King David wanted to build the temple in Jerusalem and create a magnificent building for God, but the Lord told him that he would not be the one to do it. Instead, the Lord chose his son Solomon. All the officials of Israel gathered in Jerusalem and David announced God’s plan. “[God] said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts’” (1 Chronicles 28:6).
God’s choice was clear. Seems simple, right? David had already received the building plans from God himself and collected most of the needed materials. All Solomon had to do was start. But right there is so often the place of failure. David understood the challenge facing his son. Throughout the chapter we find him encouraging Solomon: “Be strong and do the work” (v. 10). And “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished” (v. 20).
Despite the fact that Solomon was God’s choice and that he had complete instructions and all of the needed materials, he still had to get past the fear that paralyzes us to inaction. The Message, a contemporary Bible translation, renders verse 10, “And do it!” No one is saying that there will not be opposition or problems, but it is through the Spirit’s impartation of faith and boldness that we can be brave and move ahead with the work God has called us to do.
God has called all of us to something. Jesus said about the moment he will return: “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33). But because of fear, we haven’t always gone out and done it.
The Holy Spirit is greater in power than our shyness or timidity and he is greater than our fear or rejection of failure. His power makes the weakest as bold as a lion (see Proverbs 28:1).
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.
It is possible to say, “I believe God can do the impossible,” and yet be unable to accept the miracles of the Lord for ourselves because of a doubting heart. In Matthew we find Jesus getting into a boat to leave for “a deserted place by Himself” (14:13). He had just received word that John the Baptist had been beheaded and he was so moved by the news that he felt the need to be by himself to pray. Yet, when the multitudes heard that Jesus was leaving, “they followed Him on foot from the cities” (same verse).
Thousands of people came from all directions in all types of physical condition. The infirm were carried on stretchers or wheeled toward him in homemade carts. Blind men and women were led through the crowd, and the lame hobbled forward on makeshift canes and crutches. They all had one overriding objective: get near to Jesus and receive a healing touch!
And what was Christ’s response to this incredible scene? “He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). And then, at the end of that marvelous day and after performing all those miracles of healing, Jesus decided to feed the huge crowd (see Matthew 14:16-21).
Later, on the boat sailing to Magdala, the disciples were tired from their long day and began to squabble because they had only one loaf of bread among them (see Mark 8:14). Imagine! Peter, James, John and the others were worried about bread when they had just come from the greatest bread-feeding in history! Jesus was incredulous and reproved them, “How is it that you do not understand?” (8:21).
This message is for all who are on the brink of exhaustion, overwhelmed by your present situation. You have been a faithful servant, feeding others, confident that God can do the impossible for his people but you harbor lingering doubts about his willingness to intervene in your own struggle.
The Holy Spirit is calling you to remember the compassion of Jesus, remember the abundance of the loaves and fishes, and know that he is not willing that even one of you will faint.
“When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Why would Jesus ask such a question? It implies a lack of faith, not just on the worldly but among God’s people.
Faith is one of the most talked about subjects in the church. Great works are being done and huge projects undertaken, all in the name of faith. So, what is Jesus saying by asking, “When the trumpet finally sounds, will I find any faith at all?” We find a sobering clue in Hebrews: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).
One of the most familiar cases of unbelief is found in the story of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. Here was a devoted, godly priest who suffered because of a single episode of unbelief. Scripture says Zacharias was “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6). He ministered faithfully and was a respected, faithful servant, but when the angel Gabriel brought the message that he was to have a son, Zacharias was filled with doubt and he gave in to unbelief. God did not take kindly to Zacharias’ doubt and he struck him dumb: “Behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time” (Luke 1:20).
Only one sin kept Israel out of the Promised Land — unbelief! “And why couldn’t they go in? Because they didn’t trust him” (Hebrews 3:19, Living Bible). “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).
Our God has made incredible promises to us and he desires that we hold him to those promises. I encourage you to lay hold of his wonderful Word and enter into his promised rest. Then your life will be a glowing testimony to this generation.
At some point you may find your relationship with the Savior becoming cool and distant. A look at the apostle Peter’s life reveals that he denied Christ three time, even going so far as to tell his accusers, “I do not know Him” (Luke 22:57). This disciple was sure of his relationship with Jesus and had said to himself and others, “I could never grow cold in my love for Christ. Others may walk away, but I will die for my Lord” (see Matthew 26:35).
So, what had brought Peter to this point? It was pride, the result of self-righteous boasting, and he was the first among the disciples to give up the struggle. He forsook his calling and returned to his old career, telling the others, “I’m going fishing.” What Peter really was saying was, “I can’t handle this. I thought I couldn’t fail but I failed God worse than anyone by denying Jesus. I just can’t face the struggle anymore.”
By this time Peter had repented of his denial of Jesus and been fully restored in the Savior’s love. He was forgiven, healed and Spirit-breathed, yet he was still a frayed man inside, unsure of himself. He was still in fellowship with Jesus and the disciples. In fact, after a time of fishing with his friends, he saw Jesus on the shore and they had a pivotal exchange.
“’Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’” He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs’” (John 21:15). Note that at that time Jesus did not remind him to watch and pray or to be diligent in studying God’s Word. No, Peter was instructed to “feed the lambs.” This simple phrase is a key to guarding against neglect in our spiritual life. Jesus was saying, “I want you to forget about your failure and minister to the needs of my people. As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.”
As you strive to pray, study the Word, live a holy life, and love Christ passionately, be sure you do not ignore the hurting ones in Christ’s Body — the lambs.
It is possible for Christians to become spiritually neglectful, caught up in prayerlessness, going for days without seeking God’s Word. Yes, the Bible clearly warns that it is possible for devoted believers to drift from Christ and it offers powerful warnings about guarding against falling asleep in the midnight hour: “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1-3).
There are biblical examples of once-strong churches that ended up drifting. In Revelation, we read of the Ephesian church grieving Christ by drifting away from their first love (Revelation 2:4). Likewise, the Laodicean church drifted into lukewarmness (3:15), and the church at Sardis drifted into spiritual death (3:2). Paul warns the believers in Galatia that they had wandered from the victory of Christ’s cross and had turned back to works of the flesh (see Galatians 1:6-7).
Paul warns, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15).
How can you guard against drifting from Christ and neglecting “so great a salvation”? Paul tells us to “give heed” to the things we have heard. Speed reading through God’s Word may give one a feeling of accomplishment, but the more important thing is that you “hear” what you read with spiritual ears. Meditate on the Word so that it is heard in your heart.
Paul says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). He is encouraging them, “As lovers of Christ, test yourself; take a spiritual inventory of your walk with Jesus.” I encourage you to do the same. How is your communion with Christ? Are you guarding it with all diligence?