Although the world has made giant strides in comprehending subjects like atomic energy and nuclear fusion, most of us still live with only the slightest understanding of the most ancient, dynamic source of power there is — the power that comes from prayer. In fact, we have not yet begun to experience the infinite power and possibility that becomes available when we call on the name of the Lord.
The book of Judges records a dark period in Israel’s history. Though God had given the land of Canaan to them exactly as he promised, the Israelites repeatedly turned their back on his instructions, failing to fully possess the land as he had ordered. Instead of driving out the Canaanites, the Israelites intermarried with them and before long they were worshiping Canaan’s false idols, a practice God had solemnly warned against.
“After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan … Because he had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help” (Judges 4:1-3).
For twenty years this oppression continued unabated, which meant that none of Israel’s young people had ever tasted freedom. Exploitation and hardship was a way of life for everyone — until one special day something changed. In utter desperation, Israel called on the name of the Lord and their prayer began a breakthrough that changed everything.
God sent a prophetic word to a judge in Israel named Deborah. Under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, Deborah delivered a message to a man named Barak that the Lord was going to deliver the enemy into his hands: “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” (4:14). Twenty miserable years of servitude to the Canaanites would be ended if Barak would be obedient —and he was! “At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword” (4:15).
We need a lot more Baraks today who will break through in prayer and then obey God’s leading so that cruel captivities can be overturned.
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.
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). As God’s children, we are to resign ourselves to His care in everything. This is true freedom! Resigning yourself into God’s care is an act of faith. It means putting yourself completely under his power, wisdom and mercy. And it means being led according to his will. God promises to be totally responsible for us — to feed, clothe and shelter us, and to guard our hearts from all evil.
Jesus provided the ultimate example of holy resignation when he went to the cross. Just before he gave up his spirit, he cried aloud, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” (Luke 23:46). Christ literally placed the keeping of his life and eternal future into the custody of his Father. In doing so, he placed the souls of each of his sheep into the Father’s hands.
If we are being asked to trust our lives to someone, we have to know that this Someone has the power to keep us from all danger, threats and violence. Paul testifies, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Our abiding peace will always depend on our resignation into God’s hands, regardless of our circumstance. The Psalmist instructs, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). God’s desire is that you go about your daily business without fear or anxiety, trusting in his care. The more resigned you are to God’s care, the more indifferent you will be to the conditions around you.
Your great Shepherd knows perfectly how to protect and preserve his flock because he leads in love. Rest in his keeping power and you will not be scared by any frightful news. You will not try to figure out the next step because you have entrusted your life, family and future into his safe and loving hands.
Jesus ordered his disciples into a boat that was headed for a collision. The Bible said, “Jesus made His disciples get into the boat” (Matthew 14:22) — which was headed for troubled waters. It would be tossed about like a bobbing cork and Jesus knew it all along.
Where was Jesus? Up in the mountains overlooking that sea, praying for the disciples that they would not fail the test he knew they must go through. The boat trip, the storm, the tossing waves, the winds were all part of a trial the Father had planned. The disciples were about to learn the greatest lesson they would ever learn: how to recognize Jesus in the storm.
Up to this point, they recognized Jesus as the miracle worker, the Man who turned loaves and fishes into miracle food. They recognized him as the friend of sinners and the supplier of their needs. They even recognized him as the Son of God and the one who taught them how to pray, to forgive, and to bind and loose. But those who thought they really knew Jesus best did not recognize him when the storm hit.
That is the root of many problems today. We trust Jesus for miracles, believe him for our salvation, and look to him to supply our needs, but when it seems like everything is falling apart, we are never quite sure he is nearby.
“The boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear” (Matthew 14:24-26). Here is the danger we all face — not being able to see Jesus in our troubles.
Jesus always draws near to us to reveal himself as the Savior in storms. He wants you to trust him in every storm of your life. That is what the presence of Jesus is all about!
Many Christians joyfully tell others of the love of Jesus and his power to forgive their sin, and yet they find it difficult to fully accept that same forgiveness. They commit sin and seem to want to pay for their failure. “Lord,” argues the Christian, “I shook off the conviction of the Holy Spirit and went ahead stubbornly and committed sin.”
The enemy of our soul is not at all interested in making Christians into murderers, adulterers, addicts and thieves. He is interested in only one thing — turning Christians into unbelievers. He plants questions in your mind that lead to doubt. Is God a deliverer? Is he there to help in the time of temptation? Are his promises true? Is there freedom from sin? Does he really answer prayer today? Will he bring us out of the battle victorious? Will joy follow weeping?
Satan’s only goal for Job was to have him curse God! Likewise, he wants you to think God is not faithful and does not care about your needs and feelings which, of course, is completely opposite of the truth.
The accuser wants you to give up in despair but God wants you to receive the forgiving flow of his love. He will always answer a sincere prayer: “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God never withdraws — only man does. So never limit God’s forgiveness to you! It is his nature. David said, “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5).
The goal of every believer is to “sin not” but when a God-fearing child sins, there are answers in God’s Word: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
If you have guilt, lay it down. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Open up your heart and let God’s love in. If you repent, he forgives you over and over and over!
Our Lord has an almost insurmountable problem of communicating with those who claim to love him so. We come into his gates with thanksgiving and enter his courts with praise. We praise him with instruments, with song, with uplifted hands, with tears and loud hosannas — but it is still only one-way communication.
We rush into his presence in the secret closet with worship and requests and then rush out again. How many times has he been ready and anxious to open his heart and speak, but lo and behold, no one was there.
Immediately after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. They were grieved about the departed Lord and in their grief they did not recognize him as their Messiah. As they reasoned between themselves, Jesus wanted to talk because he had so much to share with them. Finally he could hold back no longer: “Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
There could have been no finer experience for those disciples! They had heard his voice and went away saying, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (24:32). Those two men shared a great joy but what about the joy of Jesus? He was fulfilled because he had taken a few hours just to talk! In his glorified form, he had experienced his first two-way communion; his lonely heart had been touched and his need had been met.
We think Jesus gets enough pleasure from what we do for him, but there is so much more. Our Lord responds to our faith; he talks to the Father about us; he delights in our trust, and it pleases him to give us rest and peace. I am convinced that His greatest need is to have a one-to-one personal communication with those he left here on earth.
When you get alone with the Lord and pour out your heart to him, be sure to take time to listen, as well.