
I don’t know what your closed door may be, but for many it seems both the windows and doors of heaven are locked shut. The heavens seem as brass, and you can’t seem to get through. I’m speaking about some issue, some situation, some need you’ve been praying much about. It may be a crisis that requires nothing less than a miracle, and you haven’t yet received an answer to your fervent prayers and petitions to the Lord.
Christ refers to himself as “He who opens and no one shuts” (Revelation 3:7, NKJV). This was in a letter sent to the believers in ancient Philadelphia, a church the Lord complimented for having kept the word of his patience and never denying his name. Simply put, in their most trying times, these people stood faithfully on God’s Word. They did not accuse the Lord of neglecting them or turning a deaf ear to their cries.
Here is what the Lord promised them, and it is our promise as well: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
This hour of temptation is even now upon us. It holds incredible tests of faith so great and so fiery that many will fall into deadly unbelief. Indeed, a great falling away from enduring faith is now upon the whole world.
But because you still trust his promises and are willing to die in faith even if you do not see the promises fulfilled, you will be kept from this worldwide temptation to fall into unbelief. God has heard your cry, and he knows the timing, the very hour, to open all doors. So, never give up. Never doubt. Stand on his promises. He will not fail you.
You are deeply blessed if you have a devoted brother or sister with whom to pray. Indeed, the most powerful intercessors I’ve known have come in twos and threes. “I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19, NKJV).
Some Christians call this “agreement praying.” The place where this kind of prayer takes place most powerfully is the home. My wife, Gwen, and I pray together daily, and I believe it holds our family together. We prayed for each of our children during their growing up years, that not one of them would be lost. We prayed about their friendships and relationships and for their future mates, and now we’re doing the same for our grandchildren.
Very few Christian families take time for prayer in the home. I personally can testify that I am in the ministry today because of the power of family prayer. When I was a child — no matter where my siblings and I were playing, in the front yard or down the street — my mother would call out the front door of our home, “David, Jerry, Juanita, Ruth, it’s prayer time!” (My brother Don wasn’t born yet.)
The whole neighborhood knew about our family prayer time. Sometimes I hated to hear that call, and I griped and groaned about it. Something clearly happened in those times of prayer, though, with the Spirit moving amid our family and touching our souls.
Maybe you can’t see yourself holding family prayer. Maybe you have a spouse who isn’t cooperative or a child who’s rebellious. Beloved, it doesn’t matter who chooses not to be involved. You can still come to the kitchen table and bow your head and pray. That will serve as your household’s prayer time, and every family member will know it.
Some Christians don’t want to be connected to other members of the body of Christ. They commune with Jesus, but they deliberately isolate themselves from other believers. They want nothing to do with the body, other than the head.
A body can’t be comprised of just a single member, though. Can you picture a head with only an arm growing out of it? Christ’s body can’t be made up of a head alone, with no limbs or organs. His body consists of many members. We are knit together not only by our need for Jesus but also by our need for each other.
Paul stated, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21, NKJV). Note the second half of this verse. Paul was telling believers, “Christ will never say to any member of his body, ‘I have no need of you.’” Our head willingly connects himself to each of us. Moreover, he says we’re all important, even necessary, to the functioning of his body.
This is especially true of members who may be bruised and hurting. Paul emphasized, “Much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (12:22). The apostle then added, “And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty” (12:23). He was speaking of those in Christ’s body who are unseen and unknown. In God’s eyes, these members have great honor, and they’re absolutely necessary to the work of his body.
This passage holds profound meaning for us all. Paul was telling members of the church, “It doesn’t matter how poor your self-image may be. You may think that you’re not measuring up as a Christian. But the Lord himself says, ‘I have need of you. You’re not just an important member of his body. You’re vital and necessary for it to function.’”