I hear from many believers who have drunk of the cup of despair. They have faced so many traumas and endured so many crises they are now exhausted. They are so weighed down that they think one more worry, one more fear, will crush them beyond hope. They have come to a breaking point, the very end of themselves.
What does God say to such a fearful people who tremble with anxiety? What is His prescription for those whose hearts are failing with fear, whose eyes are fixed on the calamitous things coming upon them? He gives them this word: “Awake! Stand up!” (see Isaiah 51:17). Here is the condition that God puts on us so that He may remove the cup of trembling from our lips: “Get up! Take a stand!”
Beloved, with everything that is coming—with evil men growing more vile and wicked, with economic crises continuing to mount—God’s people need more than uplifting messages. They need more than sermons that pump up a short-lived faith. A man wrote to me, “Your recent messages seem repetitious. They are one message after another trying to encourage despairing believers. It sounds like few know how to lay hold of a faith that doesn’t have to be constantly pumped up. Do they not know their Bible?”
This was God’s very concern about Israel. What was the Lord’s answer to their accusation? He told them, “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man which shall be made as grass” (Isaiah 51:12). In other words: “I have put My words in your mouth. I have covered you with My hand. I have pledged that you are My people. But still you won’t be persuaded that I will be faithful to perform the Word I have spoken to you. You still fear men who will fade like the grass.”
Paul preached, “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). All believers are given a portion or degree of faith. And that portion must be built up into an unshakable, unwavering faith. How does this happen? As faith grows, it is strengthened in one way only: by hearing and trusting in God’s Word.
The Lord never intended for His people to live in panic or trembling in fear. Even in the Old Testament, the Lord had a people who trusted in His promises and were unmoved by the chaos all around them. We see this in the life of the prophet Habakkuk, a man given a vision of “the end” (Habakkuk 2:3).
Habakkuk saw a people in the last days who would wear themselves out pursuing greed and covetousness. According to his vision, a dreadful spirit of violence would prevail in that time (see 1:9). Habakkuk said of it all: “The cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory” (2:16).
We know that a prophet always speaks to his own generation first. Yet, according to Habakkuk himself, this prophetic word is also meant for our generation. He tells us, “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie” (2:3, my italics). Habakkuk was seeing a cup of trembling: “When I heard, my belly trembled . . . I trembled in myself” (3:16).
Here was a godly, praying prophet who for a season was so overwhelmed by awful events that even he trembled. But the Spirit came upon Habakkuk, causing him to prophesy: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (3:17–19).
God removed the cup of trembling from His servant Habakkuk. And He will do likewise with all His faithful ones today.
“Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—cried out, shouting, ‘Go away! Why are you interfering?’” (Luke 4:33-34, NLT).
I love this word—interfere—that appears in this translation.
You might want to underline that in your Bible if you have a translation that uses the word “interfere” or, if not, write it down in your notes. The God who interferes—who looks at your crisis, your need—and instead of standing on the sidelines worrying and anxious, He interferes in the problems you have in your life.
Jesus interferes with the satanic plans that are formed against you. If it weren’t for the interference of Jesus, Satan would have free access to you. The power of sin and sickness and tribulation would have such freedom in your life that you’d not be able to stand. But Jesus loves you, Jesus cares for you, and when Satan comes with his intended plans to throw you off, He interferes.
“No,” He says. “No, this is not going to happen! I’m going to cause this brother, this sister to stand.”
When you are afraid, when you feel like you are going to fail, when the intentions of the evil one are coming at you from all around, be assured that Jesus will interfere. He’s going to bring things to an end.
Jesus interfered with this demonic man, and there’s so much that He wants to interfere with in your life. Maybe you’re walking in willful disobedience and rebellion to God. His grace is going to interfere and call you back. Maybe you’ve become lukewarm and you have a half-hearted faith. Jesus wants to interfere with that and draw you back. Maybe your concern is a family member and you feel that it’s hopeless; you don’t see any way possible for breakthrough. Jesus interferes in all these things.
So Satan is coming at you—just like we read about Jesus at the side of the cliff, intending to throw Him off. There’s an intended plan by Satan against your life and Jesus comes and interferes with it. You can say, “Praise God” to that if you want, because that’s extremely good news.
As we pray, “Lord, increase our faith,” I ask you to allow God to light a flame in your heart. Abraham, our model of faith, went to rescue a people who were being held captive by a merciless enemy (see Genesis 14:11-16). The text speaks to us of “ruthless conquerors who took everything for themselves.” But one survivor, a victim, fell at Abraham’s feet and forced him to make a decision.
No matter where you are, those who suffer are knocking at the door of the church. There is a modern Church that has chosen to be blind to the suffering that surrounds it. This indifference is an affront to the very nature of God. This Church is obsessed with its own blessings, needs, worship, services, theology and experiences with God, and has a strong tendency to remain “among our own, among Christians.”
In one of his books, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian, told this story that shook me profoundly because it is a true picture of the modern Church. Bonhoeffer was a pastor during the Second World War, at a time when the Nazi holocaust took the lives of six million Jews. History shows that most of the German pastors and priests tolerated or tried to ignore the Nazi insanity and murderous racism that eventually led to the genocide. The Church finally woke up when it was too late. Pastor Bonhoeffer spoke out against the regime of the Third Reich, was thrown into prison, and ultimately was put to death for his courage and convictions.
Bonhoeffer wrote of a conversation he had with a fellow pastor shortly before he was arrested. The pastor confided in him, “It was horrible. Our church is right beside the railway tracks. We can hear the trains going by carrying Jews toward the camps. At first it was rare, but now they go by several times a day. One Sunday several weeks ago, something terribly embarrassing happened. We were right in the middle of our service and the noise from the trains was deafening. Then, just as we were singing worship songs, we heard people crying out, ‘Help us! Help us!’”
Bonhoeffer, horrified, asked him, “Well, what did you do?” The pastor answered, “For a moment I wasn’t sure what to do, but then I told the church congregation, ‘Brothers and sisters, let’s sing louder!’”
Are we, too, “singing louder” so we won’t hear the cries for help so near to us?
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
In nations everywhere, Christ is revealing Himself to multitudes in dreams and visions. People in Arab nations, China and India are reporting their experiences with Jesus in dreams. It is even happening here in New York City.
One of our security men here at Times Square Church was once New York’s third-ranking high priest in Santeria devil worship. His territory was the Bronx, and his apartment was filled with human bones. He had sold himself body and soul to Satan. But this man’s heart was stirred by the Holy Spirit and he became restless. One night he challenged Jesus, “If You are stronger than the devil I serve, show me in a dream tonight.”
That night in a dream, the man saw himself on a train bound for hell. It passed through a tunnel and on the other side stood Satan. The devil told the man, “You have been faithful to me. Now I’m taking you to your eternal resting place.” Then suddenly, a cross appeared. At that moment, the man woke up.
He came out of that experience on fire for Jesus! Ridding his apartment of every trace of evil, he dedicated his life to the Lord. Today, he is a sweet, devout man of God and is active in our church. I stopped him recently and told him, “I see Jesus in you.” He answered, “Brother Dave, you don’t realize what those words mean to me after twenty-five years of serving the devil.” His miraculous new life had all come out of that God-given dream.
Dear saint, the day is coming when the whole world will see Jesus. The apostle John envisioned “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9–10).
This is not a little remnant, but an innumerable multitude and they are all worshiping the Lord. Praise God for that promised day!